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Can the law be copyrighted

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  • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack
    Since we were talking about copyrights, here s the case that decided that the law cannot be copyrighted. It was a circuit court ruling, not the Supreme Court,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 26, 2005
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      Since we were talking about copyrights, here's the case that decided
      that the law cannot be copyrighted. It was a circuit court ruling, not
      the Supreme Court, in 2002. The case was Veeck v. SBBCI.

      The issue was about 'building codes' which had been written and
      copyrighted by a private organization (SBBCI). (Building codes
      basically say how buildings are to be built.) The codes were enacted
      directly into the law somewhere. The question was whether the building
      codes lost their copyright upon becoming law.

      The summary from the ruling is:
      "The issue in this en banc case is the extent to which a private
      organization may assert copyright protection for its model codes, after
      the models have been adopted by a legislative body and become "the law".
      Specifically, may a code-writing organization prevent a website operator
      from posting the text of a model code where the code is identified
      simply as the building code of a city that enacted the model code as
      law? Our short answer is that as law, the model codes enter the public
      domain and are not subject to the copyright holder's exclusive
      prerogatives. As model codes, however, the organization's works retain
      their protected status."

      Which I got from here:
      http://www.ipwatchdog.com/Cases/Veeck_v_SBCCI_enbanc.htm

      I had heard of this case, which is why I was saying that the text of
      legislation cannot be copyrighted, and so there's nothing to worry about
      there (until/if the Supreme Court ever rules otherwise). Of course,
      it's up to our imagination how this might extend to other law-related
      things.

      --
      - Joshua Tauberer

      http://taubz.for.net

      ** Nothing Unreal Exists **
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