Since I was out at the end of last week, I missed the announcement of RECAP, a nifty little Firefox plug-in that rides shotgun with lawyers as they use PACER, automatically uploading a copy of documents selected for download to a free repository where other lawyers and the public can view them for free. In addition, when you order a document on PACER, RECAP will tell you if it’s already included in the repository, where you can pull it for free instead of paying the 8 cents a page cost (with a $2.40 cap).
As I wrote over at Legal Blogwatch, as an attorney, I’ve never felt that PACER’s charges were exorbitant, particularly when compared to commercial research service providers. But that’s because for me, PACER is part of my cost of doing business. However, I can understand how these charges are problematic for members of the public who shouldn’t have to fork over money to research a legal issue or educate themselves further about the law. Moreover, commercial research providers are already harvesting documents from PACER, charging far more for them than 8 cents a page. By liberating these documents and making them freely available, we reduce barriers to entry for other providers to come in and create tools that will enable us to search these documents.
So readers, join me in taking back the law! I urge all of you to download RECAP to your Firefox Browser so that the next time you log on to PACER, you’ll be doing your part to tear down the pay wall that separates the law from the public. The lawyer as revolutionary – how radical is that?