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California Legislation Granting State and Local Government the Right to Copyright Government Works – AB 2880

Open Access

AB 2880, an amendment to current California Government and Contract Code, would give California state and local governments the authority to create, hold, and exert copyrights – including materials created by the government. While U.S. Federal copyright statue prohibits the federal government from copyrighting materials it creates, this prohibition does not extend to individual states, which are free to decide for themselves.

AB 2880 is designed to amend existing California code by “clarifying” that all works created by public entities can have IP restrictions imposed on them – including copyright. The legislation, introduced by State Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair, Mark Stone (D), and co-sponsored by five other democratic Assembly Members, would limit – or in worst cases, prohibit – California taxpayers whose tax dollars funded these materials from freely using these works.

California’s copyright practices currently favor the public, with the majority of state-funded works made free to the public with very limited exception.   Written, as well as audio and visual, works of state and local government employees are in the public domain upon creation and free for the public to use. AB 2880 would represent a significant roll-back of these practices.

On June 6, 2o016, this legislation passed the CA State Assembly. It is slated to being hearings in the CA State Senate in the near future.

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