Copyright Laws vs. Public Court Documents

11 April 2012 Publication
Authors: Peter Vogel

E-Commerce Times

The public court system appears to have an implied right to distribute papers filed in lawsuits, related to those suits. Probably even the opposing parties in lawsuits have the right to make copies to provide as exhibits to papers filed in response, and to share with clients and expert witnesses. The question is, do commercial businesses have the right to copy documents filed in court and share these documents for commercial gain? That question may soon be answered.

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, state and federal governments moved to become more open, and the Internet has made the achievement of transparency even easier.

Information is now available to the general public on government websites or from federal agencies in response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Many states have open records laws (like the Texas Public Information Act ) requiring a similar provision of information on the state level.

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