back to article US State of Georgia sues 'terrorist' for publishing its own laws ... on the internet

The State of Georgia in the US is suing the owner of the Public.Resource.org website for publishing the State of Georgia's own laws online. According to the lawsuit [PDF] filed this week, Carl Malamud has "engaged in an 18 year long crusade to control the accessibility of U.S. government documents by becoming the United States …

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Black Helicopters

Lets hope he isnt black

We wouldnt want anything bad to happen to him "accidentally"; especially while in US Police custody.

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Pint

He should know better...

He should know better. There are secret laws that explicitly prohibit such behaviour.

These laws have been tested and upheld in closed court during various secret trials.

Geesh.

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Re: Lets hope he isnt black

Whatever his race, I hope he's not planning to vacation in Georgia anytime in the near future.

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Re: Lets hope he isnt black

It's not just black americans that randomly die in the US when dealing with the police. That's the irony; actually way more white people do *AND* there's no reporting standards with regards to who/why, so naturally there's no reliable data available.

This is all stuff you want to be happening in a democracy of course.

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Aww hell <kicks dirt>

We'all folks up here in Tennessee think them folks in Geeorgia are a mite tetched in the head anyways... dumb crackers... Like my uncle always said, 'Oncet ya cross that there Tennessee line, y'all out of the country'.*

*The 'T' word is such a wonderful tool, especially in light of Mr. Malamud's name, to evoke an emotional response to any given situation. Given the expense in treasure and time to defend against malicious attacks, as I have experienced recently over a land contract, you don't stand a chance in hell against these fuckers without serious cash. You get put in a position where you have to make a business decision, rather than stand on principle. Damn bloodsucking lawyers... they always win.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lets hope he isnt black

It's like white people never die in police custody. Every wrongful death is a tragedy.

However, blacks, consisting about 13% of the population in the U.S. commit over half of its murders, so it's really not difficult see why a black person would have more contact with the police. Maybe the U.S. blacks should stop murdering people left and right as a solution, eh?

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Trollface

This is a joke right? Oh yeah, it's 'mericca 2015. Can they not at least plant some 'evidence' and keep this out of the press? Frigg'n noob prosecutors

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Georgia is taking the Arse out of Mecca

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Major change needed

Deny the right to right to assert copyright in anything extruded from a state outfit. It has already been paid for in the form of tax money shifted to well-connected "friends & operators" and possibly excessive salaries to petulant civil serpents. End of story. Everybody wins.

The fact that state throws money out of the windows to pursue "copyright claims" using "terrorism" as a sort of argument should lead to guillotines being erected on public places and cleansing to begin worthwith.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Major change needed

In fact, I did think that any document produced by the government was in the public domain (e.g anything written by the NASA). Or is that only the Federal government?

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Re: Major change needed

There's a difference between "in the public domain" and "is public domain". "In the public domain" means that the public know about it. The documentation that documents the fact that Harry Potter is a wizard is in the public domain, but not is public domain.

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Re: Major change needed

Ah, but informing citizens of waht the government really is up to has always been an act of Terrorism.. Can't have the hoi-polloi play by the same rules on an even field now, can you? Something with a closed cabinet in a disused cellar with a sign "Beware of the Leopard!" , or the Alpha Centauri equivalent comes to mind.

He's obviously touched a couple of fuses amongst the Powers that Be ( aka the Civil "Servants" ). A politician would have been warned off by his staff long ago not to try this line of attack..

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Re: Major change needed

Anything produced by the federal government is.

But the local authorities do a lot of this sort of stuff, you have to sign that your bathroom remodelling meets the county plumbing rules, a copy costs $500 and changes each year -- it's just a hidden local tax.

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Re: Major change needed

It's why I don't do any kind of work that would fall under the label "contracting" (aside from IT). It costs a fortune just to keep up with "code" even in one area.

Some day they'll attach such rules to IT contracting. Watch.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Major change needed

> the hoi-polloi

Can I please be gratuitously pedantic and show off about the only thing I learned (and definitely the only I still remember) during my semester of classical Greek many years ago, and point out that "hoi" (οι?) is, in fact, the nominative masculine singular form of the definite demonstrative article? Or in order words, it means "the", and therefore "the hoi" is a bit of a pleonasm.

I feel much smugger now, thank you for your tolerance.

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Re: Major change needed

> Deny the right to right to assert copyright in anything extruded from a state outfit.

Whoops. So all publicly funded research should be up for grabs for exploitation by commercial organisations without royalties? No thanks, if I've already paid for it once I don't want to have to pay a second time and I don't want damn freeloaders using it.

Which is where these two extremes meet - If Carl Malamud is profiting from republishing documents owned by the taxpayer that are _reasonably_ available to those taxpayers, he's scamming people.

> Without providing the publisher with the ability to recoup its costs for the development of these ... annotations, the State of Georgia will be required to either stop publishing the annotations altogether or pay for development of the annotations using state tax dollars.

If that statement from the State of Georgia is actually correct, that there is a (reasonable) cost to creating the content, then a charge to cover the costs seems reasonable.

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Re: Major change needed

But the research is also available to all their competitors

With the current system you pay for the research, a single company rolls up and licenses it for an undisclosed (but tiny) fee and it disappears into their IP portfolio.

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Re: Major change needed

... and how about PIN number?

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Re: Major change needed

"Deny the right to right to assert copyright in anything extruded from a state outfit."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_the_United_State says:

As a matter of longstanding public policy, the U.S. Copyright Office will not register a government edict that has been issued by any state, local, or territorial government, including legislative enactments, judicial decisions, administrative rulings, public ordinances, or similar types of official legal materials. Likewise, the Office will not register a government edict issued by any foreign government or any translation prepared by a government employee acting within the course of his or her official duties.

http://www.cendi.gov/publications/04-8copyright.html#312

3.1.9 Are Government websites provided copyright protection?

In accordance with 17 USC §10571, works prepared by government employees as part of their official duties are not subject to copyright protection in the U.S. (See FAQ Sections 3.1.1 and 3.1.2). This applies to government employee prepared works posted to government Web sites and to the government website itself if government employees as part of their official duties prepare it.

However, if a government web site is developed or maintained by a contractor, parts of the web site authored by the contractor that are subject to copyright protection (i.e., that qualify as copyrightable subject matter) are protected by copyright. Ownership of the copyright and the respective rights of the Government and the contractor are in accordance with the terms of the contract under which the web site was developed or maintained. Additionally, it is possible that copyrighted works owned by others may be posted to government web sites. Copyrighted works that are not owned by the Government should be included on government web sites only with permission of the copyright owner and should include an appropriate copyright notice.

3.2 Government Works Included In Non-Government Works

3.2.1 May another publisher or individual republish a U.S. Government work and assert copyright?

A publisher or individual can republish a U.S. Government work, but the publisher or individual cannot legally assert copyright unless the publisher or individual has added original, copyright protected material. In such a case, copyright protection extends only to the original material that has been added by the publisher or individual. (See 17 USC � 40372 regarding copyright notice requirements for works incorporating U.S. Government works.)

(It goes on to cover a lot more. My reading of this is that Georgia is going to find itself pilloried over this.)

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Re: Major change needed

"But the local authorities do a lot of this sort of stuff, you have to sign that your bathroom remodelling meets the county plumbing rules, a copy costs $500 and changes each year -- it's just a hidden local tax."

Based on my interpretation of US copyright law, there is no copyright on any governmental documentation, and that goes right down to local govt or provate corporations performing a governmental function (such as housing associations)

IANAL, nor do I play one on TV. The problem when fighting this kind of thing is that unless the federal circuit courts make a ruling you can expect the local/state authorities to fight it every last step of the way, as it takes away their ability to profit from control freakery.

Edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_status_of_work_by_U.S._subnational_governments

Federal law expressly denies U.S. copyright protection to two types of government works: works of the U.S. federal government itself, and all edicts of any government regardless of level or whether or not foreign.

That's pretty clear - and rules/regulations are edicts.

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Re: Major change needed

Ah, but building codes in the US are NOT usually created by the government directly. They are developed by third parties and are the government just says that they must be adhered to. Essentially, "incorporated by reference". It is an interesting situation.

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Re: Major change needed

Ah, but the costs of any work performed by or contracted by government has in fact already been funded - paid for - by the collection of taxes. Though there is the recurring theft by government employees, mostly politicians and upper-level brown-nose bureaucratics, which contracts work that has not been budgeted for. I do wonder if proper analysis would show correlations between that and bank account growth of gov employees and/or their favored contractors.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Major change needed

Of course there is a cost to publishing it. It's the cost of operating government. So you think access to the law is a special privilege citizens should pay extra for?

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Re: Major change needed

Nothing like Copyright to get the gubmint acting stupid.

Unless ... maybe some one will notice that the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) specifically says persons not citizens. I'll share my popcorn. It will be fun.

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Re: Major change needed

Only material created by the federal government by federal employees is in the public domain. States and local governments can copyright their materials.

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Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

Kofi Annan

The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.

Tom Clancy

Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility.

Robin Morgan

Knowledge is power.

Sir Francis Bacon

So, Georgia, are you servant or master?

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Re: Knowledge is Power

You know you play too much 40K when you read this and think 'Knowledge is power, guard it well.'

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Re: Knowledge is Power

You must remember that the Obarmy administration has set the president over the last few years.

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Re: Knowledge is Power

You forgot.

"We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false! "

Gollum.

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Re: Knowledge is Power

And simple complex words create, command and control worlds and provide power and energy to leading virtual systems of operation/relatively remote anonymised control. Hence the earlier burning of books campaigns/information purges.

Such actions/proactions today though, are problematical and practically impossible whenever information and intelligence are freely shared over virtually provided networks.

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Re: Alien Knowledge is Power ..... Clarification and Addendum

Such earlier actions/proactions as the burning of books and information purges are a problem nowadays for they have no effect whatsoever on the rise and drive of relatively anonymous remote control systems of administration/perceptions management/media command and control/spooky rule with sublime regulation.

Deny and/or ignore that it and IT deliver braver new orderly world order futures and derivative ventures to markets and prime and sub-prime state and non-state actors and you will be just as a helpless and hapless spectator to all that is provisioned? ’Twas ever the case for the pathetic and apathetic of nature though, and natural enough justice to boot in the root.

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Re: Alien Knowledge is Power ..... Clarification and Addendum, and a Valid Point to Ponder

And when intelligence bodies work with empowering systems that do not heed and respond to new directions and novel instructions, is command and control lost in the traditional and conventional and granted to the radical and revolutionary for the purging of neo fascist entities with militant tendencies and glaring inadequacies?

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Anonymous Coward

devil in the detail

"That annotated version is frequently used by the courts to make decisions of law"

This seems to be the key point. Questions that spring to my mind are

Is the annotated work actually cited or is it more like a reference work that links useful case history with the law?

Who buys it ? Lawyers, legal students, the judges?

Does the state of Georgia make a profit from sales?

Anyone got any answers.

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Re: devil in the detail

That's along the same lines I was thinking... If the courts use (let alone, rely on) the annotations (or glosses), then those annotations are, functionally, part of the law and the same copyright and access rules should apply to them that apply to the underlying statutes.

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Re: devil in the detail

From the TechDirt post linked in the article:

"While the annotations are often used to better understand the relevant case law, it does not appear that the courts directly refer to the annotations themselves."

While the annotations are doubtless a useful resource, they're part of a reference work, not actually part of the law. It's the difference between reading the text of Hamlet free on the internet and paying for the Arden scholarly edition which explains all the dick jokes. As someone who once spent a lot of time creating editions of old manuscripts and explaining all their dick jokes, I have no problem with annotations being protected by copyright.

This is not a case of "requiring a license before allowing citizens to read or speak the law". The law is available online, free, at the Lexis link provided in the article (I know it says it's a blank page but it worked for me; maybe you should check that, Kieren).

Of course, that doesn't make the State's accusations of "terrorism" any less ridiculous; neither does it remove issues concerning the State profiting from the publication of these annotations.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: devil in the detail

"While the annotations are doubtless a useful resource, they're part of a reference work, not actually part of the law. It's the difference between reading the text of Hamlet free on the internet and paying for the Arden scholarly edition which explains all the dick jokes."

I don't think you understand. I don't have to read the Arden version; I won't go to prison if I don't understand it. I will just fail to understand part of Shakespeare and that will just be part of all the other authors I don't understand very well and don't have time to have explained to me in depth. But the annotations here seem to relate to how the law is actually interpreted. They are, de facto, part of the law. If I read an annotation that says "Terrorism means anything that Officer Dibble doesn't like", or (since it's Georgia) "Of course this section only applies to black people", then I discover that the free law I read is not the same law that is applied.

If annotations are needed to explain to various people how a law works, they are part of the law and should be freely available. Ignorantia juris non excusat might have made sense when law was made by small communities, but nowadays there is so much law (to the vast benefit of lawyers) that it reads like a scam. If people must pay to read the law, something is very wrong with society.

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Re: devil in the detail

Of course laws are a scam. A lot of regulations are based on restricting access to documents. Take the National Electric Code, sure you can go down to the library and look at it but try downloading a copy on the web-o-tubes.

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Re: devil in the detail

Using copyright to restrict access to regulations ( eg the national electric code) should be illegal - and is in several countries.

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Mushroom

Re: devil in the detail @ Alan Brown

OK - let's bring this over the pond to Blighty.

National Laws - available for free over the interwebs. (Off topic - it's frightening just how much legislation the beggars manage to excrete each year - clue - its not in the region of tens of megebytes.)

Building regulations approved documents are available free on the web - but they seem to change where you can get em from regularly.

<RANT>

British Standards - enreneering documents - are in many cases either enshirned into law or an approved way of compliance. Try getting THEM off the net. You might find access in a public library, but I've never found them available for loan. It's the sort of document you need to read through carefully, at least in parts, and have available for reference.

They are:

a. Eyewateringly expensive.

b. Obsoleted and replaced regularly for minor changes.

c. Used to be common sense engineering documents logicall written and easy to follow, increasingly appearing be the fruit of a committee of linguistically challenged camels sufering enhanced sleep deprevation from too many....

Anyone other than a gofer at the very end of the chain HAS to have access to these documents

to do their job legally, and, more importantly, safely.

HEY THERE HMG - IF YOU WANT TO REFERENCE THESE THINGS IN THE LAW THEN EITHER MAKE THEM FREELY ACCESSIBLE OR IF YOU WANT TO BE COMPLETELY DAFT QUOTE THE RELEVENT BITS (THE WHOLE STANDARD(s) IN MOST CASES) IN THE LEGISLATION.

</RANT>

I've just had to shell out AGAIN for copy of the wiring regulations BS7671 because they've shat all over it with significant ammendments. Again. List price £85 And that's just ONE standard.

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Re: devil in the detail

"neither does it remove issues concerning the State profiting from the publication of these annotations."

If the state is publishing them, then it's a government work.

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Re: devil in the detail @ Alan Brown

"Let's bring this over the pond to Blighty."

The difference is that in the UK, the crown reserves copyright on all works and as such can control access/availability.

US copyright law expressly prohibits copyright on governmental works and edicts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: devil in the detail

Of course laws are a scam. A lot of regulations are based on restricting access to documents. Take the National Electric Code, sure you can go down to the library and look at it but try downloading a copy on the web-o-tubes.

Actually, the NEC is freely available at archive.org:

https://archive.org/details/nfpa.nec.2014

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WTF?

Land of the free™

As you can see, I have trademarked that phrase. Please pay me $1 each time that you say it.

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Re: Land of the free™

I'll start using just the moment it seems to be true.

So don't plan on getting rich anytime soon...

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LDS
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"pay for development of the annotations using state tax dollars"

Well, that's exactly what I expect taxpayers dollars to be used for also - not to pay for some politicians whims to collect votes... if you don't use taxpayers money to make available to them the very rules taxpayers are bound to, how could taxpayers vote sensibly the next time? Or the issue is exactly this, keep them ignorant of the rules you're setting forth, including court interpretations, so it's easier to collect votes?

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Re: "pay for development of the annotations using state tax dollars"

Take it a step further... if the laws are "copyrighted", then if you know the law without having a legal copy, you're guilty of a copyright/piracy law.

If you are arrested, you can plead "not knowing" there was a law because the law is "protected" and not freely disseminated.

Ah....this could be fun to watch.. pass the popcorn please.

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Facepalm

Ignorance of the Law...

...is not a defence.

So, cough up over three hundred dollars.

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Re: Ignorance of the Law...

Actually, picking up from Mark85's comment ignorance would have to become a valid defence in Georgia as they are saying that the law 'as applied in a courtroom' is not the same as the law which is documented in a Public library or any free source. This would prevent low income people from maintaining an awareness of the laws as it applies to them and therefore the state is creating an environment where they are more likely to inadvertantly commit an offence.

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Georgia's problem is that by printing this stuff online for free, black people can now read it.If only whites could read it wouldn't be a problem, but now blacks get to school and learn to read, you gotta stop them reading the equality laws

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Interesting Times ahead, El Reg ...... and especially so at Leading Cutting Edges

Georgia's problem is that by printing this stuff online for free, black people can now read it.If only whites could read it wouldn't be a problem, but now blacks get to school and learn to read, you gotta stop them reading the equality laws...... x 7

The world and his dogs of war have Georgia's problem, x 7, and it is no small matter that can be easily overwhelmed and defeated. Indeed, it is in actual fact and virtual fiction exactly the opposite case and will simply destroy all monsters.

El Regers, please read the following tales, of which this snippet is quite an APT ACTive reality unfolding around everyone everywhere ......

We are, for the first time in the history of the human race, experiencing something new in the body politic. Until recently, coercive political organizations were limited in their ability to control their fellow human beings. They simply didn't have the information, or the communications, or the reach to force everyone at every level of their society to bow to their will. With the exception of the printing press, the tools governments had during the American Revolution to control their populations were no different from those available to the Kings of Sumer or ancient Egypt.

Then, about 200 years ago, that started to change. Beginning with the telegraph and the railroad, science gave them new ways to enforce conformity. Now, with evolutions in the control of money, surveillance, communications and data management, their ability to construct the ultimate totalitarian state seems unstoppable.

But what the gods of technology giveth, they also taketh away. With digital systems comes increasing complexity and, in the cracks formed between those systems, hidden refuges for those who used to escape into a physical wilderness. For the politically dispossessed, there is now a new digital badlands. If you doubt that, ask yourself why, in a world dominated by government surveillance and big data, do we still have spam or Anonymous or hacking? Why have cyberattacks become more common, not less?

Thieves Emporium is a story that analyzes this new badlands and the conflict that is arising from its existence. If you really want to know where our society is going, you need to consider the ideas it puts forward.

This is not science fiction.

But it is a fun read. .... http://www.thedailybell.com/editorials/36400/Max-Hernandez-Introducing-Thieves-Emporium-Part-1-A-New-Wilderness/

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