Posted on April 16, 2008 in copyright, DMCA, Fair Use, IP, stupid IP claims by Brian RoweView Comments

Oregon SealOregon does not want people to copy or distribute the law!? Do they not want people to actually find or read the law or even make the law accessible to people with disabilities?

Oregon, represented by legislative council Dexter A. Johnson, has sent out DMCA takedown requests to free services that provide copies of the Oregon Revised Statutes online.

Oregon is claiming that they have made the code avalible through their own website and have the right to sell the law to other for distribution.

There are several problems with this:

    • The Oregon state website is terrible. The site does not meet the core basic requirements of the HTML standards, it has no meta data, poor search features and weak display options.
    • The Oregon website is not accessible to people with disabilities. It fails to meet Section 508 accessibility requirements.
    • There is a strong fair use argument for anyone that republished the law adding to the public welfare, especially if they are not charging for access.
    • The law is not copyrightable:

      “No one can obtain the exclusive right to publish the laws of a state in a book prepared by him. This general proposition cannot be doubted. And it may also be said that any person desiring to publish the statutes of a state may use any copy of such statutes to be found in any printed book, whether such book be the property of the state or the property of an individual”
      Howell v. Miller, 91 F. 129 (1898)

      I hope that Oregon sees the error in their ways and starts helping people that are working to make the law usable and accessible instead of wasting time on frivolous copyright claims that only harm the people. Copyright was created to encourage people to create new works, not to hide the the law from the people.

      Related documents

      Takedown letter:

      Carl Malamud of has written a great letter back to Oregon explaining why the takedown request is not valid and contray to public policy:

      Read this doc on Scribd: The Honorable Dexter A. Johnson

      If you would like to contact Oregon directly to let them know what you think of thier copyright claim please contact [email protected]

      Legislative Counsel
      900 Court St NE Rm S101
      Salem OR 97301

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