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Today, I was luck enough to get another one of rogue archivist Carl Malamud's boxes of awesome. It's a copy of the municipal codes of DC, which are laws that you're required to follow, but aren't allowed to see without paying. As with the last time I got one of these packages, it's because Carl has scanned and OCR'ed and cleaned up these codes, and has now published them for all to see. Here's the unboxing pics.
PROCLAMATION OF DIGITIZATION
“No Codification Without Promulgation”
WHEREAS, the District of Columbia has published the OFFICIAL CODE, containing the laws, general and permanent in their nature, relating to or in force in the District of Columbia; and
WHEREAS, the OFFICIAL CODE is only available for purchase for $803.00, plus tax and shipping, from the designated official publisher, the West Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Thomson Reuters Corporation, a foreign corporation; and
WHEREAS, the OFFICIAL CODE contains a prominent notice that the material is “COPYRIGHT 2001 by the District of Columbia” and “All Rights Are Reserved”; and
WHEREAS, in a nation governed by the rule of law and founded on the principles of freedom of expression, due process, and equal protection, people must have the right to freely read, know, and speak the laws by which we as a people choose to govern ourselves; and
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States has unequivocally ruled that the law cannot be subject to copyright in Wheaton v. Peters (33 U.S. 591, 1834), when the Court unanimously held that “no reporter has or can have any copyright in the written opinions delivered” by the Court; and
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly reaffirmed this principle, stating for example in Banks v. Manchester (128 U.S. 244, 1888) that “the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law, or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute”; and
WHEREAS, the United States Copyright Office has unequivocally stated “Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of public policy. This applies to such works whether they are Federal, State, or local as well as to those of foreign governments.”
THEREFORE, it is hereby proclaimed by this notice that any assertion of copyright by the District of Columbia or other parties on the District of Columbia Code is declared to be NULL AND VOID as a matter of law and public policy as it is the right of every person to read, know, and speak the laws that bind them.
By the People and For the People on March 25, 2013
Just look at him.
Free on Craigslist DC: a partially completed (and rather well-done) Tardis pinata.
FREE: homemade TARDIS pull-string pinata. My 6 year-old daughter wanted a Dr. Who birthday and as nobody in the US sells Dr. Who pinatas I made this one. Unfortunately I ran out of time so the door panels and windows are only on 2 sides and didn't get around to putting any of the signs on it but you are free to finish it as much or as little as you like.
A little followup to yesterday's post about NoPhoto, an Indiegogo fundraiser for a flash that confounds red-light cameras: the city of Washington, DC has smashed its previous record-setting rake on its traffic cameras, pulling in $85 million in its fiscal 2012. Alan Blinder writes more in the Washington Examiner, discussing whether the city has come to think of its traffic cams as cash-cows:
"This year, we'll have more revenue than ever and more citations than ever before," said John Townsend, of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "They're closing holes in the budget."
Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, a sponsor of the proposal to lower fines, leveled a similar accusation.
"The administration and some of my colleagues view this as a way to make money for the government," Wells said. "The funding is there to reduce the fines. The question is will my colleagues see this as a windfall to fund their pet projects?"
But the District government is far from the only local government to boost its bank account with camera tickets.
D.C. rakes in $85m from traffic cameras (Thanks, Marilyn!)
As part of a settlement with Jerome Vorus, who was ordered to stop taking pictures by DC cops, DC chief of police Cathy Lanier has issued guidelines to her officers on citizen photography of police activities. They are extremely excellent guidelines, too, as Timothy Lee writes in Ars Technica:
"A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media," Chief Lanier writes. The First Amendment protects the right to record the activities of police officers, not only in public places such as parks and sidewalks, but also in "an individual’s home or business, common areas of public and private facilities and buildings, and any other public or private facility at which the individual has a legal right to be present."
Lanier says that if an officer sees an individual recording his or her actions, the officer may not use that as a basis to ask the citizen for ID, demand an explanation for the recording, deliberately obstruct the camera, or arrest the citizen. And she stresses that under no circumstances should the citizen be asked to stop recording.
That applies even in cases where the citizen is recording "from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties." In that situation, she says, the officer may ask the person to move out of the way, but the officer "shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording."
She also notes that "a person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed."
There is more, and it's all excellent. We have the good folks at the ACLU to thank for helping Mr Vorus win his settlement with the DC police.
Quinn Norton's first-person account of the police raid on Occupy DC for Wired is riveting and scary. The Occupy camp that was demolished was riven by a deep disagreement on tactics and politics, and the police raid was a dramatic change from the good relations the camp had enjoyed with local law enforcement.
Screams of anger, panic, and pain began to cut through the grey air, and I managed to get back into the crowd a bit, away from the police. In the midst of the pressed and screaming crowd I saw two occupiers, Mo and Georgia, find each other, and hug. They stayed there, oblivious to the cacophony around them, both their eyes glassy and vacant and a little too wide open.
I grabbed a woman I recognized from the info tent and pointed to them. “Get them out of here,” I told her. She just looked at me for a moment in the chaos, and I repeated, “Get them the fuck out of here.” She nodded and grabbed them, still hugging. I spun around, and the riot line was on me. Pushed from every direction, I tripped over something behind me which turned out to be a person on the ground. The officer in front of me screamed “Move back!” but other people were falling on the fallen, and there was no way to move back without trampling them, and no way to stay without being trampled.