Features – Jurisline.com and Matthew Bender: Horns and Halos All 'Round – An Update

T. R. Halvorson is a lawyer in sole practice in Sidney, MT, President of Pastel Programming Co. , a division of Synoptic Text Information Services, Inc., and author of Law of the Super Searchers: the Online Secrets of Top Legal Researchers , How to Avoid Liability: The Information Professional’s Guide to Negligence and Warranty Risks, and Legal Liability Problems in Cyberspace: Craters in the Information Highway.

Related Documents: 1) Press release from Jurisline 2) Copy of the Complaint Filed by Jurisline against Reed Elsevier – Part 1 & Part 2 3) Press release on this lawsuit from Reed Elsevier 4) Copy of the Complaint filed by Matthew Bender Against Jurisline

In my last article about the litigation between Jurisline.com LLC, Reed Elsevier, Inc., and Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. ( Jurisline.com and Matthew Bender: Halos and Horns All ‘Round , LLRX.com, February 7, 2000), I pointed out what in my opinion is an inconsistency between Jurisline.com’s litigation claims and its own behavior.

In the litigation, Jurisline.com claims that Reed Elsevier’s license restrictions on the Lexis CD-ROMs are unenforceable because:

  • the core data (after redacting creative enhancements by the publisher) is in the public domain; and
  • federal copyright law preempts the state law of licenses.

Jurisline.com’s own practice was opposite of what it preaches. The restrictions on use of even the core data from their Web-based service were as restrictive as Matthew Bender’s restrictions on the use of the Lexis CD-ROMs. (Matthew Bender is the current owner of the Lexis CD-ROM service.)

The final section of that article listed actions Jurisline.com would need to take for me to become more sympathetic to their claims, and the primary one is the removal of the inconsistency between what they preach in the litigation and what they practice on their Web site. I said:

And here is the prime one: provide access to the data by competitors who would redact only the public domain core data (including de minimus and non-creative enhancements such as attorney and date information), and revise the terms of use accordingly. They are telling the court it is good for the goose. What about the gander?

On the afternoon of February 9, 2000, I received an email from Lee Eichen about old and new versions of their “Copyright” and “Terms of Use” page. Examining the new page , I find the following new content:

You acknowledge that, other than original government works and other public domain materials, this web site contains information, graphics and other material (collectively, “Content”) that are protected by copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets or other proprietary rights, and that these rights are valid and protected in all forms, media and technologies existing now or hereinafter developed.

While that does not do everything I called for, one must give credit where credit is due: it is a very big step in the right direction, and it makes a hefty increase in the consistency between what Jurisline.com preaches and what it practices.

Copyright © 2000 T. R. Halvorson. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: Any views expressed or implied herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the LLRX.com.

Posted in: Features, Intellectual Property, Online Legal Research Services