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What is the law?

Binding, on-point law (about)

By Michigan statute, "[t]he state administrative board may copyright literary, educational, artistic, or intellectual works in the name of this state and license the production or sale of those works." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 17.401.

Advisory sources (about)

The Michigan Attorney General has said that copyrights may be held by the state. Op.Atty.Gen.1955-56, No. 2118, p. 150.

Several other Michigan statutes contain language that assumes that the state may hold copyrights. See Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 26.6 (contractors for state reporter may "take out no copyright except to the secretary of state for the use and disposal of the state, upon any volume published under such contract"); Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 4.1204e (internet posting of legislative bills must not "alter or relinquish any copyright or other proprietary interest or entitlement of this state").

Public records law (about)

The common law right of access for public records has existed in Michigan since 1889. See Burton v. Tuite, 78 Mich. 363, 44 N.W. 282 (1889). The Michigan Freedom of Information Act was enacted in 1977, and can be found at Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.231.

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

According to Michigan courts, "[t]he initial as well as future uses of the requested information are irrelevant." State Employees Ass'n v. Dep't of Mgmt. & Budget, 428 Mich. 104, 125, 404 N.W.2d 606, 616 (1987). This includes commercial uses. Mullin v. Detroit Police Dep't, 133 Mich. App. 46, 52, 348 N.W.2d 708, 711 (1984). Copyrighted materials are exempted from the Freedom of Information Act, 1979-1980 Mich. Op. Att'y Gen. 5500 (1979), however if third-party copyrighted materials must be filed with a public agency by statute, they are subject to disclosure. 1998 Mich. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 6965 (Jan. 16, 1998). The 1998 Attorney General opinion supersedes the 1979 one, in so far as they conflict.

Specifics and examples (about)

Status Applies to... Based on?
Copyrightable by statute Volumes of published state court reports [1] Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 26.6
Copyrightable by statute "the text on an official Michigan historical marker" Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 399.159
Copyrightable by rule "a work created by a classified employee as an author-employee"

Additional things to consider (about)

By Michigan law, "[a] record that is required to be kept by a public officer in the discharge of duties imposed by law, that is required to be filed in a public office, or that is a memorial of a transaction of a public officer made in the discharge of a duty is the property of this state and shall not be disposed of, mutilated, or destroyed except as provided by law." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 399.5(2). Similarly, another records management law says that "[a]ll records of this state are and shall remain the property of this state." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 18.1287(1).

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Attorney General Opinions