Lukáš Králík
Author’s affiliation: state administration

Case Law Reports versus Copyright

Jurisprudence 1/2020 Section: Articles Page: 15–25

Keywords: case law, publication, case law reports, headnotes, copyright, public domain, reporters, source of law

Abstract: The original texts of official decisions (including judicial) fall unequivocally by law into the category of public domain. Nevertheless, the edited texts of court decisions published in case law reports could meet the requirements of copyright law. The creation of legal texts, such as headnotes, keynotes, syllabus, annotations, titles or indexes, can be a major added value of unique creative activity. In the case of the phenomenon of annotated headnotes or syllabus, this will depend on their originality and uniqueness compared to the original text. For case law reports, the elements of compilation work as a subject to copyright may be present. However, official case law reports, including their individual case notes, shall be excluded from copyright protection. Their purpose falls into the category of other works excluded from protection for reasons of public interest. The official case law reports shall be then pronounced as public domain. It is a similar situation as in the case of original texts of the official decisions as a public domain. By contrast, similar products created by purely private activities no longer meet the reason to be excluded from copyright.