Official Code of Georgia Annotated now a Github Repo | Boing Boing

“You might think a Supreme Court ruling in our favor would be enough to get governments to change their tune, but Georgia hasn’t done a thing, nor have other states that try and build walls around their laws. The State doesn’t publish their code, and the awful site they refer you to is run by Lexis, only provides the unannotated unofficial code of Georgia, and subjects you to onerous terms of use, an awful design, and a total lack of respect for laws that mandate access to the visually impaired. which Public Resource is spending thousands of dollars per year with the official vendor to get copies of the laws of Georgia, Mississippi, and a handful of other states. Georgia alone is costing us $1,324 per year!

 

What we get for our yearly subscription is a quarterly CD-ROM for each state that only runs on Windows. You can, with some difficulty, export the titles of the code as Microsoft Word files in .rtf format. Well, we now have 8 quarterly releases of code extracted as .rtf files and hosted on the Internet Archive, with transformations to Open Document format. These .rtf files are not the greatest. Any links have been removed and there is no structure—lists, for example, are not lists, just ordinary paragraphs.

Today, I am delighted to announce that we’ve taken the next step. Working with my friends at Unicourt and their crack engineering team in Mangaluru, India, we’re releasing today a github repository that transforms those .rtf files into beautiful html. The RTF parser is the code that does the transformation. It puts structure, metadata, and accessibility back to the code. Any pointers to other code sections are marked, tables of contents now work properly, and we’ve tagged references to other resources such as the U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations, and other federal and state materials so that over time these will become more and more useful. A second github repository holds the Georgia transforms and over the next year, we’re going to be adding Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. We’re also hoping to add an xml diff capability, so we can generate redlines. If you just want to browse the html files, you can also view them on the Internet Archive. For example, here is Title 1 of the OCGA, current as of August, 2020. Just for good measure, we also added opinions of the Attorney General and the court rules….”

Justices debate allowing state law to be “hidden behind a pay wall” | Ars Technica

“The courts have long held that laws can’t be copyrighted. But if the state mixes the text of the law together with supporting information, things get trickier. In Monday oral arguments, the US Supreme Court wrestled with the copyright status of Georgia’s official legal code, which includes annotations written by LexisNexis.

The defendant in the case is Public.Resource.Org (PRO), a non-profit organization that publishes public-domain legal materials. The group obtained Georgia’s official version of state law, known as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, and published the code on its website. The state of Georgia sued, arguing that while the law itself is in the public domain, the accompanying annotations are copyrighted works that can’t be published by anyone except LexisNexis.

Georgia won at the trial court level, but PRO won at the appeals court level. On Monday, the case reached the US Supreme Court.

During Monday’s oral argument, some justices seemed skeptical of Georgia’s position.

“Why would we allow the official law to be hidden behind a pay wall?” asked Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Georgia’s lawyer countered that the law wasn’t hidden behind a paywall—at least not the legally binding parts. LexisNexis offers a free version of Georgia’s code, sans annotations, on its website.

But that version isn’t the official code. LexisNexis’ terms of service explicitly warns users that it might be inaccurate. The company also prohibits users from scraping the site’s content. If you want to own the latest official version of the state code, you have to pay LexisNexis hundreds of dollars. And if you want to publish your own copy of Georgia’s official code, you’re out of luck….”

Georgia v. PublicResource.Org: Copyright Case Before the Supreme Court | Authors Alliance

“The Code Revision Commission (the “Commission”), an arm of the State of Georgia’s General Assembly, is mandated to ensure publication of the statutes adopted by the General Assembly. It does so by contracting with the LexisNexis Group (“Lexis”) to maintain, publish, and distribute the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (“OCGA”), an annotated compilation of Georgia’s statutes. Following guidelines provided by the Commission, Lexis prepares and sells OCGA, which includes the statutory text of Georgia’s laws and annotations (such as summaries of judicial decisions interpreting or applying particular statutes). Lexis also makes unannotated versions of the statutes available online.

Public.Resource.Org (“PRO”) is a non-profit organization that promotes access to government records and primary legal materials. PRO makes government documents available online, including the official codes and other rules, regulations, and standards legally adopted by federal, state, and local authorities, giving the public free access to these documents. PRO purchased printed copies of the OCGA, digitized its content, and posted copies online through its own website.

Georgia filed suit against PRO claiming copyright infringement. Before the lower courts, PRO invoked the judicially-created “government edicts” doctrine. As a matter of public policy, courts have held that government edicts having the force of law, such as statutes and judicial decisions, are not eligible for copyright protection. While the court of first instance agreed with the State of Georgia and the OCGA was found to be copyrightable, on appeal the Eleventh Circuit held that under the government edicts doctrine, OCGA is not copyrightable and rejected Georgia’s infringement claim against PRO. Now, the issue before the Supreme Court is whether Georgia can claim copyrights over the OCGA annotations or if it is prevented from doing so because the annotations are an edict of government….”

Georgia v. PublicResource.Org: Copyright Case Before the Supreme Court | Authors Alliance

“The Code Revision Commission (the “Commission”), an arm of the State of Georgia’s General Assembly, is mandated to ensure publication of the statutes adopted by the General Assembly. It does so by contracting with the LexisNexis Group (“Lexis”) to maintain, publish, and distribute the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (“OCGA”), an annotated compilation of Georgia’s statutes. Following guidelines provided by the Commission, Lexis prepares and sells OCGA, which includes the statutory text of Georgia’s laws and annotations (such as summaries of judicial decisions interpreting or applying particular statutes). Lexis also makes unannotated versions of the statutes available online.

Public.Resource.Org (“PRO”) is a non-profit organization that promotes access to government records and primary legal materials. PRO makes government documents available online, including the official codes and other rules, regulations, and standards legally adopted by federal, state, and local authorities, giving the public free access to these documents. PRO purchased printed copies of the OCGA, digitized its content, and posted copies online through its own website.

Georgia filed suit against PRO claiming copyright infringement. Before the lower courts, PRO invoked the judicially-created “government edicts” doctrine. As a matter of public policy, courts have held that government edicts having the force of law, such as statutes and judicial decisions, are not eligible for copyright protection. While the court of first instance agreed with the State of Georgia and the OCGA was found to be copyrightable, on appeal the Eleventh Circuit held that under the government edicts doctrine, OCGA is not copyrightable and rejected Georgia’s infringement claim against PRO. Now, the issue before the Supreme Court is whether Georgia can claim copyrights over the OCGA annotations or if it is prevented from doing so because the annotations are an edict of government….”

Supreme Court to decide if Georgia code is free to the public

“On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up that question as the justices consider whether the annotated version of Georgia code is protected under copyright law or should be made available to the public free of charge.

The hotly disputed case, pitting the state against an open records proponent, has caught the attention of the Trump administration, whose lawyers say Georgia’s code should be protected. At the same time, news media and civil rights organizations are also weighing in, contending the public should have unhindered access to the state code….”

Breaking: 11th Circuit Rules for Fastcase in Copyright Dispute with Casemaker | LawSites

“The ongoing legal battle between Fastcase and Casemaker over the latter’s claims of copyright in Georgia administrative regulations has taken a notable turn as the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the lower court erroneously granted summary judgment in favor of Casemaker. The three-judge panel remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.

In 2016, Fastcase sued Casemaker in federal court in Atlanta after Casemaker served it a written notice demanding that it remove Georgia administrative rules and regulations from its research collection. Casemaker’s parent company, Lawriter, has an agreement with the Georgia Secretary of State designating it as the exclusive publisher of the Georgia Rules and Regulations and giving it the right to license that content to other publishers….”

Free the Law – Amicus Brief in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org

“In 2013, Public.Resource.Org (PRO), a non-profit corporation based in California, purchased, scanned, and posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA).  The OCGA is the one and only official law of the State of Georgia, but the state objected strongly, maintaining that the only party who could make the OCGA available was their single, designated commercial vendor.  According to the State of Georgia, any other use–including PRO’s public dissemination of the law–is a copyright violation.

The State of Georgia sued Public Resource in the U.S. District Court and received judgement in their favor including a federal injunction prohibiting any and all dissemination of the code.  PRO appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and won a 3-0 victory, reversing the decision of the court below.

The State of Georgia appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Public Resource responded, maintaining that the State of Georgia has the law and the facts wrong, but nevertheless, the matter should be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

We prepared a amicus brief on behalf of 119 law students, 54 solo and small-firm practitioners of aw, and 21 legal educators in support of Public.Resource.Org, arguing that the Supreme Court should take the case to ensure that we have free access to all of the law nationwide, and not just to Georgia’s law.

The Supreme Court has since agreed to take the case….”

Accused of ‘Terrorism’ for Putting Legal Materials Online – The New York Times

“Carl Malamud believes in open access to government records, and he has spent more than a decade putting them online. You might think states would welcome the help.

But when Mr. Malamud’s group posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the state sued for copyright infringement. Providing public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials, Georgia’s lawyers said, was part of a “strategy of terrorism.”

A federal appeals court ruled against the state, which has asked the Supreme Court to step in. On Friday, in an unusual move, Mr. Malamud’s group, Public.Resource.Orgalso urged the court to hear the dispute, saying that the question of who owns the law is an urgent one, as about 20 other states have claimed that parts of similar annotated codes are copyrighted….”

Lawyers and law students’ signatures needed for Supreme Court amicus brief in favor of publishing the law / Boing Boing

“Attentive reader will note that rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously) published the laws of Georgia — including the paywalled annotations to the state laws — in 2015, prompting the state to sue him and literally call him a terrorist; Malamud countersued in 2015 and won a huge victory in 2018, when the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the law could not be copyrighted.

Now, the State of Georgia wants to go to the Supreme Court to argue for its right to charge the people of Georgia to know which laws they are supposed to be following. There’s a lot at stake: Malamud has been threatened by Idaho, Oregon, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia for posting state laws and is being sued by six plaintiffs in DC for posting public safety laws, and has received a dozen more takedowns from Standards Development Organizations whose standards have been incorporated into state law.

Malamud and his counsel (Elizabeth Rader and Tom Goldstein and Eric Citron of Goldstein & Russell),are responding to Georgia’s petition and they are seeking amici: if you are a law student or practicioner they would like you to sign onto this amicus brief prepared by Jeff Pearlman by filling in this form….”