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

“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 US Supreme Court.

During Monday’s oral argument, some justices seemed skeptical of Georgia’s position.

“Why would we allow the official law to be hidden behind a pay wall?” asked Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Georgia’s lawyer countered that the law wasn’t hidden behind a paywall—at least not the legally binding parts. LexisNexis offers a free version of Georgia’s code, sans annotations, on its website.

But that version isn’t the official code. LexisNexis’ terms of service explicitly warns users that it might be inaccurate. The company also prohibits users from scraping the site’s content. If you want to own the latest official version of the state code, you have to pay LexisNexis hundreds of dollars. And if you want to publish your own copy of Georgia’s official code, you’re out of luck….”

Georgia v. PublicResource.Org: Copyright Case Before the Supreme Court | Authors Alliance

“The Code Revision Commission (the “Commission”), an arm of the State of Georgia’s General Assembly, is mandated to ensure publication of the statutes adopted by the General Assembly. It does so by contracting with the LexisNexis Group (“Lexis”) to maintain, publish, and distribute the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (“OCGA”), an annotated compilation of Georgia’s statutes. Following guidelines provided by the Commission, Lexis prepares and sells OCGA, which includes the statutory text of Georgia’s laws and annotations (such as summaries of judicial decisions interpreting or applying particular statutes). Lexis also makes unannotated versions of the statutes available online.

Public.Resource.Org (“PRO”) is a non-profit organization that promotes access to government records and primary legal materials. PRO makes government documents available online, including the official codes and other rules, regulations, and standards legally adopted by federal, state, and local authorities, giving the public free access to these documents. PRO purchased printed copies of the OCGA, digitized its content, and posted copies online through its own website.

Georgia filed suit against PRO claiming copyright infringement. Before the lower courts, PRO invoked the judicially-created “government edicts” doctrine. As a matter of public policy, courts have held that government edicts having the force of law, such as statutes and judicial decisions, are not eligible for copyright protection. While the court of first instance agreed with the State of Georgia and the OCGA was found to be copyrightable, on appeal the Eleventh Circuit held that under the government edicts doctrine, OCGA is not copyrightable and rejected Georgia’s infringement claim against PRO. Now, the issue before the Supreme Court is whether Georgia can claim copyrights over the OCGA annotations or if it is prevented from doing so because the annotations are an edict of government….”

Georgia v. PublicResource.Org: Copyright Case Before the Supreme Court | Authors Alliance

“The Code Revision Commission (the “Commission”), an arm of the State of Georgia’s General Assembly, is mandated to ensure publication of the statutes adopted by the General Assembly. It does so by contracting with the LexisNexis Group (“Lexis”) to maintain, publish, and distribute the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (“OCGA”), an annotated compilation of Georgia’s statutes. Following guidelines provided by the Commission, Lexis prepares and sells OCGA, which includes the statutory text of Georgia’s laws and annotations (such as summaries of judicial decisions interpreting or applying particular statutes). Lexis also makes unannotated versions of the statutes available online.

Public.Resource.Org (“PRO”) is a non-profit organization that promotes access to government records and primary legal materials. PRO makes government documents available online, including the official codes and other rules, regulations, and standards legally adopted by federal, state, and local authorities, giving the public free access to these documents. PRO purchased printed copies of the OCGA, digitized its content, and posted copies online through its own website.

Georgia filed suit against PRO claiming copyright infringement. Before the lower courts, PRO invoked the judicially-created “government edicts” doctrine. As a matter of public policy, courts have held that government edicts having the force of law, such as statutes and judicial decisions, are not eligible for copyright protection. While the court of first instance agreed with the State of Georgia and the OCGA was found to be copyrightable, on appeal the Eleventh Circuit held that under the government edicts doctrine, OCGA is not copyrightable and rejected Georgia’s infringement claim against PRO. Now, the issue before the Supreme Court is whether Georgia can claim copyrights over the OCGA annotations or if it is prevented from doing so because the annotations are an edict of government….”

Supreme Court to decide if Georgia code is free to the public

“On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up that question as the justices consider whether the annotated version of Georgia code is protected under copyright law or should be made available to the public free of charge.

The hotly disputed case, pitting the state against an open records proponent, has caught the attention of the Trump administration, whose lawyers say Georgia’s code should be protected. At the same time, news media and civil rights organizations are also weighing in, contending the public should have unhindered access to the state code….”

Clinic Files Law Scholar Briefs, Supporting Public.Resource.Org | Cyberlaw Clinic

“On Friday, November 22, 2019, the Cyberlaw Clinic and local counsel Marcia Hofmann filed amicus briefs in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in two related cases, ASTM v. Public.Resource.Org (.pdf), and AERA v. Public.Resource.Org (.pdf). The cases involve copyright infringement claims brought by standards development organizations (SDOs) against Public.Resource.org. The cases are back before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The core issue in front of the Court is whether PRO’s provision of free online access to codes that were developed by the plaintiffs — but incorporated by reference into binding law — constitutes fair use….”

CFP: Scholarly Communication Librarianship and Open Culture: Law, Economics, and Publishing – OER + ScholComm

“We are pleased to announce a call for proposals for Unit 3 contributions (see more details below) in our upcoming edited open book, Scholarly Communication Librarianship and Open Culture: Law, Economics, and Publishing, to be openly published by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) in electronic and print formats. Authors retain copyright of their contributions, but commit to open publication in the CC-BY-NC book.

Proposals will be accepted in three areas:

Perspectives – situated and self-reflexive discussions of topics of importance in scholarly communication
Intersections – examples of and reflections on the intersection of scholarly communication with other areas of academic librarianship or other stakeholders
Case Studies – stories and lessons learned drawn from experience by librarians engaged in scholarly communication work…”

Kumsal Bayazit, Elsevier CEO, shares her vision for building a better future in research

“You [librarians] are helping researchers and institutional leaders preserve and showcase their intellectual outputs. For example, you are establishing and populating Institutional Repositories to capture data-sets, theses, dissertations, conference presentations [note, doesn’t mention articles]. I learned that across more than 500 Digital Commons repositories, we estimate that 94% of the content and 91% of the downloads are for materials other than previously published, peer-reviewed journal articles that libraries have collected and shared openly to deliver on their institution’s mission….

You are promoting and enabling open access in its many forms, including by funding repositories and Article Publication Charges; and by creating your own journals and university presses….

First and foremost, I want to be very clear: Elsevier fully supports open access….

No one can dispute the beauty of the vision of freely-accessible, immediately-available research content, whether peer-reviewed published articles or other scholarly work. I am a UC Berkeley alumna, so these kinds of values were installed in me as a fresh new undergraduate. As Elsevier’s CEO, I am committed to working with you and the rest of the global research community towards a more fully open access future.

In fact, my professional background is in applying technology to content to help professionals make better decisions. For example, working in the part of RELX that serves legal professionals, I’ve seen the powerful benefits of analytical services that are built on top of freely available content, such as case law. This is why I’m excited by the potential to create value for researchers by applying text-mining and artificial intelligence technologies to the entire corpus of peer-reviewed content. I understand and appreciate the role that open access can play in delivering that vision.

 

The question is not whether open access is desirable or beneficial — the question is how we get there….

I am a pragmatist, and I commit to working pragmatically with libraries and other stakeholders to achieve shared open access goals. Part of this means acknowledging obstacles where they exist and discussing them openly and objectively so that we can find solutions to overcome them….”

Nomos – eLibrary | Open Access in der Rechtswissenschaft

From Google’s English: “The present edition explores which opportunities open access to scientific publications offers to legal studies and which challenges it poses. Scientific publishers play an important role with regard to this issue; their perspective is first. Nine reports from legal-scientific open access periodicals show that open access is possible with as well as without traditional publishers. Other contributions explain the role of academic infrastructure, especially of libraries and promoters of research. The publication will be published in October 2018 (www.jurOA.de).”

Breaking: 11th Circuit Rules for Fastcase in Copyright Dispute with Casemaker | LawSites

“The ongoing legal battle between Fastcase and Casemaker over the latter’s claims of copyright in Georgia administrative regulations has taken a notable turn as the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the lower court erroneously granted summary judgment in favor of Casemaker. The three-judge panel remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.

In 2016, Fastcase sued Casemaker in federal court in Atlanta after Casemaker served it a written notice demanding that it remove Georgia administrative rules and regulations from its research collection. Casemaker’s parent company, Lawriter, has an agreement with the Georgia Secretary of State designating it as the exclusive publisher of the Georgia Rules and Regulations and giving it the right to license that content to other publishers….”