Carl Malamud open letter to Georgia General Assembly and RELX

“I am writing in the matter of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA). Despite a crystal-clear unanimous decision from United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on October 19, 2018, holding that people have the absolute right to speak and read Georgia’s official laws, I have been been unable to purchase a current copy of the OCGA….”

Despite Losing Its Copyright Case, The State Of Georgia Still Trying To Stop Carl Malamud From Posting Its Laws | Techdirt

When we last checked in with Carl Malamud and his Public.Resource.Org, they were celebrating a huge victory in Georgia, where the 11th Circuit had ruled that of course Malamud was not infringing on anyone’s copyrights in posting the “Official Code of Georgia Annotated” (OCGA) because there could be no copyright in the law. As we explained at length in previous posts, Georgia has a somewhat bizarre system in which the only official version of their law is the “officially” annotated version, in which the annotations (with citations to caselaw and further explanations) are written by a private company, LexisNexis, which then transfers the copyright (should one exist) on those annotations to the state.

Malamud, of course, has spent years, trying to make it easier for people to access the law — and that means all of the law, not just some of it. So when he posted a much more accessible version of the OCGA, the state sued him for copyright infringement. While the lower court ruled that the OCGA could have copyright, that the State of Georgia could hold it and that Malamud’s work was not fair use, the 11th Circuit tossed that out entirely, saying that since the OCGA was clearly the only official version of the law, there could be no valid copyright in it.

It was a pretty thorough and complete win. And, if the state of Georgia were mature and reasonable, you’d think that they’d (perhaps grudgingly) admit that anyone should have access to its laws and move on. But, this is the state of Georgia we’re talking about. And, it appears that the state has decided that rather than taking the high road, it’s going to act like a petty asshole.

Last week Malamud sent a letter describing how the state is now trying to block him from purchasing a copy of the OCGA. He’s not looking for a discount or any special deal. He wants to buy the OCGA just like anyone else can. And the state is refusing to sell it to him, knowing that he’s going to digitize it, put it online and (gasp) make it easier for the residents of Georgia to read their own damn laws….”

IS OPEN ACCESS AN ANSWER FOR ACCESS TO JUSTICE?

The University of North Texas Libraries and the UNT Dallas College of Law invite proposals for presentations for the 10th annual UNT Open Access Symposium, to be held May 17, 2019, at the UNT Dallas College of Law. This year’s theme is “Is Open Access an Answer for Access to Justice?”.

The legal profession seeks to ensure equitable access to justice for low-income people and an increasing number of members of the middle class. Similarly, the open data, open government, open development, and open access movements seek to ensure that resources created by information professionals are as widely available as possible, without barriers to reuse of data, documents, and other resources.

We invite brief proposals for presentations and interactive sessions to address questions such as:

  • Is open access to primary legal sources necessary for access to justice? If so, what is required?
  • Is open access to legal analysis and guidance necessary for access to justice?
  • What is the role of information professionals as mediators of resources to best serve their communities?
  • What are best practices for courts, the bar, and legal aid providers to use open access to legal information to promote access to justice?…”

LawNext Episode 18: Adam Ziegler on How Harvard Put 360 Years of Caselaw Online | LawSites

The recently launched Caselaw Access Project is the capstone to a massive undertaking executed over three years to digitize all U.S. case law, some 6.4 million cases dating back to 1658. Leading the project was Adam Ziegler, director of the Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School, which partnered with Ravel Law to digitize the school’s entire library of U.S. cases.

In this episode of LawNext, Ziegler joins me as my guest to describe the project and its significance for legal researchers….”

The state copyright conundrum: What’s your state government’s rule on copyright? | Courtney | College & Research Libraries News

“U.S. copyright law has a unique place in the world regarding federal works and copyright. Federal copyright law states that “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government.”1 This is a broad and clear statement that works of the federal government are in the public domain and are free for use by all.

The copyright status of works of the state governments, however, is often far more difficult to determine. While reasonable policy would contend that state government works should be available to the public at large, many states assert a copyright interest in their materials, and, most concerning, many more lack any clear legal guidance on the issue. States often produce a variety of copyrighted works. Figuring out whether these state materials are copyrighted is a tricky question, and one that many librarians and archivists face from time to time.

Several years ago, one such state copyright conundrum arrived at my doorstep at just the right time. The question furthered a concept I had been toying with for years. The library community could benefit from the creation of an overall resource outlining the patchwork of state copyright laws. This would also give librarians, archivists, lawyers, and the public the ability to use this resource as an effective tool for advocacy and greater understanding of state copyright. The result was the State Copyright Resource Center….”

Georgia v. Public.Resources.Org

“Today, we are presented with the question of whether the annotations contained in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), authored by the Georgia General Assembly and made an inextricable part of the official codification of Georgia’s laws, may be copyrighted by the State of Georgia. Answering this question means confronting profound and difficult issues about the nature of law in our society and the rights of citizens to have unfettered access to the legal edicts that govern their lives. After a thorough review of the law, and an examination of the annotations, we conclude that no valid copyright interest can be asserted in any part of the OCGA….”

The use and perceptions of open Access resources by legal academics at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa | Moll-Willard | Journal of Open Access to Law

Abstract:  Although access to primary legal materials in South Africa is now easily accessible as a result of the Free Access to Law movement, access to legal scholarship is not as easy. Through using the University of Cape Town (UCT) as a case study, due to its research intensive nature, it is possible to see how academics are publishing their legal scholarship through the use of bibliometrics and data mining. After the success of a Research Visibility month, law librarians were able to attest to the perceptions of legal academics around the importance of the openness and visibility of their research. The author contrasts these two to see if the perception of legal academics around the visibility of their resources reflects their publishing practices. It is seen that although academics at UCT publish mostly in closed journals, the publishing in open and hybrid journals has slowly increased during the period 2011-2015. Further it is evidenced that legal academics are exploring other avenues, including that of self-archiving, to boost the visibility of their work. Law Librarians are able to assist in boosting at least the visibility, if not the openness of legal academics’ work.

New bill would finally tear down federal judiciary’s ridiculous paywall | Ars Technica

“Judicial records are public documents that are supposed to be freely available to the public. But for two decades, online access has been hobbled by a paywall on the judiciary’s website, called PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), which charges as much as 10 cents per page. Now Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has introduced legislation that would require that the courts make PACER documents available for download free of charge….”