Project deliverable Open Access

openlaws.eu: Case study 1: European institutions

Marsden, Chris; van Eechoud, Mireille

The first case study is a 'state of the art' case study of the sponsor, the European insti­tutions' provision of free access to European Union law, in terms of cases, legislation, regulatory instruments and academic­expert analysis. Note that as it is produced at Month 4 of the project, it is contingent in its first full draft, and will be continually revised. The analysis explains how and whether the environment (institutions, policies and the legal community) is finally developing in which open access models such as openlaws.eu can take root and flourish. The key functionalities of the existing legal publishing system are summarized and described.

This activity involves a review of the existing information systems and legal databases already in use and will produce a specification of the requirements of the system on the basis of the analysis of social, legal and market requirements. The case studies represent the key socio­economic and legal aspects of the services and illustrate the main functionalities, structure and operation of the proposed services. The findings are informed by key informant interviews and form a working assumption. The interviews are supported by the literature review, and the insights of workshops (including the LASPSI workshop on 3 September 2014) following which the version was edited.

In conclusion, it may be argued that European legal data is so open to reuse and access that it is the ‘exception that proves the rule’ – in that the national systems under examination may have less a virtuous circle and more a system hampered by legacies of closed and restrictively licensed underfunded systems. This will be a major research theme in national case studies. We can conclude that though European legal information may not be as widely reused and repurposed as US federal law, it is nevertheless a best of breed example for the Member States to emulate where possible.

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