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COMPLIANCE

Model Policy: Copyright compliance

Why you need this policy:

Copyright infringement has become a serious liability risk for law firms:
   * In 1991, a mid-sized Washington, DC, law firm was sued for $14 million by a publisher. The case was eventually settled but not until after the firm incurred over $1 million in legal fees;
   * In 1999, a large Wall Street firm settled a copyright infringement case for an undisclosed amount believed to be $115,000 per year to the Copyright Clearance Center;
   * In 2003, a major financial service firm was ordered to pay $20 million for copyright infringement.

How this policy helps you:

It’s imperative for law firms to have a written policy that explains copyright laws and sets out rules on the copying and distribution of copyrighted materials so that staffers don’t inadvertently commit infringement.

How to use this policy:

Each law firm must review how it reproduces and distributes copyrighted materials and establish specific policies to avoid infringement. This Model Policy, which comes from the American Association of Law Firm Libraries, covers one crucial aspect of law firm copyright compliance: reproduction of copyrighted materials by the law library and administrative staff.

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