What is the law?
Binding, on-point law (about)
Advisory sources (about)
Related law (about)
In Pictometry Int'l Corp. v. Freedom of Info. Comm'n, 307 Conn. 648, 59 A.3d 172 (2013), a Connecticut court held that information copyrighted by a third-party was not subject to disclosure under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act; however, the case did not involve a government entity as a copyright holder. Another case, Dir., Dep't of Info. Tech. of Town of Greenwich v. Freedom of Info. Comm'n, 274 Conn. 179, 874 A.2d 785 (2005) held that geographic information system (GIS) data was not a exempt from disclosure as a trade secret under Connecticut law.  Pictometry upholds intellectual property rights in the face of the Freedom of Information Act (CT FOIA), while the Town of Greenwich decision argues that state data was not subject to the intellectual property exemption in the CT FOIA. Neither case, however, addresses the issue directly.
Public records law (about)
The modern Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-200, was enacted in 1975. Previously, some records had been subject to public inspection by statute as early as 1949. See Harold L. Cross, The People's Right to Know: Legal Access to Public Records and Proceedings, (1953) at 66.
Does the public records law restrict the use of disclosed records?
The language of the Freedom of Information Act does not restrict the subsequent use of records obtained through the Act, and several decisions (FOIC Final Decision FIC2012-726; FOIC Advisory Opinion #10) issued by the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, empowered by Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-205 that addresses alleged violations of the Act, have stated that an intended commercial use of a record is not a valid ground to deny requests.
Specifics and examples (about)
|Status||Applies to...||Based on?|
|Copyrightable by statute||Intellectual property of the Connecticut Innovations Inc.||Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 32-39(6)|
|Copyrightable by statute||Intellectual property of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation||Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 12-806(b)(18)|
|Copyrightable by statute||"official legal publications" created by the Commission on Official Legal Publications||Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 51-216a|
|Copyrightable by statute||"inventions, discoveries and literary, artistic, musical or other products of authorship" by the State Board of Education||Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 10-4f; A Connecticut attorney general opinion, Conn. Op. Att'y Gen. 10 (1986), sheds light on the relationship between different elements of the state government and what it means for the copyright status of government documents. Of note, the opinion focuses on the affirmative steps the government must take in order to register a copyright. Section 10-4f was enacted in 1984, after the effective date of the 1976 Copyright Act which changed federal copyright from an opt-in system requiring rightsholders to take affirmative steps to secure copyright in their works to a system where no such action was required. That the state focused on affirmative steps after such time as they were no longer necessary may reflect a background assumption that works of the state government are in the public domain unless specified otherwise.|
Additional things to consider (about)
Twice in the Connecticut code and once in an state attorney general opinion records are referred to as "property of the state":
- Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 4d-34 ("Public records which a contractor, subcontractor, or employee or agent of a contractor or subcontractor, possesses, modifies or creates pursuant to a contract, subcontract or amendment to a contract or subcontract shall at all times and for all purposes remain the property of the state.");
- Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 27-131 ("records shall become the property of the state of Connecticut");
- 23 Op. Atty. Gen. 141, (June 24, 1943) (naturalization records in the custody of a clerk of court were property of the state).
The Connecticut Attorney General has the authority to replevin records unlawfully removed from state custody. Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 11-8c.
The Connecticut State Library states that "[a]ll documents, files, photographs and other graphic images are the property of the Connecticut State Library, except where noted."
Where else to go
Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, available at http://www.ct.gov/foi/site/default.asp.
Connecticut State Library, available at http://www.ctstatelibrary.org/.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Open Government Guide: Access to Public Records and Meetings in Connecticut, available at http://www.rcfp.org/rcfp/orders/docs/ogg/CT.pdf.
Pictometry Int'l Corp. v. Freedom of Info. Comm'n, 307 Conn. 648, 59 A.3d 172 (2013), available at https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=6591923563528516284.
Dir., Dep't of Info. Tech. of Town of Greenwich v. Freedom of Info. Comm'n, 274 Conn. 179, 874 A.2d 785 (2005), available at https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1931357/director-dept-of-inform-v-freedom-comn/.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-200, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap014.htm.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-205, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap014.htm#Sec1-205.htm.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 32-39, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_581.htm#sec_32-39.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 12-806, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_229a.htm#sec_12-806.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 51-216a, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_883b.htm#sec_51-216a.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 10-4f, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_163.htm#sec_10-4f.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 4d-34, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_061.htm#sec_4d-34.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 27-131, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_506.htm#sec_27-131.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 11-8c, available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_188.htm#sec_11-8c.
Attorney General Opinions
1986 Conn. Op. Att'y Gen. 10 (1986).
23 Op.Atty.Gen. 141, (June 24, 1943).
FOIC Final Decision FIC2012-726, available at http://www.ct.gov/foi/cwp/view.asp?a=4162&Q=535300.
FOIC Advisory Opinion #10, available at http://www.state.ct.us/foi/Advisory_Opinions_&_Dec/AO_10.htm.
Connecticut State Library, Disclaimers and Permissions, available at http://www.ctstatelibrary.org/disclaimer.htm.
-  Most recent litigation touching on the copyright status of state documents has concerned GIS data (see, e.g., the cases in Florida (Microdecisions, Inc. v. Skinner, 889 So. 2d 871 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004)), California (County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court, 89 Cal. Rptr. 374 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009)), New York (City of New York v. Geodata Plus, LLC, 537 F. Supp. 2d 443 (E.D.N.Y. 2007)), and South Carolina (Seago v. Horry County, 663 S.E.2d 38 (S.C. 2008))). For a general discussion of the copyright status of government GIS data, see Edward A. Pisacreta & Jonathan P. Mollod, Licensing and Commercialization Issues for Geographic Data, 45 Les Nouvelles 1, 5 (2010).