Federal Court Rules Against Public.Resource.Org, Says Public Safety Laws Can Be Locked Behind Paywalls
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Federal Court Rules Against Public.Resource.Org, Says Public Safety Laws Can Be Locked Behind Paywalls

Everyone should be able to read the law, discuss it, and share it with others, without having to pay a toll or sign a contract. Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately, a federal district court has said otherwise, ruling that private organizations can use copyright to control access to huge portions of our state and federal laws. The court ordered Public.Resource.Org to stop providing public access to these key legal rules. Public.Resource.org has one mission: to improve public access to government documents, including our laws. To fulfill that mission, it acquires and posts online a wide variety of public documents including regulations that have become law through “incorporation by reference,” meaning that they are initially created through private standards organizations and later incorporated into federal law. Those regulations are often difficult to access because they aren’t published in the federal code, but they are vitally important. For example, they include the rules that govern the safety of buildings and consumer products, promote energy efficiency, and control the design of standardized tests for students and employees. The industry associations that develop these rules insist that they have copyrights in them – even after they become binding regulations. Six of those associations sued […]

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