AustLII’s Business Models: Constraints and Opportunities in Funding Free Access to Law
FREE ACCESS, QUALITY OF INFORMATION, EFFECTIVENESS OF RIGHTS, G. Peruginelli, M. Ragaon, eds., European Press Academic Publishing, 2009
16 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2012
Date Written: March 18, 2009
The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) has provided free access to an increasing range and amount of legal information from Australia for thirteen years since 1995. This paper analyses the constraints within which AustLII operates (including 'mission constraints'; 'that free access is not open content'; and web spiders/search engines).
It then describes the business model – or to be more accurate, the combination of business models – that have enabled it to do so, and some of the challenges involved in it doing so in a sustainable way in the future. The more promising strategies adopted include broad donatiion funding; engagement with larger users; funding from data providers for publishing; complementing commercial publishers; assisting users to find other publishers' content; assisting other free access providers; and research and infrastructure grants. Less promising approaches are assessed as including legal profession or government core funding; advertising; and various other models which would cause conflicts with data sources or reputational damage.
The tentative conclusion is that the combination of business models adopted by AustLII, particularly in 2007 and 2008, is capable of sustaining is operations, at least in relation to maintenance of its existing databases, and probably for the creation of new and improved resources to a modest extent.
Keywords: AustLII, legal information institute, LII, legal information service, business model, open content, funding, non-government organisation, NGO
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