Have Recap turn on when clicking on email links
When attorneys file documents on Pacer they are sent an email notification with a link to a free look at the document. Currently Recap does not recognize the user logging into Pacer for this free look by clicking the link in the email. Recap would upload numerous times more of files if this feature was added.
Mister E commented
Not sure if this could pose a problem, at least in the district of MA, for this idea...
"Therefore, fee exempt PACER users must refrain from the use of RECAP. The prohibition on transfer of information received without fee is not intended to bar a quote or reference to information received as a result of a fee exemption in a scholarly or other similar work."
Arthur Spitzer commented
I agree with Kevin's comment. As worded, this suggestion seems to apply only to documents that the RECAP user files, but it should apply to all the documents that a lawyer downloads in his or her own cases, using the "free look" afforded to all the lawyers in the case. I download many more filings with "free looks" than by paying.
Gary M. commented
I've been playing with an email scraper that captures the link to the free look link URL, which should then open the PDF, as though I myself had opened it. However, for some reason- even when it is my first look, it's taking me to the PACER login page.
Did PACER build in some detection for an email crawler? I can even go back to the original email and as long as I haven't used the free look, it opens the PDF. Any idea why this happens?
@sjschultze: Doesn't the free look email itself have all of the information that RECAP would need to properly categorize the document? What if a user could forward/submit the email to RECAP before clicking on the free look, then the RECAP system could scrape the email for necessary information, retrieve the document, display it to the user in a browser window and retain a copy for itself.
I would love for this to work. I always use the "free look" to grab the documents for which I am a listed attorney. I hate that they aren't being transmitted. I got an Order today via e-mail, clicked the link, saved the PDF, and Recap is none the wiser. To get Recap to work, I'd have to log in and pay to retrieve it.
@Jim: I'm not sure what the "only gibberish appears" problem is, but my guess is that it has to do with the fact that Firefox doesn't recognize the file as a PDF because PACER is not sending the right HTTP headers or naming the file as though it were a PDF... causing Firefox to try to display the raw text of the PDF, which is gibberish. This is, first and foremost, a problem with PACER. However, we might be able to tweak RECAP to correct for the problem so you get a proper PDF download (the same way we fix filenames and HTTP headers for files downloaded the normal way). We'll look into it. I've created a new item over here that will track the progress, and that people can vote on:
We are more confident that the privacy issues we were concerned about do not exist. However, there is a more practical problem. When you click on a "free look" link from an email, you go directly to the download page for that document. In normal PACER use, you access documents by first going through a docket page. RECAP uses this docket page to construct its own docket information about the case, including the docket entry and number for the document you are about to download. When you go directly to the download page, RECAP does not get any of that, and hence has no idea where this document belongs or how to construct a docket for it. The only piece of data we have is the unique identifier for that document itself (which comes from the link).
In theory, we might be able to hang on to these documents and their unique identifiers in the hope that someday somebody visits the docket page and gives us the remaining information we need to make the document correspond to the correct case/docket/document listing. We are somewhat ambivalent about the value of this, and have focused our efforts on more pressing issues (like updating the extension to work with Firefox 4). However, feel free to chime in here and vote this issue up if you still think it would be worthwhile.
I don't understand why this is still a problem. The free look email link is the first place I go when I see something has been filed. When I click on it (I use Firefox), only gibberish is downloaded, and I wind up having to log into the Pacer system. At that point, helpfully, the Recap icon appears. I would like the option to simply have the Recap feature on at all times or whenever I access CM/ECF sites.
I agree - "Recap would upload numerous times more of files if this feature was added." I can confirm that in my experience, a login is not required to view "free look" documents. However, IF the "free look" has ALREADY been taken, THEN the user gets a login prompt. Perhaps a separate user setting could be added that users would have to enable to get this functionality. BTW, I'm surprised your FAQ (https://www.recapthelaw.org/about/) didn't address this:
If I access PACER documents I have a 'free look' for, do they get uploaded to RECAP?
The notification link requires the attorney to login (pre-established connections are honored) and requires them to have a PACER account associated with their ECF account (at least as of three years ago when I ran the MND's CM/ECF server).
As for notification, the standard AO docket dictionary doesn't notify users of "sealed" events (docket entries, cases, or documents). This doesn't mean that courts have opted to keep it this way. Theses docket events can be customized per court.
With this stated, when I left there was a movement (with CM/ECF 3.0 release) to improve the software security to allow sealed events to be seen by the attorney of records.
So in the future this may be an issue.
These never include sealed documents. The attorney must login to ECF to file the document, but when the attorney receives the email with the link the attorney is not required to login again. There is nothing in this free look that the public would not also see when they log into PACER to view the document.
In order to do this, we would need to be absolutely sure that nothing is ever accessible via the "free look" emails that would not otherwise be accessible to the public. Do these ever include sealed documents? Do they require an actual log-in (either PACER or ECF) in order to view?