Fair Use Likely To Shield Westlaw, LexisNexis In Copyright Suit

By Ryan Davis (February 24, 2012, 9:03 PM EST) -- A proposed class action accusing legal research providers Westlaw and LexisNexis of infringing the copyrights of attorneys by selling online access to legal filings raises novel issues in copyright law, but the database operators should have a strong defense under the fair use doctrine, lawyers say.

Whether legal briefs and motions are entitled to copyright protection is an issue of first impression for the courts, and isn't as cut-and-dried as it seems, said Patrick O'Connor of Harper Meyer Perez Hagen O'Connor Albert & Dribin LLP.

"This is not an issue that's ever really been tested before," O'Connor said. "At first glance,...

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