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Congress in photos, a civic hacking success story

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For the last 5 years or more, we've maintained a dataset of photos of members of Congress, mostly manually, and published them as zip files. It worked, but wasn't a great process for us or for people using the photos. We also weren't 100% certain about the copyright status of the photos, or whether a contractor's copyright might be involved. But thanks to an enthusiastic contributor, and an ensuing burst of discussion and work, all of that's been fixed up!

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Scout Delivering Court Opinions Through the Awe-Inspiring Power of CourtListener

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[Scout](https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/), Sunlight Foundation's government search and alert system, is now delivering daily alerts on [federal court opinions](https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/search/court_opinions/citizens%20united). Court opinions will be included by default — along with regulations, legislation, speeches, and reports — for any alert based on search terms.

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Government APIs Aren’t A Backup Plan

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petabox When the government shuts down and takes most of its data with it, the public needs to have a backup plan. The laws still apply to us. Politicians are [still raising money](http://politicalpartytime.org/party/35802/). We still have a population, unemployment, and social problems. But if you want to look up some of those basic facts, well, [Data.gov can't help you](http://data.gov), you'll have to ask about [those campaign donations](http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/10/01/closure-of-disclosure-no-fec-filings-due-during-shutdown/) later, and [the Census will get back to you](http://outage.census.gov/closed.html) someday. It's not 1995 anymore — the government lives on the Internet, and so do we. We can't just lose access to all the information they put online. We all understand why the [Internet Archive](http://archive.org) keeps the Web on file for us. The only reliable way to preserve data online is to make copies — and the more copies, the better! That's why **a government API will never be enough**.

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