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What is the law?

Binding, on-point law (about)

Nevada documents are copyrightable by statute: "The State Printer may secure copyright under the laws of the United States in all publications issued by the State of Nevada, the copyright to be secured in the name of the State of Nevada." Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 344.070. The Nevada public records law provides that it "does not supersede or in any manner affect the federal laws governing copyrights or enlarge, diminish or affect in any other manner the rights of a person in any written book or record which is copyrighted pursuant to federal law," but also that "[a] governmental entity may not reject a book or record which is copyrighted solely because it is copyrighted." Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 239.010.

Advisory sources (about)

Until 2013, Nevada did not require copyrighted state documents to be copied in response to public records requests. A 1996 Nevada Attorney General opinion addressed the intersection of the state public records law with federal copyright law, and held that copyrighted material was required to be provided for inspection and could be copied by the requestor (subject to the other restraints of copyright law, with the associated liability falling on the requestor), but that government agents were not required or encouraged to make copies of such materials themselves in order to satisfy public records requests. 1996 Nev. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 09 (Apr. 9, 1996) (this opinion cited the language of § 239.010 which required only that records be "made available" for copying, and apparently did not address the copyright implications of the related provision of Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 239.030, which requires the state to furnish certified copies of records upon request). In 2013, however, § 239.010(4)(b) was amended to the public records law, providing that government officers "prepare the copy of the public record and shall not require the person who has requested the copy to prepare the copy himself or herself." How the amended law affects the state's interpretation of copyright restrictions is unclear.

Public records law (about)

A common law right of access to public records in Nevada dates at least to 1906, but required that the requestor have a demonstrated "interest" in the records. State v. Grimes, 29 Nev. 50, 84 P. 1061 (1906). The first Nevada public records law was enacted in 1911. The current public records law can be found at Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 239.001 et seq.

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

While Nevada common law required a demonstrated interest in records, the open records statute does not restrict subsequent use. Greater access to records may be available to reporters seeking to use criminal history records "for communication to the public." Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 179A.100(5)(l). Subsequent use of copyrighted public records, however, is subject to the normal restrictions of copyright law. 1996 Nev. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 09 (Apr. 9, 1996).

Specifics and examples (about)

Status Applies to... Based on?
Copyrightable by statute "all publications issued by the Legislative Counsel Bureau" Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218F.730
Copyrightable by statute Intellectual property of the Ethics Institute of the Nevada System of Higher Education Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 396.7972
Copyrightable by attorney general opinion "Computer programs are intellectual property owned or licensed by the State and are not public records." 1989 Nev. Op. Att'y Gen. 1 (1989)

Additional things to consider (about)

In the past, at least, Nevada has clearly stated that state agency-created materials on state websites were under copyright. A California survey cites as precedent a 2002 Nevada Web Style Guide as a particularly explicit assertion of state-held copyright.

Several Nevada statutes refer to public records as "property of" the state or a government entity: Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 228.360 ("books, accounts, minutes, records or other papers or property of any public utility"); Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 378.290 ("The records of the Governor's Office, which include correspondence sent or received by the Governor or employees of the office in the performance of governmental duties, are the property of the State of Nevada"). Unauthorized interference with public records is penalized. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 239.300.

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Attorney General Opinions