Sheet Metal And Air Conditioning Contractors Use Bogus Copyright Takedown To Block Publication Of Federally Mandated Standards | Techdirt
"We've long been big fans of the work that Carl Malamud has done, helping to make public information actually available. Among his many, many, projects is one important one in which he buys up (often expensive) publications of standards that are built into federal requirements, and makes them public. If you're wondering why he should have to buy publications to access standards that are federal requirements, you've quickly understood the big problem. About a year ago, On The Media actually did a fantastic segment about this particular project of Malamud's. Of course, sooner or later, you knew someone was going to flip out, and apparently it's the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors of the world. Malamud's organization purchased the federally-mandated 1985 standard on air-duct leakage and posted it online as a part of this project. But the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA) claimed that the document violated its copyright and demanded it be taken offline, both by an initial DMCA notice (via Attributor) and then via threat of a lawsuit directly from a lawyer representing SMACNA. Malamud's Public.Resource.Org, with help from the EFF, have filed for declaratory judgment that posting such information does not infringe on SMACNA's copyright. In the filing, the case is made that since these standards are incorporated into federal regulations, they have the force of law, and thus cannot and must not be held in secret. 'Technical manuals like the 1985 manual at issue in this case, explicitly adopted by federal regulation, have the force of law and impose affirmative obligations on citizens. As much as landmark health care acts or Supreme Court civil rights decisions, these technical requirements—for building, electrical, plumbing, transportation—touch the lives of Americans every day. Business owners, workers, and consumers need to know these directives in order to operate their businesses lawfully, to avoid penalties, and to determine whether neighbors, contractors, or competitors are in compliance.' The crux of the argument is that as the standard is incorporated into law, it is no longer infringing to make that work available, as one cannot comply with the law without having that information. No matter what happens in the end, this should make for an interesting case to follow."