L4w.us™ (pronounced "law for us™") is an extremely simple URL shortener/rewriter/redirector for legal materials, designed to make the law more accessible to people. In fact, it is so simple that there is no interface except for this page and your web browser's address bar. To use it, you type a simple, intuitive URL into your browser's address bar. That redirects you to a good free source for the law you are trying to find. That's it.
Materials you can access
As of 2012-07-16, L4w.us™ works for bills in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Public Laws, the U.S. Code, the Federal Register, and the Code of Federal Regulations.
Why should I use L4w.us™?
Websites that offer free versions of the law are often not able to offer human-friendly URLs for their materials.
For example, to get a text version of U.S. Public Law 111-148, you need to go to http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/html/PLAW-111publ148.htm. Not very friendly. See below for examples of what we mean by "friendly."
How to use L4w.us™
For bills in Congress
http://L4w.us/[Congress number] [Chamber] [Bill number]
Amendments and resolutions are not yet included, but they will be coming soon.
Here's how to use it for Public Laws:
Note: this only works for freely available versions of Public Laws, which are only available from the 104th Congress forward, i.e., Public Law 104-1.
Landing page: http://L4w.us/PublicLaw/[Congress]-[Number]
Plain text: http://L4w.us/PublicLaw/text/[Congress]-[Number]
For example, with Public Law 111-148:
Landing page: http://L4w.us/Pub. L. [Congress]-[Number]
Plain text: http://L4w.us/Pub. L. [Congress]-[Number] text
PDF: http://L4w.us/Pub. L. [Congress]-[Number] pdf
- Note: You can use any combination of "Public Law", "Pub.L.", "pub. l.", "PubL", "publaw", etc., and yes, you can type spaces into the browser's address bar. Don't worry, L4w.us is designed to handle that properly.
This will redirect you to the U.S. Government Printing Office's FDSys record for a Public Law, but using a human-readable URL.
Here's how to use it for the U.S. Code:
http://L4w.us/[Title] USC [Section]
http://L4w.us/[Title] U.S.C. [Section]
This will redirect you to Cornell's Legal Information Institute. If you can afford to make a donation, please do, because it is hands-down the best source for free1 current versions of the U.S. Code.
Why not link to the official version of the US Code? Because it only offers the Code by Title or Chapter. For example, in the case of Title 42, that's more than 9,000 "sections", in 190 "Chapters" ranging from a few KB to almost 17 MB, a Title in roughly a 50 MB file for an obscure plain text format, 60 MB for plain text with hard line breaks, and a 70 MB file for HTML.
For most sections of the Code, the LII offers anchors at the subsection level and below. For example, if you want 42 U.S.C. § 1320a(b), you just type: http://L4w.us/USC/42/1320a#b or http://L4w.us/42 USC 1320a#b
It is extremely simple: http://L4w.us/[Citation]
Where the citation is in any of the most common formats for citing the Federal Register (with or without spaces):
It appears that page numbers are only available from 1995 (volume 60) forward, but raw, unpaginated text is available by date for 1994 using the date query method below.
- [Volume number] Fed. Reg. [Page number]
- [Volume number] FR [Page number]
- [Volume number] F.R. [Page number]
For now, you can only access the Federal Register by date since 1994. Doing this is easy:
http://L4w.us/FedReg/[Month by name or 3-letter abbreviation] [date number], [4-digit year]
Example, January 3, 1994:
The Code of Federal Regulations
In the second format, thanks to the LII's excellent deep-linking, you can even append anchors as with the U.S. Code, e.g.,
We're working on making these types of citations even easier, so you can, e.g., just copy and paste plain text citations from any text after http://L4w.us and get to the law. Check back soon...
- http://L4w.us/[Title] CFR [Part].[Section]
Frequently Asked Questions
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Why does this site look like it was built in 1992?
To keep things extremely simple and transparent. There are no cookies, databases, directory structures, scripts, tracking systems, etc., and it works on anything that can access the internet with a web browser. For the time being, it's designed to be an open pipeline to our laws using easy, human-readable citation formats.
Help, I'm stuck on this page!
That is by design. If you type in a URL that doesn't resolve correctly, you will be stuck here. If you think you should be redirected, but you're not being redirected, please contact us by email or tell us about it on Twitter with the URL you're trying to reach. If you want to stay anonymous, you can do that by email, but you won't get an email back to update you on the status of the problem.
Why not use bit.ly or something like that?
Because with bit.ly and other general-purpose URL shorteners, you need to actively generate links, and the sites track every click, referrer, etc. With L4w.us™, you just type in a citation, click, and go. L4w.us™ doesn't track you.
What is the current status of L4w.us?
The only interfaces are this page and your browser's address bar. We may add more of an interface or features in the near future. Or we may not. This site is being offered as a public service only at this stage, and we plan to continue to offer this basic functionality free of charge for non-commercial use for the foreseeable future. All URLs are case-insensitive if you type them into your browser bar (i.e., http://L4w.us/PublicLaw/111-148 is the same as http://L4w.us/publiclaw/111-148 or http://L4w.us/PubLicLAW/111-148)
This is great! Why are you letting people use it for free?
Because with few exceptions, all of us have to comply with the law, and the government, for a variety of reasons, does not have the infrastructure to allow us to access the law easily. If we can't access the law, we can't know how to comply with it. This service does nothing to help you understand or search for the law, however. For that, there are other places that may be able to help. Commercial users, i.e., people or companies who want to integrate L4w.us™ into products or services offered for sale do need to pay a licensing fee. Please contact us for licensing details or to discuss custom implementations.
What will L4w.us™ do in the future?
We are adding more sources of law to the extent possible, as well as considering offering a few more advanced features, but for now, you just have to use your browser's address bar. Like we said, it's extremely simple. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please contact us by email or give us a tweet.
What's with all the trademark ™ stuff and fine print?
ontolawgy™ LLC is a for-profit business that also believes in contributing to the community. Timely and appropriately asserting intellectual property rights helps ensure that contributing to the community and making profits do not need to be mutually exclusive.
1If you don't charge a fee for access to derivative works or reproductions.
Terms and Conditions
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No Warranty or liability
This site is offered as a public service by ontolawgy™ LLC. ontolawgy™ LLC is not affiliated with or responsible for the content of sites to which users are redirected unless such sites indicate otherwise. THIS SERVICE IS PROVIDED 'AS-IS' WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR ANY OTHER KIND OF WARRANTY. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. IN NO EVENT SHALL ONTOLAWGY™ LLC BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER ARISING OUT OF ANY USE OF THIS SERVICE.
No cookies or other tracking mechanisms of any kind are used on this site. Log files are maintained only for the purpose of detecting abuse or misuse of the service. Abuse or misuse may result in blocking of an IP address, block, or subnet.
Copyright of this page and hyperlinks or URLs used to interact with this service
This page and hyperlinks or URLs used to interact with the L4w.us™ service provided by ontolawgy™ LLC are copyright © 2012 ontolawgy™ LLC, and are licensed to all users under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
The suggested attribution statements are "Based on a work at L4w.us.", or "Short links to legal resources provided courtesy of L4w.us.", including the hyperlink to this page, if possible.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the Licensor at http://ontolawgy.com/cms/Contact. For the purpose of this license the term "hyperlinks or URLs used to interact with the L4w.us™ service" are hyperlinks or URLs that contain "http://l4w.us" or "l4w.us" and that can be used to interact with the L4w.us™ service.
Unless otherwise stated on this page, all other elements of this service are copyright © 2012 ontolawgy™ LLC. All rights reserved. ontolawgy™ LLC claims no rights whatsoever to any content to which users are redirected using the service, unless the content indicates otherwise.
Trademarks and domain name
The L4w.us™ domain name itself, the word "L4w.us", however styled, and the phrase "law for us", however styled, when used in the same work with "L4w.us" within a context or proximity such that a reasonable viewer would infer some connection between any of the elements are copyright © 2012, ontolawgy™ LLC and are trademarks of ontolawgy™ LLC. The marks are licensed to all users under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License with regard to copyright and also to the extent that such license may be applied to trademarks. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the licensor at http://ontolawgy.com/cms/Contact.
The word "ontolawgy", however styled, and the phrase "connect . . . the . . . dots", however styled, with or without punctuation, when used in the same work with the word ontolawgy™ within a context or proximity such that a reasonable viewer would infer some connection between the two elements, and the ontolawgy™ logo appearing at the top of this page are copyright © 2008, ontolawgy™ LLC and are trademarks of ontolawgy™ LLC. All rights reserved.
Commercial Use, "Fair Use", other implementations, or commercial licensing
Consult your legal advisor to determine whether your or not your use is "commercial" or "Fair Use" under the terms of the licenses above.
If you would like to license the L4w.us™ name, service, or other content for commercial purposes, please contact ontolawgy™ LLC to discuss.
Custom implementations with substantially more advanced features are available from ontolawgy™ LLC.