Plaintext New York and New York City Codes
April 26, 2012 12:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for plaintext or PDF searchable versions of the New York State and New York City Codes. I'm specifically looking for something within the Building Code, but I would also like to have basically every state and local law, rule, ordinance, regulation, recommendation, and suggestion in an actual searchable format.

This is basically the opposite of what I'm looking for. You can't search in quotes, everything is treated as one discrete item, you have to click through everything individually, it's a nightmare.

It doesn't have to be up to the minute or even the year, but surely someone somewhere has a logically searchable plaintext version of these.
posted by a_girl_irl to Law & Government (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Get to a law library. Often there are terminals that allow public access to selected databases of Westlaw and Lexis. Ask the research librarian to help you.
posted by gauche at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2012

Best answer: Usually when I'm trying to find other archives that have the same stuff I have in a lousy archive I do a search for some phrases to see if others come up. So in this case I took the phrase "This chapter shall be known and may be cited and referred to as the "alcoholic beverage control law."" into Google and came up with a few likely options including onecle. They have the same text, but it seems to be more surfaced in Google, possibly? So you could use the their Google custom search, or the "site:" modifier to just search within Google generally.

That said, the people who can answer this question the most authoritatively are the folks at the City Hall Library in NYC. Email and other contact info for their head librarian is here. My main suggestion would be going someplace where you can use Lexis for free which may or may not be that same place.
posted by jessamyn at 12:56 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not sure if this helps, but I found this:
posted by Michele in California at 1:05 PM on April 26, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, Jessamyn; the search phrase "desired text" pulled up what I was looking for immediately.

I've also now found a way to permanently get the plaintext I wanted, obviously.
posted by a_girl_irl at 1:21 PM on April 26, 2012

Best answer: Bulk.Resouce.Org has a collection of state building codes as OCR'd PDFs, including
* The New York State Fuel and Gas Code.
* The New York State Mechanical Code.
* The New York State Plumbing Code.

The International Code Council has a larger collection of NY State building codes and New York City codes, but they're segmented down to the section, meaning you have to download the whole site as an off-line webpage and search the text (the most reliable way), or limit a Google search to that section of the site, which may or may not work too well (a test search didn't seem to work for me).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Partly relevant: now, when you upload PDF files with images to Google Docs, Google will automatically OCR the text. Google Drive promises to make this text searchable in addition. Of course OCR isn't perfect, but this might become useful to you at a future date, maybe?
posted by JHarris at 4:09 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

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