LexisNexis Training – Spring 2020

W&L’s Lexis representative Sabrina Chester ’13L will offer training sessions on the following topics and dates this semester (all Thursdays):

  • Appellate Brief Research – 1/30
  • Shepard’s Citator – 2/6
  • Public Records & Interview Prep – 3/12
  • Prepare to Practice – 4/9

Time and location is 12:30–1:00 in Classroom B for all sessions, and lunch will be provided. Open to all students, staff, and faculty.

MLK: Words to Live By

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is recognized as one of the most influential and evocative orators in American history.

But how well do you know the words of Dr. King?

While the stanzas of his 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech from the Lincoln Memorial have inspired generations worldwide, many of his less famous phrases are just as uplifting and insightful.

Each weekday, from January 14 to January 20 (MLK Day), the Law Library posted a quotation from Dr. King, minus two key words. Passersby were encouraged to submit their guesses (Googling was fine!) in a daily drawing for gift certificates to W&L University Stores and Dining Services. Thanks to all who participated!

We hope everyone will take time to reflect on the important words of Dr. King and the impact they can have on your own views and actions in life. The five quotations are included below in their entirety.

“We may have all come on different SHIPS, but we’re in the same BOAT now.”

“True PEACE is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of JUSTICE.”

“For when people get caught up with that which is RIGHT and they are willing to SACRIFICE for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”

“All labor that uplifts humanity has DIGNITY and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking EXCELLENCE.”

“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you WIN or FAIL. Be the best of whatever you are.”

Copyright No More: 2020 Public Domain Works

Happy New Year!

Each year, January 1 is recognized as Public Domain Day and Copyright Law Day to raise awareness of the intellectual property rights of both authors and the public that enjoys their works. It also marks the day when thousands of U.S. copyrights expire.

The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (Pub. L. 105-298, 112 Stat. 2827) amended the Copyright Act of 1976 to set the duration of copyright protection for any work at 95 years, after which the work will enter the public domain and may be used freely by anyone to entertain, enlighten, or earn revenue.

As of January 1, 2020, copyrights for all works published in 1924 and before have ended. Other works that have shifted into the public domain are those published before 1964 whose registration was not renewed in their 28th year of protection.

Some Background on U.S. Copyright Law

For copyright protections to apply in the first place, a work must be original and in a fixed, tangible form – for example, a written story, a play, a painting, a sculpture, or a recording or composition of music. (See 17 U.S.C. § 102, and Title 17 – Copyrights of the U.S. Code more generally.) Individual states also have copyright laws, but they are only applicable in narrow areas not preempted by federal copyright law, often relating to criminal infringement and piracy. (See the U.S. Copyright Office compilation of state copyright laws.)

Some works are “born” in the public domain, without copyright protections from their creation onwards. Important examples are all laws published by the U.S. federal government, including statutes, regulations, and judicial decisions. State laws vary as to whether and to what degree works by their governments are copyrightable or in the public domain; Harvard University Library provides a good resource for these state guidelines.

Copyrights Expiring in January 2020

A helpful guide to works whose registered U.S. copyrights have expired (1870 to 1924) has been compiled by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, using digitized Catalog of Copyright Entries from the Library of Congress. Some of the notable works that joined the public domain in 2020 are also highlighted in a new display at the W&L Law Library (pictured above), including:

Visual Arts




  • The Navigator by Buster Keaton (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
  • Greed by Erich von Stroheim (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)