ANSI, NFPA, Allies Hail Standards Copyright Ruling

"The court's ruling means federal, state, and local agencies can continue to rely on not-for-profit SDOs to develop voluntary consensus standards at the highest level of excellence and at minimal cost to government," added Kathie Morgan, president of ASTM International.

Standards-writing organizations that include the American National Standards Institute and the National Fire Protection Association hailed a Washington, D.C., federal judge's ruling in support of copyright protection for their consensus codes and standards. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan granted a motion for summary judgment earlier this month that was filed by several standard development organizations (SDOs), including NFPA, ASTM International, and ASHRAE; the ruling permanently enjoins Public.Resource.org from what they regards as infringement of SDO copyrighted codes and standards and also ruled that those standards do not enter the public domain, and so lose their copyright protection, when they are incorporated by reference into federal regulations.

"We are very pleased with the court's thoughtful and well-reasoned decision, which recognizes the importance of a time-tested process that serves governments and individuals well and is vital to public health and safety," said Jim Pauley, president of NFPA.

"The court's ruling means federal, state, and local agencies can continue to rely on not-for-profit SDOs to develop voluntary consensus standards at the highest level of excellence and at minimal cost to government," added Kathie Morgan, president of ASTM International.

"We and many other SDOs already provide free online access to many standards as part of our commitment to safety," said Timothy G. Wentz, ASHRAE's president, "and preventing the infringement of copyrighted material will allow not-for-profit SDOs to continue meeting the needs of the people and jurisdictions we serve."

ANSI announced its support of the ruling, saying it "supports ANSI members and the standards ecosystem, and enables the plaintiffs to continue to develop high-quality voluntary consensus standards that support federal, state, and local agencies. These standards help assure health, safety, and quality of life for millions of individuals worldwide." ANSI launched its IBR Portal -- it refers to Incorporation By Reference -- which provides access to many standards that have been incorporated by reference in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. The standards are offered at no cost in "read only" format or via links to individual standards developers' websites.

"As coordinator of the U.S. standardization system, ANSI has been a vocal proponent of copyright protection for standards developers whose standards have been incorporated by reference into regulation, as well as for providing reasonable access to such standards to interested users," said S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI's president and CEO. "We were proud to submit an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in this case, and are pleased that the district court has found in their favor. The district court is aligned with the Administrative Conference of the United States, the Office of the Federal Register, and the White House Office of Management and Budget in their support of the need for copyright protection and a flexible approach for assuring the reasonable availability of standards that have been incorporated by reference."

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