Who owns truth?

What we have here is a House bill that effectively allows a collection of facts (for example, a database of phone numbers, like the phone book) to be treated by the courts as property. I can perceive their motivation -- that is, corporations want to have some property right with respect to the information they collect on their customers -- but there are a lot of potential problems with this rule.

The law also covers "collections of data" like, for example, building codes. Yes, laws can become the private property of businesses, off-limits for personal reproduction and use. It's apparently fairly lucrative if you can secure a monopoly on the right to publish the legal code of your city, county, or state! In the case of building codes, anyone who wants to build a new building or modify an older one needs to come to you and buy a copy of the laws they are required to follow.

And that's not even getting into issues like the AMA owning the billing codes hospitals use on itemized bills, so that if you want to decode your hospital bill you need to talk to -- and probably pay -- the AMA.

Read this good summary of the issues. And if you don't like what you see, complain to the committee members.

Wed Oct 22 10:43:35 CDT 2003 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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