Open Law Project Presentation

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Information about Open Law Project Presentation

Published on February 9, 2008

Author: pauljacobson



This is a presentation I gave in support of open access to the law.

Tyrannical legal publishers

Problem ...

Legal publishers hold the market to ransom.

Legal reference works




This means ...

the law is


to most people.

(It also doesn’t help that these same legal reference works sometimes confuse lawyers too)

So what?

People like this guy fall through the cracks.

Open access to the law is a right

“Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.” “Everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state.” “Everyone has the right to have any dispute that can be resolved by the application of law decided in a fair public hearing before a court or, where appropriate, another independent and impartial tribunal or forum.”

Charging exorbitant fees for primary legal materials denies access to the law to the vast majority of the population

Primary legal resources should be made freely available and the tools to build upon those materials

Declaration on Free Access to Law Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity. Maximising access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law; Public legal information is digital common property and should be accessible to all on a non-profit basis and free of charge; Independent non-profit organisations have the right to publish public legal information and the government bodies that create or control that information should provide access to it so that it can be published.

Then again, legal reference works don’t exactly grow on trees ...


is an expert

in something ...

... including the law

So why not ...

Harness the wisdom of the crowd


Does it work?

2,187,032 articles in English (22/01/2008)

Accuracy comparable to Britannica

Entirely community driven

Why not do the same thing for SA law?

Open Law Project

Professional community involvement

Academic community involvement

Collaborations Federated approach to legal materials; Smart partnerships; Free access; Open licensing ...

The end result ...

Open access to the law

for everyone

(not just the smart, wealthy lawyers)

A solution:

The Open Law Project

Paul Jacobson 083 444 8260 Photos of the Constitutional Court licensed under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.5 ZA license

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