Oregon Going After Sites For Publishing Its Laws

    April 17, 2008

The state of Oregon is sending out take down notices to sites that publish public domain legal documents.

Oregon has sent cease and desist letters to Justia and Public.Resource.Org for posting copies of Oregon laws, known as the Oregon Revised Statutes. The notice states," The Oregon Revised Statutes is copyrighted material, the author and copyright owner of which is the Legislative Counsel Committee of the State of Oregon."

The state says that the text of the laws is not covered by copyright but the way the law is presented is protected by copyright (such as the numbering, the notes and annotations).

The letter goes on to state, "Revenue from the sale and licensing of that work product, both in print and database form, is dedicated by state statute to supporting the work necessary to compile and publish the Oregon Revised Statutes and to making the law accessible to the public."

Over at Techdirt Michael Masnick brings up a good point,"It’s difficult to see what Oregon could possibly gain in trying to force copies of its laws off of public resource legal sites."

The answer could be in the final paragraph of the letter which invites Justia "to inquire about terms for a license to display the Oregon Revised Statutes," on its Web site.