You may be familiar with WIKIPEDIA, an ‘open’ encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

You may be familiar with Open Source Software Development wherein any developer can take a crack at developing a program (Linux and Mozilla likely being the best known examples of such a process).

You may be familiar with the Talmud wherein generations of scholars contributed to commentary on an original text (leading to the present use of the term ‘Talmudic’ to mean either “thorough” or “too thorough”).

If you’re lawyer, you’re certainly familiar with the great legal research tools such as Wright and Miller, the West Digests, and in IP, Nimmer, McCarthy and Gilson.

These research tools are monumentally useful works of encyclopedic comprehensiveness.  On the other hand, single-source tools are receiving criticism for according too much influence to the interpretation of a single viewpoint.

In contrast, large-scale distributed projects are thought by some to be an increasingly powerful economic force.  However, you don’t have to read too many open comment threads to realize that people post a lot of, to put it mildly, irrelevant material (and the accuracy of some of Wikipedia’s information is a subject of debate).

So to what extent can the power of the blogosphere be harnessed to create open-source legal reference works?

I don’t know.  Legal commentary written by inexperienced folk is not going to be particularly helpful.  However it seems like fun to experiment with the technology.  Co-conspirator TechLaw Advisor was good enough to set up a Wiki spot at featuring two recent cases of note – Capital Records v. Naxos.  The thought was to have a single text and invite annotation onto the text.

Instructions on how  to post an annotation here.  An example of Group ‘linkification’ of Grokster here.  Please take a look.