Thursday, 9 April 2009
A critique of PACER
Ars technica has a lengthy article about PACER titled "The case against PACER: tearing down the courts' paywall". The author provides a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of the PACER system. While acknowledging the good aspects of PACER, he also points out that the "paywall" (requiring registration, a credit card, and charing 8 cents a page) is a major deterrent to members of the general public who access court records only occasionally and are likely to be intimidated by the system's clumsy search tools. The paywall also makes it difficult for academics to perform comparative research on large numbers of court cases, and it makes it prohibitively expensive for third parties to improve access to the documents.