Last year, we wrote about a couple of lawyers, Edward White and Kenneth Elan, suing Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis
for daring to republish their legal briefs as a part of their legal databases. As we noted at the time, we hoped that any court ruling would make it clear that posting publicly filed legal documents was fair use. The case has had a few twists and turns. First, the court dumped Elan and rejected the attempt to include lawyers who had not registered the copyright in their filings as a part of a class. Since most lawyers don't bother filing a copyright in their own legal filings, that really shrunk the possible class. White refiled the case by himself and not as a class action... but the court has quickly dumped the case
on summary judgment. The full ruling should follow, but for now it appears that the judge was not at all impressed by attempts to use copyright law to block the republishing of legal documents:
After carefully considering the parties' written submissions and oral arguments, the Court hereby grants defendants' motions for summary judgment and denies plaintiff's motion.
In other words, the case is over and the lawyer loses and the legal databases win. That's a good result, though we'll see what the eventual ruling says in terms of details.