ANSI starts to publish standards that have been made into law, in insanely crappy form

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud has been fighting to publish the building and safety codes that have been incorporated into the law, but which you have to pay to see. He's published thousands and thousands of pages' worth of safety codes, and is being sued by some of the standards bodies. Now, he writes: "An announcement from Joe Bhatia, the leader of the American National Standards Institute, says 'A standard that has been incorporated by reference does have the force of law, and it should be available.'"

The release continues: IBR standards hosted on the portal are available exclusively as read-only files. In order to protect the intellectual property rights of the groups holding these standards' copyrights, the portal has built in security features that prevent users from printing, downloading, or transferring any of the posted standards; in addition, screenshots will be disabled and the standards will contain an identifying watermark. Please note that registration is for a single browsing session. Users who return to the site in another session or on another day will need to fill out the registration form again.

Public.Resource.Org is grateful for the shout-out in this press release (we're "some have called"). Our position on this matter remains unchanged. We leave you with a prayer for our democracy: This law is your law. ASCII to ASCII, disk to disk. Data thou art and data thou shalt become.

ANSI Launches Online Portal for Standards Incorporated by Reference (Thanks, Carl!)

Notable Replies

  1. dacree says:

    the portal has built in security features that prevent users from printing, downloading, or transferring any of the posted standards

    That's adorable.

  2. dacree says:

    It's also been broken by Tetrachroma. DRM is less than useless.

  3. "Screenshots will be disabled"? Good luck with that.

  4. You've got to remember that the point of DRM today is not actually to directly protect anything. The point is to activate legal protections and open people up to prosecution.

    That's the whole point of the "digital lock" metaphor. When you walk by a locked shed, your first thought is not usually, "I can go by a $5 pair of bolt cutters and take everything in that shed!" It's probably closer to "someone does not want me in there." And and if you tried to get in despite that you would be tried for breaking and entering.

    DRM throws up a lot of hassles for those who have to deal with it, but the really onerous problem is that we've created laws that allow Someone to keep their lock (and associated legal protections) on things they've already sold to us.

  5. Also, with our without a lock, taking the things in the shed is already illegal. And with or without a lock copyright infringement is already illegal. As you indicate, the only effect is to make it more difficult to use what we already have legal access to.

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