The law," including judicial opinions and statutes, is not copyrightable because neither individuals nor organizations own the law. This longstanding principle is supported by the public's due process right to access the law. The United States Supreme Court has never determined the status of a private organization's copyright on model codes or standards when a legislature adopts those materials into law. Federal courts have taken several different approaches to resolving this issue; however, their decisions are in direct conflict with each other. The Second and Ninth Circuits permit private authors to retain copyrights of materials subsequently enacted into law, while the Fifth Circuit does not. This Comment argues that the Fifth Circuit's decision in Veeck v. Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc., created an unsupported exception to copyright law when it held that private organizations whose works are passed into law cannot retain their copyrights. Further, this Comment argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should resolve the current circuit split in favor of enforcing copyright to ensure that privately authored materials' copyrights remain enforceable across the nation.
Katie M. Colendich,
Notes and Comments,
Who Owns "the Law"? The Effect on Copyrights When Privately-Authored Works Are Adopted or Enacted by Reference into Law,
78 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol78/iss2/7