Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Justices to Decide if States Can Copyright Laws

Courthouse News: “The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to weigh in on the ability of a state to copyright its own official annotated codes, after an appeals court panel ruled Georgia could not. The court battle goes back to 2015, when the Peach State sought an order forcing U.S. technologist and public domain advocate Carl Malamud to stop making the state code available online free of charge. Georgia’s code is available to the public free of charge, but with terms of use and without the annotations. The state claims the annotations available through Lexus Nexus are copyrighted, and therefore, Malamud’s activities are nothing short of Internet piracy. But Malamud told Courthouse News shortly after he was sued by the state that “the code, including the annotations, belongs to the people.” “If the attorney general wrote a haiku in the body of Georgia state law, that too would belong to the people,” he said.

The fight between Georgia and Malamud has actually been going on since 2013, when he first sent thumb drives with the annotated law to the House of Representatives. Malamud holds that the government should not charge its people for laws that constitutionally belong to them. “It goes back to Magna Carta … it’s a longstanding principle. It’s fundamental to the way our democracy works,” he told Courthouse News in 2015. “However, there’s a large part of federal and state law that isn’t readily available to the public and costs money to access.”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.