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A legal publisher has sought a judgment from a US court that Georgia’s laws are in the public domain and that a rival is improperly asserting an exclusive copyright to publishing the state’s rules and regulations.
In a motion for a declaratory judgment filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Fastcase argued that its publication of the Georgia Administration Rules and Regulations does not infringe rival Lawriter’s copyright.
The filing followed a cease-and-desist letter sent by Lawriter to Fastcase on December 21 stating that it is the only party “authorised to licence and/or offer subscriptions to use ... electronic files ... incorporating the regulations”.
Fastcase publishes the rules and regulations online as part of its own database service.
The Secretary of State of Georgia designated Lawriter as the publisher of the state’s law and “granted sole rights to the distribution of data” but Fastcase said the deal is in breach of US copyright law.
“Lawriter cannot claim a valid copyright or an exclusive licence to a valid copyright,” Fastcase argued.
It added: “It is well established in US law that state laws, including administrative rules and regulations, are not copyrightable, and must remain public as a matter of due process.”
Fastcase; Lawriters; copyright; public domain; US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia; Georgia Secretary of State