Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Although the Copyright Act of 1976 provides no protection for works of the United States government, no similar prohibition exists for works of state or local governments. Similarly, under principles of international copyright law, works of state governments in the United States are not considered to be within the public domain unless explicitly provided by state statute or through statutory interpretation. Nevertheless, many states post their statutory and legislative materials on the Internet. This article demonstrates that over half of the fifty states provide for state copyright of official statutory compilations, court reports or administrative compilations. The author reviews the common law and federal statutory law of copyright protection of state primary law materials, presents the results of the statutory research and judicial interpretations of specific provisions, and concludes with an analysis of the findings and a proposal for changes in the law.