The law: You have to know it, for a price.  

Posted by Paul Puri

Interesting article about a gentleman who is publishing 'copyrighted' material from the state of California, my home, and others states as well. The information being uploaded is the very laws, rules and regulations that we, as citizens, must know. After all, there is no excuse for not knowing the law. You just don't have cost effective access to it in its entirety.

Sure, you can go to Lexis Nexis and try to search using their old and tired site, but where is an easy and unfettered way to look up the information you need? You could buy a book, but they can be pretty expensive. You can go to a state site, maybe an archive of some sort, but again, the information will be difficult to search, and probably incomplete.

Public.Resource.Org is the place to go. At least, if you are in California. But it is growing. Pages at a time. But will it last? According to the state, the information is copyrighted, and should not be given out in this manner. They say it is an important revenue stream, one that brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Tax payers money. But who really buys them? The California code costs over $1500 to buy. I doubt the average citizen is looking to spend this kind of loot. And that's just the price for a digital copy?

Now don't get me wrong. I think they should sell it in book format, or even in a search able cd/dvd format, so that those that need it can purchase it. But if I am expected to defend myself in court, should I ask for a continuance based on the fact that I have to save up so that I can learn what laws I have broken?

Again, the information is out there, and it is most likely available in municipal buildings such as libraries and city halls. But unfettered access, especially in this day and age when the internet is our greatest resource of information, is a must if we are to be good citizens. I applaud Carl Malamud for what he is doing for us, and encourage forward thinking like this in all citizens no matter what country you are from.


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2008 and is filed under , , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .