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Isn’t everything online and free?

There is a popular misconception that you can find everything on the web for no charge. The truth is that most of the resources in our law libraries are only available in print or through expensive licensed databases. Here are some examples:

Massachusetts

An up-to-date copy of the Massachusetts General Laws (Official Ed.) is not available for free. The General Court has an online version of the Massachusetts General Laws available on its website, but it is not up-to-date and the website states that it is not the official edition.

Older editions of the Massachusetts General Laws (Official edition) are not available for free.

An annotated version of the Massachusetts General Laws is not available for free.

Copies of Massachusetts House and Senate bills prior to 2009 are not available online for free.

The Code of Massachusetts Regulations is not available for free on the Internet. Massachusetts is the only state in the United States that charges for online access to its own state administrative code. Though a number of Massachusetts state agencies post their regulations on their agency’s website, they make no guarantee that they are official or up to date.

The records and briefs of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court are not available for free.

Selected full and indexed decisions of the Massachusetts Superior, Housing, District and Land Courts are not available for free.

Comprehensive legal analysis of Massachusetts laws, regulations and cases, which is provided in standard legal treatises (e.g., Massachusetts Practice Series, Massachusetts Legal Practice Library, Mass. Continuing Legal Education materials) published by West, Lexis, MCLE and other legal publishers, is not available for free.

Superseded editions of the above comprehensive legal analysis are not available online for free. These older editions are often specifically cited in court and agency decisions.

Full and indexed decisions of Massachusetts state agencies (e.g., MCAD, Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, Board of Registration in Medicine, Division of Insurance, Department of Labor Relations, etc.) are not available online for free.

The full version of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, the only Massachusetts legal newspaper, is not online for free.

Continuing Legal Education programs are not available online for free.

Federal

An annotated edition of the United States Code is not available online for free.

The Code of Federal Regulations prior to 1996 is not available for free on the Internet.

The Federal Register prior to 1994 is not available for free.

Older decisions of federal agencies (e.g., IRS, SEC, FAA, Board of Immigration Appeals, etc.) are not available for free on the internet.

Pleadings and other docketed information from federal courts is not available for free on the Internet.

General legal information

Annotated codes from other states are not available for free.

Most law reviews and law journals (especially back issues) are not available for free on the internet.

Standard citation services (Shepard’s Citations and Keycite) are not available online for free, so there’s no way of telling whether a case has been overturned, reversed or overruled.

Authoritative legal dictionaries, such as Black’s Law Dictionary, are not online for free.

The Restatement of the Law is not online for free.

Nationally cited treatises like Couch on Insurance, Corbin on Contracts, Collier on Bankruptcy and Powell on Real Property, are not online for free.

Legal encyclopedias, such as American Jurisprudence and Corpus Juris Secundum, are not online for free.

American Law Reports (ALR) (state and federal) is not available online for free.

An index/digest to all published state and federal opinions is not available online for free.

Litigation guides (such as AmJur Trials, AmJur Proof of Facts, and Causes of Action) are not available online for free.

Publications which include examples of legal forms and pleading forms, such as AmJur Legal Forms, Mass. Litigation Forms & Analysis, and AmJur Pleading & Practice Forms, are not available for free on the Internet.