Oregon Using Copyright Law To Prevent Other Sites From Publicizing Oregon Law

from the just-as-the-law-intended dept

Well here's a story about copyright that's so bizarre it makes you think that there must be a mistake somewhere -- but it seems to be completely true. Apparently, Oregon is complaining to sites like Justia (which publish public domain legal documents) that they are violating copyright by republishing some of Oregon's laws. The state admits that the text of the laws are not covered by copyright, but that everything else about the way the law is presented is covered by copyright (such as the numbering, the notes and annotations). This is an accurate portrayal of copyright law, which does allow such things to be covered by copyright (though, the "numbering" part seems questionable), but it's difficult to see how the state could possibly get upset that someone is trying to better publicize Oregon's laws. The state does make one good point: Justia adds its own copyright notice to the text, which is bad form, but was probably just a template issue. Either way, it's difficult to see what Oregon could possibly gain in trying to force copies of its laws off of public resource legal sites.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 2:36am

    Don't state funded lawyers have anything better to do?

     

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      Angela, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 7:56am

      Oregon State Copyrights Laws

      I think someone needs to research the intellectual property law. These state laws were created with public dollars, financed through local, state and federal tax dollars. So, they are the property of the payer - which would be citizens. So, no one should be charged, or prevented, from using them. If it was work you did at your company, the company would own it. And, i agree with that theory. So, if if tax payers pay for the product, then they should have it.

       

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    Paul, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:01am

    Only in America

    No more needs be said.

     

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      Jake, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:14am

      Re: Only in America

      Not so. Crown Copyright in this country is if anything worse; you can't reproduce the text of the law at all without the government's permission, and as far as I know they're not on a public website anywhere.

       

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    John Duncan Yoyo, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:05am

    They need the BJC lawyer to slap em down

    Ok so if you don't publish the law you get secret prosecutions and an island prison.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:59am

    If we criminalize laws only criminals will have laws.

     

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    Billy Bob, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:01am

    Justia and the Oregon law

    The letter to Justia is written by one Dexter Johnson. I'll bet Grampa Buck's saddle horn that Dexter is a wet-behind-the-ears young lawyer tryin' to impress the High Muck-a-mucks of the Legislative Committee. Dexter, you're shovelin' cow shit with a broken shovel. Get off your horse, boy. The State of Oregon should send a blue ribbon to Justia for helping to promote the law, and you need to go back to law school and take that Ethics class you failed over again.

     

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      Alimas, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:26am

      Re: Justia and the Oregon law

      Wow, this paragraph excelled at nailing Mr. Johnson and making me feel like I was talking someone out on some old western ranch.

       

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    the man (profile), Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:24am

    stupid

    that is still not covered because cause the numbers are part of referanceing it

     

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    bliss, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:42am

    ignunce

    This shows how governments are leaders in captilizing on citizen ignorance. Don't let 'em know what the law is till they break it.

     

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    Overcast, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:26am

    Didn't know you could copyright 'public' information.

    Interesting.... :) That opens up a lot of interesting ideas - for people individually.

    If I copyright my driving record... then the BMV can't give anyone a copy - like an insurance company? I guess they would have to 'talk me word' at what my record is.

    What if I copyright my credit report and birth certificate? Can I just claim it's protected by copyright?

    Almost hoping this works - it's like opening a can of worms.

     

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    Overcast, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    "*take my word*" I meant there... :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:30am

    Motivation

    Either way, it's difficult to see what Oregon could possibly gain in trying to force copies of its laws off of public resource legal sites.
    Realize that lawyers are heavily involved in government and lawyers make a living from knowledge of laws. As such, some of them are hostile to the idea of the public having ready access to legal knowledge without going through a lawyer. So it's not really surprising at all to see them attack a site like Justia.

     

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    Ron, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 7:39am

    Possible Reason

    Something that occured to me as a possibility. Public records are public yes but the government has a right to charge a fee when you ask for a copy of a public document. There are businesses out there that take copies of public documents and create databases that they sell access to. This is probably more prevelant in the real estate industry but those little fees keep going up and as the data industry grows they keep collecting more and more of them. I've seen where those collecting the fees start to see themselves as in business rather than a government office there only to serve at cost. This could be seen as taking funds away from their "business" so they want to keep people from posting it where people can get it for free. This is just speculation but I have seen where a county official upped the cost of copies of recorded docs just to cover the cost of their name being stamped on each of the recorded docs. Who knows what else is being paid for that we don't need. Of course I'm just speculating here, our government wouldn't abuse it's power for personal gain, would it?

     

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      DanC, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 9:52am

      Re: Possible Reason

      Public records are public yes but the government has a right to charge a fee when you ask for a copy of a public document

      The fee is only to cover reproduction costs. When the form is available digitally, there is no reproduction cost, therefore no fee.

       

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    Corncob, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:15am

    streisand effect

    Maybe they're just trying to put the Streisand Effect to good use by getting more people to know the law!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    Oregon government should be obligated/required to publish RAW versions of the law documents that do not contain copyrightable contents such as numbering, notes, and annotations. Since taxpayers pay for these things to even exist, they are ours and we should get them for free and use them how we like.

    All they really need to do is give a penalty to any publisher who shares a out of date document to the public. That would be the only reasonable thing for them to do.

     

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    satan, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 10:08am

    Fuck Oregon

    And all lawyers

     

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    angel, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    RE: Fuck Oregon

    hey satan, I thought Lawyers were your friend?

     

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    CVPunk, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    ?

    I am sort of surprised by this as I thought Oregon was one of the more "progressive" states. But, then again, government is government.

     

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      SouthernRoots, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

      Re: ?

      Progressive = More government control = Citizens are required to obtain more permission from the government to do just about anything.

       

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    thirteenburn, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 12:03am

    It's obvious...

    Oregon is throwing a hissy fit because they don't want other states and their inhabitants to know just how Communisitic and Socialistic this state really is. They make such a big deal about how great this City of Portland is, as well as the State overall, but under the "gloss of livability" is the fact that they have some of the most ridiculous laws ever written into any constitution in all of these United States.

    Bottom line is that the People's Republic of Portland, as is the entire Motherland of Oregon, is identical to the 60's era Soviet Union and no one wants to live and raise their children in such a society. They also don't want to pay the obscene amount of taxes, which are the highest in the nation, not to mention how the state government takes away any and all avenues of it's people decideing for themselves how best to live and run their lives. It's the old and worn out Democrat Party ploy of "you're too stupid to know what's good for you, so therefore we need to do all of your thinking for you." Let's face it; no one likes to be insulted in such a way and the publishing of their laws just proves that without a modicum of doubt.

    Seriously. How many times over the last ten years have the people of Oregon legally voted for any particular law, or voted down another of myriad taxes, only to have the state override what was legally voted on? Way too many times for me, which is why I moved completely out of the state close to ten years ago and have never regretted my decision, nor has anyone else who's done the exact same thing.

    At the rate the state is going, within the next five to ten years, the entire state will be bankrupt, mainly due to bad debt (check the latest credit rating of the M.of O.) and mismanagement of the enormous amount of taxes they pilfer on a yearly basis. And yet stragely enough and in spite of those insanely high taxes, the schools are broke and the worst in the nation, the infrastructure hasn't been upgraded nor repaired since the early 70's, commerce is retarded by lack of any sane transportation upgrades (everyone knows that the true goal of Oregon is to have everyone ride bikes or walk or take mass transit) and the public services are in chaos.

    And yet they can't understand why there's a massive exodus of citizens from the State. After all, a seven year old kid knows that when you have a society like the U.S.S.R., the people will try to escape as quickly as they can. Yet the Motherland of Oregon hasn't figured that out yet.

    And this, above all, just shows that the collective stupidity of the liberal, communistic, socialistic, Democrat Party of Oregon is surpassed ONLY by their mind numbing intellectual dishonesty.

    Cheers!!

     

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      snowburn, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 10:30am

      Re: It's obvious...

      Just once, I'd like someone to explain to me what is actually wrong with socialism - or even communism - in and of itself. And do so without pointing to problems that stem from the corruption of too much power in the hands of too few, which capitalism does absolutely nothing to prevent... i.e. don't confuse communism with totalitarianism or capitalism with democracy.
      A system where the basic needs of every citizen are provided for by the government, through taxes paid by those who can most afford them. Yeah, that's a terrible idea...

       

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        Mike (profile), Apr 18th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re: It's obvious...

        Just once, I'd like someone to explain to me what is actually wrong with socialism - or even communism - in and of itself.

        It's rather simple, actually. Such a system involves a body of folks (usually, but not always, the gov't) deciding how to best allocate resources, rather than the market. And as you understand basic economics, you'll quickly realize that since that body cannot possibly understand all the variables at play, they will do so less efficiently than the market.

        So you are right. Corruption has nothing to do with it. It's all about how you most efficiently allocate resources -- and it's the market mechanism that does that.

        As a secondary point, the more efficient you allocate resources, the easier and faster it is to grow your economy too. So socialism and communism limit growth opportunities too by misallocating resources.

         

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    ymal brucker, May 9th, 2008 @ 4:44pm

    Response

    I haven't seen the response yet, but I think it's along the lines of:

    "So, I guess a blow-job is out of the question?"

    Nuts like this need to be held up to ridicule, shame, and the derision they so richly deserve. Shunning good too.

     

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    Mortifis, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 10:36pm

    It's Simple

    Okay, maybe Oregonians just like to complain, I mean, all I hear all day is back seat politicians debating "If I were President I'd ...." anyway, it's as simple as this ... take the copyright notice off the website and stop claiming your wrote the law! Then Oregon could care less if any one posts the laws. They are peeved Juatia is taking credit for someone else's work. There is a Federal law broken here, it's called Plagiarism.

     

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