One of the most exciting developments in the emergence of Internet sources as primary tools for information professionals was the Internet Multicasting Service's loading of large public domain data files onto the Internet for free. Files previously available electronically only at top-dollar prices from commercial search services suddenly reverted to their ideal, taxpayer-supported, prepaid status. In particular, a National Science Foundation grant and support from researchers at New York University worked together to bring electronic public company filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR Electronic Data Gathering and Retrieval) program onto the Net.
The two-year grant ran out, however, and Carl Malamud of Internet Multicasting Service announced in August that on October 1, delivery of EDGAR reports as well as patents from Internet Multicasting Service would cease. That remains true for Internet Multicasting Service, but not for EDGAR reports on the Internet. The original strategy of using the NSF grant period to prove the viability of Internet delivery and public interest in the data, hoping that the SEC or other groups would take over the delivery at project's end, appears to have worked.
In a speech in Nashville, before the 45th Annual Investors Congress of the National Association of Investors Corporation, SEC chairman Arthur Levitt, Jr., announced agency plans to take over responsibility for Internet delivery of EDGAR reports. This fall, the agency will begin electronic delivery with a 24-hour delay. "Taxpayers and shareholders have already paid to compile this information - they should not have to pay again," said Levitt. …