Carl Malamud's Public.Resource.Org Joins Effort To Make Pay-Walled Indian Standards Freely Available

from the operating-system-of-society dept

Techdirt has been covering for some time Carl Malamud's project to open source the "operating system of society" by placing digital versions of US laws, codes and regulations on the site Public Resource. But of course, the logic of allowing the public to be able to read all the laws and regulations that govern them applies outside the US just as much. And so it's perhaps no surprise that Malamud has joined with other campaigners (including Vint Cerf) in petitioning the Indian government to allow that country's standards to be made freely available to the public in the same way. Here's a summary of the move:
Public.Resource.Org, a non-profit that works on spreading knowledge on the Internet for the benefit of the general public, along with a few other concerned folks have petitioned the [Indian] Government to make the currently pay-walled "Indian Standards" available and accessible to the general public for free. As the petition points out, since these Standards govern the safety and reliability of several thousands of day to day products & processes, there are several unnecessary negative cascading effects that the current financial barrier to accessing them creates. As these Standards also serve as edicts of the Government, the petition submits that as is the case with legislation, the general public also has a right to be able to view these Standards. Aside from this, giving the general public access to these Standards would also be in line with the work of the Government's work on maintaining and improving these Standards. It is hoped that the Ministry revisits its Copyright policy which currently disallows the free promulgation of these Standards.
That comes from Swaraj Paul Barooah, on the excellent Spicy IP site. He's also one of the petitioners, and the rest of his post is an interesting discussion of the reasons why public standards should be freely available. It also explains why the petition has become necessary:
In June, 2013, Carl Malamud, on behalf of Public.Resource.Org procured a complete set of Indian Standards from BIS [the Bureau of Indian Standards] and not only made them available online for public non-commercial use, but also took great pains to retype and process many of the standards to make them more useful to people -- including redrawing 202 diagrams in in SVG vector format to allow for them to be resized and cut and pasted into documents by users, retyping and reformatting the entire National Building Code of India (as well as over 700 other Standards) into valid XHTML code so that it works in modern browsers and mobile platforms etc.

However, when he applied for a renewal in 2014, he received a reply stating that his efforts were against the copyright policy of BIS and was requested to remove all documents relating to the standards from his website, failing which legal action would be taken against him for violation of their copyright.
That, of course, is a story with which Malamud is all-too familiar. Luckily, that means he has plenty of experience in overcoming whatever objections the authorities have to allowing the public to read key documents without having to pay for them. Let's hope he and his fellow petitioners are successful -- not just for India's sake, but also as an example for many more countries around the world to follow.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: carl malamud, copyright, india, laws, public, public access, regulations, standards


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 1:14am

    If you are talking about standards that must be followed by law or any Government mandate makes no sense to make access to it harder or even unavailable (for the poorer). Unless, of course, your aim is to make money and not to serve the population.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 5:23am

      Re:

      "your aim is to make money and not to serve the population."

      This is the Mission Statement of politicians everywhere.


      and btw - ignorance of the law is no excuse.
      "But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      "If you are talking about standards that must be followed by law or any Government mandate makes no sense"

      Not only is it nonsensical, but it's straight-up wrong. If a standard must be met by law, then that effectively makes the standard itself law. If something is a law, then it should be readily available at no cost to the people who are being required to comply with it.

      Anything else is immoral and should be illegal.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re:

        If you're referring to standards by IBC, ANSI, ISO, NFPA, etc. that get codified into law or regulation: WHY are they NOT made public domain like statutes and regulations?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 12:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Because what is a small expense for a large corporation can be a crippling charge for a start up. That is a feature not a bug.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 10:37am

    carl malamud = super mensch

    what a GREAT citizen, THANK YOU, Mr. Malamud...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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