ASTM v. Public Resource

Cover PageASTM v. PUBLIC.RESOURCE.ORG, INC. | Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-01215-TSC | D.D.C. | January 11, 2016 | The  Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief (pdf) on behalf of a group of law scholars in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in this case brought by several standards developing organizations (SDOs) against Public.Resource.org. Plaintiffs – including American Society for Testing and Materials, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) – filed the lawsuit back in 2013, after Public Resource made certain legally binding codes developed by plaintiffs available online. Amici argue in the brief that model codes incorporated into law are not, and should not be, copyrightable. The brief focuses on the issue of copyrightability, and amici request that the District Court find the model codes at issue are not proper subjects of copyright protection. The brief notes that, historically and pursuant to Supreme Court precedent, the law belongs in the public domain. Public access to the law is critical to ensuring that citizens are aware of the laws to which they are beholden. Such access should not be subject to the whims of a private organization. Additionally, amici argue that copyright’s merger doctrine applies to codes incorporated into law, for “[t]here is only one way to express what the law of a jurisdiction is, and that is the text of the law itself.”

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