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What is the law?

Binding, on-point law (about)

In Nat'l Conference of Bar Examiners v. Multistate Legal Studies, Inc., 495 F. Supp. 34, 35 (N.D. Ill. 1980) aff'd, 692 F.2d 478 (7th Cir. 1982), a federal court held that state agencies have the ability to hold copyrights.

Advisory sources (about)

A 1976 Illinois Attorney General opinion states that "there appears no reason that a state may not be entitled to a copyright." 1976 Op. Ill. Att'y Gen., S. 1070.

Public records law (about)

The public right of access to records is included in the Illinois constitution in Ill. Const. art. VIII, § 1(c). Illinois also has a strong history of common law right of access, going back as least as far as 1867 with Silver v. People ex rel. Whitmore, 45 Ill. 224 (1867). The current Illinois Freedom of Information Act can be found at 5 ILCS 140/1.

Does the public records law restrict the use of disclosed records?

Requestors are not required to disclose their intended use of public records. Family Life League v. Dep of Public Aid, 112 Ill.2d 449, 456, 493 N.E.2d 1054, 1057-58, 98 Ill. Dec. 33, 36-37 (1986). Similarly, an Illinois court has said that a requestor's intended commercial use does not provide grounds for refusing a records request. Lieber v. Bd. of Trustees of S. Illinois Univ., 176 Ill. 2d 401, 413, 680 N.E.2d 374, 380 (1997). While commercial use is allowed, however, the state may also charge a greater fee for commercial requests. 5 ILCS 140/6(f).

Multiple Illinois statutes, while not directly conferring a right to hold copyrights, make reference to copyrighted government works, suggesting that government documents may be assumed to be copyrighted. See 20 ILCS 3950/2 (mentioning "transfer[ring] ownership of any copyright interests" from one government council to another); IL R 19 CIR Rule 23.08 (excluding from public electronic access "[i]nformation constituting trade secrets, copyrighted or patented material or which is otherwise owned by the state or local government"); 25 ILCS 145/5.09 (specifying that "[n]o action taken under this Section shall be deemed to alter or relinquish any copyright or other proprietary interest or entitlement of the State of Illinois"); 15 ILCS 320/7 (same); 20 ILCS 3405/16 (authorizing "copyright and trademark licensing and royalty agreements" for marketing purposes); 30 ILCS 500/53-10 (authorizing "concessions" of state property, including "copyrightable works").

Specifics and examples (about)

Status Applies to... Based on?
Copyrightable by statute "the statement of facts,... the syllabi,... the index and .... all other notes or references prepared by the reporter of decisions or the contractor hereunder" 705 ILCS 65/5
Public domain by statute "The codification system, the indexes, tables, and other aids for locating rules prepared by the Secretary of State, notes, and other materials developed ... in connection with the publication of the Illinois Administrative Code and the Illinois Register" 5 ILCS 100/5-80
Public domain by statute "Illinois Compiled Statutes, including the statutes themselves and the organizational and numbering scheme" 25 ILCS 135/5.04
Copyrightable by statute Copyright interests previously owned by the Illinois Governor's Health and Physical Fitness Council are transferred to the Governor's Physical Fitness and Sports Council 20 ILCS 3950/2
Copyrightable by statute Intellectual property owned by the Illinois Public Safety Agency Network 50 ILCS 752/30
Copyrightable by statute Intellectual property owned by the Illinois Global Partnership 20 ILCS 3948/30
Copyrightable by statute Intellectual Property owned by the Department of the Lottery 20 ILCS 1605/14.3
Copyrightable by IL Attorney General Opinion Intellectual property developed pursuant to a contract with the State Board of Education 1976 Op. Ill. Att'y Gen., S. 1070
Copyrightable by county rule Circuit Court of Cook County court forms IL R COOK CTY CIR Rule 10.8
Public domain by statute Public data sets made available under the Open Operating Standards Act 20 ILCS 45/25

Additional things to consider (about)

Illinois law says that "[a]ll records created or received by or under the authority of or coming into the custody, control, or possession of public officials of this State in the course of their public duties are the property of the State." 5 ILCS 160/3. The preamble to the statute seems to mitigate this statement of ownership noting: "government records are a form of property whose ownership lies with the citizens and with the State of Illinois" 5 ILCS 160/1.5. However Illinois precedent holds that statutory preambles have no legal force, so the stronger "property of the State" language is likely controlling. Records "may not be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed, or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law." 5 ILCS 160/3.

As seen in the examples above, Illinois has an unusually high number of statutes both granting the authority to state agencies to hold copyrights and declaring certain state documents to be public domain.

Where else to go




Administrative Rules

Attorney General Opinions