IPKat team member Jeremy attended yesterday's meeting of the SOLO IP group, at which a team from LexisNexis explained what legal and IP-related materials and search services it could provide and a group of sole and small practitioners explained what it was that they actually wanted. The meeting was a stimulating one, at which a variety of views were exchanged and a good deal of hard listening was done.
A sudden thought occurred to the Kats' representative at that meeting. It runs like this:
Many years ago in Magill, the European Court of Justice took the view that the failure of television companies to make their listings of forthcoming programmes available for publication in magazines -- thus forcing viewers to purchase separate magazines in respect of different TV channels which they wanted to watch -- should be viewed a an abuse of the copyright monopoly since it prevented the development of a products in a market that was not the TV companies' market but one that was tangential to it.Does anyone have any comments, asks the Kat.
For all lawyers, and not just IP professionals, a similar situation exists. Each of LexisNexis and Westlaw owns and provides access to a large portfolio of databases including law reports, official materials and relevant professional and scholarly writing. In order for any practitioner to serve his clientele most effectively, he really needs to be able to have access to both. Would it not be at least arguable that a comparison can be made with the case of TV programme lists?
To resolve the problem, let LexisNexis, Westlaw and any other possessors of equivalent legal databases be encourage to make licences available to their competitors on FRAND ('fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory') terms, so that royalties will be secured in respect of their proprietary materials, leaving LexisNexis, Westlaw and the like to compete with one another in terms of their pricing to users and the quality of the facilities for interrogating the data?