Pacer, Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is a database that provides access to federal court records at a fairly low cost. This article in the New York Times describes the efforts of a non-profit group, Public.Resource.org, to download documents from Pacer during a free trial period and then make those documents available for free to the public. According to the article, one man, Aaron Swartz, managed to download about 20% of the database during the free trial period!
The Pace Law Library has a subscription to Pacer, and Pace Law students and faculty who need federal court documents for their scholarship can contact the reference staff for assistance in locating relevant documents on Pacer. Many of the documents listed in the dockets on Pacer can be downloaded in PDF format. Although we are not allowed to distribute our Pacer password, we can do searches for our patrons, and download the documents they need from the relevant docket.