Congress: Don't Let Anyone Own The Law

Deeplinks 2024-04-19


We should all have the freedom to read, share, and comment on the laws we must live by. But yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 19-4 to move forward the PRO Codes Act (H.R. 1631), a bill that would limit those rights in a critical area. 


Tell Congress To Reject The Pro Codes Act

A few well-resourced private organizations have made a business of charging money for access to building and safety codes, even when those codes have been incorporated into law. 

These organizations convene volunteers to develop model standards, encourage regulators to make those standards into mandatory laws, and then sell copies of those laws to the people (and city and state governments) that have to follow and enforce them.

They’ve claimed it’s their copyrighted material. But court after court has said that you can’t use copyright in this way—no one “owns” the law. The Pro Codes Act undermines that rule and the public interest, changing the law to state that the standards organizations that write these rules “shall retain” a copyright in it, as long as the rules are made “publicly accessible” online. 

That’s not nearly good enough. These organizations already have so-called online reading rooms that aren’t searchable, aren’t accessible to print-disabled people, and condition your ability to read mandated codes on agreeing to onerous terms of use, among many other problems. That’s why the Association of Research Libraries sent a letter to Congress last week (supported by EFF, disability rights groups, and many others) explaining how the Pro Codes Act would trade away our right to truly understand and educate our communities about the law for cramped public access to it. Congress must not let well-positioned industry associations abuse copyright to control how you access, use, and share the law. Now that this bill has passed committee, we urgently need your help—tell Congress to reject the Pro Codes Act.


TELL CONGRESS: No one owns the law


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Joe Mullin

Date tagged:

04/19/2024, 16:31

Date published:

04/19/2024, 10:27