If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright infringement … and lose

If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright infringement … and lose

If you want to read the official laws of the state of Georgia, it will cost you more than $1,000.

Open-records activist Carl Malamud bought a hard copy, and it cost him $1,207.02 after shipping and taxes. A copy on CD was $1,259.41. The “good” news for Georgia residents is that they’ll only have to pay $385.94 to buy a printed set from LexisNexis.

Malamud thinks reading the law shouldn’t cost anything. So a few years back, he scanned a copy of the state of Georgia’s official laws, known as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, or OCGA. Malamud made USB drives with two copies on them, one scanned copy and another encoded in XML format. On May 30, 2013, Malamud sent the USB drives to the Georgia speaker of the House, David Ralson, and the state’s legislative counsel, as well as other prominent Georgia lawyers and policymakers.

“Access to the law is a fundamental aspect of our system of democracy, an essential element of due process, equal protection, and access to justice,” said Malamud in the enclosed letter. The law, he reminded them, isn’t copyrighted.

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