The Global Development of Free Access to Legal Information

A HISTORY OF LEGAL INFORMATICS LEFIS SERIES, A. Paliwala, ed., University of Zaragoza Press, 2010

Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2010

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2010-19

29 Pages Posted: 30 May 2010

See all articles by Graham Greenleaf

Graham Greenleaf

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law

Date Written: May 28, 2010

Abstract

Since the mid-1990s the Internet’s World-Wide-Web has provided the necessary technical platform to enable free access to computerised legal information. Prior to the web there were many online legal information systems, and numerous legal information products distributed on CD-ROM, but there was no significant provision of free access to legal information anywhere in the world. Both government and private sector online legal publishers charged for access. The web provided the key element required for free public access – a low cost distribution mechanism. For publishers it was close to a ‘no cost’ distribution mechanism if they were not required to pay for outgoing bandwidth. The ease of use of graphical browsers from around 1994, and the web’s use of hypertext as its principal access mechanism (at that time) meant that the web provided a simple and relatively consistent means by which legal information could be both provided and accessed, an attractive alternative to the proprietary, expensive and training-intensive search engines on which commercial online services largely relied. The development of free access Internet law services was based on these factors.

Keywords: Free Access to Legal Information, Internet Law

Suggested Citation

Greenleaf, Graham, The Global Development of Free Access to Legal Information (May 28, 2010). A HISTORY OF LEGAL INFORMATICS LEFIS SERIES, A. Paliwala, ed., University of Zaragoza Press, 2010 ; Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2010; UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2010-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1617808

Graham Greenleaf (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney, New South Wales 2052
Australia
+61 2 9385 2233 (Phone)
+61 2 9385 1175 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~graham

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