Should a government who drafts, passes and enforces laws hold copyright to those laws?  Carl Malamud, a Sebastapol, CA resident says no.  The Press Democrat reports he is leading a fight to make sure that all types of government statutes, codes and other laws are available to anyone who wants them.   He is posting a copy of all of CA’s code on a website.  But the state of California claims copyright to those laws; it currently dictates how you can access and distribute them and how much it will cost you for print or digital copies.

California generates about $880,000 annually by selling its laws, according to the California Office of Administrative Law.  I am not sure how New Jersey considers the copyright on the laws, but the legislature’s website has a horrible look-up facility which generates small sections of code one page at a time.  No copyright is asserted on the bottom of each page.

I am sure this will end up in court at some point.  it will be interesting to see how it turns out.