Media statement from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), ASTM International (ASTM) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) regarding lawsuit against Public.Resource.org
August 6, 2013 - Three standards development organizations (SDOs), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), ASTM International (ASTM), and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against Public.Resource.org (Public Resource) to stop a massive copyright infringement, to ensure that the development of codes and standards in the United States is done at the highest levels of excellence and to protect public health and safety.
For more than a century, both the private-sector as well as government entities have relied on mission-driven, self-sustaining, independent, not-for-profit SDOs to develop “voluntary consensus standards.” These standards include a wide variety of highly technical works, from product specifications and installation methods to safety codes and standards. They address a wide range of health and safety subjects, and they serve the needs of a rapidly evolving and innovative modern economy.
The SDOs underwrite the substantial costs of developing standards, in whole or in significant part, by relying on revenues from the sales and licensing of their copyrighted standards. This funding model allows SDOs to remain independent of special interests and to develop up-to-date, high quality standards.
Public Resource has been copying and uploading copyrighted standards developed by private sector SDOs. Public Resource is well aware that it is doing this without the copyright owners’ authorization. The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages from Public Resource or its founder. It seeks simply to stop the illegal posting of copyright protected materials.
Public Resource offers no effective alternative, but only seeks to undermine and destroy a funding model that works and that sustains a public/private partnership that has served the public interest so well. SDOs already work with governments and provide free access to many standards on the Internet.
SDOs develop standards through balanced, open and democratic processes that bring together technical experts and professionals, government officials, business representatives, consumer interests and many other relevant stakeholders. This process keeps the U.S safe and strong, but cannot be supported without copyright protections.
Read the complaint as filed on August 6, 2013 (PDF, 393 KB).
Video: NFPA President Jim Shannon says that by disregarding copyrights on standards, Public Resource threatens not just the long-term solvency of the organizations that develop them but also an entire system designed to protect public health and safety, one that has stood the test of time.