Laws and Copyright

Some time ago, long enough that I don’t remember even a general time frame, I saw a link posted on Twitter about copyright and the D.C. Code. Yesterday I came across this post from Prism Legal on the same subject (note that I don’t know who or what Prism Legal is; this either came over Twitter or, more likely given my day yesterday, I happened upon it while working on a paper for school). And then today my friend G asked what my thoughts were on the D.C. Code being under copyright.

When I saw the first of these references to this issue, which I could have sworn I had saved in my to-follow-up-on list but apparently didn’t because I can’t find the link anywhere, I knew that I wanted to follow up on it. It seems like it should be an easy issue: it’s the law, it’s public information, so it shouldn’t be copyrighted.

But…

That doesn’t make sense. A book that has been published is public but it’s still copyrighted. Does it make a difference that the “author” in the case of the D.C. Code (or any other state’s law) is the government?

So let me say this. I know next to nothing about copyright. But I have a strong interest in public government information and online publication and the (unintentional?) complexities involved, so I want to learn more about this.

And thus I conclude with the immortal words of my former therapist: “to be continued…”

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