Tuesday, April 28, 2020

US Supreme Court Rules Georgia Can’t Copyright Annotated Code

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of December 10, 2019 entitled US Supreme Court Hears Case on Copyright Status of Georgia's Official Legal Code.

The government of the state of Georgia was claiming that it owned the copyright over its official legal code. Georgia has a contract with legal vendor Lexis Nexis to publish an annotated version of the code.

Non-annotated codes are available for free but only the annotated commercial version is considered official. That version costs a lot of  money.

Yesterday, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that state governments could not copyright annotated versions of their laws.

The decision is a victory for the non-profit Public.Resource.Org, a group that works to facilitate public access to government records and legal materials.

As Chief Justice Roberts writes:
"Over a century ago, we recognized a limitation on copyright protection for certain government work product, rooted in the Copyright Act’s 'authorship' requirement. Under what has been dubbed the government edicts doctrine, officials empowered to speak with the force of law cannot be the authors of—and therefore cannot copyright—the works they create in the course of their official duties."

"We have previously applied that doctrine to hold that non-binding, explanatory legal materials are not copyrightable when created by judges who possess the authority to make and interpret the law. See Banks v. Manchester, 128 U. S. 244 (1888). We now recognize that the same logic applies to non-binding, explanatory legal materials created by a legislative body vested with the authority to make law. Because Georgia’s annotations are authored by an arm of the legislature in the course of its legislative duties, the government edicts doctrine puts them outside the reach of copyright protection."

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share Subscribe
posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:30 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home