Intellectual Property » Sharing Laws Infringes Copyright In Georgia

Sharing Laws Infringes Copyright In Georgia

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March 30, 2017

Georgia lawmakers have told an open-records activist that, by copying all the official laws of that state onto a hard drive, he was infringing on the exclusive copyright of the state. Carl Malamud had to spend $1,207.02 to receive a hard copy of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. (A copy on CD is available for $1,259.41, and is now available via LexisNexis – for $385.94.) Though the actual texts of Georgia’s laws are available to the public, the annotations – including things like judicial decisions related to particular sections – is copyrighted by the state. Malamud, who believes citizens have the right to read the law, scanned his copy and put it on two thumb drives, then sent them to the Georgia Speaker of the House and the state’s legislative counsel, as well as other prominent Georgia lawyers and policymakers. “Access to the law is a fundamental aspect of our system of democracy, an essential element of due process, equal protection, and access to justice,” Malamud wrote in an enclosed letter. “Your unlawful copying… Infringes on the exclusive copyright of the state of Georgia,” chairman of Georgia’s Code Revision Commission, Josh McKoon, wrote in a response. “Accordingly, you are hereby notified to CEASE AND DESIST ALL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.” McKoon told Malamud to stop copying, destroy his files, and remove the laws from his website. If he didn’t comply within 10 days, the state would file a lawsuit to force his hand. McKoon promised to seek damages for “willful infringement.”

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