[NOTE: Updated on 27 December 2009 to add the final four paragraphs.]
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for 2007-2009 is now available for bulk download in XML from U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) FDsys. Click here for the user guide.
Why is this of potential interest to the legal community? First, attorneys, legal IT personnel, and law librarians can download the CFR in XML and process it so that they, their colleagues, and the communities they serve can use it free of charge, without incurring the costs of using a for-fee online service. The XML markup enables the code to be output in a wide range of formats or integrated with a number of other information resources.
Second, many organizations that publish legal information for free on the Internet or at low cost — such as the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University and Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy and its FedThread federal regulations publishing project — can download the CFR, process it, and make it available to the legal community and the public. This should result in greater competition in the market for legal information and ultimately lower costs for users of legal information.
This is the second major legal information access initiative at GPO this year. Earlier in 2009, GPO began making available the Federal Register for bulk download in XML.
These data access initiatives are consistent with such law-related Open Government Data activities as the U.S. Government’s Open Government Directive and the Law.gov project, which will be the subject of a number of public meetings throughout the U.S. in the first half of 2010.