Georgia Claims Its Annotated Laws Are Covered By Copyright, Threatens Carl Malamud For Publishing The Law, by Mike Masnick, techdirt (Jul 30, 2013).
Masnick notes that, technically, states that claim to be able to copyright their laws are on reasonably firm legal ground, even if they’re on completely illogical common sense ground but that fact “doesn’t make it any saner to claim such a copyright.”
Among other things, Georgia claims (apparently as a justification) that the unannotated Georgia Code is available to the public at no charge at www.legis.ga.gov. Masnick continues:
It’s not as if the state needed the “incentive” of copyright to publish an annotated version of the law. If anything, this seems like copyright misuse. But, even beyond that, it just seems counterproductive from a public policy standpoint to want to make your own laws harder to understand.
Carl Malamud has responded by respectfully declining to remove the Official Code of Georgia Annotated from Public.Resource.Org and quotes the Copyright Office: “Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of public policy. This applies to such works whether they are Federal, State, or local as well as to those of foreign governments.” Compendium II: Copyright Office Practices § 206.01 (1984)
- Letter from Carl Malamud to Hon. Joshua McKoon, Hon. David Ralston, and Hon. David Shafer
July 30, 2013.