Republishing Litigation Brief Is Fair Use–White v. Westlaw

8 12 2014


It’s a perennial question in copyright law: to what extent does copyright law protect attorney-drafted documents such as litigation briefs or contracts? Despite the venerability of the issue (I tested on copyrightability of contracts in my 2002 copyright class), we have surprisingly few cases on point.

Today’s case involves Westlaw’s and Lexis’ electronic databases of publicly filed litigation briefs, which they build by downloading the briefs from PACER or copying directly from courthouses. After an effort to bring a class action failed, lawyer White pursued his case individually. The court silently assumes copyrightability and infringement and quickly resolves the case on fair use grounds:

Case citation: White v. West Publishing Corp., 1:12-cv-01340-JSR (S.D.N.Y. July 3, 2014)


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