Friday, February 27, 2009

"Yes we scan!" - Carl Malamud wants open access for all public legal materials


Maybe you've heard the story of Carl Malamud and his organization which is devoted to obtaining open access to every legal resource produced by the government.  Here's how the Legal Blog Watch describes his quixotic quest: 

His belief is that all primary legal materials produced by the government should be readily available to the public. It is a belief so seemingly simple and obvious that it is surprising he has had to fight so long and so hard to make it happen. This is the guy who, way back in 1994, put the SEC's EDGAR database online, shaming the SEC into eventually publishing the database itself. And he has been fighting this fight ever since, most recently taking on PACER.

Malamud has launched a somewhat audacious but wonderfully rational campaign to have President Obama nominate him to be public printer of the United States, the executive who sits at the helm of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

He calls the campaign "Yes We Scan" and he has assembled a group of big-name supporters as The Committee to Reboot .Gov. The committee is co-chaired by Lawrence Lessig of Stanford law school.  Malamud's plank proposes a number of changes in the GPO's operations and in the government's approach to publishing. Among them:

  • Have GPO take the lead in making all primary legal materials produced by the U.S. readily available to the public.
  • Have GPO work with the rest of the U.S. government to bring about radical changes in the ways it presents information on the Internet.
  • Ensure that GPO is itself fully transparent and is a forceful and effective advocate for transparency throughout the three branches of government.

Malamud stands on the proposition that 'Access to information is a human right.'  Fine, but you may not want to have Shepard Fairey design your campaign poster.  Although it looks like he already has.

Hat tip to the Legal Watch Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.


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