Okla. Lawyer Challenges Online Legal Databases' Selling of Documents

Article excerpt

An Oklahoma City attorney's federal lawsuit could cause monumental changes in the way court documents are used and distributed and force a showdown over the nation's copyright laws.

Attorney Edward L. White filed the lawsuit in New York federal court on Feb. 22. In his legal action, White claims that the digital collection and sale of his publicly filed legal briefs violate federal copyright laws.

White is suing West Publishing Corp. and LexisNexis for the unabashed wholesale copying of thousands of copyright-protected works created and owned by the attorney and law firms.

According to exhibits filed with White's lawsuit, he has obtained copyright registration for 22 documents dating back to March 2007.

White's attorney, Greg Blue of New York, said the lawsuit wouldn't limit public access to court records.

"What we object to is someone collecting all this information and reselling it," Blue said. "There are all sorts of works that are disseminated widely to the public but that retain their copyright."

As an example, Blue cited a published book, saying that anyone who wants to register the copyright for the book has to provide two copies of the book.

"The fact that you filed for copyright and you provided two copies of your work means you made them available," Blue said. "But it doesn't mean that someone can copy those books and resell them."

Legal experts said the case would hinge on the issue of whether publishing content produced by attorneys constitutes fair use. …


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