California Still Looking To Copyright All Sorts Of Government Works, Despite Protests

from the bad-bad-ideas dept

Back in April, we were among the first to write about an absolutely horrible bill in the California Assembly, giving various government entities not just the ability, but strong encouragement to copyright and trademark whatever they could. As we noted, this was a very confused and poorly thought out kneejerk reaction to a weird dispute involving Yosemite National Park and its former concession vendor, which had trademarked a variety of famous names at Yosemite, and then tried to sell them back to the park after losing its contract. That was a crazy situation, but the proper response is not granting bad trademarks, not suddenly encouraging the government to copyright and trademark all the things. As a simple example of why this was such a bad idea, it was easy to point to the City of Inglewood which tried to sue a critic for posting videos (plus commentary) of city council meetings. The lack of copyright in those videos helped get that case tossed.

And, of course, as you probably know already, copyright law bars the federal government from getting copyright in any works created by federal government employees (it does not bar the federal government from getting copyrights on works done by others where the copyright is then transferred to the government, but that's a different situation). Following some of the criticism of the bill, the state Assembly made a minor modification that stopped local governments (e.g., city governments) from getting these rights, reserving that unnecessary power just to state agencies. This was likely in response to everyone pointing to the Inglewood example. But, again, this is a really short sighted view. The state does not need more copyright, and as we've seen, granting them will be abused.

Unfortunately, the bill still was passed by the Assembly, as they still seem unable to grasp why people are worried about this. Perhaps the state Senate will actually pay attention to the large and growing coalition of people and organizations opposing the bill and noting how much harm it will do. This now includes various free speech and public interest groups as well as libraries and researchers. It also includes a variety of business organizations, including the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Internet Association. When you have a bunch of public interest, free speech, library groups teaming up with a variety of business groups all opposing the bill, it makes you wonder just who is in support of this bill... other than California government employees, and perhaps some IP lawyers?
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Filed Under: california, copyright, mark stone, state copyright, trademark


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Copyright is necessary

    Particularly the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres.

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