Skip to main content

Can you republish public records (public property tax records in particular) or are they copyrighted by the government?

West New York, NJ |

These property tax records are obtained from government sources (websites, database searches). I would like to organize them in a directory and offer better search. I plan to go get as much data as I can and publish them for as many states in the united states as possible.

The service would be free of charge and the information would be available through internal search and via google search. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. With a few exceptions, the U.S. government doesn't have IP rights, so this data is available to anyone. And as you can see from a casual internet search, lots of companies have made businesses out of publicly available data, such as manta, and even this one, which gets lawyers and doctors' state licensing information to create profiles and encourages this Q&A interaction.

    You do need to be mindful of a few things, such as misrepresenting that your directory is from the government, or from some other source, which could create trademark disputes, and such as using obsolete or inaccurate information, which would require the use of disclaimers and statements about no warranties being offered, etc.

    You also have the task of choosing a viable and available trademarkable name and domain name for this service, which again raises trademark issues. As with launching any new business, your safest bet is to consult a lawyer before launch.

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

  2. With few exceptions, most U.S. Government and State records are freely available for use.

    This answer is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice. If you ignore this warning and convey confidential information in a private message or comment, there is no duty to keep that information confidential or forego representation adverse to your interests. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any action that may affect your rights. If you believe you have a claim against someone, consult an attorney immediately, otherwise there is a risk that the time allotted to bring your claim may expire.

  3. Government records are, generally, not copyrighted.

    If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.