Despite Losing Its Copyright Case, The State Of Georgia Still Trying To Stop Carl Malamud From Posting Its Laws | Techdirt
peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-01-08
"When we last checked in with Carl Malamud and his Public.Resource.Org, they were celebrating a huge victory in Georgia, where the 11th Circuit had ruled that of course Malamud was not infringing on anyone's copyrights in posting the "Official Code of Georgia Annotated" (OCGA) because there could be no copyright in the law. As we explained at length in previous posts, Georgia has a somewhat bizarre system in which the only official version of their law is the "officially" annotated version, in which the annotations (with citations to caselaw and further explanations) are written by a private company, LexisNexis, which then transfers the copyright (should one exist) on those annotations to the state.
Malamud, of course, has spent years, trying to make it easier for people to access the law -- and that means all of the law, not just some of it. So when he posted a much more accessible version of the OCGA, the state sued him for copyright infringement. While the lower court ruled that the OCGA could have copyright, that the State of Georgia could hold it and that Malamud's work was not fair use, the 11th Circuit tossed that out entirely, saying that since the OCGA was clearly the only official version of the law, there could be no valid copyright in it.
It was a pretty thorough and complete win. And, if the state of Georgia were mature and reasonable, you'd think that they'd (perhaps grudgingly) admit that anyone should have access to its laws and move on. But, this is the state of Georgia we're talking about. And, it appears that the state has decided that rather than taking the high road, it's going to act like a petty asshole.
Last week Malamud sent a letter describing how the state is now trying to block him from purchasing a copy of the OCGA. He's not looking for a discount or any special deal. He wants to buy the OCGA just like anyone else can. And the state is refusing to sell it to him, knowing that he's going to digitize it, put it online and (gasp) make it easier for the residents of Georgia to read their own damn laws...."