Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Send in the Scanners, It's Open Season on West

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Send in the Scanners, It's Open Season on West

Article excerpt

Is the face of legal publishing changing? If you publish a book containing non-copyrightable material, another publisher can scan your book and publish that material, according to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Hyperlaw Inc. publishes two CD-ROM products, one of recent U.S. Supreme Court cases and the other of recent U.S. courts of appeals cases. It sought a declaratory judgment that it could copy court decisions from the West Publishing Co.'s reporters into its products, excluding West headnotes and key numbers. Although Hyperlaw obtains most of the opinions it uses from sources other than the West reporters, it said that occasionally it will have to scan the West reporters for some cases. Another feature of the Hyperlaw product will be a link so that a user reviewing an opinion can see the full text of any case cited in the opinion by simply clicking on the citation. Since many of these cases will have been published before 1990, when Hyperlaw began collecting cases, it intends to scan these cases into its product directly from the West reporters.

Since the text of the court opinions involved are not copyrightable, the court stated, West cannot stop the copying. Analyzing the issue as one of the copyright protection afforded derivative works, the court said, "West's compilation copyright protects its arrangement of cases, its indices, its headnotes and its selection of cases for publication, but these are not what Hyperlaw is copying. …

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