Is An Open Source Bluebook On The Way?

Is it true? Is The Bluebook really in the public domain? 

The Lawyerist reported that "Harvard Law Review who has been aggressively protecting the copyright of the Bluebook against all those who would let legal citation free into the wild forgot to renew the copyright on the 10th Edition."

Professor Christopher Jon Sprigman from New York University School of Law sent a letter stating that his client, Public Resource, intends to publish an electronic version of the 10th edition in light of its public domain status. 

In addition, Professor Sprigman calls the copyright protection of the 19th edition into question. "[N]umerous courts have mandated use of The Bluebook. As a consequence, The Bluebook has been adopted as an edict of government and its contents are in the public domain. But even if we lay that point aside (which, of course, we would not), very little of the 19th edition can be construed as material protected by copyright. Many portions of the 19th edition are identical to or only trivially dissimilar from public domain material contained in the 10th edition. Other portions of the 19th edition are comprised either of material entirely outside the scope of copyright, or material which merges with the system of citation that The Bluebook represents. These portions of the 19th edition are likewise available for public use."

The new public edition project is called Baby Blue. The "project will mix public domain portions of the 19th edition with newly- created material that implements The Bluebook’s system of citation in a fully usable form. In short, The Bluebook will soon face a public domain competitor. And when Baby Blue comes to market, The Harvard Law Review Association is likely to face questions regarding why the public – including pro se and indigent litigants – are obliged to pay for access to a resource that is indispensable to all those who seek justice from our courts."

The letter is an attempt to inform the Harvard Law Review Association of Public Resource's intentions. With a final plea to the Harvard Law Review Association to "recognize the important place our legal citation system plays in our system of democracy and not stand in [the] way."


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