There’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and then there’s Carl Malamud’s ongoing crusade against PACER — seven years to be exact. According to Jason Tashea’s post on Technical.ly DC, the founder and president of Public Resource was rallying the troops against the “aberration to the goals of open government and data” at a recent DC Legal Hackers Meetup.
Per Tashea, beyond the paywall issue (credit card requirement, 10 cents per page, $3 maximum per document), PACER has plenty of challenges and shortcomings, including being “riddled with unredacted personal information and billing errors.”
Joining Malamud in the effort are Steve Schultze, Harlan Yu and Timothy Lee, who are responsible for creating RECAP, a “Firefox and Chrome plugin to crowdsource the collection of legally purchased PACER documents” launched in 2009.
Again per Tashea, the group expressed that PACER is negatively affecting innovation and research.
“Unless you are well off — like Bloomberg Law, which has made a for-profit PACER tool, the cost alone is too much of a burden for startups to take advantage of this data.”
At the meetup, Malamud — the John Starks of the challenge against PACER — shared his three-pronged approach: litigation, supplication and agitation. Despite the thoughtful plan of attack, which will commence on May 1 (Law Day), Malamud believes that PACER’s best chance of being fixed is if Congress becomes involved. “It’s not an easy issue to get people to stand up and say ‘This is important!’” he was quoted as saying.
Do you think it’s important? We welcome your comments below.