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Matthew Bender & Co. v. West Publishing Co., 158 F.3d 674 (1988) p144


Copyrightable material - selection and arrangement of court opinions


Manufacturer of compact disc-read only memory (CD-ROM) discs containing judicial opinions sought declaratory judgment against publisher of printed compilations of judicial opinions that manufacturer's use of publisher's individual case reports, including enhancements such as parallel citations to cases cited in the text, identification of counsel, and information on subsequent procedural history, did not infringe publisher's copyrights in its printed compilations.


Following bench trial, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Martin, J., 1997 WL 266972, granted declaratory judgment to manufacturer, and publisher appealed.


Whether the arrangement and citing style of court opinions was copyrightable.


Copyright protection is unavailable for both derivative works and compilations alike unless, when analyzed as a whole, they display sufficient originality so as to amount to an original work of authorship, and the originality required for copyright protection is essentially the same.


The Court of Appeals, Jacobs, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting testimony of manufacturer's president following close of evidence, and (2) publisher's factual enhancements to judicial opinions were not sufficiently creative or original to warrant copyright protection. Affirmed.


Works of the federal government are not subject to copyright protection, so the text of judicial decisions may be copied at will, but federal judicial opinions may form part of a compilation.