Carl Malamud of public.resource.org and champion of freeing government information, has posted a proposal for “Law Day” — a national day of protest against PACER policies.
- Yo! Your Honor! A Response to the Chief Justice Carl Malamud “A National Strategy of Litigation, Supplication, and Agitation”. Boing Boing (Jan 11, 2015).
May 1 Proposed as a National Day of PACER Protest. Aaron Swartz Memorial PACER Cup to be Awarded.
- Free Our Paywalled Court Documents: The Aaron Swartz Memorial PACER Cup Contest Announced by Mike Masnick techdirt (Jan 12th 2015).
Yesterday was the two year anniversary of Aaron Swartz’s unfortunate suicide. Today, Carl Malamud, the leading champion of freeing up public documents and laws, has announced a National Day of PACER Protest, to be held on May 1st, with the “winner” to get the Aaron Swartz Memorial PACER Cup. Malamud’s discussion of this is pretty long, but well worth reading. If you don’t recall, Malamud and Swartz have spoken out against PACER in the past many times. PACER, of course, is the horrific, antiquated paywall system by which the federal courts lock up tons of public documents and only make them available at 10 cents per page (with some exceptions).
Malamud describes a three-pronged strategy to knock down that PACER paywall, which he dubs the “red, white and blue” teams. The red team involves filing lawsuits challenging PACER’s legality. The blue team, which Malamud will undertake himself, involves asking a bunch of courts for an exemption to PACER for some research that he’s working on (and has been for some time, involving privacy issues related to PACER).
It’s the white team approach that involves everyone else. One part of it is asking people to send notes to their local judges, just to inform them how totally screwed up PACER is (since many judges may not realize how much of a pain it is to the public). But the bigger part is that Malamud has proposed May 1st as a day when he wants lots and lots of people to use PACER accounts to download documents (and RECAP them). Here’s where an important “caveat” in the $0.10 per page comes into play. If you rack up less than $15 of downloads in a quarter, PACER waives your fees. So Malamud is hoping that lots of people will sign up for PACER accounts and use May 1 to download cases right up to that line, so you won’t have to pay.