Monday, 14 June 2010
PACER fees & PACER costs
A recent blogpost by Steve Schultze, Assoc. Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton, analyzes the US Courts' PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system, the source for federal court records and its well-known 8-cents-per-page charges for access to these records. He observes that "Digital technologies have a way of pushing the cost of information dissemination toward zero, but ... this does not appear to be the trajectory of public access fees." When Schulze took a careful look at the federal Judiciary's financials for the past few years he found that even though there is a statutory limitation on PACER fees such that "the Judicial Conference may, only to the extent necessary, prescribe reasonable fees... to reimburse expenses incurred in providing these services", the Judicial Conference has been expanding its spending of PACER fees so that most fees are being spent on other services, such as expensive technology and media upgrades for federal courtrooms.