The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Georgia can no longer copyright and sell an annotated version of its state code.
According to the state of Georgia, Public.Resource.Org originally filed the case after the state claimed that the nonprofit website violated copyright law by allowing the public free access to their annotated code.
The court dismissed the claim that Georgia code annotations can be copyrighted, stating that it was decided more than a century ago that certain government works, by virtue of the Copyright Act’s definition of “authorship,” did not enjoy copyright protection. Government officials that were “empowered to speak with the force of “law” could not be considered the authors of suck works created as part of their official duties.
Public Resource attorneys maintained that legal documents produced by public servants working for taxpayers should be available free of charge—and the Supreme Court agreed with them.
This ruling does not prevent materials made by government workers at libraries and public universities, in non-lawmaking capacities, from having copyright protection.