Bluebook vs Baby Blue

Bluebook is no stranger to a law student. It is a uniform system of citation that is wildly used/followed in the United States of America. Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal are the big names who jointly publish the book. The student editors from the Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Pennsylvania Law, review and revise the Bluebook every five years. Due to its undeniable demand by every legal professional, it is no surprise that the book generates substantial revenues every year.

Recently the book has been the focus of the headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. The issue started when representatives of Public.Resorce.Org issued a statement that they will be publishing a simpler alternative to the Bluebook under the title “Baby Blue”. For seemingly apparent reasons the publishers of Bluebook were furious to when this was brought to their notice. They claimed that they have copyright over the work and the activities of Public.Resource.Org would amount to copyright infringement.

Now the question that arises is whether one can hold a copyright over the Bluebook? Secondly, if Baby Blue is infringing in nature, in case the Bluebook is copyrightable.

Some, mostly persons belonging to the open- source ideology, argue that Bluebook popularly regarded as the ‘Bible of legal citation” has become a part of the legal system and cannot be copyrighted, as one cannot copyright the law. They are of the opinion that as the Bluebook has become such an indispensable part of the legal system that it should be equally available to all. The opposite view is that although the method of citation cannot be the subject matter of copyright, the book can. Also the idea that the Blue Book is an “edict of government” is tad far-fetched.

The legal representative for Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal have issued a letter to the defendants cautioning them of their actions. The letter states that “in advance of the release of “BabyBlue” (including in beta form), you (defendants) provide us with a complete and up-to-date copy of “BabyBlue” and permit us a reasonable period of time in which to assess any potential copyright issues we may have with that work, and to address and attempt to resolve any such concerns with you……”

Further they also contend that usage of the word ‘BLUE’ in Baby Blue infringes the Bluebook mark and is “likely, to cause confusion, mistake, and/or deception”

With respect to these infringement accusations, the publishers of Baby Blue have stated that the book is based on the 10th edition of Bluebook, which is already in the public domain.

Well whatever said and done, the tussle will begin once Baby Blue is actually published.

For any intellectual property related queries, please contact us on [email protected].

Sources- here, here and here

Image Source/Attribution here, the image is in the public domain.

Leave a comment