A little while ago I blogged about Oregon Legislative Counsel claiming copyright over their revised statute laws and asking sites... View ArticleContinue reading
Last week John Wonderlich posted about the ongoing story of the GAO giving exclusive rights to digitalize legislative histories to Thomson West on the Open House Project blog. The government entering a deal with a private company and giving them exclusive rights to public documents creates a situation where the whole point of digitalization is lost. When large amounts of documents are available on the internet in easy to download formats it’s supposed to increase public access but this situation has the opposite effect. Unfortunately this problem isn’t exclusive to the federal government.
“The State of Oregon is sending out cease and desist letters to sites like Justia and Public.Resource.Org that have been posting copies of
laws, known as the Oregon Revised Statutes. Oregon
back two letters. The first reviews the law and explains to the Legislative Counsel why their assertion of copyright over the state statutes is particularly weak, from both a common law perspective and from their own enabling legislation.” Oregon
Malamud goes on to state that Thomson West has also made copies of these statutes but haven’t received cease and desist letters from
For far too long, getting access to important documents has meant having a very expensive subscription to an exclusive service. This has held true across disciplines, including politics, law, and academia. The Internet is starting to change this, lowering the cost of storing and transferring information to nearly nothing. With the help of pioneers like Carl Malamud and Lawrence Lessig, essential information -- whether governmental, academic, legal, or scientific -- is being freed from the boundaries set by traditional publishers, whose role as information stewards has too often ignored the interests of the general public, and served the needs of paying specialists.
(Disclosure: I'm happy to say that Professor Lessig is on Sunlight's Advisory Board, and Public.Resource.org is a Sunlight grantee.) (more)
From O’Reilly Radar on Sunday and the New York Times, it looks like Carl Malamud’s been busy, this time working to get legal decisions released into the public domain. As Tim O’Reilly notes, Carl has a great track record in asserting the public-nature of public information, by digitizing large amounts of information normally accessed under a fee or other limitation, and then releasing it into the public domain to force the issue.
Both pieces cited above provide extensive background on Carl’s work, including information about his recent success in getting four congressional committees to upload high resolution video for public consumption, helping move toward one of the Open House Project goals: free and open video access to digitized congressional hearings and floor activity.