Fastcase suit booted from federal court because Casemaker lacks copyright on Georgia regulations

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An Atlanta federal court dismissed a lawsuit Fastcase brought against its competitor Casemaker, arguing that Casemaker’s parent company, Lawriter, has no copyright on the Georgia state regulations at issue.

Lawriter has a contract with the Georgia Secretary of State to publish the Georgia Administrative Rules and Regulations, Law360 (sub. req) reports. Lawriter sent Fastcase a takedown demand- last year, after Fastcase included a copy of the Georgia Administrative Rules and Regulations in data it shares with subscribers.

After receiving the letter, Fastcase filed a lawsuit, arguing that administrative rules and regulations are not copyrightable and must remain public as a matter of due process.

The information in question is not actually copyrighted, U.S. District Judge Thomas C. Batten Sr wrote in his Jan. 26 order (PDF), and the court does not have jurisdiction over the matter, He rejected Fastcase’s argument that the warning letter was proof Lawriter would obtain a copyright for the publication.

“Jurisdiction over the instant case cannot be premised on speculation that intervening or forthcoming events might create federal-question jurisdiction where none existed at the time this lawsuit was filed,” Batten wrote.

Fastcase CEO told Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites that he saw the ruling as a partial victory.

“We want the court to establish that private companies can’t own public law,” Walters said in an email to Lawsites. “That seems simple enough. Although the court dismissed our suit on jurisdictional grounds, it’s an important copyright precedent.”





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