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States Cannot Be “Authors”

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The Supreme Court of the United States

State Governments Are Barred From Being Authors and 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 made freely available to the public. The annotations had been made by Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. under a work made for hire agreement, transferring ownership to the state of Georgia. But the states cannot be “authors” and cannot sue for copyright infringement under the Copyright Act for copyright infringement of official documents.

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