Court Rules Standards Incorporated by Reference into Laws Need not be Free

Posted by Andy_Updegrove on Feb 4, 2017 9:01 AM EDT Standards Blog; By Andy Updegrove
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Wait - What? Actually, there's more to it than you might think

When standards developed by the private sector become laws, should anyone be able to download a copy for free? At first blush, the answer seems too obvious to debate. But yesterday, a U.S. district court held otherwise, saying that the developer of a standard that has been “incorporated by reference” (IRB) into a law continues to have the right to enforce its copyright. It also confirmed the right to charge a reasonable fee for an IBR standard.

The ruling (subject to appeal) is less surprising when it is reviewed in detail. The defendant is (PRC), founded by public access advocate Carl Malamud. Malamud has been posting thousands of IRB standards on the PRC website for years. More recently, he ratcheted up his conduct to the point where it appeared he was daring standards setting organizations (SSOs) to sue him in order to settle the issue once and for all.

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