Codes is Law! As American as Apple Pie!

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Safety Codes.
An American Tradition.

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The 2010 Codes Are Now Available!!

The Law As Passed By Our Elected Representatives

The Public Safety Codes

Building, Fire, Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical. Codes are the laws that most directly touch our daily lives. Codes are the laws that make us safe. These public documents are indeed the maker's rule book.

Read The Code!
Follow the Code!

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2007 California Administrative Code
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2007 California
Building Code

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Building Code

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Electrical Code

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Mechanical Code

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Plumbing Code

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Energy Code

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Historical Code

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Fire Code

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Existing Code

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In Veeck We Trust

Is This Legal?

The courts have long held that the law is public domain and must be available to all for use without restriction. While numerous organizations have attempted to assert copyright over judicial branch opinions, legislative branch statutes, and executive branch regulations, the courts have not looked kindly on these efforts to place a private wrapper around a public package. If we are to be a nation of laws, those laws must be accessible to all.


oregon.gov Read More About States, the Law, and Copyright.

Marbury v. Madison—Our Judicial System


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The Veeck Decision

In Veeck v. Southern Building Code Congress, 293 F.3d 791, the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, met en banc “because of the novelty and importance of the issues” presented before the court:

“The issue in this en banc case is the extent to which a private organization may assert copyright protection for its model codes, after the models have been adopted by a legislative body and become 'the law'. Specifically, may a code-writing organization prevent a website operator from posting the text of a model code where the code is identified simply as the building code of a city that enacted the model code as law?”

In an exhaustive opinion that carefully traced the reasons why our laws must be public, the Honorable Chief Judge Edith H. Jones stated the conclusion of the court:

“Our short answer is that as law, the model codes enter the public domain and are not subject to the copyright holder's exclusive prerogatives.”

Read the Veeck Opinion.


America's Operating System

The Great Seal of the Seal of Approval Opening up cases and codes are part of our quest at Public.Resource.Org to make America's Operating System open source. Laws are the rules of the road, our society's user manual.

Read more about our
efforts to help our court system.

But What About the Money?

Funding the Code-Making Process

Standards-making bodies that make codes like to argue that they have to assert ownership over building, fire, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical codes because that is how they fund the code-making process. Sure, it would be great to own a piece of the law and people try repeatedly to assert ownership to protect their revenue stream. But, there are less regressive ways to fund the process.

A system of selling codes for hundreds of dollars and then making public access inconvenient by requiring you to drive long distances to an official depository library hurts us all. It hurts the kid studying for a state plumbers license, the homeowner wanting to check on the work of their contractor, and it certainly hurts the hobbyist, homeowner, or property developer wanting to understand our public codes and how they work.

THE SEAL'S CIRCLE OF APPROVAL

Public.Resource.Org is a registered public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the I.R.S. Code. Our mission is to help government communicate more effectively with people and to enlarge the public domain.


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ITU Open standards made the Internet. Read more about how we helped the International Telecommunication Union see the light on open standards.

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Open Standards For All

Most experts say the Internet would never have come into being if our standards were not open for all to read at no cost. See web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee discuss intellectual property and the World Wide Web on our U.S. House of Representatives page.

Reading List

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Oregon goes wacka wacka huna kuna — The Patry Copyright Blog April 17, 2008
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Case Note: The Copyright Law — Yale Law Journal December 2001
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Copyright for Building Codes - Construction WebLinks May 17, 2004
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Private Standards in Public Law — Michigan Law Review November 2005
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Veeck v. Southern Building Code Congress — Fifth Circuit June 2, 2002
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Feist v. Rural Telephone Service — Supreme Court March 27, 1991
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Building Officials v. Code Technology — First Circuit August 27, 1980
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Banks v. Manchester — Supreme Court November 19, 1888
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Wheaton v. Peters — Supreme Court January 1834