Law consists of legislation, judicial decisions, and interpretative material. Public legal information means legal information produced by public bodies that have a duty to produce law and make it public. Such information includes the law itself (so-called primary materials) as well as various secondary (interpretative) public sources such as reports on preparatory work and law reform and resulting from boards of inquiry and available scholarly writing. The free access to law movement is a set of international projects that share a common vision to promote and facilitate open access to public legal information. The objectives of this chapter are to outline the free access to law movement, to set out the philosophies and principles behind this, and to discuss the role that open source software has played both in terms of its use and development.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Primary Materials: Court decisions, legislation, and treaties.
Public Legal Information: Legal information produced by public bodies that have a duty to produce law and make it public.
Secondary Materials: Public sources, such as reports on preparatory work, that report on and often interpret legal developments.
License: Permission needed to use or modify materials in a way that is recognized as legitimate by the owner of such materials and by an overall community familiar that recognized a similar understanding of legitimate use.
Public Access: Making materials available for all members of the general public to read and review.
Jurisdiction: The geopolitical region in which the laws of a certain governing body are recognized as legitimate and can be enforced.
Law: A body of knowledge consisting of legislation, judicial decisions, and interpretative material.