The United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Hon. Tanya S. Chutkan) late last week issued a ruling that will support federal, state and local governments’ efforts to support public health and safety through the use of voluntary consensus codes and standards. On February 2, the court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by a number of standard development organizations (SDOs), including NFPA, ASTM International and ASHRAE. The court’s ruling permanently enjoins Public.Resource.org from its previous systematic infringement of numerous SDO copyrighted codes and standards. The ruling vindicates the longstanding public-private partnership pursuant to which government entities may, if they choose, incorporate by reference high quality safety codes and standards.
We are very pleased with the court’s thoughtful and well-reasoned decision, which recognizes the importance of a time-tested process that serves governments and individuals well and is vital to public health and safety.
The history of not-for-profit SDOs developing voluntary consensus standards goes back more than a century. Governments, businesses, and individuals across the country rely on a wide variety of works, from product specifications and installation methods to safety codes and standards. SDOs, not resource-constrained governmental agencies, underwrite the substantial costs of developing standards.
SDOs pay for the standard development process and invest in new standards with the money earned selling and licensing their copyrighted works. This model allows SDOs to remain independent of special interests and to develop up-to-date, high-quality standards. It also allows the U.S. government – and governments at all levels – the freedom to decide whether to incorporate these standards by reference without a drain on their limited resources.
NFPA has provided free access to all of its codes and standards for more than a decade. Many other SDOs also provide free online access to many standards as part of an overall commitment to safety.
The standards development process is an excellent example of a successful public-private partnership that benefits business, government and individual citizens. More information about the importance of codes and standards and how to get involved can be found on NFPA’s website.