Sunday, May 11, 2008

 

Oregon Threatening People Who Post State Laws

David Post at VC writes:

The State of Oregon, bless its heart, has begun sending out cease-and-desist letters to websites like Justia and Public.Resource.Org, demanding that the sites take down copies of the Oregon Revised Statutes posted there on the grounds that the posting infringes the State's copyright in the statutes.

Hard to believe, but apparently true. [See Cory Doctorow's posting on Boing Boing, and the story from TechDirt, along with accompanying documents.

The copyright claim is (like a lot of copyright claims these days) probably about 98% horse manure. They're not asserting copyright in the text of the laws themselves, but in the "arrangement and subject matter compilation," the numbering of statutory sections, and the various "tables, indices, and annotations" contained in the documents. Lots of that stuff is simply not copyrightable -- and even as to the stuff in which there might be copyright protection, what makes the State of Oregon so sure that it, and not the various individuals who authored particular sections, owns the copyright to those contributions?

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