Authorization for Publication and Advice on Copyright Protection for a Manuscript Prepared by a Department of Justice Employee

Headnotes: 

The key inquiry in determining the application of 28 C.F.R. § 45.73512, which governs publication of a manuscript by a Department of Justice employee, is whether the manuscript was prepared as a part or the employee’s official duties, is devoted substantially to the responsibilities and operations of the Department, or is otherwise dependent on information obtained as a result of government employment.

The manuscript at issue, which was prepared by an employee of the Bureau of Prisons, is sufficiently related to the employee’s official duties as to prohibit remuneration for publication under 28 C.F.R. § 45.735-12(a). The Deputy Attorney General may authorize publication without remuneration under 28 C.F.R. § 45.735-12(c) if it is determined that publication is in the public interest.

Although a decision on whether the manuscript in question may be copyrighted can only be made by the Register of Copyrights, it appears doubtful that the Register would grant copyright protection. The manuscript would probably be viewed as a “work of the United States Government,” because the work was prepared by a government employee as part of his official duties. Such works may not be copyrighted under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 105.

Updated July 9, 2014