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California Legislature Drops Proposal to Copyright All Government Works

DEEPLINKS BLOG
June 22, 2016

California Legislature Drops Proposal to Copyright All Government Works

You spoke, and the California Legislature listened. We’re happy to report that A.B. 2880 was amended in the State Senate to remove the dangerous sections that EFF and over 25 other organizations opposed. Your messages to the Legislature were vital to this effort.

The prior version of A.B. 2880 that was passed by the State Assembly would have given state government agencies vast new power to assert copyrights and trademarks over government-created work. It also would have added a broad new exemption to the California Public Records Act, the state’s version of FOIA. 

It was never made clear why the state needed sweeping new copyright and trademark powers and new limitations on open government. The power to assert copyrights and trademarks over taxpayer-funded work is one that’s easily abused to punish critics of the government or to charge more fees to the public. 

EFF warned the bill’s authors about these problems in early May. Soon after, numerous other organizations joined in opposition from library groups to open government advocates to newspapers, Internet companies, and the California Chamber of Commerce. And more than 360 Californians wrote to their state legislators through EFF’s Action Center to sound the alarm.

Those efforts have paid off. This week, the bill was amended to remove the new intellecutual property powers and the new exemptions to CPRA. What remains are provisions for better tracking of state patents, trademarks, and copyrights, and a new requirement that state agencies “consider” the intellectual property rights of all parties when they write contracts. These changes should help avoid situations like the ongoing trademark dispute over hotels and campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, without harming public access to government records and data. 

Based on the new amendments, EFF is dropping its opposition to A.B. 2880. Thank you to everyone who weighed in on this issue for sending a strong message that the abuse of intellectual property laws can harm many different sectors of society, and that preventing those abuses needs to be a top priority for our lawmakers. Thanks also to Assemblymember Mark Stone for listening and responding to Californians’ concerns with this bill.

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