The concept of open access to legal knowledge is at the surface a very appealing one. A citizenry that is well informed about the law may be more likely to comply with legal dictates and proscriptions, or at a minimum, will be aware of the consequences for not doing so. What is less apparent, however, is whether an open access approach to legal knowledge is realistically attainable without fundamental changes to the copyright laws that would recalibrate the power balance between content owners and citizens desiring access to interpretive legal resources. A truly useful application of open access principles would require adoption of compulsory licensing regimes with respect to proprietary legal resources, and significant government subsidies as well. Because affluent individuals today are both more likely to gain access to information and more likely to have the resources to use it, this Article concludes that the open access construct currently does little to actually empower access to legal information in any significant way.

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Lewis & Clark Law Review

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Abstract available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=949048

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