Saturday, March 23, 2013

Online publication of court records is privileged under the 1st Amendment: Nieman v VersusLaw

Hat tip to Prof. Eric Goldman's Technology & Marketing Law Blog:

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has dismissed a case against a group of search engine companies for linking to public judicial records, in Nieman v. VersusLaw Inc. The Court ruled that publicly available judicial records are privileged under the 1st Amendment, noting that that judicial "[o]pinions are not the litigants' property. They belong to the public, which underwrites the judicial system that produces them".

March 19, 2013, Decision, Affirming Dismissal of Complaint


Unknown said...

As a NALBIPOOT (Not A Lawyer But I Play One On TV) I was confused by your use of privilege, but from context, I take it to mean that Judicial records are solidly in the public domain?

raybeckerman said...

No it's not a copyright question.

It's a tort law question.

It means that the defendants are immune from being sued for tort claims, such as libel, etc.

In this case the guy was suing for "(1) commercial misappropriation of his name;
(2) intentional interference with current and prospective economic advantage; (3) unjust
enrichment/civil conspiracy; (4) retaliation under the Illinois Human Rights Act and
42 U.S.C. § 1981; (5) violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act; and (6)
violation of the Lanham Act".