Federal Regulations Can Be Copyrighted, Court Rules

By Bill Donahue (February 3, 2017, 4:54 PM EST) -- A D.C. federal court ruled Thursday that private standards-setting groups can claim copyright ownership of industry rules that are transformed into federal law, thwarting a nonprofit that wanted to post the regulations online for better public access.

The decision came in a long-running battle between transparency group Public.Resource.Org and standards groups like the American Society for Testing and Materials over so-called standards incorporated by reference — rules created by private industry groups like ASTM that are later adopted as federal regulations.

ASTM and other standards groups say such rules are protected by copyright law, even after they've become federal law, and...

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