environmental reports by public utility=pub. domain?

← Return to forum

  • We have faculty interest in digitizing and making publicly available several environmental reports from the past decade or so by a public utility. Some are trying to claim that, since these are required by our state Dept. of Environmental Protection, they are in the public domain. I'm doubtin' it, and I've routed the idea back to see if, instead of relying on a weak pub. domain claim, alternatively we could get permissions from the issuing branch (a lab, usually, I think) of the utility.

    Is there any basis for thinking that such reports could be in the public domain?

  • Section 105 of the Copyright Act says that the neither the federal government nor its employees may claim copyright in works created in the course of official business. However, there is no similar rule for works created by state or local governments and their employees. Courts have long held that state judicial decisions are in the public domain, but other state works have been found to be protectable. Also, a 1991 decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals held that works created by a private entity under contract with the federal government could also be subject to copyright held by the creators. So someone could get the idea, based on section 105, that all government works are automatically in the public domain but that is not necessarily the case for works by state governments and by government contractors.

Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.

← Return to forum