Client Question: Does the US Gov’t Own Copyrights?
“Does the US Government and/or its branches own intellectual property rights on its forms and publications?”
As a general matter, the federal government has no copyrights. 17 USC 105 says that “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government,” although the Government can own copyrighted works created by others – for example, someone might want to assign the rights to the a copyrighted work to pay off a tax debt. There are some small exceptions for the products from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and for the Postal Service (which have their own kind of “commercial” products), but otherwise, using an IRS 1040 form, or a picture of an astronaut walking on the moon in an artwork is allowed.