When copyright and FOI collide, public access often is denied, law article explains

State and local governments increasingly claim copyright protections to deny public access to records and data, and the tension between intellectual property laws and freedom of information laws raises difficult issues, according to an article by Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, which is a partner of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. 

LoMonte’s article, “Copyright Versus the Right to Copy: The Civic Danger of Allowing Intellectual Property Law to Override State Freedom of Information Law,” was published in the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 53, Issue 1, released in fall 2021. 

“The article identifies the knotty jurisdictional problems that arise when a dispute over government records requires interpreting both copyright law (the exclusive province of federal courts) and state freedom-of-information law (the exclusive province of state courts), with the practical result that the delay and expense of parallel litigation will be tantamount to denial of access for all but the most stubborn requester,” LoMonte said in a news release published by the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, where he teaches.