Public Knowledge Warns Congress: Don’t Paywall the Law
Public Knowledge Warns Congress: Don’t Paywall the Law
Public Knowledge Warns Congress: Don’t Paywall the Law

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    Today, the House Judiciary Committee marked up the “Protecting and Enhancing Public Access to Codes” (PRO CODES) Act. The bill proposes copyrighting model standards, such as building and electric codes, often referenced in state and local laws. Public Knowledge, along with 22 other organizations, warns that restricting access to laws governing safety and fire standards will imperil the safety of ordinary Americans and drive up costs for basic access to the law. The markup follows a letter warning lawmakers against adopting the bill.

    The following can be attributed to Meredith Rose, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

    “You cannot paywall the law. This bill is an attempt to lock up the text of the law, with the only ‘public’ access allowed through inaccessible, non-searchable, siloed, data-harvesting, non-ADA compliant ‘reading rooms.’ 

    “Moreover, this bill is being rammed through without a hearing, despite repeated promises of a hearing and a host of unanswered questions: How are these standards actually developed? How ubiquitous are they? What does the process of obtaining access to a standard look like? How are organizations behind these codes funded, and do they lobby legislatures to have their standards enacted into law? And what are the actual costs of development?

    “Right now, we have none of these answers in the public record. Instead, we are being asked to support legislation on blind reassurances. ‘Just trust me’ is not a basis for passing legislation that will prevent millions of Americans from seeing and fulfilling their legal obligations.”

    Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at or 405-249-9435.