Sometimes industry standards will be incorporated into law by reference. This poses a big problem when the publisher of those standards asserts a copyright. A citizen shouldn’t have to pay to learn what the law is if the citizen is expected to comply with that law.
The Indiana Law Blog has been covering this issue for a long time. It has a new entry today entitled Sheet metal and AC contractors demand take down of federally mandated standards posted online.
There are code publishers, like West, who are able to charge for value added with analysis and organization. And, historically, costs associated with duplication and distribution often resulted in a charge. But with the Internet and digital technology, duplication and distribution are not significant barriers. Words describing the rules lawmakers have given the force of law should not be withheld from citizens on the basis of copyright.