– Derek Allen, Attorney –
At least not by legal research database giants LexisNexis and Westlaw, according to federal judge Jed Rakoff.
Those readers who eagerly anticipate the release of my monthly post will certainly remember my April missive about two lawyers who claimed that Lexis and Westlaw were impermissibly profiting by selling access to legal briefs without paying anything to the lawyers who had written them. The lawyers claimed to represent all lawyers and law firms in the United States who had briefs available for purchase through Lexis or Westlaw.
But instead of every lawyer in the country trying to pile into the federal courthouse in Manhattan (full disclosure: class actions don’t actually work that way) and perhaps bringing enough negative energy in one place to reanimate Vigo the Carpathian, Judge Rakoff trimmed the group to only those attorneys who registered their briefs with the copyright office — a group that likely includes one of the name plaintiffs in the suit, attorney Edward White, and possibly a few other attorneys who have too much time on their hands. Those who had not copyrighted their briefs, said Judge Rakoff, did not have any standing to file suit for copyright infringment.
As a member of the every-lawyer-in-America-who-didn’t-copyright-his-brief group, I suppose I have to count this as a loss. But, as my middle school football coach used to say, “if you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” I suppose in this case the lesson is that if you’re going to bring a pointless lawsuit, at least make sure you have standing first.