Free Access to Law Movement

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The Free Access to Law Movement (FALM) is the umbrella name for the collective of legal information systems projects across many countries to provide free online access to legal information such as case law, legislation, treaties, law reform proposals and legal scholarship. The movement began in 1992 with the creation of the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute by Tom Bruce and Peter Martin.[1] The name Legal Information Institute (and abbreviation 'LII') has been widely adopted by other projects. It is usually prefixed by a country or region identifier. However, many members of FALM used names and abbreviations different from 'Legal Information Institute' or 'LII'.

Membership of the Free Access to Law Movement[edit]

FALM has 45 members as of October 2012, as listed on the FALM website. The FALM site also provides the coverage (geographical area or political grouping) for which each member provides databases, and the year in which it became a member of FALM, as well as links to member sites.

The 45 current members are:

For details of any additional new members since the date of this list, see the FALM website.

Declaration on Free Access to Law[edit]

In October 2002 the meeting of LIIs in Montreal at the 4th Law via Internet Conference, made the following declaration[2] as a joint statement of their philosophy of access to law. There were some further modifications of the Declaration at the Sydney meeting of LIIs in 2003[3] and at the Paris meeting in 2004.[4]

Legal information institutes of the world, meeting in Montreal, declare that,
  • Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity. Maximising access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law;
  • Public legal information is digital common property and should be accessible to all on a non-profit basis and free of charge;
  • Independent non-profit organisations have the right to publish public legal information and the government bodies that create or control that information should provide access to it so that it can be published.

Public legal information means legal information produced by public bodies that have a duty to produce law and make it public. It includes primary sources of law, such as legislation, case law and treaties, as well as various secondary (interpretative) public sources, such as reports on preparatory work and law reform, and resulting from boards of inquiry. It also includes legal documents created as a result of public funding.

A legal information institute,

  • Publishes via the internet public legal information originating from more than one public body;
  • Provides free, full and anonymous public access to that information;
  • Does not impede others from publishing public legal information; and
  • Supports the objectives set out in this Declaration.

All legal information institutes are encouraged to participate in regional or global free access to law networks.

Therefore, the legal information institutes agree,

  • To promote and support free access to public legal information throughout the world, principally via the Internet;
  • To cooperate in order to achieve these goals and, in particular, to assist organisations in developing countries to achieve these goals, recognising the reciprocal advantages that all obtain from access to each other's law;
  • To help each other and to support, within their means, other organisations that share these goals with respect to,
    • Promotion, to governments and other organisations, of public policy conducive to the accessibility of public legal information;
    • Technical assistance, advice and training;
    • Development of open technical standards;
    • Academic exchange of research results.
  • To meet at least annually, and to invite other organisations who are legal information institutes to subscribe to this declaration and join those meetings, according to procedures to be established by the parties to this Declaration.
  • To provide to the end users of public legal information clear information concerning any conditions of re-use of that information, where this is feasible.

Members present at meetings of the Free Access to Law Movement[edit]

References[edit]

  • Galindo, F ‘Free Access to the Law in Latin America: Brasil, Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay as Examples’ in Peruginelli and Ragona (Eds), 2009
  • Greenleaf, G 'Legal Information Institutes and the Free Access to Law Movement', GlobaLex website, February 2008 - This article includes brief histories of all FALM Members to 2008.
  • Greenleaf G 'Free access to legal information, LIIs, and the Free Access to Law Movement', Chapter in Danner, R and Winterton, J (eds.) IALL International Handbook of Legal Information Management. Aldershot, Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2011 - This chapter updates information about some FALM members to 2011, but is not comprehensive.
  • Peruginelli, G and Ragona, M Law via the Internet: Free Access, Quality of Information, Effectiveness of Rights (Proc. IX International Conference 'Law via the Internet'), European Press Academic Publishing, Florence, 2009
  • Poulin, D (2004) ‘Open access to law in developing countries’ First Monday vol. 9, no 12, 6 December 2004

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Myers, Linda, Cornell Univ. Chronicle (04/20/00). "CU Law Institute Web Site has Latest Legal Information". Retrieved 2008-06-10. .
  2. ^ See WorldlII
  3. ^ The amendments were: (i) in the title of the Declaration, `public' was changed to `free'; (ii) the words `where possible' were deleted from the second bullet point `where possible, free of charge'; (iii) addition of the description of a legal information institute and the encouragement to participate in networks; and (iv) addition of the final bullet point about an annual meeting to the list of areas of agreed cooperation.
  4. ^ The amendments were: (i) the words "It also includes legal documents created as a result of public funding." were added to the end of para 2 after 'boards of enquiry': (ii) the words "To provide to the end users of public legal information clear information concerning any conditions of re-use of that information, where this is feasible." were added to the final list of bullet points.