Lawyers and law students' signatures needed for Supreme Court amicus brief in favor of publishing the law

Attentive reader will note that rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously) published the laws of Georgia -- including the paywalled annotations to the state laws -- in 2015, prompting the state to sue him and literally call him a terrorist; Malamud countersued in 2015 and won a huge victory in 2018, when the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that the law could not be copyrighted.

Now, the State of Georgia wants to go to the Supreme Court to argue for its right to charge the people of Georgia to know which laws they are supposed to be following. There's a lot at stake: Malamud has been threatened by Idaho, Oregon, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia for posting state laws and is being sued by six plaintiffs in DC for posting public safety laws, and has received a dozen more takedowns from Standards Development Organizations whose standards have been incorporated into state law.

Malamud and his counsel (Elizabeth Rader and Tom Goldstein and Eric Citron of Goldstein & Russell),are responding to Georgia's petition and they are seeking amici: if you are a law student or practicioner they would like you to sign onto this amicus brief prepared by Jeff Pearlman by filling in this form.

They're closing the brief to new signatories on May 2, and you might consider signing this on May 1, which is "Law Day" (Eisenhower declared this in 1958, as a way of rebranding the Communist May Day; the bar celebrates Law Day every year on May 1).

A. Law Students Must Have Full Access to the Law.

Whether a law student intends to practice law, teach it, or do something else entirely, a core purpose of law school is to give students the tools they need to read, analyze, and understand the law. But their learning can be only be as complete as their access to the law is. When copyright law hamstrings that access, it also hobbles legal education.

Part of a legal education is studying the differences between the laws of multiple jurisdictions. When the law is balkanized, with each jurisdiction is only available through some favored private entities, this task is made more difficult. When the only freely available versions of the law omit critical information like the OCGA’s annotations, it becomes even harder. And when copyright restrictions mean the law of some jurisdictions is not available for free at all, this simply cannot be accomplished.

Relying on schools to provide full access is also no solution because the law is then available only to those whose schools can afford particular, expensive databases. Basic fairness demands that government not favor well-resourced schools and their students over others. Even if, in some instances, these databases are offered to law schools for free, it is not enough—their access to the law must not be conditioned on the good graces of private entities governed, ultimately, by a profit motive.

The Court should grant certiorari to ensure that ability to effectively study the law that governs us all is uniformly available and is not determined by the preferences individual private entities.

Amicus Brief in the Georgia Code Case for Law Students and Practioners in Solo Practice or Small Law Firms [Jeff Pearlman/Archive.org]

Sign the brief [Google Forms]