Is Your Community Violating Copyright Law By Photocopying Documents To Comply with A Public Records Request?

Rayan F. Coutinho, Ph.D.Recently, a community we represent faced an interesting dilemma. A developer submitted certain architectural drawings and documents related to a project as part of the permitting process and demanded confidentiality stating that the prints were copyrighted and provided a competitive edge to it over other developers. Another developer made a public records request for the submission. The issue was whether such a record submitted to a public agency is exempt from disclosure under the public records laws because it is subject to a copyright interest. Put differently, does federal copyright law preempt state public records laws for certain documents? Here’s how we resolved this issue under Ohio law.

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