Pro Codes Act Will Make Americans Less Safe

Washington, DC – Re:Create and our members oppose the Protecting and Enhancing Public Access to Codes (Pro Codes) Act of 2023, which would distort copyright law to make Americans less safe.

“The law is not copyrightable. This is a fact. Safety codes for fire safety, plumbing, electric and more are incorporated into law by state and federal governments to make Americans safer in their homes and buildings. This legislation is a backdoor attempt to copyright the law. Make no mistake, the Pro Codes Act is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that will prevent access to the laws that govern us and make Americans less safe,” said Executive Director Joshua Lamel. “Re:Create urges Congress to reject this bill that would extort the public for access to critical safety standards and prevent everyone – from do-it-yourself home improvers to large and small contractors – to have access to the law, making us all less safe.”

“Technical standards and safety codes that are made into legal requirements are laws like any other. But the law should be available to everyone, with no restrictions.  By giving private companies the right to sell access to the law, the Pro Codes Act would raise costs for everyone, while setting a dangerous precedent that public information can be privatized,” said John Bergmayer, legal director for Public Knowledge.

“Public access to the laws we live under is a fundamental right. Allowing anyone to copyright the law and restrict access—as the PRO Codes Act would do—undermines that right, and erodes the public trust. Lawmakers should be facilitating access to our laws, not restricting it,” said Heather Joseph, executive director for SPARC.

The PRO Codes Act is a deceptive and unconstitutional power grab that will help giant industry associations ration access to U.S. regulations. Whether it’s a tax code or a building code, no one can own the law. Congress, and anyone else who cares about due process and government accountability, should reject this cynical proposal outright,” said Corynne McSherry, legal director for Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Safety codes and standards are developed by industry experts, safety officials and policymakers as part of standards development organizations (SDOs). These codes are reviewed by all levels of government and then adopted “by reference” in federal, state and local laws. Many codes are long and detailed; the law cites the code, but doesn’t list it in full. These codes have been added to the law, yet groups are now advocating to retain copyright to the safety standards so they can continue to profit from them.


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