American Society for Testing Materials v., Inc.

– Law360

The case is the latest in a line to grapple with the issue of whether an industry code or standard established by a private organization that is then incorporated into public law by a government can be copyrightable. The lead plaintiff here develops private sector standards, while the defendant operates a website that posts laws and regulations in a free, searchable database.

We all are supposed to live by the laws that govern us. It seems only fair, then, that we should have easy access to those laws so we can know what they are. To promote such easy access, the U.S. Copyright Act states that ‘copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States government,’ allowing us to copy and read the federal laws and regulations by which we are to live without infringing copyright.

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