Yesterday NFPA took an important step to ensure our ability to continue to protect public health and safety by preserving the revenues that sustain our ability to develop and maintain our codes and standards.
An organization called Public.Resource.org (Public Resource) has been copying and uploading copyrighted standards developed by NFPA and other private sector standards development organizations (SDOs). Public Resource is well aware that it is doing this without the copyright owners’ authorization. It nevertheless claims that it has the right to engage in unlimited copying and distribution of any standard — and to encourage others to follow suit — any time that even one single city, town or other governmental jurisdiction references the standard in an ordinance, regulation or other law.
NFPA together with ASTM International(ASTM) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have field a lawsuit to stop Public Resource from the flagrant violation of our copyrights and from undermining the enormously effective process of developing consensus codes and standards that over the past century has made all of our homes and workplaces safer.
The standards development system that has evolved in the U.S. for over one hundred years provides enormous public benefits that could not be replicated by governmental bodies without tremendous expense and needless chaos and confusion. Standards development is the original public/private partnership — and it works.
NFPA, along with numerous other SDOs, underwrites the substantial costs of developing standards, in whole or in significant part, by relying on revenues from the sales and licensing of our copyrighted standards. Copyright protection provides a revenue stream that allows NFPA to develop codes and standards with independence and effectiveness and to provide both the private sector and governments with the standards they need to keep the U.S safe and strong.
And the bottom line is, without this revenue our ability to develop future standards and update existing ones would be placed in serious jeopardy, as would the health and safety of the public.
Public Resource’s massive copyright infringement is a “solution” in search of a problem. SDOs have every reason to make their standards widely available, and they actively do so. Standards are available in a variety of formats and at a reasonable cost. SDOs work to meet public access requirements, by offering free access to standards on the Internet. NFPA, for example, has made of all its codes and standards available on its website for viewing at no cost. for more than a decade. For more information on viewing codes and standards online visit www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.
The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages from Public Resource or its founder. It seeks simply to stop the illegal posting of our copyright protected materials.