Law students are all too familiar with the tedium of photocopying page after page of resources in the law library. But imagine if your task was to scan 100 volumes of the Commonwealth Law Reports. That’s exactly what Sydney barrister Michael Green is doing.
Green, who oversees Open Law’s One to 100 project, is on a mission to scan the first 100 volumes of the Commonwealth Law Reports and make it freely available online. In the past it was only available online as a paid service, he says.
To put the task in perspective, here’s a few statistics. The first 100 volumes cover 56 years. Each volume has hundreds of pages with many exceeding 500 pages, and it typically takes several hours to scan a volume. That’s a lot of scanning!
Each page of the reports is photographed with a high-resolution camera, before the pages are collated and checked for quality.
The scans produced by One to 100 allow researchers to read the law report online as it appears in the hard copy volumes in the law library. “If you really want to use earlier reports you really need to see it in the print version because people refer to page numbers,” Green says, emphasising the importance of presenting the material in a way that is clear and easy to use.
The project began in 2010, with law firms and individual practitioners sponsoring the scanning of individual volumes. “We have scanned about three quarters of the volumes now and we’ve got funding for over 50 percent of the volumes,” he says.
According to Green, one of the challenges of the project has been making the material available in a way that respects the copyright of the High Court Justices, court reporters and headnote writers whose work appears in the CLR.
“One of the problems with those copyright owners is many of them have passed away and it’s hard to find the actual controller of the estate,” Green says. “We get clearances from or try to get clearances from those copyright owners.”
With most of the first 100 volumes sponsored and scanned, Green expects the project will be completed early in the new year.
“We’re distributing the scans to the National Library of Australia, and also to the High Court of Australia… we want to make sure that this material is available to future generations and so that’s why we’re serious about getting material copied and properly replicated,” Green says.
The scanned reports are available to law students via JADE Professional, with students able to sign up for a free subscription.
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