What is the law?
Binding, on-point law (about)
Advisory sources (about)
Public records law (about)
Maryland has had some form of public records law since the 1800s. See Belt v. Prince George's Cnty. Abstract Co., 73 Md. 289, 20 A. 982 (1890). Access to government records in Maryland is determined by the Public Information Act (PIA).
Does the public records law restrict the use of disclosed records?
PIA does not permit a records custodian to condition access to records on the requestor's disclosure of the purpose of the request. Md. GP § 4-204. Some records, however, may not be provided for commercial purposes, Md. GP § 4-355(b), and restrictions on use also apply to several specific types of records; see chapters 2 and 3 of the Maryland Public Information Act Manual.
Specifics and examples (about)
|Status||Applies to...||Based on?|
|Copyrightable by statute||Computer software programs owned by a county or municipality||MD LOCAL GOVT § 1-401|
|Copyrightable by statute||"farm products of the State"||Md. Code Ann., Agric. § 10-502|
|Copyrightable by statute||"reports of cases decided in the Court of Appeals of Maryland and in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland" ||Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 13-203|
|Copyrightable by statute||"any product or technology that is produced or developed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary] Commission in the normal course of operations"||MD PUBLIC UTIL § 17-205|
|Public domain by statute||"To the extent practicable and consistent with relevant judicial opinions and statutory law, any intellectual property developed as a result of a grant awarded under the Maryland EARN Program shall remain in the public domain."||Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 11-705|
|Copyright retained by third party, by attorney general opinion||Third-party copyrighted materials incorporated into code by reference |
|Copyright and licensing asserted by county||Wicomico County GIS data ||See, e.g. Wicomico County Spatial Data License Agreement|
Where else to go
Maryland Attorney General, Maryland Public Information Act, available at http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opengov/pia.htm.
Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Open Government Guide: Access to Public Records and Meetings in Maryland, available at http://www.rcfp.org/rcfp/orders/docs/ogg/MD.pdf.
Maryland State Archives, available at http://msa.maryland.gov/.
Maryland State Law Library, available at http://www.lawlib.state.md.us/.
- Belt v. Prince George's Cnty. Abstract Co., 73 Md. 289, 20 A. 982 (1890).
Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 4-101.
Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 4-204.
Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 4-313.
Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 10-616.
MD LOCAL GOVT § 1-401, available at http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=glg§ion=1-401&ext=html&session=2015RS&tab=subject5.
Md. Code Ann., Agric. § 10-502.
Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 13-203.
MD PUBLIC UTIL § 17-205.
Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 11-705.
Wicomico County Spatial Data License Agreement, available at http://www.esrgc.org/pdf/wico_data/wico_la.pdf.
Edward A. Pisacreta & Jonathan P. Mollod, Licensing and Commercialization Issues for Geographic Data, 45 Les Nouvelles 1, 5 (2010).
-  Judicial opinions cannot be copyrighted. The Supreme Court in Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244, 9 S. Ct. 36, 32 L. Ed. 425 (1888) invalidated an asserted copyright by a private publisher, an Ohio citizen, for copyright in the state court reports, holding that any content written by a judge cannot be copyrighted because "[t]he whole work done by the judges constitutes the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law, or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute." See also Nash v. Lathrop, 142 Mass. 29, 35, 6 N.E. 559, 560 (1886) and Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. 591, 668, 8 L. Ed. 1055 (1834). Only materials ancillary to the court opinion such as the "title-page, table of cases, head notes, statements of facts, arguments of counsel, and index" may be copyrighted. Callaghan v. Myers, 128 U.S. 617, 649, 9 S. Ct. 177, 185, 32 L. Ed. 547 (1888).
-  Several circuit decisions have affirmed that third-party materials do not lose copyright protection when they are incorporated into state law. See, e.g., Practice Mgmt. Info. Corp. v. Am. Med. Ass'n, 121 F.3d 516 (9th Cir. 1997) amended, 133 F.3d 1140 (9th Cir. 1998); CCC Info. Servs., Inc. v. Maclean Hunter Mkt. Reports, Inc., 44 F.3d 61 (2d Cir. 1994); Bldg. Officials & Code Adm. v. Code Tech., Inc., 628 F.2d 730 (1st Cir. 1980). But see Veeck v. S. Bldg. Code Cong. Int'l, Inc., 293 F.3d 791 (5th Cir. 2002) (holding that third-party written building codes lose copyright protection when they are adopted into law).
-  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).