You might think that legislation should be freely accessible as a matter of course, but the state of Georgia begs to differ. It’s suing Public.Resource.Org owner Carl Malamud for allegedly violating copyright by publishing the annotated versions of Georgia’s laws (that is, the ones that truly reflect the legislative process) online. While it’s fine to publish the basic, note-free laws, the state argues that you should pay Lexis Nexis up to $378 to read the context-laden versions. The state claims that it would have to dip into tax dollars if it wanted to make this information free, and citizens would supposedly be deprived of “valuable analysis and guidance” if it wasn’t published at all.
Malamud isn’t likely to back down. He has long argued that the US discourages copyright on laws, since you have the right to know what your legislature is doing. He also fended off earlier pressure from Oregon to remove documents from his site. However, there’s no certainty that Malamud will succeed this time around. He’s undoubtedly publishing unauthorized scans — his only chance might be to convince the court that Georgia is abusing copyright when it puts some of its public record behind a paywall.