As you may recall, PublicResource.org has been making available technical standards incorporated by reference in federal law contrary to the wishes of standards organizations that promulgate the standards. Yesterday, the DC circuit appeals court ruled that standards industry groups cannot control publication of binding laws and standards.
The federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the standards organizations in 2017, and ordered PublicResorce.org not to post the standards. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed that decision, ruling that the district court did not properly consider copyright’s fair use doctrine. It rejected the injunction and sent the case back to district court for further consideration of the fair use factors at play. “[I]n many cases,” wrote the court, “it may be fair use for [PublicResource.org] to reproduce part or all of a technical standard in order to inform the public about the law.”
As Judge Katsas wrote in his concurrence, the demands of the industry groups for exclusive control of the law “Cannot be right: access to the law cannot be conditioned on the consent of a private party.”
Here’s the text of the DC Circuit opinion in ASTM v. PublicResource.org. — Joe