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Professor Posts "Illegal Copy" of Guide To Oregon Public Record Laws 318

An anonymous reader writes "Copyright law has previously been used by some states to try to prevent people from passing around copies of their own government's laws. But in a new level of meta-absurdity, the attorney general of Oregon is claiming copyright over a state-produced guide to using public-records laws. That isn't sitting well with one frequent user of the laws, who has posted a copy of the guide to his website and is daring the AG to respond. The AG, who previously pledged to improve responses to public-records requests, has not responded yet." The challenger here is University of Oregon Professor Bill Harbaugh.
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Professor Posts "Illegal Copy" of Guide to Oregon Public Record Laws

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  • by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:14PM (#29445433) Homepage

    Actually, yeah he stands a good chance of winning. The AG would have to be insane to put this in front of a judge, as he would likely be dismissed quickly.

  • by syntap ( 242090 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:17PM (#29445515)

    I assume this professor is a state employee of Oregon as an employee of the University of Oregon... I wonder if he puts his job in danger by opposing his employer like that.

    Don't get me wrong, I fully support what he is doing. My question is will the retaliation come in an unexpected direction, a firing based on behavior of a state employee or violation of oath to uphold state laws or something as opposed to any anticipated legal action over the posting itself?

  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:27PM (#29445661)

    Even more Ironic: Many of these came about due to complaints from the media, caused by one School district.

    A few years ago, the publicly elected board of a very small rural school district in southern Oregon decided to investigate some reports of fraud, embezzlement, unfair contract favoritism, and lots of other nasty allegations about some employees at the school. Not the teachers, but, if I remember right, the food service, facilities, etc. So the board hired someone they liked to investigate. (He happened to also be the school board's lawyer). So he did his investigation, and when they did the presentation to the board, they kicked everyone out of the room, chatted for a few minutes, and let everyone back in.. then the board said "there was nothing in the report that showed any truth the rumors". So people asked to see the damn report. And the board claimed it was Attorney client privilege under state of Oregon law, which is not available under the open records laws.

    Basically, the Gist of why every newspaper and TV channel (and a bunch of citizens) were filing objections, was the district was arguing that even if they pay a lawyer to do anything for the district (even write a book report) that could be considered client-attorney privilege, if the board decides.

    Well, that and the people were pissed that the Small school district, that had huge money problems, had a roof collapse in a school they couldn't afford to fix, etc.. spent huge amounts of money, appealing rulings too keep secret a report paid for with tax payer dollars, about how tax payer dollars were potentially being abused. (I don't miss living in the small towns) []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:42PM (#29445889)
    Tenure will give him some protection. But his university has a history of retaliating against whistleblowers []. Considering that he has been using the public-records laws to ask hard questions about administrators [], I'd say yeah, he's putting himself on the line to do this.
  • Re:Remember (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_crowbar ( 149535 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:49PM (#29446033)

    In my state (South Carolina, haven't we been in the news a lot lately) a legally licensed driver can pay a fee ($550/year) to drive as an uninsured motorist. Driving without insurance is not illegal here. Of course most people who drive without insurance have not paid the fee and are illegal. []


  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:04PM (#29447863)


    That's how we got the Sonny Bono copyright extension act, how we got the "PATRIOT" Act, how we got several DRM acts and are looking at another one, and how we're likely to wind up with Obamacare.

    It's not just that, though. Federal law is so crappily written and so laden with "based on a statute/commissioner to be named later" [] that it's impossible for anyone to figure out how many actual federal crimes there are these days, let alone state/local crimes as well. Most of the bills I refer to above (especially Obamacare, or at least the HR3200 version rather than the HR3400 Republican version) are the same way. We find out only long after the bill passes what it "really" said, when an unelected bureaucrat (FCC, EPA, "Health Choices Commissioner", FTC, or whatever the hell else pops up []) decides what the "regulations" will be and gets to give them the force of law with no vote necessary.

  • by jonaskoelker ( 922170 ) <> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:38AM (#29451651)

    There are no good guys in politics. They merely use those labels [Democrat, Republican] to cut down the number of people yelling at them by half.

    Now I clearly see the benefit of a two-party system. If you had, say, six parties, the politicians would have five sixths of the electorate yelling at them instead of only one half.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!