Open Access in a Closed Universe: Lexis, Westlaw, Law Schools, and the Legal Information Market
44 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2006
This article considers issues of open access from the context of the broader legal information industry as a whole. The structure and contours of the legal information industry have shaped the availability of legal scholarship and other legal information. The competitive duopoly of Lexis and Westlaw is a particularly important factor in considerations of open access. Also significant is the relationship between Lexis and Westlaw and law schools, which form an important market segment for both Lexis and Westlaw. This Article begins by considering the important role information plays in the law. It then notes the increasing industry concentration that has occurred over the last 10-15 years among legal and other publishers. This industry concentration is believed to have contributed to significant price increases for scholarly publications in scientific and other nonlegal fields. This industry concentration has potentially significant implications for questions of access, particularly in the current environment of increasing electronic dissemination of legal information. In addition to examining characteristics of the legal information industry, this Article also looks at the role of dominant players, such as Lexis and Westlaw, and the ways in which information dissemination has changed with the advent of electronic legal information services, including through new publication models such as SSRN and bepress. Consumers of legal information, including commercial users, law school users, and the general public are also considered, particularly with respect to the implications of legal information industry structure for questions of access to legal information in the digital era.
Keywords: Open Access, Legal Information Industry, Lexis, Westlaw, Legal Publishing, Information market, Legal Scholarship, Electronic medium, Electronic access, Legal databases
JEL Classification: K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation