Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Copyrighting the law ???

As reported by Slashdot:

"California claims copyright to its laws, and warns people not to share them. And that's not sitting right with Internet gadfly, and open-access hero, Carl Malamud. He has spent the last couple months scanning tens of thousands of pages containing city, county and state laws — think building codes, banking laws, etc. Malamud wants California to sue him, which is almost a given if the state wants to continue claiming copyright. He thinks a federal court will rule in his favor: It is illegal to copyright the law since people are required to know it. Malamud helped force the SEC to put corporate filings online in 1994, and did the same with the patent office. He got the Smithsonian to loosen its claim of copyright, CSPAN to stop forbidding people from sharing its videos, and most recently Oregon to quit claiming copyright on state laws."

---------- FIX YOUR THINKING COMMENTARY ----------

I have a California state law posted in this website's recording phone call laws reference section. I would remind California that THEY do not "own the law" - if anyone could lay claim to it - it would be taxpayers. I have had many a California taxpayer thank me for my comprehensive reference - that section is my most commented and most "Google linked in" page.

Copyrighting the law would be like copyrighting the number order 0-9 on a standard calculator.


Paul Douglas said...

That's nonsense, if the law is copyrighted people can't advise eachother (Say, through blogs) not to do something without having to come up with new rhetoric.

FYT said...

Completely agreed JensonB.

The law is meant to be dissected "word by word" - added to and modified if necessary - it was created for the specific purpose of sharing freely so that all may understand it, follow it, and be prosecuted if they cause harm to others by not following it.

Could you imagine it possible that someone got an extra 5 years because they published a law that they broke on their website or in a memoir they published?

Paul Douglas said...

Yeah, it's ridiculous. Without the ability to reprint the original wording, you can't really point out the specifics of the verbiage - we all know law is ambiguous and the opposite in certain places. Copyrighting the law inhibits the ability to analyse this for any purpose.

I can't believe I ahdn't heard about this before...Simply unbelievable