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Jake Heller

In what is surely one of the more bizarre lawsuits of late, the state of Georgia recently filed suit against Carl Malamud for uploading the state’s official laws to the Internet and making them available for free.

This lawsuit has angered many. Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times calls the suit “ridiculous.” The tech cognoscenti are especially taken aback: Paul Graham, one of Silicon Valley’s most well-known investors, marveled that this is happening in the U.S. state of Georgia, not the European Democratic Republic of Georgia; Matt Cutts, the man behind Google’s search rankings, notes that the suit is obviously a “bad idea”; and publications such as TechDirt, BoingBoing, Ars Technica and Engadget are baffled. Stoking the flames is the fact that Georgia says in its court papers that Malamud is engaging in a “strategy of terrorism.” The case is already getting ugly.

My initial reaction, like many, is that this lawsuit is insane; the State of Georgia should be applauding Malamud, not suing him, for making its state laws more freely accessible. But there’s a lot more happening here than is obvious on the surface, and the case is substantially more interesting, and less black-and-white, than it sounds.

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