Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Congressional Research Service--Part II

The other day I posted on the work of the Congressional Research Service, and the Openhouseproject's campaign to make CRS's reports freely available to the public. As I indicated has collected some of the reports. I thought that we might take a look at one of the reports in's collection.

A typical report in the collection is entitled "Internet Search Engines: Copyright's "Fair Use" in Reproduction and Public Display Rights." The summary links to the actual CRS report in PDF.

Read the full 9 page CRS report. Written for laymen, the report is the best summary of the law of "fair use" as the doctrine relates to Internet search engines you are likely to find. No wonder Congress members consider the CRS their secret weapon.

A CRS report is a wonderful place to start if a citizen journalist wants to research any important issue. As I have said before CRS reports are only available from Members of Congress. You can try, but its report library, though extensive, is sadly incomplete. Some Congress Members have some CRS report links on their websites. You might want to ask your Congress Member's constituent services staff to secure a copy of any relevant CRS report. Of course, you can obtain nearly any CRS report from Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis. The commercial collections are very expensive, in fact they are almost complete. Sadly the commercial services charges are more than most citizen journalists want to pay.

How the commercial services acquire such complete libraries is a matter of discussion. Are they paying some Member of Congress or former Member of Congress under the table? Inquiring minds are trying to find out. Hopefully, I will have more on that subject in a future post.