Are laws public domain? April 23, 2008 1:05 PMSubscribe
In the spirit of those who have patented living organisms, the State of Oregon Legislative Counsel Committee is demanding $30,000 from Justia.com for the right to publish Oregon Revised Statutes -- the laws of Oregon -- on their website for two years. To be exact, the committee does not claim copyright in the laws themselves, but "a copyright in the arrangement and subject-matter compilation of Oregon statutory law, the prefatory and explanatory notes, the leadlines and numbering for each statutory section, the tables, index and annotations and other such incidents as are the work product of the Committee in the compilation and publication of Oregon law." The correspondence.
That's the same theory that West Law Co. has used to maintain a monopoly over legal decisions for years, though their power is eroding.