Federal copyright law says that “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government.” 17 U.S.C. § 105. This is a broad and clear statement that works of the federal government are in the public domain and are free for use by all, but by specifying works of the United States Government, the statute fails to address the copyright status of any works of state governments, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. It turns out that figuring out whether state documents are copyrighted is a tricky question, and we’ve created this website to help identify the relevant laws in each state.
If you click on the individual states, along with the openness score, you will find:
- The copyright status (red for copyrightable, green for presumptively public domain)
- Binding law
- Advisory sources
- Related law
- Specific examples of what the state actually does with its documents
This is a wonderful 50-state survey of copyright as it pertains to documents created by the individual states.