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Friday, February 24, 2012

Courts - More on "Keep Your Hands off My Briefs: Lawyers Sue Westlaw, Lexis"

Updating yesterday's ILB entry, Law Librarian Blog has a good post today. Some quotes:

Two lawyers have opened a can of copyright worms by filing a class action suit against West and Lexis for using briefs in the brief banks sold by their respective companies. They allege that these documents are copyrighted by attorneys and seek damages, the amounts depending on whether the works are registered or not registered. * * *

[S]ome questions come immediately to mind. The first is who actually owns the work. I understand the registration, but lawyers being lawyers and the smell of money enticing, will there be clients intervening claiming the document was a work for hire?

[More] See also this post by Eugene Volokh headed "Do Lexis and Westlaw Infringe Copyright When They Post Briefs Filed in Court?." A sample:
The question is whether the commercial posting of the briefs is fair use; and fair use law is, as usual, vague enough that there’s no clear answer. I do think that the posting is quite valuable to researchers and to others who are trying to figure out what actually happened in a case, and why courts reached the results they did, and I think courts can consider this social value in the fair use analysis. It’s also quite unlikely that allowing such posting would materially diminish the incentive to write good briefs, or the market value of a good brief; that too is potentially relevant to the fair use inquiry.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 24, 2012 03:08 PM
Posted to General Law Related