The decision could help make these codes more widely available for users, including architects, and might help advance the proliferation of design assistance services that use automated processes to plug building codes into Building Information Models and other design review software.
In the decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, states, “If everything short of statutes and opinions were copyrightable, then states would be free to offer a whole range of premium legal works for those who can afford the extra benefit. A state could monetize its entire suite of legislative history. With today’s digital tools, states might even launch a subscription or pay-per-law service.”
The case, Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, No. 18-1150, concerns 54 volumes of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, The New York Times reports, a set of documents that contains both the explicit text of the law as well as additional statutes, related materials, and annotations made to help support the texts by a cadre of private lawyers hired to interpret this language. The non-profit group Public.Resource.Org, an organization dedicated to making public information more publicly available, published these codes to its website, allegedly violating the state of Georgia’s copyright claim over the codes.