On August 8 of the year Carl Malamud woke up early. He usually does. Most days, since he opened his eyes, he has focused on the mission. Early mornings bring great times for getting things done, although the afternoons and evenings are good for that too. The mission takes a lot of time and effort. For the past 25 years, Carl Malamud’s lonely mission has been to capture the Internet’s information-spreading potential – public information that everyone has the right to see, listen to, and read. “Heroes to me are risk takers in pursuit of something they think is good,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and frequent contributor to Malamud’s. “He is of that kind.”
Indeed, Malamud has had considerable success and a real impact. If you’ve accessed EDGAR, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s free database of corporate information, you owe Malamud. Similar with patent database, or opinion of the US Court of Appeals. Without Malamud, the contents of the Federal Register could still cost $ 1,700 instead of nothing. If you’ve heard a podcast, note that it was Carl Malamud who pioneered the idea of radio-like content on internet audio – in 1993. And so on. Like any human on this planet, this humble-looking owner of the one-person nonprofit – a tiny, bald, head-on 57-year-old man with glasses – understood and confessed. Web cascade (and the power of print, as well) to disseminate information for the public good.
Even if it got him in trouble. Even he does it by choosing sometimes mysterious, even bizarre battles.
Such a battle is the one he waged on August 8, 2016. His headquarters is the annual meeting of the American Bar Association, held at the convention center. Moscone West in downtown San Francisco. The problem is a solution that the organization’s House of Representatives will consider. It concerns regulated standards.
Don’t yawn. That’s right, the legitimacy of the electronic publishing of building codes, plumbing regulations and product safety rules for child seats probably won’t be the subject for the next musical. by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Attorneys in the House of Representatives of the American Bar Association may be excused, thinking that this will be one of the more confusing resolutions they will consider at their annual meeting. But such thinking did not take Carl Malamud into account. With an endless supply of energy and a bag of cunning tricks, he alone raised the topic to the event’s most controversial issue, a parliamentary quarrel. If nothing else, Malamud is determined to make the attorney understand that publishing these standards is a core American value, and that allowing anything but publishing is completely free and public. Claims will leave dark constitutional stains on the liberty rug.
Indeed, for Malamud, the right to publish such things as Georgia’s annotated legal code and European Union regulations on infant pacifiers is a problem. Since 2007, he methodically published online – for free – detailed codes for buildings, product safety and infrastructure. These are often developed by private organizations, often with the help of federal and industry experts. When lawmakers write the rules, they will often make it clear that these codes are blueprints that everyone must follow. The term for this is “combined by reference” (IBR). After this happens, the codes, every word of them, We the law. But the code is not available on state or federal websites. To get them you have to go to the standards bodies, which usually treat the codes as they still own them. But if you are, for example, wiring a building, you have to obey the electrical code, part of the law, and there will be serious consequences if you don’t. (Or, if you’re living in a building, you might want to check if the builder is following the rules.)