We are proud that our very own Josh Blandi has been recently published in Law Practice Today, a digital publication of the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Division. Josh’s article, Who Owns the Law?, details the long, storied history of attempts to copyright and control access to the law in American jurisprudence, and covers the serious implications for lawyers and their ability to access the law needed in their practice.
Here below is an excerpt from the introduction of Josh’s article:
Who owns the law is one of the most pressing unanswered questions in American jurisprudence. Is the full extent of our laws, from cases to statutes, codes, and regulations, subject to copyright protection? Or should all our laws reside in the public domain and remain free to access, download, interpret, study, analyze, and use?
Though to some it may seem like a mere technicality, this question hinges on the fundamental right of access to justice. If we extend copyright protections to our laws, states are free to restrict access to those laws, whether statutes, judicial opinions, or even the background elements of cases like pleadings and motions. What naturally follows is the absurd conclusion that citing the law in briefs can be deemed an infringing use.
Whether the law is copyrightable affects the public, lawyers, judges, law students, professors, legal scholars, innovators, tech startups, and others who rely regularly on access to the law to pioneer important changes and innovations in the legal field. If the law is copyrightable, and legal professionals, legal technology companies, and academics are restricted from publishing the law freely, it greatly hinders the public’s ability to learn about and more meaningfully interact with the American legal system.
You can also read the full article here on Law Practice Today.