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Publishing Information From U.S. Government Websites

US Government Copy Rights



11:56 pm on Apr 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello, I would like to publish information from some of the U.S. Government websites. My website deals with taxes and I would like to know what can and can't be copied. It's my current understanding under the Freedom of information act most everything is fair game unless it is marked with a copyright. Is this a correct statement? If it isn't what can and can't be copied. Any help will be appreciated.


12:37 am on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Basically, you can use taxpayer-paid for information. But, I've noticed in the last few years that many of the reports are contracted out and the copyright is sticking with the developer.

Fair use can take you a long, long way with government-supported stuff. If you say in a footnote with link (which helps reduce your liability as well and enhances your credibility) that the information comes from the IRS, then you're usually in solid shape.


1:09 am on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If the work is authored by a U.S. Government employee or officer in his/her official capacity (not as a private citizen) the work is in the "public domain," in other words the work does not have copyright protection. If authored by a contractor for the U.S. Government the contractor owns copyright protection unless the copyright was transferred to the U.S. Government.

For more information, see the section on U.S.Government Works: [fairuse.stanford.edu...]

Also [copyrightwebsite.com...] under "info"


7:14 pm on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If a work is created by a contractor, will the government website that provides it also have the copyright information included? And if not, how I would I meet my obligation to find out? Does the government have an obligation to make this information clear and/or available?


[edited by: engine at 6:31 pm (utc) on April 17, 2004]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]


11:56 pm on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The U.S. Government pulication/web site will more likely than not include copyright notice if the work was created by a contractor or other party. The publication/web site should be reviewed for copyright information. If you're not certain that the work is U.S Gov authored, the safer practice is to inquire about permission to use. (If you do reproduce U.S. Government work on a web site, the source of the information should be disclosed.)

For example, the U.S. Department of Energy provides copyright notice and permission only to copy for noncommerical purposes in connection with technology reports here: [eere.energy.gov...]

Nolo has an article "Getting Permission to Publish: Ten Tips for Webmasters" [nolo.com...] Internet Law > Rules for Webmasters > Getting Permission...


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