U.S. District Judge Rakoff ruled on whether copying legal filings amounts to copyright infringement. His verdict: it does not. Judge Rakoff granted summary judgment to defendants Lexis and Westlaw, dismissing plaintiffs’ allegation that reposting legal documents infringed plaintiffs’ copyrights. Though the Court’s Order does not state the basis for the ruling, the defendants argued that the republishing of federal court documents, which are publicly available, represented fair use of the material. For an earlier discussion of the matter’s initial filing, see Creative Lawyering.
Whether Judge Rakoff’s ruling represents the final word is yet to be seen, as the attorney class action plaintiffs previously made clear that they would appeal any unfavorable ruling to the Second Circuit. Nonetheless, Judge Rakoff’s opinion rings loud and clear. Speaking to plaintiffs last May, he commented “[y]ou are a brave soul to have made such a valiant stab at what I think is a creative, but perhaps too creative, attempt to glom the unregistered folks onto the much more colorable claims of the registered folks.” For more, see Order.
The case is White et al. v. West Publishing Corp. et al., case number 1:12-cv-01340, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York