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EFF to Court: Public's Right to Access the Law Should Not be Blocked by Bogus Copyright Case

September 8, 2016

EFF to Court: Public's Right to Access the Law Should Not be Blocked by Bogus Copyright Case

Monday Hearing in Lawsuit Against Public.Resource.Org

Update: This hearing will be held at 9:00 am. In an order issued Friday, the court rescheduled arguments in the case for 9:00 am.

Washington, D.C.—On Monday, September 12, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Legal Director Corynne McSherry will urge a federal court to confirm that the public has a right to access and share the laws, regulations, and standards that govern us and cannot be blocked by overbroad copyright claims.

The court in Washington, D.C., is hearing arguments in two cases against EFF client Public.Resource.Org, an open records advocacy website. In these suits, several industry groups claim they own copyrights on written standards for building safety and educational testing they helped develop, and can deny or limit public access to them even after the standards have become part of the law. Standards like these that are legal requirements—such as the National Electrical Code—are available only in paper form in Washington, D.C., in expensive printed books, or through a paywall. By posting these documents online, Public.Resource.Org seeks to make these legal requirements more available to the public that must abide by them. The industry groups allege the postings infringe their copyright, even though the standards have been incorporated into government regulations and, therefore, must be free for anyone to view, share, and discuss.

McSherry and co-counsel Andrew Bridges at Fenwick & West will argue at the hearing that our laws belong to all of us and private organizations shouldn’t be allowed to abuse copyright to control who can read, excerpt, or share them. They will be assisted by EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz and Fenwick & West Associate Matthew Becker.

What:
Hearing in ASTM v. Public.Resource.org and AERA v. Public.Resource.org

Who:
EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry

When:
Monday, September 12, 9:00 am

Where:
Courtroom 2, 2nd Floor
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
333 Constitution Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

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