Who Owns the Law? How to Restore Public Ownership of Legal Publication
peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-07-16
"Who owns the law? In the United States, most law is published by a handful of companies. Among the largest are Thomson Reuters, a Canadian mass-media information firm, and RELX Group, a Dutch analytics and information company. With very few exceptions, almost all "official" versions of state statutory codes and regulations are published by those two companies. Thomson Reuters also controls the National Reporter System, the caselaw reporters which are the required version for citation before most U.S. courts. Publication, of course, is not synonymous with "ownership." Or at least it should not be.2 But, in the U.S. legal system, those two concepts have begun to merge; publishers now use powerful legal tools to control who has access to the text of the law, how much they must pay, and under what terms. This paper is about how that transfer of control occurred, and how it is harmful...."