IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO DEFENSE, BUT PUBLISHING THE LAW IS ILLEGAL: State Of Georgia Sues Carl Malamud For Copyright Infringement For Publishing The State’s Own Laws. Personally, I don’t think that laws should be copyrightable.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh emails: “It turns out the Georgia copyright lawsuit is about the copyright in annotations, not in the laws themselves; see https://ia801504.us.archive.org/1/items/gov.uscourts.gand.218354/gov.uscourts.gand.218354.1.0.pdf and http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/State_of_Georgia_sues_Carl_Malamud_says_he_published_its_annotated_code_of. If the annotations were owned by LexisNexis, which creates them, it seems to me pretty clear that they could sue for infringement. But for some reason that I haven’t yet been able to figure out, Georgia has LexisNexis create the annotations and takes the copyright itself, though it then lets LexisNexis sell the annotated code and make money from it. My tentative sense is that this fact should not preclude the lawsuit, again because the material – annotations, rather than the underlying law – is copyrightable regardless of whether it’s owned by the state or a private party.” That would make sense.