The Law is Not Copyrightable: Fastcase Sues Casemaker
April 1, 2016•27 min
Recently, the legal publishing company Fastcase received a takedown notice from the parent company of another publishing company, Casemaker, claiming they had exclusive rights to distribute, for commercial use, the Georgia Administrative Rules and Regulations. Fastcase CEO Ed Walters was surprised by this demand, because public law is not copyrightable. As a response, Ed decided to initiate litigation with Casemaker for the rights to the regulations and also to set a countrywide precedent. But why did Casemaker think they had exclusive rights to these Georgia laws in the first place?
In this episode of The Digital Edge, Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway interview Ed Walters about the case, why he thinks keeping public law in the public domain is so important, and the history of law citations, annotations, and publication.
The verbiage in Casemaker’s takedown notice to Fastcase
Contracts with the Secretary of State of Georgia and other states
The importance of having a federal court declare that private publishers can’t own the law
The history of laws published with citations, annotations, or editorial enhancements
How the digitalization of laws has changed the publishing landscape
What happens when a state designates a version of the code as official (even if it was published by a private company like LexisNexis)
What will happen next with the Casemaker/Fastcase lawsuit
Ed Walters is the CEO and co-founder of Fastcase, a legal publishing company based in Washington D.C. Before working at Fastcase, he was a lawyer at Covington & Burling in Washington D.C. and Brussels. Ed also teaches The Law of Robots at Georgetown University Law Center.
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