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Supreme Court says Georgia cannot copyright its entire official code

Ruling may have implications for other states claiming copyright for building codes.

May 20, 2020 |

Courtesy Pixabay

The Supreme Court recently ruled that Georgia may not copyright its entire official code, which includes both the state’s laws and annotations interpreting them.

The ruling pertained to a case filed by the state objecting to Public.Resource.Org’s initiative to put the entire code online. The group aims to make government materials more accessible.

The state sued for copyright infringement, claiming that the laws were public property, but that the annotations that provide updates to statutes were not. A commission created by the legislature was the author of the annotations, so the annotations could not be copyrighted, according to Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts wrote that the annotations often offered important guidance. Other entities such as UpCodes are trying to simplify compliance with building codes. UpCodes is creating AI for code checking in Revit, and what it describes as “the first modern search engine for building codes.” State copyrights of codes complicate this effort.

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