As most readers of this blog know, PACER is a system run by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO) that hosts over a billion documents from the Federal District and Circuit courts. The system was created in the nineties and was set up with a paywall so that you pay for every “page” of data that you receive. The idea of the fees, as established by the E-Government Act, is that the AO could use them to recoup the cost of running the PACER, but the pricing of the content has always been a bit odd. In my last post I talked about how these fees result in an outrageous cost for PACER data. In this post, I do a deep dive into the core unit of PACER’s pricing and attempt to answer the question, what is a “page” of PACER data?
The size of PACER’s fees has varied over the years, but they’ve always gone up, and they’ve always been assessed roughly as follows:
If you download a PDF from PACER, you pay by the page.
If you do a search, you pay by the number of search results returned. Because you don’t …