Public Resource demands the source code to America's operating system

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez,
Public.Resource.Org has sent in 3 letters to the Administration to try and get Federal Law to become open source:

1. An appeal to the Executive Office of the President to help us make the Federal Register and the U.S. Patent databases available in bulk and for free. The letter is addressed to Aneesh Chopra and Vivek Kundra, the President's CTO and CIO. I've met both of them and they're both very good and I'm hoping they'll be able to help cut through the red tape.

2. A formal FOIA request to the National Archives asking them to make the very expensive standards that are "Incorporated by Reference" into the Code of Federal Regulations available for free. These standards cost *big* bucks from groups like ANSI and Underwriters Laboratories. Although these "Standards Development Organizations" are ostensibly nonprofit, you'd be shocked how many million-dollar CEO salaries they have.

3. Last year, we pooled our money with Sunlight Foundation and other groups and forked over $17,000 for the bulk feed of the Code of Federal Regulations. Well, the product is defective and we want our money back.

These 3 actions taken together are trying to establish a basic principle: the laws of our society need to be readily available for all to read, not locked behind a cash register. The past practice of parceling out the public domain to private parties is illegal and needs to stop.

Open Source America's Operating System (Thanks, Carl!)

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  1. “The past practice of parceling out the public domain to private parties…”

    Hah! There’s the whole history of the US in a nutshell!

  2. The laws of our society need to be readily available for someone to read…because the people who actually vote on them don’t.

  3. The reason there isn’t much discussion on this post is because it leaves the readers depressed beyond belief… that isn’t a criticism, far from it, just an observation…

  4. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but:

    I can’t believe that a country whose citizens have to pay to know what their rights and obligations are dares to call itself free.

  5. I was up late last night wondering – how can I follow the laws if I don’t even know them?

    Why don’t we get packets in 3rd grade telling us what the US laws and penalties for not following them are?

  6. It’s a difficult issue to resolve because in some cases the data contained in those standards cost some big dollahs to obtain. However, many codes have large portions that haven’t changed in any non-negligible way for the last 40 years (e.g. ASME B31.3 sections on mild steel pipe) and should be released to the public for free. That seems like a decent stop-gap solution until they can work out how to pay for future technical codes and standards without charging the public an arm and a leg.

  7. i’d love to see the IRS tax code published OS.

    of course they’ll never do it, since tax protesters would than actually have the ability to defend themselves.

  8. @#5

    “I can’t believe that a country whose citizens have to pay to know what their rights and obligations are dares to call itself free.”

    I’ve been claiming that we are indeed not free for years, but every time i do someone insists that we are free, calls me a libertarian and tells me to gitout! if i don’t like it.

  9. #6, it happens to me all the time, too. i’ve had the same thought about how we should be taught it at school, as well.

  10. Recession has hit us really hard and this is the time we have to do some rethinking on our spending structure.

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