In 2002, a renowned U.S. class action law firm began placing copyright notices on its legal complaints. Cease-and-desist letters have been filed against several firms that lifted language off of the copyrighted complaints. Although no litigation has ensued to determine whether legal complaints are copyrightable, this Note asserts that legal complaints are copyrightable subject matter under the Copyright Act of 1976 despite the limitations of the idea-expression dichotomy, merger doctrine, useful article doctrine, and fair use defense. This Note focuses on the originality requirement of the Copyright Act, as interpreted through U.S. case law, and contends that legal complaints exhibit sufficient originality to warrant copyright protection.
Lisa P. Wang, The Copyrightability of Legal Complaints, 45 B.C.L. Rev. 705 (2004), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol45/iss3/5