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This is great news. A few months ago, the news broke that Jerry Goldman, who ran the Oyez Project, was looking to retire and cash in his site for upwards of $1 million. I was afraid that some for-profit publisher like WestLaw of LexisNexis was going to scoop it up. But now it seems that there’s a new deal between Oyez, Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute (LII) and Justia, the online publisher of legal information, to keep Oyez alive and freely accessible. Public domain crisis averted!
After months of uncertainty about its future, the Oyez Project, a free repository of more than 10,000 hours of U.S. Supreme Court oral-argument audio and other court resources, has found a new home.
The project’s founder, Jerry Goldman, who is retiring soon, told The National Law Journal on Tuesday that a newly minted arrangement with Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute and Justia, the online publisher of legal information, will keep Oyez alive.
“It’s a perfect match,” said Goldman, 71. “They will be great stewards.”
Launched in 1993, Oyez.org boasts nearly 9 million visits annually, ranging from students doing term papers to Supreme Court practitioners rehearsing upcoming arguments.
The Supreme Court has taped oral arguments for the last 60 years and deposited them with the National Archives. Oyez makes the audio available on its website with additional information, including searchable transcripts that are synchronized to the audio.
That makes it easy to hear the moment during arguments in the 2003 affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger when then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist addressed advocate Maureen Mahoney—a former law clerk of his—by her first name. Or, more recently, the time on March 27, 2012, when the late Justice Antonin Scalia compared the coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act to an order that the public buy broccoli.
This is a sad state of affairs IMHO. The gentleman who runs Oyez, the privately-run US Supreme Court audio archive, is set to retire. But it seems that he wants to sell the database for $1million dollars! He unironically doesn’t want to sell it to a private company because “They’ll put it behind a paywall and charge people to use it,” and “That’s against my values.” Harvard Law School has offered to take over the operating costs of the service. Here’s hoping that there’s a kickstarter campaign or some such that will assure that the public domain content remains in the public domain!
It’s not on Craigslist yet, but Jerry Goldman says options are narrowing for Oyez.org, the private online archive of Supreme Court materials he has been building since the early 1990s and providing free to the public. Mr. Goldman, 70 years old, retires from teaching in May, and when he goes so does Oyez, currently hosted at Chicago-Kent College of Law.
The project, which has two full-time staff members and several student employees, costs between $300,000 and $500,000 annually to operate, he says.
The sticking point, however, isn’t the annual budget; Harvard Law School, for one, has offered to pick up the operating cost. But Mr. Goldman also wants to be paid for the sweat he’s put into his baby–or at least the intellectual property it represents—something he estimates is worth well over $1 million.