Copyright of the Law (Note: Not “and”)

The Great Grimmelmann writes in The Laboratorium: Copyright, Technology, and Access to the Law that he's

just released Copyright, Technology, and Access to the Law: An Opinionated Primer:

Recently, the state of Oregon has used copyright law to threaten people who were publishing its laws online. Can they really do that? More to the point, why would they? This essay will put the Oregon fracas in historical context, and explain the public policies at stake. Ultimately, it’ll try to convince you that Oregon’s demands, while wrong, aren’t unprecedented. People have been claiming copyright in “the law” for a long time, and at times they’ve been able to make a halfway convincing case for it. While there are good answers to these arguments, they’re not always the first ones that come to hand. It’s really only the arrival of the Internet that genuinely puts the long-standing goal of free and unencumbered access to the law within our grasp.

This isn’t an academic piece. Instead, it’s designed to bring nonlawyers and people outside the open-access-to-law movement up to speed on the basics of the history, the context, the principles, and the law. Along the way, it tells some interesting stories. I hope you’ll find it equal parts informative, entertaining, and inspirational. Please have a look.

A fun read and a public service.

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2 Responses to Copyright of the Law (Note: Not “and”)

  1. layedback says:

    This is the best place I could think of to post this, and I am sorry that it is not quite germane to the subject at hand. I know that alot of people who both contribute to and comment on here are concerned with property rights. Perhaps the most egregious example of government’s usurpation of such rights is the 2005 case of Kelo v. New London. To mark the anniversary of this loss and the subsequent gains made at the state level against eminent domain abuse, Susette Kelo is trying to garner 10,000 donations to The Institute for Justice (The firm which represented Kelo)this Monday 23 June, go to and pledge $5 or whatever you can afford. This a good cause, and one that, no matter your political bend,everyone can embrace.

  2. Very interesting read. While I will never agree with those that want to copyright the law, and limit the public’s access to it, it’s good to understand the thinking behind it. Thanks for sharing mate.



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