Dover Dixon Horne member Mark Allison recently authored a column for the Arkansas Environmental Federation’s latest newsletter on who “owns” the standards that are often incorporated into laws or regulations.
He writes that regulations often incorporate a commercial or industry standard developed by private standards developing organizations (SDOs) by reference instead of repeating the standard in the text of a regulation. SDOs operate through committees made up of industry, academic and government experts to develop new industry standards, and maintain and update existing standards.
Allison explores what happens when the government adopts a copyrighted work created by a private party as the law.
He examines a recent case – American Society for Testing and Materials v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., in the United States District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals where Public.Resource.Org, a non-profit organization, made available scans of standards that were available for public viewing and download free of charge, however, the plaintiff SDOs argued they had valid copyrights in their standards.
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