Legislation Legal  
Court Rules Posting Standards  
Online Violates Copyright Law  
he U.S. District Court for the sued Public.Resource.Org for copy- fair to make businesses and the public  
District of Columbia ruled that right infringement in August 2013. It purchase access to laws they’re forced to  
public-records activist Carl Mal- ordered Malamud’s group to take down obey.ASTM,ASHRAE and NFPA argued  
amud’s organization, Public.Resource. thousands of pages of documents it that copyright protection is essential for  
Org, violated copyright law by publicly has posted online and barred the orga- their work because it takes a lot of money  
sharing standards that are used in laws nization from sharing any more.  
and effort to draw up codes. They also  
such as building codes. It also said or- Public.Resource.Org had argued that claimed that the standards they develop  
ganizations that develop standards, in- standards become “legal facts” when are “necessary for a well-functioning  
cluding those used in the fenestration they’re incorporated into state or federal economy and a safe society.”Additionally,  
industry, have the right to charge rea- regulations and thus can’t be copyrighted. the organizations say they already have  
sonable fees to access them. Malamud The court rejected that argument. It said “policies for providing interested mem-  
told USGlass in an e-mail that he’ll ap- industry standards differ from other laws bers of the public access to standards  
peal the ruling.  
The court ruled in favor of ASTM ment officials and thus are not covered erence into statutes and regulations.”  
International, the American Society of under the Copyright Act. The court sided with ASTM,  
Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Con- The court also rejected Public.Re- ASHRAE and NFPA, noting that Con-  
ditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and source.Org’s argument about unfet- gress allows the Government Publish-  
the National Fire Protection Associ- tered access to standards. ing Office to charge fees to access the  
because they’re not written by govern- known to have been incorporated by ref-  
ation (NFPA), which had originally  
Malamud’s organization said it’s un- Federal Register or congressional re-  
cords. It also said it’s the responsibility  
of Congress to make laws that might  
increase public access to standards.  
There are weighty policy arguments  
on both sides of this issue,including the  
need to preserve a vital and complicated  
public-private partnership between the  
government and SDOs (standard devel-  
oping organizations), and the need for  
an informed citizenry to have a full un-  
derstanding of how to comply with the  
nation’s legal requirements,” the court  
wrote in its decision.“However, this suit  
is not about access to the law in a broad  
sense, but instead about the validity of  
copyrights for these standards under  
current federal law.Copyright protection  
is a creature of statute,and as such is the  
result of careful policy considerations by  
Congress.In the view of this court,Con-  
gress has already passed on the question  
of revoking copyright protection for  
standards that have been incorporated  
by reference into regulations, and any  
further consideration of the issue must  
be left to Congress for amendment.” n  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | March 2017  

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