Manhattan Court throws out copyright complaint against legal databases for copying and selling lawyer’s briefs

White briefsEdward White, a patent attorney, filed suit against Westlaw and LexisNexis, owned by Thomson Reuters Corp and Reed Elsevier Plc respectively, claiming copyright infringement since the law data companies made lawyers’ briefs available. Originally, the plaintiff filed suit together with another lawyer and they claimed to represent both groups of lawyers who registered their copyright and those that didn’t. The second lawyer and those who didn’t register their work were dismissed in an earlier partial decision. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff dismissed the case last week, but has not yet issued a detailed ruling. From a policy position, I am pleased by this development, but it will nevertheless be interesting to read the judge’s reasoning on why the material is NOT considered copyright.

The case is Edward White v. West Publishing Corp, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-1340.

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