Debate over legal Bluebook raises issue of copyright in legal citation standards

Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org has recently raised the issue of whether legal citation standards should be copyrighted, in a letter to the Dean of Harvard Law School.

One of the principal U.S. legal citation standards, The Bluebook, is copyrighted, and access to it is available only for a fee. Copyright in The Bluebook appears to be owned by an organization with links to four major U.S. law schools, including Harvard Law School. Carl opposes copyright in legal citation standards, has digitized The Bluebook, and earlier this month sent his digitized copy (on a thumbdrive) with a letter asking that The Bluebook be made freely available on the Web, to the Dean of Harvard Law School.

Carl has posted a short section of his open version of The Bluebook online, and has posted some files for developers, which Professor Frank Bennett tells us contain the following:

  • The Bluebook style cast in the Citation Style Language (CSL) (american-style.csl)
  • The journal abbreviations listed in the Bluebook (american-names.json)
  • The word and phrase abbreviations listed in the Bluebook (american-phrases.json)

Frank also says:

The files can be run with Multilingual Zotero (MLZ) and the Abbreviation Filter, available from the MLZ project site: http://citationstylist.org

The latest versions of the style and abbreviation lists are also available from the project site.

You can follow this story by following Carl’s tweets at @carlmalamud

For more information on this story, please see Cory Doctorow’s post.

For more information on copyright in legal citation standards, please see:

Thanks to Frank Bennett for allowing me to re-post his comments here.

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4 Responses to Debate over legal Bluebook raises issue of copyright in legal citation standards

  1. Pingback: Top posts on Legal Informatics Blog during 2013 | Legal Informatics Blog

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