Radio Berkman 144: This Law is My Law

February 25th, 2010

This week we sit down with Carl Malamud, who with the group is pushing to put law in the public domain.

We covered the issue of copyright on law a few months ago in Radio Berkman 129, where Steve Schultze introduced us to RECAP – a software that helps legal researchers bypass hefty fees for access to legal documents.

There is now a movement afoot, not just to bypass the system that puts law behind a paywall, but to remove it altogether.

If you think this is a small issue – note that Americans spend some $10 billion a year just to access legal documents, everything from local building codes to Supreme Court records. The Executive Branch alone pays $50 million to access district court records. Some cash-strapped law schools ration students’ access to per-page charging services for legal records. And journalists, non-profits, and average citizens interested in legal research are feeling just as nickeled-and-dimed by fees.

David Weinberger and Carl Malamud sat down to talk about the chances for freeing the written word of the law.

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Reference Section:
Carl’s Pamphlet By The People

CC Music this week:
General Fuzz – “Cream”
Ghost – “Ice and Chilli”

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mr T in DC

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Radio Berkman 144: This Law is My Law

By now Americans should be very used to the concept of copyright. The little circle and c symbol that appears on books, movies, music, packages – virtually anything that can have a copyright symbol slapped on it. It’s as common as the air we breathe.

You might be surprised to know that law, the law of the United States – the body of rules and statutes that help enforce our social values – is, too, copyrighted. That’s right – everything from building codes to records from supreme court cases are under copyright, and controlled under a system that puts a price on its access.

Last September we reported on the release of a new software called RECAP – which helps users access the normally pricey judicial documents for free. Today’s guest wants to free the law from copyright altogether.

Carl Malamud has been helping citizens with access to government for years. He created the world first internet radio station, and was the first to stream government meetings live online. Carl sat down with David Weinberger this week to talk about his latest project,


Carl Malamud is a pioneering public domain advocate and the president and founder of public – the folks behind You can find out more about him from our website,

This episode was produced by me, Daniel Dennis Jones, with David Weinberger from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Putting Legal Documents i&hellip  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 12:39 am

    […] 2, 2010 · Leave a Comment Radio Berkman has a new podcast on making legal information available in the public domain. From the post: If […]

  • 2. Putting the Law into the &hellip  |  March 4th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    […] down in February 2010 to talk about the chances for freeing the written word of the law. The short article including the audio can be found at the Media Berkman site. Filed under Copyright, Law […]

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