The State of Georgia claims that its statutes are a copyrighted work, and that rogue archivist Carl Malamud and public.resource.org committed an act of piracy by making the laws of Georgia free for all to see and copy.
The state makes a lot of money vending the "Official Code of Georgia Annotated," which contains critical annotations to the basic statutes, and which the courts rely upon to interpret the law. Georgia claims that if Malamud is allowed to make copies of the law available, they will no longer have any incentive to make good laws, because they won't be able to profit from them.
Malamud is a hero of the open access movement and has spent years tempting fate by publishing laws and regulations whose governmental authors claimed copyright, daring them to sue. Georgia isn't the first state to take him up on the challenge, but the way they talk about their case is certainly the stupidest and most grossly offensive. They even called him a terrorist.
This action for injunctive relief arises from Defendant's systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of the copyrighted annotations in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated ("O.C.G.A.") through the distribution of thumb drives containing copies of the O.C.G.A. and the posting of the O.C.G.A. on various websites. Defendant has facilitated, enabled, encouraged and induced others to view, download, print, copy, and distribute the O.C.G.A copyrighted annotations without limitation, authorization, or appropriate compensation. On information and belief, Defendant has also created unauthorized derivative works containing the O.C.G.A. annotations by re-keying the O.C.G.A. in order to make it possible for members of the public to copy and manipulate the O.C.G.A., thereby also encouraging the creation of further unauthorized derivative works.
Believe it or not, the State of Georgia is actually claiming that it needs the copyright protections here to incentivize it to create these annotated copies of the law. Apparently, without copyright, Georgia's law would remain sadly unannotated.
Each of these annotations is an original and creative work of authorship that is protected by copyrights owned by the State of Georgia. Without providing the publisher with the ability to recoup its costs for the development of these copyrighted annotations, the State of Georgia will be required to either stop publishing the annotations altogether or pay for development of the annotations using state tax dollars. Unless Defendant's infringing activities are enjoined, Plaintiff and citizens of the State of Georgia, will face losing valuable analysis and guidance regarding their state laws.
This is ridiculous. In what world does making the law require copyright protection?
State Of Georgia Sues Carl Malamud For Copyright Infringement For Publishing The State's Own Laws [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]