State Government Information and the Copyright Conundrum

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State Government Information and the Copyright Conundrum

Presented Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Presented by the Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section and the Research and Committee Staff Section.

Unlike federal government documents, which are almost universally in the public domain for the purposes of U.S. copyright, state government documents receive copyright protection by default. Despite this current default, many state agencies view their documents as being in the public domain. The consequences of the divide between the legal default and the perception of state agencies is a significant impediment to institutions seeking to digitize historic state publications, capture and archive born-digital publications, and freely disseminate these materials to the public via library catalogs or digital repositories.


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  • Sonia Gavin, Montana Legislature


  • Bernadette Bartlett, Library of Michigan
  • Justin Bonfiglio, University of Michigan Copyright Office
  • Kris Kasianovitz, Stanford University