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 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 …


  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's very simple

    If the material is copyright protected then you have to pay for it unless the owner of the copyright allows it to be specifically displayed or disseminated. That requires prior written agreement. Since Malamud did not obtain legal rights to publish copyright materials he is guilty and should be fined and if appropriate for repeat offenses, sent to jail.

    The laws are very clear. If you want to access, use or distribute copyright protected materials then you must pay for them or go to prison for piracy and be fined handsomely. You can spin it any way you like but that is the law and copyright law exists for the purpose of protecting "art". End of discussion.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: It's very simple

      Slow hand clap. Now go back and read the article properly.

      His whole arguement is that they are claiming copyright on something not copyrightable - therefore if he wins the case he hasn't breached copyright.

      Do keep up AC.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: It's very simple

        It is the usual AC posting by one of the copyright organisations who writes the same drivel every time. There has been a change in the writing style - this one doesn't use "perp" - but the source is clear: just another troll.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's very simple

      I regret that I can only downvote this obnoxious post once. I can only think it is a wilful misunderstanding of what this is all about.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: It's very simple

      The laws may be clear, but if you aren't allowed to read them, you have a problem.

    4. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: It's very simple

      It is very simple indeed, just read the Copyright Law of the United States of America § 107.

      Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include--

      (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

      (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

      (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

      (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

      The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's very simple

      That's what hitler said

  2. Identity

    Is that so?

    "It's also clear that Georgia did not put its finest lawyers on the case…"

    What makes you think so?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. JLV

    Hidden taxes and wastes of time

    There are way too many silly cases of standards and legal codes that are meant for public consumption, but are charged by nominally neutral and public-interest parties.

    For example, I find it galling that in 2015 we still can't access the mysterious ANSI SQL standards docs without paying a presumably large chunk of change for it.

    Ditto having to buy a sample house owner to provider contract from my province's home renovation/construction professional organization. This was a while back and it was only $25, but what a waste of time. How many of these things do they sell anyway?

    Anyone claiming to be an IT standards or public service entity should be shamed into being more open.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "without the ability to charge for access [..], the State [..] would not be able to maintain it"

    Sorry ? What kind of sorry excuse is that for scrounging more money for what is already a public resource ?

    Are you seriously trying to make people believe that they have to pay to consult what their taxes have already paid for ?

    It's the LAW. If your local government cannot maintain its services and duty to its public, then it is high time Georgians find a government that can.

    1. Tcat

      Re: "without the ability to charge for access [..], the State [..] would not be able to maintain it"

      Better yet. Let's have an election. Multi-issue.

      Tax access to the law you are required to follow? Y/N. (GA)

      Sales tax (2015 8%) on basic food like bread and milk. (AL)

      Slavery pride (SC)

      I'm an American and SE A Vet. I say let them vote.

      They want to tax the law, food, worship slavery? Let them form

      That stupid confederation. Just don't buy or sell crap nuthin to them.

      Let them live on Coke, cotton and corn. Don't ship a pint of decent Ale to a man unless he's dying.

  5. Stuart Grout

    UK comparison

    I can only assume the issue is the assumption that the state of Georgia is not allowed to charge for works it publishes.

    In the UK similar guides such as the Civil Court Practice guides are used by judges and solicitors but it's not free. This isn't published by the government and costs around £500. In other areas of law there are other commercial works that act as guides to the laws, few of which are free.

    The government also publishes guides but in general they're of limited value. In the past the government guidance was far more detailed but very expensive to maintain. This was probably one of the reasons the government's guidance has become more general and is now always prefaced by a statement that it isn't an authoritative guide.

    Being unable to recover the costs of producing such annotated guides has been very effective at making sure that commercial companies are now the main providers of such guidance, a win for free enterprise if not for justice.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: UK comparison

      Free enterprise is illegal.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If someone wrote a text book explaining the law, as it stood, I don't think anybody would argue that that was copyrightable. When I see people talk of "annotations", I read it as above. If these annotations/text book was produced by a private individual, I don't think this argument would exist. So, I am kinda see the problem, unfortunately. Whether they should be charging for them, especially in electronic format, is an entirely different question altogether. It is a moral question.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      To an extent, I see your argument. However, the important bit is that judges use them to decide what the law is. This means that they are either a) being used wrongly by the judges because they are not official, and should be entered as evidence so that everyone knows what the decisions are being based on, or b) they are part of the law and not copyrightable under the relevant US federal laws. Either way, people subject to the law need to know them.

      On an aside, this is exactly the way it should be in the UK - anything relied on by judges in coming to a decision should be in evidence or copyright-free. However, it isn't.

    2. Tcat

      What Title Code are You Reading?

      Whoa. OK, I'm the slide-rule type brain. So forgive my stupid question. The Librarian Ruled on this matter already. *I* was having a coffee with milk one fine morning on the deck of my hi-rise watching the dolphins head north to San Diego when MS SAM the male voice read to me the RSS feed about the ruling.

      I got out of my chair and started to liberate the isptpi CTT standards buried by CompTIA (using in part my own 10 K USD contribution). Amazon about 1 year later took exception to my 'fair use' by it's own corporate standards and did a take down.

      I later did a take down on Barnes & Noble because of very detailed reviews where I did not receive a royalty payment or report based on detailed reviews.

  7. Alan Brown Silver badge

    In the old days, annotated guides were expensive to maintain not because of the annotations but because of distribution costs.

    This is the 21st century. Nowadays you only have to maintain one copy. If you want to get really sophisticated you can even arrange an automated system to notify interested parties whenever the content changes.

    I think he's going to win this one. I'm pretty sure federal laws on govt-produced documents override state ones.

  8. -tim

    I wish the state the best of luck

    I hope they manage to get this all the way to the US Supreme Court where it will be shot down for the next few decades. Some states that formed the US had already determined that concept of Crown Copyright was a bad idea by the early 1700s and had refused to pass any laws allowing it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse...

    ... unless you charge for copies.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Small-government conservatives

    Gotta love southern conservatives' dedication to limited government and low taxes.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    This might help (or confuse)

    Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of public policy. This applies to such works whether they are Federal, State, or local as well as to those of foreign governments.

    1. shovelDriver

      Re: This might help (or confuse)

      I do appreciate the pointer to that quote, but let us not forget that Wikipedia is not an official citation of what the law actually says. Rather, it's a place where almost anyone can proclaim and edit to make their viewpoint prominent. Those, including lawyers and judges, who rely on Wikipedia are - one might think - criminally culpable.

      1. Tcat


        OMG, I'm sorry to have to downvote you.

        YES, your point is correct and accurate. Completely.

        And it is the very point of democracy that Wikipedia and law are based on.

        CERTINLY, Wikipedia is subject to malignant. A temporary condition.

        ALSO, an accurate ~reflection of being human.

  12. Red Bren
    Black Helicopters

    Annotations for terrorism laws

    A terrorist is any person who causes embarrassment to the state

    1. Hans 1

      Re: Annotations for terrorism laws

      Georgians are like Texans, embarrassments to mankind.

  13. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A bit harsh on fools and dopes who do coke ........

    A terrorist is any person who causes embarrassment to the state ..... Red Bren

    Hmmm? So, Red Bren, are we to be led to believe that Lord Sewel of Gilcomstoun is a terrorist ....... for the behaviour of that lord both before and after the fact is more than just highly embarrassing to the state and Lady Jennifer ?!......

    And is the sad lord a public school upper class twit, too?!

    1. Red Bren

      Re: A bit harsh on fools and dopes who do coke ........

      Political commentary AMFM? Have you been upgrading your AI?

  14. Tcat

    A nice guy that live in Dublin attempted to work with me one state west, Alabama. I thought it would be great fun as Huntsville (Rocket City), AL has more PhD's per capita then even my much loved Seattle/Bellevue.

    *WOW*. The South East of the USA IS NOT a place for small business. We literally could not open a bank account. ME with a Redmond WA drivers license (he's some sort of weird engineer, not our kind) and HIM, Ireland? It's that the spawn of the Unabomber or the IRA or something about Dublin? <sigh>

    Google or anybody bringing thousands of jobs. Increasing payroll by 3 people? Bigger off.

    A waste of my time and life.


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