Wednesday, 18 February 2009

PACER free trial update

I think it's worthwhile to mention Joe Hodnicki's post on Law Lib yesterday, since we've all been wondering whatever happened to the PACER pilot that offered free PACER access in a few select libraries. On Feb. 13, the New York Times reported on what happened. Apparently a young man named Aaron Swartz, a 22-year-old Stanford dropout and "entrepreneur" downloaded an estimated 20 percent of the entire database: 19,856,160 pages of text, in response to Carl Malamud of asking people to get the documents for the Public Resource databases.
The free service stopped suddenly on Sept. 29 and notice went out from the GPO that the free Pacer pilot program was suspended, “pending an evaluation.” A couple of weeks later, a Government Printing Office official, Richard G. Davis, told librarians that “the security of the Pacer service was compromised. The F.B.I. is conducting an investigation.” Lawyers for Mr. Malamud and Mr. Swartz say that they appeared to have broken no laws, noting nonetheless that it is impossible to say what angry government officials might do.

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