Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More on Oregon's copyrighted laws

Nate Anderson, Fight shaping up over Oregon's state law copyright claims, Ars Technica, May 13, 2008.

... As we reported last month, the State of Oregon isn't keen on having its Revised Statutes republished in full, for free, by Internet archives like and Justia. The sites got into a kerfuffle with the state over the information and have since refused to take out a "public" license. While Oregon backed down from its initial cease-and-desist notice, the two sides still cannot come to an agreement. Justia and have since retained counsel to deal with the issue, and their lawyer has already made clear to Oregon that his clients will be posting the entirety of the disputed material by June 2.

While you might think a state would want the laws it passes widely disseminated, the reality is that Oregon makes money licensing its statutes to publishers. State laws are not themselves copyrighted, of course, but Oregon claims that all the ancillary material in the Revised Statutes—including section numbers and headings—is copyrighted. ...

When the debate first flared up, response was quick. Google's William Patry opined that Oregon had gone "wacka wacka huna kuna," which we're pretty sure isn't a compliment. Malamud and his cohorts at Justia got on the phone with Oregon officials, who ended up proposing a "public license." In a letter dated April 30, though, Malamud pointed out that C-SPAN's copyright policy was only 318 words. By contrast, the "public license" offered by Oregon was 2,739 words long and was "incompatible with how public domain data is distributed."

On May 2, the lawyer for both Malamud and Justia informed Oregon that his clients could not accept the license and would be posting the material in question with or without an agreement by June 2. ...