Court Struggles to Balance Public Access With For-Profit Interests

Court Struggles to Balance Public Access With For-Profit Interests

By Laura Ernde
Daily Journal
10/30/2009

“Three months after an attorney complained that the California Supreme Court was giving away valuable appellate briefs to for-profit firms, the court is still trying to figureout how to get itself out of the sticky copyright dilemma without reducing public access.”

This all began when attorney Edmond Connor contacted the court in July after finding his brief on Lexis (and not for free).  More on this here. Read the letter that he sent to Justice Ronald M. George and Mr. William C. Vickrey this summer.

LexisNexis and Westlaw violating copyright?

Interesting story in today’s Daily Journal:

California Courts Come Under Fire for Giving Legal Briefs to For-Profit Firms

Lawyers Challenge to State Supreme Court Practice Says Lexis, Westlaw Are Infringing on Copyright

By Amy Yarbrough and Laura Ernde
Daily Journal Staff Writers

. . .

. . . Several months ago, . . .  Irvine attorney[Ed Connor] learned the California Supreme Court had given his 143-page brief to the legal information service LexisNexis, which was making it available online for a fee. . . .

. . .

“It’s something that we just worked really hard on, and I didn’t give permission to Lexis to put it up there,” Connor said.

. . .
Last week, Connor wrote a letter to Chief Justice Ronald M. George and William Vickrey, who heads the Administrative Office of the Courts, suggesting the practice is opening the court up to legal challenges based on copyright law.

Connor said his first reaction was to file a class action lawsuit for copyright infringement against LexisNexis and Westlaw, . . .

. . .

Santa Clara University Law School professor Eric Goldman said there are legitimate legal questions about whether briefs can be copyrighted, who owns that copyright and whether the documents are free to be distributed under the Fair Use Doctrine.

. . .