Making Laws Free

Ignorance is no excuse for violating the law, but it will cost you big time if you want to read the laws passed by California.

I spent the past several years navigating the corporate welfare swamp of copyright but this has to top it all. Laws were the one area that was always public domain (read: copyright free). Now states charge citizens (subjects?) to read the laws that govern them. How much would the U.S. Constitution cost if they slapped copyright on it? Has any one informed governors or members of Congress that this is a revenue-raising device? Congress has repeatedly passed retroactive copyright laws throwing public domain material back into Copyright Land. Imagine the possibilities: millions and millions of laws, regulations, and so on. Not that any one wants to read the gobbledygook that comes out of D.C.

If you want to read the laws the government of California doesn’t want you to read, go to

Malamud also persuaded C-Span to make its vast video archive of Congress available for free. Surely, he earns “Buy This Guy a Bud” points with me!

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the Independent book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.
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