Public Domain Legal Defense Fund

Public.Resource.Org
1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472
United States

December 1, 2015

Dear Internet:

Public Resource needs your help. Your tax-deductible contribution will help us carry out our work in 2016. We are embroiled in a huge fight to make the technical laws of the world—things like building codes and other legally mandated public safety standards—available to everybody so that together, we can make our world a better place. These legally-mandated standards are the rule book for our modern world, and we believe everybody should have the opportunity to read the manual for how that world is supposed to work.

To learn about our work, we invite you to visit our registry of 2015 activities. Public Resource maintains the highest standards of corporate governance and transparency, and we invite you to learn more about our finances and other due diligence information on our about page. Here are just a few highlights of the work we've done in 2015:

  1. After processing over 2,000 DVDs into 8 million PDF files of IRS nonprofit tax returns, and engaging in a 2-year court battle, Public Resource has convinced the IRS that e-file versions of the Form 990 should be released. The IRS will be making this important data available in 2016. You can read some of the press reports or look at the 84 XML files we got released under FOIA.
  2. In 2015, Public Resource continued our commitment to reforming the PACER system. We released a detailed analysis of the system at Yo.YourHonor.Org, got a few hundred people to send hand-written postcards to judges, and filed a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Court summarily rejected our petition and Congress has yet to act, but we have not given up hope. Expect more PACER agitation in 2016!
  3. Public Resource has been sued by six plaintiffs with four law firms in two U.S. District Court cases for having posted standards incorporated by reference into federal and state law. This is a huge battle over your right to freely read and discuss important legal documents such as the National Electrical Code. Right now, motions for summary judgment are being filed and some initial rulings will happen in 2016. You can see the dockets for the two cases here and here.
  4. The State of Georgia sued Public Resource in 2015 because we posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. They alleged Public Resource has a “strategy of terrorism” by strongly encouraging all citizens to read the binding laws of the State of Georgia. Public Resource countersued and the matter is now in discovery and will begin to be presented to the judge in 2016. You can read some of the press reports or examine the court papers.
  5. Public Resource transformed nine crucial toy safety standards mandated by the European Union and submitted a petition to Her Majesty’s Government requesting that steps be taken to make these important public safety standards more broadly available to the public. Public Resource was also sued in the District Court of Hamburg and we have now appealed the initial adverse decision.
  6. Public Resource transformed 11 legally-mandated toy and infant safety standards mandated by the U.S. Government and submitted a detailed comment on infant safety to the Consumer Product Safety Commission challenging the validity of their practice of mandating standards that are unavailable to read and restricted in use. Public Resource also submitted a comment on garage door safety to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, with a detailed record how certain legally mandated technical safety standards not only cost $1000 to purchase, but prior approval on a case-by-case basis is required before any individual is allowed to read the documents!
  7. A detailed petition to the Government of India was rejected, and Public Resource, joined by two co-petitioners from India, is filing suit in the High Court of Delhi requesting a writ of mandamus for the free and open release of these important government documents. Meanwhile, the people of India have ready access to the 19,030 standards we've posted.

Public Resource is a relatively small non-profit. I am the only employee, and I'm supported by a volunteer board of directors and three dedicated contractors. We are roughly a $500,000/year operation, with a modest outlay for rent (thanks to our landlord at O'Reilly Media) and hosting (thanks to the Internet Systems Consortium).

That $500,000/year is supplemented by a huge contribution of pro bono legal help from nine law firms. In 2014, we booked $1.2 million in pro bono legal help from our dedicated lawyers, for 2015 we are expecting that contribution to be closer to $5 million in pro bono legal help. This is an amazing outpouring of support from some of the best legal talent in the United States, and we are very grateful.

Your monetary tax-deductible contribution will help us get through 2016, and we are very grateful for any support you can give us. Please help us fight for the rule of law and for public safety.

Your sincerely,

Carl Malamud
Founder and CEO
Public.Resource.Org


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