How much could it possibly cost to put all the standards on a website? Let those who want hard copy print their own. At least they won't have to pay for the parts they didn't want....
It is great that privately funded organizations like yours do such useful work and help to define policy on matters of early childhood development. In your case the "legwork" is paid for up front for the most part but I think the point of the OP was that once that research is made law, citizens shouldn't have to pay to know what the law is.
As to your bosses refrain it may be true in your case and many others. But there are plenty of situations where the reverse is true, that public money does the experimentation and private money reaps the benefits. A couple examples would be ARPANET or NASA.
It is very very strange that Underwriter's Laboratories does exactly the same thing on a voluntary basis and no such problem exists. You have seen the "UL" label on electric appliances, right? You know it means you can trust the equipment, right? And it has no connection to any legislature anywhere. The manufacturers pay for the standards.
The additional link does point out the law suit was unsuccessful. If they are creating a new standard I do believe they are entitled to payment but they should be paid by the agency requesting the standard. If that agency happens to be the local or federal government then the standard then becomes government domain and belongs to the people. Solves both problems... the organizations get paid for their service and the people required to follow the laws based on the standards have free access to the documents.
I think boingboing should have mentioned the actual groups involved here. One of them is the National Fire Protection Association. So a group whose stated purpose is to "reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education" thinks that the best way to keep people safe from fire is to limit access to the methods they suggest using to keep people safe??? That's good thinkering there...
ANSI and ISO hold copyright for standards developed or approved within their family tree. There's a lot of "it's complicated" about approvals, but once they get the cover sheet on, it's theirs.
They have high administrative overhead for all the tracking and whatnot. There is a lot of information flying around within the standards development world--drafts, votes, meeting schedules, publication catalogs, activities in others standards development family trees (ASTM, e.g.), prepping standards for publication, etc. ANSI & ISO have to manage that. I'm not saying that they don't give value for dues. I'm just laughing at their claim that they pay for the development.
According to the WaPo article, the three standards bodies in question already put their standards online for free. I'm not sure what the beef is.
If a law is secret then no one should (or can) be expected to follow it. Does that make sense? Also laws cannot be copyrighted, they are a free gift to everyone that is expected to obey. Also- copyrighted from who? Other countries? States? Who isn't allowed to use these laws without permission and a license? Imagine an international lawsuit where one country says "We have copyrighted that murder is a crime, your country has better come up with something different!" which would inevitably be followed by "Oh ya? I kill you scum!". I know I'm missing the point, but my point is that just because it's your business to make rules it doesn't mean that you can hide them and sell access. That's selfish! (and dangerous, stupid and wrong)
Also they go on about what they use the money for, disregarding the fact that it shouldn't be their money; "This funding model allows SDOs to remain independent of special interests and to develop up-to-date, high quality standards." conveniently leaving out "...and have nice cars. Vrooooom!!!"
Of course they’re “independent of special interests.” They are the special interests!
I am sure this sounds scary and evil from the outside, but it is actually a good system. Standards are living documents, constantly being updated and changed as the science develops. Laws are laws--they are subject to the whim of the public, legislators, funding, and political cycles. I don't think you would want to live in a world where the engineering you depend upon for safety and life was built on laws alone.
I am working on ASTM and ASABE standards right now and participate in ISO committee work. Industry, academics, and the government (ie taxpayers) spend a lot of money for their technical people to participate in this process (for me about $8K a year, not counting the time I spend that I should be doing my "real" job). Very rarely are standards public-facing; most of the cost is absorbed by people who need them to do business. Also, I think they would be available at your university library--but you probably have to be IN the library to access them.
I feel like this lawsuit is making a mountain out of a molehill: people who want EVERYTHING to be available online, indefinitely, for free, and feel inconvenienced by going to the library. $25-$125 is actually a very small fee for doing business, and is much cheaper than most academic journals and books. If you knew the amount of manpower and expertise that go into developing and testing these standards you would realize this is a tremendous bargain.
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