What is the best way to find out whether publications by a US state, county, or city agency are copyrighted?
I understand that most works created by the US federal government are not copyrighted in the US - but also that that does not apply to works created by state, county, or city agencies.
What's the best way to find out whether I can reuse part or all of publications by a city or county agency?
I'm interested in the general answer to this question, but at the moment I'm particularly interested in evaluation reports of buildings that are being considered for historic landmark status. These reports often have both text and photographs. (I'm thinking of things along the lines of Supplemental Determination of Santa Monica Landmarks (pdf)
, South End Landmark District (pdf)
, and John Woodward House (pdf)
In at least one case, I've emailed the commission but not heard back. I've also looked at this previous question
, in which two people calling the agency got completely different answers ("yes, please do whatever you want and reuse however you like" and "no, not only can you NOT reuse, you can't even link to them").
Ideally, I'd like to be able to republish large chunks of these works, or even entire works, on an ad-supported website.
So - can anyone recommend a good, widely applicable, reliable method of determining when I can reuse publications created by non-federal government agencies?