State may enjoy copyright protection

Glenn W. Peterson

In today’s world, intellectual property can be as valuable if not more so than tangible goods. Many a California business essentially thrives based upon its intellectual assets. Similarly, many a lawsuit has been brought forth in the fight to protect the rights of these assets and the companies who hold license to them. These concerns are not limited to the private sector it seems.

The concerns about copyright privileges and public access to information is taking center stage in a new bill put forth by state lawmakers that focuses squarely on government assets. The issues regarding whether or not state or local government intellectual property is able to be copyrighted have been swirling for some time. Where is the line between what belongs to the government and to the people? In a case in Inglewood, a court ruled clearly that city council videos are public domain. The city sued a citizen for posting commentary laden videos online but lost the bid to protect the assets.

If the new law is passed, the State of California would be able to copyright its works yet the public would continue to have some access to items. There are, however, some situations in which works may not need to be accessible by the public based upon the current text of the bill. Additionally, it is important to note that local municipalities are not given protection abilities under the bill.

Businesses and individuals alike who have need to access state or local government information may want to talk with an attorney about copyright laws. Learning what is and is not usable, especially as laws evolve, may be very beneficial.


Source: Columbia Journalism Review, “How California’s new copyright bill could chill public debate,” Jonathan Peters, June 2, 2016