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Q: Copyrights and Confidentiality of public published documents ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Copyrights and Confidentiality of public published documents
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: alreuben-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 22 May 2006 21:13 PDT
Expires: 21 Jun 2006 21:13 PDT
Question ID: 731539
are sec filings (10K, etc) copyrightable, or can they be considered
confidential or proprietery?

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 26 May 2006 09:03 PDT
Public documents filed with the SEC are, but their very nature,
public.  That is, they cannot be claimed confidential, since the
information they contain has been released -- as mandated by law --
for all the world to see.

As to whether it's actually copyright-protected, that's an interesting
question.  My guess would be probably not, but I'm not aware that the
question has ever been specifically addressed by the courts.

For the most part, no one would bother asserting a copyright claim on
material that is so broadly and freely distributed.  However, the law
is a strange beast, and one never knows what might pop up one day.

If you tell us a bit more about the purpose of your question, perhaps
we can offer more specifics by way of an answer.

Let us know what you think...

Subject: Re: Copyrights and Confidentiality of public published documents
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 08 Jun 2006 19:50 PDT

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
reports, etc.

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. 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 


annual report

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
electronic versions.

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.
Subject: Re: Copyrights and Confidentiality of public published documents
From: redfoxjumps-ga on 25 May 2006 23:01 PDT
What would be the point of having a document designed for public
disclosure that was confidential?

In different eras and countries there was no requirement to disclose
much information and it generally makes markets more volatile and
Subject: Re: Copyrights and Confidentiality of public published documents
From: myoarin-ga on 26 May 2006 10:34 PDT
From what I have read here, I understood that copywrite protection is
automatic and immediate with the formulation or publication of any
work, which, of course, has nothing to do with confidentiality of the

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