States Cannot Be “Authors”


State Governments Barred From Being Authors And Bringing Copyright Lawsuits

All members of government involved in lawmaking, including state legislators, are barred from being authors for purposes of copyright protection.

This decision upholds the 11th Circuit’s decision in Georgia et al. v. Public.Resource.org, Inc., No. 18-1150.

The State of Georgia sued under copyright law to take down a digital copy of an annotated code, which the accused infringer made freely available to the public. The annotations had been made by Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. under a work made for hire agreement that transferred ownership to the state of Georgia. But the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot be “authors” and cannot sue for copyright infringement of official documents under the Copyright Act.


  • This is an important decision, putting state government documents in the public domain, just like federal government documents.

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    About the author 

    Chris Paradies

    Florida Bar certified intellectual property and U.S. patent attorney, founder of ParadiesĀ® law, chair of the board of directors for the Tampa Bay Innovation Center and certified coStarters facilitator. West Point graduate, entrepreneur, disruptor. Father, husband, faithful steward.

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