Sunshine Week Celebrated With Passage of Galef Legislation

Bill prevents government from using copyright to prohibit public access to information

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

Galef’s bill, A.1700, will help guarantee that copyright claims will not hinder the ability of the people to access and use public records. Sunshine Week is a national movement, celebrated annually during this week in March, to create a more open government by providing its citizens with greater access to government materials. Galef’s legislation will allow more of the government’s records to be available to and utilized by people without the concern of copyright protections and infringements. This bill overwhelming passed the Assembly.

“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. Unfortunately there have been instances when state and local governments have failed to allow the public access to this information.”

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.

“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,” concluded Galef.

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