[Ads-l] News: Harvard digitizing its entire collection of U.S. case law

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 1 19:58:02 UTC 2015

I would seem to be the person on this list most likely to "have any sway with the Harvard [Law Library] digitizers," and I would have zero sway.  What should I let them know -- that nondestructive digitizing is superior from some standpoints?  They know that, but presumably have chosen destructive scanning because it saves them, or rather saves their startup-company partner, millions of dollars.  

I do have a lot of sway with the Yale Law Library digitizers, in fact I am the Yale Law Library digitizers.  At Yale we (in partnership with a commercial vendor) have digitized tens of thousands of primary U.S. and foreign legal books non-destructively.

Note that, in terms of linguistic-database creation, the "Free the Law" project will add little to the corpus already searchable through Lexis and Westlaw, although it may add greatly to the searchable material available to those who don't have access to Lexis or Westlaw.  (Google Scholar already has free searchable case law, but I don't know much about their coverage or functionality.)  

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Sunday, November 01, 2015 12:00 PM
Subject: News: Harvard digitizing its entire collection of U.S. case law

Here is news of an important new legal and linguistic database under
construction. The accompanying video shows pages being cut from

The non-destructive Google Books approach seems to be superior, in my
opinion. If you have any sway with the Harvard digitizers please let
them know. (Of course, the video may be inaccurate, and the digitizers
may think they have the best approach.)

Website: today.law.harvard.edu
Article: Harvard Law School Launches “Free the Law” Project with Ravel
Law To Digitize US Case Law, Provide Free Access
Date: October 29, 2015

Short link:   https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__bit.ly_1XIsP0T&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=sRkhHMQo6W5Ird1lkQFqb23bCfSHAR2XjUSUG53db5M&m=G8X-U4p4oZh32WvZ_N-TE3RW4-8dDVHVioXKedK91v0&s=4CwT-wExr6gx4JPhutY_p1OexNWrSlMXBlJ-uOcBb2Q&e=


[Begin excerpt]
Harvard Law School has announced that, with the support of Ravel Law,
a legal research and analytics platform, it is digitizing its entire
collection of U.S. case law, one of the largest collections of legal
materials in the world, and that it will make the collection available
online, for free, to anyone with an Internet connection.

The "Free the Law" initiative will provide open, wide-ranging access
to American case law for the first time in United States history.
"Driving this effort is a shared belief that the law should be free
and open to all," said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. "Using
technology to create broad access to legal information will help
create a more transparent and more just legal system."
[End excerpt]


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