October 22, 2021

PACER: “New Bill Would Finally Tear Down Federal Judiciary’s Ridiculous Paywall”

NOTE: While we wait to see what happens with the new legislation discussed in the article below we encourage you to visit, use, share info about the wonderful services CourtListener makes available on the web. 

One of the CourtListener services provides FREE access to millions of PACER documents AT NO CHARGE via their keyword searchable RECAP Archive. Btw, less than one month ago we posted about their new PACER docket alert service.

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From ars technica:

Judicial records are public documents that are supposed to be freely available to the public. But for two decades, online access has been hobbled by a paywall on the judiciary’s website, called PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), which charges as much as 10 cents per page. Now Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has introduced legislation that would require that the courts make PACER documents available for download free of charge.

Critics like the legal scholar Stephen Schultze point out that this is not what Congress had in mind. In 2002, Congress required that the courts collect fees “only to the extent necessary” to fund the system. It obviously doesn’t cost $150 million per year to run a website with a bunch of PDFs on it. Despite that, federal courts have used PACER revenues as a slush fund to finance other court activities. For example, one judge bragged at a 2010 conference about using PACER funds to install flatscreen monitors and state-of-the-art sound systems in court rooms.

Read the Complete Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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