The whole work done by the judges consitutes [sic] the authentic exposition and interpretation of the law, which, binding every citizen, is free for publication to all, whether it is a declaration of unwritten law, or an interpretation of a constitution or a statute. Nash v. Lathrop, 142 Mass. 29, 35, 6 N. E. Rep. 559. In Wheaton v. Peters, at page 668, it was said by this court, that it was 'unanimously of opinion that no reporter has or can have any copyright in the written opinions delivered by this court; and that the judges thereof cannot confer on any reporter any such right.' What a court or a judge thereof cannot confer on a reporter as the basis of a copyright in him, they cannot confer on any other person or on the state.In Georgia, the state believes it can stop someone from publishing court decisions, because of the annotations, which are not part of a judge's ruling. A federal appeals court has rules against the state, and now the state has asked the Supreme Court to step in, even though it ruled on this in 1888.
The New York Times has a good article on this and it is a fascinating read. Can a state limit who publishes court rules? Can it limit how much is published? And if a state can control the dissemination of rulings, what affect will this have on its residents?