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3. A new approach to finding law on the internet

Background - AustLII

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) operates one of the largest free access law sites on the internet[9], and its personnel also carry out research into the computerisation of law, and teach legal research and computerisation of law. It is operated jointly by two University law faculties[10]. The AustLII web site contains over 3 gigabytes of Australian legal materials, including the full texts of over 65,000 court and tribunal decisions and 500,000 sections of legislation, with over 13M automatically inserted hypertext links within those materials. The site receives over 75,000 `hits' per working day, nearly 2M `hits' per month. A full description of AustLII and its research is available on the web in `The AustLII Papers'[11]http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/LegInfo/97_2gree/default.htm].

AustLII has also developed since 1995 its own `intellectual indexes' to law on the internet, now containing about 2,000 links, about half of which are to Australian legal materials, and the balance to legal materials around the world.

A web spider targeted by an intellectual index

AustLII's approach to solving the problems of finding law on the internet rests on these propositions: AustLII's personnel have developed the necessary tools to carry out these tasks: The targeted web spider will soon play a significant role in AustLII's future developments both in relation to Australian legal materials and international materials. Some of our research on internet law indexing is supported by an Australian Research Council small grant for 1997.

The rest of this paper describes the components of AustLII's targeted web spider, and its first major test, as one of the elements in the development of Project DIAL.

[9] AustLII's web site is at http://www.austlii.edu.au/

[10] The University of Technology, Sydney and the University of New South Wales

[11] - the Journal of Information, Law & Technology (JILT)

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