Improving access to public records is central to UniCourt’s mission as a company and it drives our continued push to make government records, from court records, to business records, bar records, and the laws governing the way we interact with the legal system, more accessible, organized, and useful.
The Battle for Access
As one of the leading figures in the ongoing battle to make the law freely accessible to all, Carl Malamud, the President and Founder of Public.Resource.Org, is a strong proponent of the sentiment espoused by Justice Stephen Breyer that “If a law isn’t public, it isn’t a law.” Carl has been advocating for and improving access to public information and knowledge for decades, and since 2007, Public Resource has been on the forefront of making state and federal regulations openly available, free of charge.
Earlier this year, when Carl Malamud asked UniCourt to help post the .rtf files of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) into “beautiful HTML” online for free, we were excited to support this effort and see Carl’s hard fought win in Georgia v. Public Resource be further cemented for posterity.
What started as a 2015 lawsuit by the State of Georgia against Public Resource for posting the OCGA online, and an initial defeat in the Northern District of Georgia, would eventually end in a victory for Carl and Public Resource both in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as a historic victory in the Supreme Court of the United States. Thanks to Carl’s tireless efforts, SCOTUS has once and for all established that “no one can own the law” and that states and private companies cannot copyright the law when publishing official works authored by judges and legislators.
How to Freely Access the OCGA
“Today, I am delighted to announce that we’ve taken the next step,” said Carl in his recent post on Boing Boing. “Working with my friends at UniCourt and their crack engineering team in Mangaluru, India, we’re releasing today a github repository that transforms those .rtf files into beautiful html.”
In addition to accessing the OCGA in beautiful HTML online for free, you can also access the code behind the RTF parser we created to transform the official codes from ugly .rtf files into nice-looking, accessible HTML.
As Carl notes, the parser “puts structure, metadata, and accessibility back to the code,” with pointers to code sections now marked, tables of contents now working properly, and references to resources such as the U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations, and other federal and state materials now conveniently tagged. And, most importantly, all of this work is in the public domain and there are NO RIGHTS RESERVED.
Here are links where you can access the parser, the transformed OCGA, and more:
What’s Next and A Shoutout
UniCourt is committed to the continued pursuit of enhancing the public’s access to public records, including the state and federal laws that bind attorneys, businesses, and consumers alike to our legal system in the United States.
We’re thankful for Carl Malamud’s steadfast leadership in moving the needle forward for open data and open government, and are thrilled for what the next year has in store for Public Resource and UniCourt. Over the coming year, we plan on transforming and making available the codes for Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee in our github repository, and we’re also looking to add an xml diff capability, so we can generate redlines.
Last, but most certainly not least, we want to give a shoutout to Arcadia Fund to thank them for their generous support of Public Resource, which has made projects like ours possible, and is funding great work in the open access space to make knowledge and information more freely available to all.
If you have any questions about this release or want to learn more about this project, please Contact Us and we’ll be in touch.