April 19, 1996

Internet Law Sites Offering For Fee Services

Much of the legal information offered by the LII integrates material residing on other sites. Most of the law available on the Net today is provided without charge by public and non-profit private entities. However, increasing numbers of commercial entities including law firms and publishers have begun to offer free Net services as a way of displaying the value of goods or services for which they charge or as a platform for other kinds of advertising. Links to valuable material from any of these sources are included in LII pages (except where it is clear that the service will be free for a limited time only). Among other free law sources, what we look for is useful content and not simply another collection of law links.

The growth of subscription and other fee-based services on the Net has posed the following issue for us: Should we link to state judicial opinions, newsletter material or other commentary that is available only to subscribers? Since some sites are a mixture of free and fee-based services; they pose the same question in more complicated form.

For the present (midway through 1996), our policy will continue to be to limit our links from the tables we have organizing legal materials by source and by topic to free resources. We foresee the day when fee-based services will be sufficiently important and accessible that it will be important to integrate them within our pages (with some notation that third-party charges lie beyond certain links). Ideally that will occur with "transaction pricing" -- allowing retrieval of an individual document or search for a small fee without the need to become a "subscriber."

In the meantime, for those interested in exploring some of the more comprehensive national, regional, and topical commercial sites, we shall keep a partial roster of them here:

A Sampling of Subscription and Other Fee-Based Law Sources on the Net