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Attorney Class Claims West Violates Copyright

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CNS) - West Publishing commits mass copyright infringement of attorney-produced legal documents through its Westlaw service, a West Hartford attorney claims in a federal class action.

"West Publishing Corporation ... is in the business of selling and marketing online legal services to legal professionals through its products, Westlaw and WestlawNext (collectively 'Westlaw')," lead plaintiff David Heinlein says in the complaint.

Heinlein claims he wrote several legal documents for a lawsuit against The Home Depot.

"Under 17 U.S.C. § 201 of the Copyright Act, the plaintiff is the author and owner of Work, which is an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression pursuant to Under 17 U.S.C. § 102," the complaint states.

He says he registered a copyright for the Work, which gives him "exclusive right to copy, reproduce, sell, distribute, and or/publicly display" it.

He says West Publishing scanned copies of his court filings and uploaded them onto its Westlaw database.

"The defendant charges subscription fees and/or document-based fees for the defendant's customers to access, view, and/or download any document on Westlaw, including court-filed attorney documents such as the plaintiff's work," the complaint states.

"The plaintiff did not authorize the defendant to copy, reproduce, sell, distribute, and/or display the Work on Westlaw or anywhere else.

"The defendant's infringement of the plaintiff's Work is ongoing and continuous."

Heinlein seeks actual damages and/or Westlaw's profits, costs, and an injunction barring the publisher from infringing his or other attorneys' works.

He is represented by Jonathan Starble, with Starble & Harris, of Avon.

A similar class action was filedin late February in Manhattan Federal Court.

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