Who owns the text of Oregon's laws?

There's an odd controversy brewing in our state government. Apparently, the powers that be have decided that the text of Oregon's laws - enacted by our elected representatives and by the people themselves through initiative - are not actually in the public domain.

At his blog - Our New Mind - Pete Forsyth explains:

Some of you might not know me, but we work together. That’s right, we legislate. We pass laws by proxy through the legislature, and directly too, when we vote on ballot measures.

But according to the Legislative Counsel Committee (LCC), we don’t own the laws we make; they do. And they get to decide who can and can’t publish them.

They’ve been saying this, apparently, since 1953, but it came to a head last April. That’s when when the LCC — a committee of several prominent legislators — issued a “takedown notice” to Justia.com, ordering them to stop publishing the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) on the web.

There's a hearing on Thursday, and Pete is going to testify - on behalf of Wikipedia writers and bloggers. After all, if the very laws we write aren't the definition of "public domain", what is?

Read the rest (and follow Pete's extensive links). Discuss over there.


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