Dispute between WestLaw and AALL (American Association of Law Libraries)
August 07, 2009 at 9:32 AM
The American Association of Law Libraries is the professional organization for law librarians that work in academic, law firm, and government law libraries. Recently, AALL had their annual meeting held in Washington, DC. For the first time, the AALL has refused sponsorship money from WestLaw because they are not participating in the official AALL price index for legal publications. Currently, WestLaw has a profit margin over 30% for their legal publications. Due to the economic downturn, many law libraries have been forced to cut their acquisition budgets and make sacrifices so to pay for the rapidly increasing costs of WestLaw access.
Did AALL Refuse Thomson-West Sponsorship Cash for the Annual Meeting? -- Law Librarian Blog
The Abercrombie and Fitch of the Legal Publishing World -- Law Librarian Blog
Westlaw rises to legal publishing fame by selling free information -- CityPages (Minneapolis)
There has been a huge change in the publishing landscape -- where the companies publishing and archiving U.S. federal and state law are suddenly:
1) owned by non-U.S. multi-national corporations;
2) oligopolies -- that is, a very few companies that control the market in such a way that they manage the pricing and supply in the same way that a monopoly can do. For certain types of legal materials there is, in fact, a monopoly;
3) not over-seen in any meaningful way by any government agency. They gather publicly owned and government produced documents (constitutions, statutes, judicial opinions, regulations and other administrative documents, Presidential papers, ordinances, etc.), and publish them, reselling them to the very legislatures, judges, and other government offices that produced the original documents. Granted, the publishers often add a good deal of value, in the form of indexes, headnotes, searchable databases, with excellent search engines. However, in many cases, they also produce the "official" version for state statutes, and the online version as well, meaning that there is no "state-owned" version that is not paid for through one of these big publishers and/or vendors.