Subject: Re: the value chain
From: Scott Goehring <>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 13:30:11 -0500

On 10 Dec 1999 12:56:46 -0500, Ian Lance Taylor <> said:

>Hmmm, after my previous message I was told in private e-mail that
>they sued *unsuccessfully*, and that their support of database
>copyright was to permit them to win in the future.  (To which I
>responded that I didn't think the legal profession would permit this
>sort of public data to be locked up in a proprietary fashion).

>Can anybody confirm whether they won or lost in their previous suit?

West is NOT able to prohibit others from using its "numbering system"
(which is little more than volume and page number) to refer to cases.
The court ruled that assigning page numbers to a document is not
"substantially transformative" (duh!).  Their headnotes (summaries of
what each case stands for) remain protected.  I don't know if the West
Key Number System itself, or the individual keys assigned to a given
case, would be protected; the key number system is a comprehensive
system of hierarchical categorization of cases similar to the Library
of Congress system for categorizing books.

The fact that the West National Reporter System is now the reporter of
record for the highest courts of something like 30 States almost
certainly weighed heavily on the minds of the court that denied West's
argument.  Most states have, in the past twenty years, abandoned their
official, state-sponsored reporters for the West NRS because West's
coverage was universally both faster and better than the
government-published ones.