USA Federal Court Upholds Copyright Protections for Standards Organizations

Sam Lazzara

Trusted Information Resource
#1
http://www.aami.org/newsviews/newsdetail.aspx?ItemNumber=4169

A federal district court has ruled that standards development organizations (SDOs) do not lose copyright protections for their standards even when the documents are incorporated by reference into federal regulations.

The Feb. 2 ruling came from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and it stemmed from a lawsuit brought by three SDOs against a public-records activist, Carl Malamud, who had copied and posted some of their standards online. The organizations were ASTM International; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Malamud’s stance was that once a standard was referenced by federal regulation, it became, in effect, public property and SDOs lost any copyright claims—or the right to be paid for the use of the standard. He argued that it was unfair to ask businesses to pay for standards that they were essentially being forced to follow. SDOs, on the other hand, argued that copyright protections were crucial because without them the organizations would lose money, undermining a successful business model to develop standards. They pointed out that standards work involves considerable expertise and time. If the standards were suddenly made freely available, how would the cost of that work be covered?
 
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Access2hc

Involved In Discussions
#2
If the standards were suddenly made freely available, how would the cost of that work be covered?

it would not. Most experts travel, and spend time to develop standards. Standards bodies need money to keep the administration going hence the need to gain income. If the standard is made freely available then that really becomes a problem, but in effect if is indeed wholy adopted (not copied) as a federal regulation then indeed it is free to copy and use. It does have a negative impact on the standards body no one is wrong here.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
... A federal district court has ruled that standards development organizations (SDOs) do not lose copyright protections for their standards even when the documents are incorporated by reference into federal regulations. <snip>
I had heard of the complaint but it dropped off my radar. Thanks for the update, Sam.
 
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