Steven Levy, author of Hackers and one of the best tech writers in the field (previously), has profiled Carl Malamud (previously), the prolific, tireless freedom fighter who has risked everything to publish the world's laws on the internet, even those claimed to be owned by "nonprofit" standards organizations whose million-dollar execs say that you should have to pay to read the law.
Malamud is being sued for his trouble, and he's not budging on the principle that laws that aren't published aren't laws. Levy's profile digs into Malamud's (admittedly arcane) fights, but also his background, including his contributions to the invention of podcasting, and his early family life. It's a wonderful profile of one of my heroes.
The whole thing is confusing. And in the middle of it is Malamud. At the breakfast of the Pennsylvania Bar, over institutional scrambled eggs and crumbly pastries, the attorneys listen politely as Malamud explains that standards are the law, and rips into the idea of copy-protected “read-only” access as satisfying the public’s need to know.
“I’m trying to understand,” says one of the lawyers. “Are you supporting or opposing 112?”
Malamud walks the group through his objections once more. As the discussion progresses, Malamud’s key point finally sinks in: a law isn’t a law unless it’s public. It’s so simple that even a lawyer can find it self evident. As Malamud leaves to pitch the Texas delegation, the Pennsylvania chair tells him, “You blew my mind.”
A welcome compliment. But Carl Malamud has been blowing minds for a very long time.
Carl Malamud Has Standards [Steven Levy/Backchannel]
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