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The issue in this en banc case is the extent to which a private organization may assert copyright protection for its model codes, after the models have been adopted by a legislative body and become “the law”. Specifically, may a code-writing organization prevent a website operator from posting the text of a model code where the code is identified simply as the building code of a city that enacted the model code as law? Our short answer is that as law, the model codes enter the public domain and are not subject to the copyright holder’s exclusive prerogatives. As model codes, however, the organization’s works retain their protected status.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Peter Veeck individually operates “Regional Web” (), a non-commercial website that provides information about north Texas. Sometime in 1997, Veeck decided to post on Regional Web the local building codes of Anna and Savoy, two small towns in north Texas that had adopted the 1994 edition of the Standard Building Code written by appellee, Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (“SBCCI”). Veeck made a few attempts to inspect several towns’ copies of the Building Code, but he was not able to locate them easily. Eventually, Veeck purchased the 1994 model building codes directly from SBCCI; he paid $72.00 and received a copy of the codes on disk. Although the software licensing agreement and copyright notice indicated that the codes could not be copied and distributed, Veeck cut and pasted their text onto his Regional Web. Veeck’s website did not specify that the codes were written by SBCCI. Instead, he identified them, correctly, as the building codes of Anna and Savoy, Texas.

 
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