Georgia Is Fighting to Keep Its Laws Secret — Unless You Pay

For more than three decades, the state of Georgia has charged anyone who wants to see its official state law hundreds of dollars for that privilege. Now the state is suing the non-profit website that purchased a copy of that official compilation and put it on the internet for the public to see.

The problem with all of this? Knowing the law is a right, not a privilege.

We are in court today to argue that a state cannot put a copyright paywall between you and the law that governs you. Georgia takes the troubling position that it can claim a private property right in its entire legal code. The state concedes that it cannot claim a copyright in its statutory language or the text of court opinions. But it somehow believes that because the “Official Code of Georgia Annotated” — which it considers its official law — combines those two sources of public law, it can copyright the result and charge the public a hefty price to see it.

In 2013, a nonprofit called Public Resource paid for the OCGA and posted it online to make Georgia’s state law freely available to the public. In response, the state sued Public Resource. The ACLU, along with a number of other groups, filed an amicus brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals defending the public’s right to access its own laws.

The OCGA is the law that the Georgia Legislature editorially controls and publishes. It is the law that the state’s executive agencies enforce. And it is the official state law that courts apply and interpret. Most fundamentally, it is the law that an individual must read to know what behavior is legal and what isn’t. While an unannotated version of the code is available online for free, that version does not constitute the law as enforced today. For example, a person reading the free version might believe that an “offense of sodomy” is punishable by one to 20 years in prison. That individual would also be led to believe that private possession of pornography is illegal. Only by paying more than $400 would she learn that courts have held both of those statutes to be unconstitutional, and the state enforces neither.

In our view, Georgia’s attempt to profit by limiting public access to the law harms at least three fundamental constitutional principles. First, it ignores the public’s role as the true author of the law. Second, without free access to the law, you lack the ability to figure out what is legal and what isn’t. Finally, you have a fundamental First Amendment right to see what your government is up to.

Georgia asserts that such knowledge is a privilege for which people should pay. We believe it is a constitutional right. We hope the court agrees.

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I think we should open up an option for most of the South to secede

Rednecks? Lol

Blacks run Georgia. That's in y'all !! Stop trying to blame whites for everything

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

Wha? Wees not posed to charge money for dat?


Governor Nathan Deal
Lieutenant Governor — Casey Cagle
Attorney General — Chris Carr
Secretary of State — Brian P. Kemp
State School Superintendent — Richard Woods
Commissioner of Agriculture — Gary W. Black
Commissioner of Insurance — Ralph Hudgens
Commissioner of Labor — Mark Butler
Public Service Commission:
*Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton
*Commissioner Doug Everett
*Commissioner Tim Echols
*Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald
*Commissioner Stan Wise

Head on over to and count how many of these guys are anything other than white.


Government of Georgia, who the hell do you think you are, you bunch of brainless assholes. excuse the language. Have you set yourself's up as some sort of god. Well your not, your a bunch of spoiled little brats who are about 80 years behind the times. Grow up.


That doesn't even make sense. What's the point of a law if know one knows it? So dumb.


The point of a law that nobody knows is arbitrary enforcement. When you want to repress someone, find some random law they could not have known about and punish them for the inevitable violation.


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see my Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Governmental Public Domain Information, UNESCO 2004, at:


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