The Bluebook and copyright

In ‘Bluebook’ Critics Incite Copyright Clash , The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that some ‘legal activists’ are planning to post online what they call a simpler, free alternative. This may or may not be called Baby Blue.

The activists (Carl Malamud and Christopher Jon Sprigman) have received a letter from the Harvard Law Review’s lawyers claiming copyright infringement if they use a title with ‘blue’ in it. But the copyright objections will apparently extend to the work itself.

The book is expected to be published in early 2016 in an editable form.

Messrs. Malamud and Sprigman’s effort could resonate with some in the legal community. The Bluebook has its critics, including Judge Richard Posner, who wrote an entire law journal essay** arguing that the 511-page manual exemplifies “hypertrophy,” a word “used mainly to denote a class of diseases in which an organ grows to an abnormal size.”

** Richard A. Posner, The Bluebook Blues (reviewing Harvard Law Review Association, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed., 2010)),” 120 Yale Law Journal 852 (2011). (PDF)

A quote from the Posner essay:

Many years ago I wrote a review of The Bluebook, then in its sixteenth edition. My review was naively entitled “Goodbye to the Bluebook.” The Bluebook was then a grotesque 255 pages long. It is now in its nineteenth
edition-which is 511 pages long.
I made a number of specific criticisms of The Bluebook in that piece, and I will not repeat them. I don’t believe that any of them have been heeded, but I am not certain, because, needless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness – “The horror! The horror!” -and am tempted to end there.

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