Justices debate allowing state law to be “hidden behind a pay wall”

Carl Malamud, founder of Public.Resource.Org. (credit: Kirk Walter)
The courts have long held that laws can’t be copyrighted. But if the state mixes the text of the law together with supporting information, things get trickier. In Monday oral arguments, the US Supreme Court wrestled with the copyright status of Georgia’s official legal code, which includes annotations written by LexisNexis.
The defendant in the case is Public.Resource.Org (PRO), a non-profit organization that publishes public-domain legal materials. The group obtained Georgia’s official version of state law, known as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, and published the code on its website. The state of Georgia sued, arguing that while the law itself is in the public domain, the accompanying annotations are copyrighted works that can’t be published by anyone except LexisNexis.
Georgia won at the trial court level, but PRO won at the appeals court level. On Monday, the case reached the Supreme Court.
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Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1627091

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