Your question asks about a basic and interesting tension in US copyright law.
Most written materials, once created, are automatically protected by
copyright, and one might reasonably suppose that this included 10k
However, the key exception to copyright protection is for government
documents -- anything produced by the federal government is
automatically in the public domain, and not protected by copyright.
So...is a report required by the federal government, but prepared and
submitted by a private entity a public domain document or a copyighted
As far as I can see, this issue has never been addressed by the
courts, so there isn't any clear guidelines on the answer.
However, I checked the registrations for copyrighted materials at the
US Copyright Office:
by searching for such terms as:
securities and exchange commission
and similar sorts of terms.
I did not find a single instance of an SEC submission such as a 10-k
report being registered as a copyrighted document.
Furthermore, there are numerous services that charge a fee for
accessing and searching corporate reports made to the SEC. These
services would not be able to conduct their business if the materials
involved were treated as copyrightable materials.
So, the pragmatic answer to your question seems to be that submissions
to the SEC are treated as non-copyrighted material.
And as I indicated earlier, there would certainly be no basis for
treating them as confidential materials, since the reports are, by
their very nature, made freely available to anyone, in either print or
I trust this information fully answers your question, but if there's
anything more you need, just let me know by posting a Request for
search strategy -- searched the Copyright Office site, and made use of
my own knowledge of copyrights.