American Society for Testing and Materials, et al. v. Public.Resource.Org

Topic(s): 
Government Transparency — non–FOIA
Documents:
Case Description: 

Many agency regulations incorporate by reference standards developed by private organizations.  Although these standards have the force and effect of law once they are incorporated in agency regulations, they are not printed in the Federal Register or the Code of Federal Regulations and they can often be difficult for the public to access.

In this case, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that Public.Resource.Org—an organization devoted to making laws and other government documents available to the public—violated private standards development organizations’ copyrights by making available online copies of standards that had been incorporated by reference in agency regulations.  

On appeal, we filed a brief in support of Public.Resource.Org, focusing on the need for members of the public to be able to access the content of regulations affecting health, safety, and the environment, and the practical consequences of barriers to such access.  Our brief was on behalf of Public Citizen, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumers Union, National Employment Law Project, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.