Conflicting copyright instructions from legal research company

| September 6, 2016 | 1 Reply

Thomson Reuters (formerly West Publishing) sent me a DVD with Missouri Jury Instructions today. The DVD comes with a document called “Forms on Disc Guide.” That document gives me the following advice:

Although you may access the forms directly from the disc, we recommend you create a directory on your hard drive and copy the contents of the disc into that directory. The forms can then be accessed from your hard drive and the disc can be kept with the book for safe keeping.

Sounds like good advice. But wait! The Copyright Notice, another document on the same DVD, contains this warning:

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Govt. works.
All rights reserved. The data on the disc is licensed by West, part of Thomson Reuters, and no part of the data may be copied, downloaded, stored in a retrieval system, further transmitted or otherwise reproduced, stored, disseminated, transferred, or used in any form or by any means, including, but not limited to, use by multiple users on a wide-area network, local area network, intranet, or extranet, or similar method of distribution, without prior written permission. Any authorized reproduction of any part of the data must contain notice of copyright as follows: © 2016 Thomson Reuters. No claim to original U.S. Govt. works.

Therefore, Thomson is 1) telling me to copy its jury instruction forms onto my hard drive AND 2) telling me that if I have “copied” or “downloaded” this information on my “retrieval system” I would be in violation of copyright laws, unless I have first obtained “prior written permission” from Thomson Reuters.

This second warning is especially silly in that the whole purpose of having jury instruction “Forms” is to copy them as part of the process of using those forms to prepare jury instructions, and then “transmitting” those instructions to a court and other attorneys for use at trial.

All of this not carefully thought out by one of the world premier providers of legal products to lawyers.

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Category: Communication, Humor, Intellectual property

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (1)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    On those (now rare) occasions that I read a user agreement (or any contract) before agreeing to it, I usually can spot some pair of clauses that prove that by using the product, or possessing the item, I would be in violation of the agreement.

    I read my first apartment lease. Among activities that would violate it were carrying furniture up the interior stairway, and carrying anything up the fire escape. Essentially, moving in was a violation of the lease.

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