Category Archives: Legislative Action

CA Assembly Bill 2880 – State Intellectual Property is a leap in the wrong direction!

A bill introduced by the members of the California Assembly Committee on Judiciary  (Assembly Members Mark Stone (Chair), Alejo, Chau, Chiu, Cristina Garcia, and Holden) on February 25, 2016  has made its way out of committee and is headed to the State Senate.

TechDirt’s Mike* Masnick raised a red flag about this AB 2880 in his April 19, 2016 post titled: California Assembly Looks to Push Cities to Copyright and Trademark Everything They Can.

2015-16 AB 2880 State Intellectual Property appears to be a reaction to the intellectual property rights and trademark issues related to Yosemite and its concessioner, Delaware North.

According to the 05/13/16 Assembly Floor Analysis Comments:

“Last year, a well-publicized trademark dispute arose between the National Park Service (the federal entity that manages federal parks) and Delaware North Company (the departing Yosemite concessioner) over attractions and facilities in Yosemite National Park. The trademark dispute between the National Park Service and Delaware North put a spotlight on governmental intellectual property rights, and posed the following question for the state: does a third-party contractor who enters into a contract with the state acquire any intellectual property rights over products and services a contractor creates and provides to the public that is funded with public dollars, even after the contract expires?”

This is a fair question to ask, but AB 2880 is not the best answer to this situation. I’m not a lawyer nor have I seen the actual contract so this is just an opinion based on what has been published in the legislative materials, but AB 2880 seems to be reacting to what sounds like a contract that was not well written with regards to IP rights.

According to the text and Assembly Analyses, AB 2880 if enacted will further tie the hands of libraries and archives to distribute, provide access, digitize, digitally archive and preserve state government publications.  It will curtail the posting and re-distribution of state government information on individual’s and organization’s blogs and websites because they need copyright clearance to do so, for materials that have been created by and for the public!

Perhaps a better, more simple solution that favors access to information and transparency would be to require agencies to use a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.

Even though a California court case (County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court, State Copyright Resource Center, California ) prohibits copyrighting of state government information unless there is specific statutory authority enacted to do so, the fact that there isn’t a clear policy statement or even a law stating that the materials are in the public domain, still enables copyright to be affixed at moment of creation for these materials.  Proposed Section 1 of the bill begins to address this problem, by developing methods and sample language to deal with state intellectual property, but…

…proposed Section 2, seems to give agencies too much liberty: “A public entity may own, license, and, if it deems it appropriate, formally register intellectual property it creates or otherwise acquires.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sums up the problem with this language:

“Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain. It is our hope that the state legislature will scuttle this approach and refrain from covering all taxpayer funded works under a government copyright.”

Read the rest of the  EFF post regarding  AB 2880 including their opposition letter addressed to Assembly member Mark Stone, who introduced AB 2880.


May 19, 2016, Creative Commons posted this plea to their blog: Don’t let California lock down public access to government works

June 8, 2016, AB 2880 goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Electronic Frontier Foundation posted an update along with coalition letters: Growing Coalition Opposes California Exerting Copyright Over Public Records: The bill now sits with the State Senate Judiciary Committee and must be defeated.

-Kris Kasianovitz

*Corrected Mike’s name from Mark to Mike!

Get Involved! Copyright and Ohio State Documents

There is movement in the states. Check out the Ohio (and Virginia) efforts to get copyright clarification for state government information.

Copyright and Ohio Documents

By Tom Adamich, President, Visiting Librarian Service

Carol Ottolenghi and I are requesting a subcommittee be formed to explore what would need to be done legislatively here in Ohio to clarify copyright for state publications here in Ohio.  Barbie Selby from Virginia has been helping us, as we think we should model Ohio efforts after those proposed in Virginia. It seems like modeling our efforts after VA SB242 2010 is the way to go
We hope this will be on the agenda for the Ohio GODORT Fall Meeting, to be held at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio on November 13, 2015. 
Feel free to contact Carol or me using the information listed below for more information and to join us in our efforts:
Carol Ottolenghi
Ohio Attorney General Library
15th floor, SOT
30 E. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Tom Adamich, MLS
Visiting Librarian Service
224 Chauncey Ave. N.W.
P.O. Box 932
New Philadelphia, OH 44663

Carl Malamud will be testifying at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Scope of Copyright Protection for state laws and federally-mandated public safety codes.

Reposting from our affinity group Free Government Information :

Carl Malamud will be testifying at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Scope of  Copyright Protection On Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10AM. His testimony will be on the subject of Edicts of Government, including copyright assertions over state laws and federally-mandated public safety codes. He’s made his prepared statement available on his site.

Read the full post here:

There are many categories of state government publications, with state legislation and laws being an important set of materials for all citizens to access and use.  Carl Malamud’s testimony is spot on in terms the need to treat state laws in the same fashion as federal laws: “edicts of government have no copyright because such court opinions, statutes, regulations, and other pronouncements of general applicability belong to the people.”