Last week, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., teamed up on the “Protecting and Enhancing Public Access to Codes Act,” which they have dubbed the “Pro Codes Act.”
The bill “would protect public access to important federal rules and regulations” and Deutch’s office offered some of the rationales for the proposal last week.
“As more codes get incorporated by reference into legal standards by courts, the Pro Codes Act will protect a code or standard’s incorporation by ensuring the copyright doesn’t extinguish. The bill ensures that the public retains free access to the information. Just as some online services have a free version of their product with limited functionality and a paid premium version with greater functionality, under this bill, those that invest in code development will still be able to sell the materials in certain formats so long as they are simultaneously providing access to the information for free,” Deutch’s office noted.
“The Pro Codes Act is a win for transparency and public safety,” said Deutch. “Vital information contained in codes must remain free and available to the public. At the same time, we must reward investments made by standards development organizations. This legislation will protect the copyright of codes when they have been incorporated by reference.”
“Standards in federal rules and regulations matter, and never more so than when they are at the inflection point of streamlining public access – or hindering it,” said Issa. “The guidelines set by the NFPA matter because they represent the spirit of the private sector, promote transparency in standard-setting, and ensure the public can access the rules they are being asked to follow.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.
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