One Simple Copyright Reform Idea: Government Edicts Should Never Be Subject To Copyright

from the should-be-a-no-brainer dept

With copyright reform back on the table, there are bound to be more and more discussions and various ideas suggested. But here's one that we hope is a no brainer for everyone. Carl Malamud, who has worked on making more public information available to the public than anyone else (and, yes, it's crazy that he needs to do this), has famously highlighted many cases of governments locking up key information that the public ought to have, including official copies of laws, judicial rulings and the standards that are referenced by various laws. So he has now proposed -- with the support of a bunch of big thinkers in this arena -- a simple proposal for one specific type of copyright reform: The Edicts of Government Amendment. The idea is simple:
To promote access to justice, equal protection, innovation in the legal marketplace, and to codify long-standing public policy, the Copyright Act of the United States, 17 U.S.C., should be amended as follows:
“Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of public policy. This applies to such works whether they are Federal, State, or local as well as to those of foreign governments.”
This language comes directly from Section 206.01, Compendium of Office Practices II, U.S. Copyright Office (1984). It reflects clear and established Supreme Court precedent on the matter in cases such as Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 591 (1834) and Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244 (1888). The law belongs to the people, who should be free to read, know, and speak the laws by which they choose to govern themselves.
Such a basic concept, I'm wondering if there's anyone who will present a counter argument for why this shouldn't be done today.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: carl malamud, copyright reform, government edicts


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2013 @ 9:52am

    Re: Are YOU for this, Mike? Cause, this sounds like a HOPE:

    You make no sense. The one does not lead in any way to the other. I realize that communication isn't easy for you, but try to expand upon your thoughts enough that others can follow your leapfrogging.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Advertisment

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.