Today I will start sharing and commenting on that part of Federal Law that regulates the dissemination of government information to America, that is United States Code Title 44. In the coming days, I will exam three parts of the law more closely: The Federal Depository Library Program, the Sales Program, and Access to Federal Electronic Government Information.
Part of my purpose is simply to expose you to what the law says. Even many people who work in the documents field are unfamilar with the requirements of Title 44, which aren’t always put into practice. I will also offer a few comments on each aspect of the law that I find interesting. In doing so, I want to emphasize two things:
- I am not a lawyer.
- I very much welcome comments from people who know Title 44 much better than me. Please either use the comments feature here or e-mail me at dnlcornwall AT alaska.net with your comment and your permission to post it to the discussion.
It is my hope that showing and discussing the law behind the public dissemination of government information will help inform current debates on the future of government information.
I wish to begin my examination of Title 44 with the first part of the statute dealing with the Depository Library Program, 44 USC 1901 dealing with definition of government publication:
Sec. 1901. Definition of Government publication
“Government publication” as used in this chapter, means
informational matter which is published as an individual document at
Government expense, or as required by law.
(Pub. L. 90-620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1283.)
Historical and Revision Notes
Based on 44 U.S. Code, 1964 ed., Sec. 81a (Pub. L. 87-579, Sec. 1,
Aug. 9, 1962, 76 Stat. 352).
Seems pretty much self explanatory to me. One may question whether government databases are individual documents, but it seems like any government database should be required by law.
Tomorrow we will examine section 1902 “Availability of Government publications through Superintendent of Documents.”