Assembly Passes Galef Legislation During “Sunshine Week”

Bill prevents government agencies from claiming copyright protections to prohibit public access
March 13, 2012

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef announced today that her legislation prohibiting government agencies in New York to claim copyright protections has passed the Assembly as part of their annual “Sunshine Week.”

This legislation, A6787, will help guarantee that copyright claims will not hinder the ability of the people to access and use public records. This week is Sunshine Week, a national movement to create a more open government by providing its citizens with greater contact to government materials. Galef’s legislation will allow more governmental records to be available and utilized by people without the concern of copyright protections and infringements. This bill passed the Assembly by an overwhelming majority.

“We must take steps to ensure that the public has access to as much material as possible which is created by the government on the public's behalf,” said Galef. “This legislation is a first step in prohibiting government agencies from shielding certain information from public view. These copyrights should not be claimed in circumstances in which people should be able to view and use public records which they have essentially paid for already as taxpayers.”

Copyrights and similar protections, such as patents, will still be justifiable when the record reflects artistic creation, or scientific or academic research. The bill also does not prohibit materials from being withheld if the government agency plans to distribute the record or derivative work based on it to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.

Galef has introduced other legislation to promote transparency in state and local governments as well. One such bill, A4957-A, sponsored by State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer in the senate, would require school and local municipalities to publicly post the proposed terms of new collective bargaining agreements at least two weeks prior to a vote by the public entity. This legislation would allow contracts to be viewed before they are approved, giving the public an opportunity to examine and comment on the proposed contract.

“New Yorkers should be encouraged to get and stay involved in government activities. The legislature must continue to support proposals to make it easier for the people to access records so they can use this information to make informed decisions. I look forward to advocating for additional legislation to make New York State government more transparent in its actions,” concluded Galef.