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Full free access to law: Global policy aspects


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Full free access to law: Global policy aspects

  1. 1. Full free access to law: Global policy aspects Professor Graham Greenleaf Co-Director, AustLII & WorldLII 6th ‘Law via Internet’ Conference Paris, November 2004
  2. 2. Free access to law movement <ul><li>Participating LIIs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AustLII - Australia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BAILII - Britain and Ireland </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CanLII - Canada </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Droit Francophone - 18 countries (mainly African) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>HKLII - Hong Kong </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>JuriBurkina - Burkina Faso </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LII (Cornell) - US Federal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NZLII - New Zealand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PacLII - 14 Pacific Island countries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SAFLII - South Africa </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WorldLII databases - International Courts etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Main features </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An emerging global network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decentralised but cooperative (‘federated’) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 440 legal databases from 55 countries, 100 jurns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Declaration of free access to law states principles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two organising hubs as yet: WorldLII (AustLII, Sydney) & Droit Francophone (LexUM, Montreal) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared software and expertise provided for development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growth in developing countries </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. What policies best support global free access? <ul><li>Four models advocated by academic theorists: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jon Bing (NRCCL, Oslo) - a ‘statist’ model for national legal information systems (LIS) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tom Bruce (LII, Cornell) - a model of distributed source-publication of law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Daniel Poulin (LexUM, Montreal) - added emphasis on decentralisation and open source tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>My own (AustLII’s) synthetic model is based on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Criticism of some aspects of the approach of Bing & Bruce </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stress: precondition of full free access + competition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent LIIs complementing source publication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decentralisation; open source / ‘free for free access’ tools </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Jon Bing’s ‘statist’ model <ul><li>Bing (2003): strategy for an integrated national LIS, particularly for developing countries. 7 main elements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To cater for both online and offline technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To provide all forms of publication </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To serve both government and lawyers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Central editorial unit to convert and normalise data, including consolidating legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free public access only to a version of legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘professional’ paid version will have more value-adding </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other legal documents (eg cases) not necessarily free </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No right of others to republish LIS data (limited exceptions) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Managed by an independent foundation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self funding (to some extent??) via user fees </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This model has worked in Norway: Løvdata </li></ul>
  5. 5. Critique of Bing’s model <ul><li>No obligation on legal sources (Courts, Parlt. etc) to provide data for republication by others (except LIS) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nor to even publish it themselves </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Editing role means key data in electronic form (eg consolidated Acts) might only be held by the LIS </li></ul><ul><li>Dual for free / for fee role means LIS has a vested interest in minimising free access and maximising commercial sales </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public access will = 2nd rate access </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Problem of different needs of diverse users cannot be anticipated or solved by one publisher </li></ul><ul><li>No exit strategy: what if fees are insufficient? </li></ul><ul><li>A non-profit monopoly is still a monopoly </li></ul>
  6. 6. Tom Bruce’s model of distributed source-publication <ul><li>Bruce (2000, 2001) argues this model applies to all countries (in the long run) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The sources of legal data (Courts, legislatures) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Should publish it themselves </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are better placed to do so than anyone else </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The sources should use common standards for preparing and sharing legal data => network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>[Who provides central search points is not specified] </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Free) publication by anyone else is inefficient and unsustainable in the long run </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Centralised’ 3rd party publishing (eg LIIs) have short-term advantages (and value) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>They should be succeeded by distributed source publishing </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Critique of Bruce’s model <ul><li>Sources are not competent to judge the needs of all audiences - their version is just a foundation </li></ul><ul><li>If sources adhere to standards (even partly) this also reduces cost of 3rd P re publication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Republication remains sustainable, and essential </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fails to show free 3rd P publication is doomed, only shows source publication is good </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Continued complementary parallel development likely </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Does not require sources to provide data to any 3rd P wishing to republish, though anti-monopoly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intentional? - US lack of Crown ©, and law school free access to Lexis etc, may blind to importance </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. AustLII’s emphasis: full free access + competition <ul><li>AustLII (1995, 1999 etc) advocates 6 obligations of legal data sources necessary for ‘full free access’ : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provision in a completed form , including additional information best provided at source (eg consolidation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provision in an authoritative form, including citations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provision in the form best facilitating dissemination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provision to any 3rd P on a marginal-cost-basis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provision with no re-use restrictions or licence fees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preservation of a copy by the public authority </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not a recipe for a LIS - preconditions for the safe operation of any model - our model then builds on this </li></ul>
  9. 9. Summary of ‘full free access’ <ul><li>Legal data sources should have a public duty to provide a copy of their output (judgments and legislation) in the most authoritative, timely and best computerised form that they can produce (which changes from time to time) to anyone who wishes to publish their output, whether for free or for fee. </li></ul><ul><li>In Australia , 8/9 jurisdictions now in fact comply with these 6 ‘obligations’ - not rocket science, just good public policy </li></ul><ul><li>Now look at 3 things that are not ‘full free access’ …. </li></ul>
  10. 10. 1.Official free access is not enough <ul><li>State systems often fail, are sold, or are 3rd rate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Even when they are excellent, they do not do all we want </li></ul></ul><ul><li>State providers rarely cooperate in comprehensive resources - though metadata standards are possible </li></ul><ul><li>Independent systems give different value-adding </li></ul><ul><li>Full free access requires choice of providers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>competitive republishing is the essence of full free access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Free speech, not just free beer’: anti-monopoly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Official websites are the least important priority </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most of 200 Courts/Tribunals whose decisions are on AustLII, BAILII, CanLII and PacLII do not provide ‘official’ case sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Courts etc must maintain an archive of legal data so that late entrants to competition are not disadvantaged </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. 2. Abolishing Crown © is not enough <ul><li>It is important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Independently published law is de facto in the public domain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Once released politically difficult to withdraw </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright abolition assists capture by spidering </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It is inadequate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free access providers can’t afford to recapture ongoing data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spidering can be and often is defeated (dynamic web pages, or exclusion) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It obscures the real issue: the need for a positive duty to provide data for republication - full free access </li></ul>
  12. 12. 3 Fully free + Google is not enough <ul><li>If 10,000 free legal websites bloom, is the commons rich? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If tools don’t find what you need, isn’t this still poverty? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>General search engine have limitations for legal research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They often don’t index all of large law sites (misleading) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some law sites resist spidering (eg dynamic content) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult to isolate legal content, and to isolate different types of legal materials (eg legislation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration of search engines and public domain catalogs not yet effective (eg ODP/ Google Directory ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pages found will still be very variable in features and reliability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some legal sites (eg cases) may not be suitable for general spidering </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Commons need organisation to be effective and valuable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some iCommons catalogs / search engines demonstrate this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LIIs, through aggregation, integration, and reliability help organise the legal commons </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Daniel Poulin’s emphases: decentralisation & open source <ul><li>Open source software for global LII reach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing country LIIs cannot afford otherwise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Software developed on open source platforms are open to all, but can be improved by all </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Differs from AustLII’s ‘free for free access’ licence to LIIs - a strategic restriction - but right in the long run </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Both are consistent with the creative commons </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Decentralisation of both initiatives + control </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Local understanding necessary to publish local laws </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maximum decentralisation to local LIIs is necessary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Capacity building’ in developing countries is a key </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. AustLII’s competitive model for global free access <ul><li>Based on 6 principles of full free access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitating the right of republication the key </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source self-publication useful but not essential - an element of competition </li></ul><ul><li>Independent LIIs a permanent feature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Decentralised: Based on national or regional LIIs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Networking of LIIs adds value and flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open source / ‘free for free access’ tools </li></ul>
  15. 15. Other developments influencing & intersecting AustLII’s approach <ul><li>The Declaration on Free Access to Law adopted 2002 by LIIs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embodies the same approach as AustLII & LexUM </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The EU Directive 2003 on re-use of public sector information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourages but does not require a right to republish law, or marginal cost provision; otherwise supports Declaration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New theories of the public domain, particularly the Creative Commons / iCommons movement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free access to law is the Democratic Commons - closely related </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Declaration supports clear licences to end-users, provided with data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open source software is a vital tool in building free access to law </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. References <ul><li>These Powerpoints with links are at <> </li></ul><ul><li>WorldLII is at http://www. worldlii .org </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All other LIIs are linked from there </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Droit Francophone is at <> </li></ul>