by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 17th 2008 1:57am
Well here's a story about copyright that's so bizarre it makes you think that there must be a mistake somewhere -- but it seems to be completely true. Apparently, Oregon is complaining to sites like Justia (which publish public domain legal documents) that they are violating copyright by republishing some of Oregon's laws. The state admits that the text of the laws are not covered by copyright, but that everything else about the way the law is presented is covered by copyright (such as the numbering, the notes and annotations). This is an accurate portrayal of copyright law, which does allow such things to be covered by copyright (though, the "numbering" part seems questionable), but it's difficult to see how the state could possibly get upset that someone is trying to better publicize Oregon's laws. The state does make one good point: Justia adds its own copyright notice to the text, which is bad form, but was probably just a template issue. Either way, it's difficult to see what Oregon could possibly gain in trying to force copies of its laws off of public resource legal sites.
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