“One can glean how threadbare the state’s case is from its use of the term “terrorist” to describe Malamud, who is anything but.”
Government officials have threatened “rogue archivist” Carl Malamud with legal action many times for his efforts to make public government documents widely available for free, but the state of Georgia has set a new standard for fighting this ridiculous battle: It’s suing Malamud for infringing its copyright of state laws by — horrors — publishing them online.
The state’s lawsuit, filed last week in Atlanta federal court, accuses Malamud of piracy — and worse, of “a form of ‘terrorism.'” His offense: Through his website, public.resource.org, he provides members of the public access to a searchable and downloadable scan of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated — that is, the entire body of state law. The state wants a court order forcing Malamud to stop.
Georgia and Malamud have been waging this battle for a couple of years, or ever since Malamud sent thumb drives bearing the scans to the speaker of the state House of Representatives in 2013. A cease-and-desist order, which Malamud rebuffed, came virtually by return mail.
This isn’t the first such battle Malamud has waged. For roughly two decades he’s been working to make public laws, codes and court documents, well, public. At almost every turn he’s been fought by government agencies that prefer to extract a fee from taxpayers for access, even though, as Malamud points out, the public pays for the work in the first place, via taxes.