Company getting in trouble for publishing Oregon laws on web?!

The Legislative Counsel (basically the legal arm of the Legislature) has sent “cease and desist” letters to a couple web sites that republish the Oregon Revised Statutes. (links to correspondence)

The text of Oregon’s laws, having been written by the people or their elected representatives, are in the public domain. I think this much is beyond dispute.

But the Oregon Revised Statutes, a written record of those laws, is apparently under copyright by the State of Oregon. What does that mean? The formatting, the headings, etc. are copyright, but the underlying text is not. Or at least, that’s the best I can discern.

It’s disturbing that our elected government should be expending resources defending its purported ownership over something we collectively produced. I’ve explored this concept a little more thoroughly over here, and several of us hope to get the Legislature to take some action next session.

It’s good to see that allies are emerging, and I hope to learn more about Justia and Public.Resource.org.

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5 Responses to “Company getting in trouble for publishing Oregon laws on web?!”

  1. A good overview of the process, and links to relevant documents: Oregon v. Justia Also, see here.

  2. All I can say is: Wow. That is insane.

  3. […] My own post at Our New Mind   […]

  4. Hi Pete:

    I hope you and others get to go to the hearing on the 19th. I can’t (someone has to keep the law library open! :-), but will try listen to it live.

    Thanks for covering the story and pointing me in new directions to other commentators (and Public Resource has done an excellent job in keeping us informed). Librarians around the country have asked me about this dispute and appreciate the links.

    Laura (the Law Librarian)

  5. Thanks Laura! In case you missed it, I have a newer, more thorough blog post, with lots of discussion underway.

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