The California Assembly Committee on Judiciary recently approved a bill to grant local and state governments copyright authority along with other intellectual property rights. AB 2880 will give state and local governments the power to limit speech and open government. The Electronic Frontier Foundation brought this news to our attention in their article, “California’s Legislature Wants to Copyright All Government Works.”

Many believe that such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments could impose harm on the public domain because it sets out to “clarify” that all works created by public entities are eligible for intellectual property restrictions.

California currently has a citizen-friendly state copyright regime where a vast majority of state created works are free to the public with few exceptions. All other audio, visual, and written work of state and local government employees is in the public domain upon creation and free for the public to use however they see fit. The bill would move California from having what many believe to be one of the best policies on copyright of any U.S. state to the other end of the spectrum.

It will be interesting to watch this piece of legislation make its way through the political process. The results could have serious impact on the concept of ownership.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.