West Publishing Co. v. Mead Data Central, Inc./Opinion of the Court

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ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.

Mead Data Central, Inc. (MDC) appeals from a preliminary injunction issued by the District Court for the District of Minnesota[1] in a copyright-infringement action brought by West Publishing Company (West). West's claim is based upon MDC's proposed introduction of "star pagination," keyed to West's case reports, into the Decision system of computer-assisted legal research.

For more than a century, West has been compiling and reporting opinions of state and federal courts. West publishes these opinions in a series of books known as the "National Reporter System." Before it publishes an opinion, West checks the accuracy of case and statutory citations in the opinion and adds parallel citations, prepares headnotes and a synopsis for the opinion, and arranges the opinion in West's style and format. West then assigns its report of each opinion to one of the individual series in the National Reporter System, such as Federal Reporter, Second Series or Bankruptcy Reporter; this assignment is based on the court and/or the subject matter of the opinion. Next, West assigns the case to a volume in the series, further categorizes and arranges the cases within the volume, and prepares additional materials, such as indices and tables of cases, for each volume. Volumes and pages are numbered sequentially to facilitate precise reference to West reports; citing the proper volume number, series name, and page number communicates the exact location of a West report, or a portion thereof, within the National Reporter System. West represents that upon completion of each volume, it registers a copyright claim with the Register of Copyrights and receives a Certificate of Registration for the volume.

MDC developed, owns, and operates Decision, a computer-assisted, on-line legal-research service first marketed in 1973. Decision, like West's National Reporter System, reports the decisions of state and federal courts. Since Decision's inception, MDC has included on the first computer screen of each Decision case report the citation to the first page of West's report of the opinion. West concedes that citation to the first page of its reports is a noninfringing "fair use" under 17 U.S.C. § 107, so these citations are not at issue here.

On June 24, 1985, MDC announced that it planned to add "star pagination" to the text of opinions stored in the Decision database. This new service, named the Decision Star Pagination Feature, was to be available to Decision users by September or October of 1985. This feature would insert page numbers from West's National Reporter System publications into the body of Decision reports, providing "jump" or "pinpoint" citations to the location in West's reporter of the material viewed on Decision. Thus, with the Decision Star Pagination Feature, Decision users would be able to determine the West page number corresponding to the portion of an opinion viewed on Decision without ever physically referring to the West publication in which the opinion appears.

In response to MDC's announcement, West brought this action, claiming, inter alia, that the Decision Star Pagination Feature is an appropriation of West's comprehensive arrangement of case reports in violation of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101–810. West sought, and was granted, a preliminary injunction. West Publishing Co. v. Mead Data Central, Inc., 616 F.Supp. 1571 (D. Minn. 1985). The District Court held that there is a substantial likelihood that West's arrangements of case reports are protected by copyright law, that MDC's copying of West's pagination constitutes copyright infringement, and that MDC's star pagination is not a fair use of West's copyrighted works. 616 F.Supp. at 1575–1581. The Court further held that the balance of the harms to West and to MDC involved in granting or denying a preliminary injunction weighed in favor of granting an injunction, and that the public interest also favored preliminary injunctive relief. 616 F.Supp. at 1581–1583. We affirm.


Whether a preliminary injunction should issue turns upon four factors: (1) the probability that the movant will succeed on the merits; (2) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant should a preliminary injunction be denied; (3) the balance between this harm and the harm that granting the injunction will cause to the other parties litigant; and (4) the public interest. Dataphase Systems, Inc. v. C L Systems, Inc. 640 F.2d 109, 113 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc). None of these factors by itself is determinative; rather, in each case the four factors must be balanced to determine whether they tilt toward or away from granting a preliminary injunction. Id. On appeal, we may not disturb the District Court's balancing of the equities absent a clearly erroneous factual determination, an error of law, or an abuse of discretion. O'Connor v. Peru State College, 728 F.2d 1001, 1002 (8th Cir. 1984); Edudata Corp. v. Scientific Computers, Inc., 746 F.2d 429, 430 (8th Cir. 1984) (per curiam).


MDC's principal contention here is that there is no likelihood that West will succeed on the merits of its copyright claim. MDC readily concedes that portions of West's National Reporter System publications that are not at issue here, such as headnotes prepared by West, merit copyright protection.[2] Yet, MDC maintains that any aspects of West's reporters affected by the Decision Star Pagination Feature are not copyrightable. The dominant chord of MDC's argument is that West claims copyright in mere page numbers. MDC adds that in any event, whether West claims copyright in its case arrangement or simply in its pagination, West's claim must fail because neither case arrangement nor pagination can ever qualify as the original work of an author. Even were this possible, MDC goes on, West's case arrangement and pagination do not in fact meet this standard. Finally, MDC contends that even were West's arrangement of cases protected by copyright, the proposed use of West's page numbers in Decision reports would not constitute infringement.

We do not agree with MDC that West's claim here is simply one for copyright in its page numbers. Instead, we concur in the District Court's conclusion that West's arrangement is a copyrightable aspect of its compilation of cases, that the pagination of West's volumes reflects and expresses West's arrangement, and that MDC's intended use of West's page numbers infringes West's copyright in the arrangement.

A. Copyright Protection[edit]

The Copyright Act provides copyright protection for "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). The standard for "originality" is minimal. It is not necessary that the work be novel or unique, but only that the work have its origin with the author – that it be independently created. Hutchinson Telephone Co. v. Fronteer Directory Co., 770 F.2d 128, 131 (8th Cir. 1985). Little more is involved in this requirement than "a prohibition of actual copying." Alfred Bell & Co. v. Catalda Fine Arts, 191 F.2d 99, 102–103 (2d Cir. 1951); see also M. Nimmer, 1 Nimmer on Copyright § 2.01 (1985).

To be the original work of an author, a work must be the product of some "creative intellectual or aesthetic labor." Goldstein v. California, 412 U.S. 546, 561, 37 L.Ed.2d 163, 93 S.Ct. 2303 (1973). However, "a very slight degree of such labor[,] … almost any ingenuity in selection, combination or expression, no matter how crude, humble or obvious, will be sufficient" to make the work copyrightable. M. Nimmer, 1 Nimmer on Copyright, supra, § 1.08[C][1]; id., § 1.06. See Rockford Map Publishers v. Directory Service Company, 768 F.2d 145, 148–149 (7th Cir. 1985) (map based on Agriculture Department photographs and legal descriptions is copyrightable, no matter how quickly or with what little effort it is produced), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1061, 106 S.Ct. 806, 88 L.Ed.2d 781 (1986); Universal Athletic Sales Co. v. Salkeld, 511 F.2d 904, 908 (3d Cir.) ("even a modicum of creativity may suffice for a work to be protected"), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 863, 96 S.Ct. 122, 46 L.Ed.2d 92 (1975).

MDC argues that case arrangement is per se uncopyrightable because it cannot meet these standards. However, it is apparent on the face of the Copyright Act that it is possible for an arrangement of pre-existing materials to be an independently produced work of intellectual creation. Section 103 of the Act, 17 U.S.C. § 103, establishes that "the subject matter of copyright … includes compilations and derivative works." A "compilation" is defined in the Act as:

a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.

17 U.S.C. § 101. An arrangement of opinions in a case reporter, no less than a compilation and arrangement of Shakespeare's sonnets, can qualify for copyright protection.

We find support for this view in Callaghan v. Myers, 128 U.S. 617, 32 L.Ed. 547, 9 S.Ct. 177 (1888), which indicates that an original arrangement of opinions is copyrightable whenever it is the product of labor, talent, or judgment. The plaintiff in that case, Myers, held copyrights for several volumes of reports of the Supreme Court of Illinois. He had purchased these rights from the official reporter of that Court, who had prepared the volumes. In addition to the Court's opinions, the volumes contained a substantial amount of material original to the reporter, including headnotes, statements of facts, tables of cases, indices, and so on. Myers brought an infringement action against the publishers of a competing reporter of Illinois Supreme Court opinions who had copied from Myers's reports material created by the official reporter, as well as the arrangement and pagination of some volumes. The trial court found Myers's copyrights valid and infringed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the fact that Myers sought to protect material prepared by the official court reporter did not bar his claim, since no Illinois legislation forbade the reporter to obtain a copyright for matter that was the product of his intellectual labor. 128 U.S. at 646–647.

As MDC points out, the treatment of case arrangement and pagination in Callaghan was not crucial to the Court's decision, since the defendants had also made use of other portions of Myers's volumes, such as headnotes and statements of facts. Nonetheless, we find Callaghan's discussion of the copyrightability of case arrangements instructive. The Supreme Court noted that while the reporter could claim no copyright in the opinions themselves, 128 U.S. at 649, citing Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 591, 668, 8 L.Ed. 1055 (1834), he could copyright other portions of his reports. Mr. Justice Blatchford wrote that, in addition to headnotes, statements of facts, arguments of counsel, case tables, and indices,

such work of the reporter, which may be the lawful subject of copyright, comprehends … the order of arrangement of the cases, the division of the reports into volumes, the numbering and paging of the volumes, the table of the cases cited in the opinions, (where such table is made,) and the subdivision of the index into appropriate, condensed titles, involving the distribution of the subjects of the various head-notes, and cross-references, where such exist.

Callaghan, 128 U.S. at 649 (emphasis ours).

Later in its opinion, however, when considering several volumes that Myers claimed the defendants had infringed by copying their case arrangement and pagination, the Court quoted with approval the opinion of the Circuit Court, which stated:

Undoubtedly, in some cases, where are involved labor, talent, judgment, the classification and disposition of subjects in a book entitle it to a copyright. But the arrangement of law cases and the paging of the book may depend simply on the will of the printer, of the reporter, or publisher, or the order in which the cases have been decided, or upon other accidental circumstances.

128 U.S. at 662, quoting Myers v. Callaghan, 20 F. 441, 442 (C.C.N.D.Ill. 1883). Evaluating the volumes at issue, the Circuit Court concluded that their case arrangement and pagination involved little labor; it therefore found the defendants' copying of the case arrangement and pagination of Myers's volumes not an independent infringement, but a matter to be considered in connection with other similarities in the parties' reporters. Id. The teaching of Callaghan with respect to the issues before us does not come through with unmistakable clarity. But as we read it, Callaghan establishes at least that there is no per se rule excluding case arrangement from copyright protection, and that instead, in each case the arrangement must be evaluated in light of the originality and intellectual-creation standards.

For the proposition that case arrangement and pagination cannot, as a matter of law, meet originality and intellectual-creation requirements, MDC relies heavily upon Banks Law Publishing Co. v. Lawyers' Co-Operative Publishing Co., 169 F. 386 (2d Cir. 1909) (per curiam), appeal dismissed by stipulation, 223 U.S. 738, 32 S.Ct. 530, 56 L.Ed. 636 (1911). The plaintiff in Banks was the successor to the copyrights of an official reporter of the United States Supreme Court in published volumes of opinions compiled by the reporter. The defendant published a competing edition of the Supreme Court's decisions. The plaintiff claimed copyright infringement based on the defendant's reproduction of the plaintiff's arrangement of cases and on the defendant's star pagination to the plaintiff's reports. The trial court rejected the plaintiff's claim that its case arrangement and pagination merited copyright protection; the Second Circuit, in a per curiam opinion, reproduced the trial court's opinion in full, adopting the opinion as its own.

In our view, Banks does not support MDC's claim that case arrangement is uncopyrightable per se; we agree with the District Court that instead, the denial of copyright protection in Banks was based upon the official status of the reporter. See 616 F. Supp. at 1577. The plaintiff in Banks argued that its case arrangements were the product of sufficient intellectual labor to be copyrightable because the reporter's general, though not unalterable, approach in arranging cases was to begin each volume with what he considered to be the most important cases on hand and to group cases on the same subject matter together. The Banks court responded by noting that the official reporter was required by statute to prepare reports of Supreme Court decisions, gather them into volumes, and have them printed and published. To fulfill this duty, the court continued, the reporter must of necessity provide an orderly arrangement of cases and pagination for the volumes. The court concluded that "no valid copyright for these elements or details alone can be secured to the official reporter." 169 Fed. at 390. Although it acknowledged that "the trend of some of the decisions and of the text-writers indicates that an arrangement of the material matter of a book may be the subject of a valid copyright," the court rejoined that,

Any principle upon which such cases are based is not thought applicable where the arrangement of the cases, though involving some merit, so obviously was necessary to produce the volumes required by the statute. Such labor, under the circumstances presented, like the decisions and opinions of the court, became the property of the public.

Id. We conclude that the ultimate rationale for the Banks decision was that while under Callaghan the official reporter could copyright any material that was the product of his intellectual labor, because the reporter's statutory duties required case arrangement and pagination, these should not be considered the product of the reporter's intellectual labor.

MDC contends that Banks did not turn on the reporter's official status. It points out that the statute prescribing the reporter's duties in Banks did not specify how cases were to be arranged or how volumes of reports were to be paginated, so that the reporter exercised judgment and discretion in these matters. MDC concludes that Banks must therefore be read to hold broadly that arrangement and pagination are publishing details involving too little intellectual labor to be copyrightable. We agree with MDC that the reporter in Banks exercised independent judgment. However, the Banks court dismissed the matters in which the reporter exercised discretion as things done "voluntarily and in evident compliance with the proper and faithful discharge of his official duties." 169 Fed. at 389–390. While we would be inclined to examine the official reporter's independent efforts in arrangement and pagination on their merits to see if they meet originality and intellectual-creation requirements, the Banks court did not do so because it was unwilling to look past the fact that they were done to meet the reporter's statutory obligations.

Several other reasons persuade us not to give Banks the full force for which MDC contends. If it involved the copyright claims of an official reporter, so too did Callaghan, and yet Callaghan does not seem so hostile to the very idea that case compilation, arrangement, and paging can be protected by copyright. To the extent that Banks diverges from Callaghan, we of course follow the Supreme Court. Banks, moreover, requires a greater degree of intellectual creativity than the trend of modern cases, see, e.g., Rockford Map, supra. And it was written at a time when the statute did not in express words declare that "compilations and derivative works," defined to include "the collection and assembling of preexisting materials," can be copyrighted. See Act of March 3, 1905, ch. 1432, Pub. L. No. 58-165, 33 Stat. 1000 (1905) (repealed 1909).

MDC argues, citing, e.g., Order of June 7, 1978, Minnesota Supreme Court (unreported), that West is the "official reporter" for some states, and that, therefore, even a narrow reading of Banks supports its position. We are inclined to think that the term "official reporter" in orders discontinuing, for example, the Minnesota Reports, and providing that the Northwestern Reporter should henceforth be the "official reporter" for the opinions of the Supreme Court of Minnesota, means something quite different from the title "official reporter" held by Messrs. Wheaton and Peters. We do not believe that West is employed by any State, with a salary and duties fixed by statute, and with the details of its work controlled by statute or rule. But even if it is, the facts of this case, as found on the present record by the District Court, convince us that West has used sufficient talent and industry in compiling and arranging cases to entitle it to copyright protection under the 1976 Act as construed by the more recent cases.

Having determined that there is no per se rule that case arrangements are not copyrightable, we turn to examine the District Court's findings that West's arrangements in fact meet originality and intellectual-creation requirements.

West publishes opinions not from just one court, but from every state and all the federal courts in the United States. As it collects these opinions, West separates the decisions of state courts from federal-court decisions. West further divides the federal opinions and the state opinions and then assigns them to the appropriate West reporter series. State court decisions are divided by geographic region and assigned to West's corresponding regional reporter. Federal decisions are first divided by the level of the court they come from into district court decisions, court of appeals decisions, and Supreme Court decisions; Court of Claims and military court decisions are also separated out. Before being assigned to a reporter, district court decisions are subdivided according to subject matter into bankruptcy decisions, federal rules decisions, and decisions on other topics. After an opinion is assigned to a reporter, it is assigned to a volume of the reporter and then arranged within the volume. Federal court of appeals decisions, for example, are arranged according to circuit within each volume of West's Federal Reporter, Second Series, though there may be more than one group of each circuit's opinions in each volume.

We conclude, as did the District Court, that the arrangement West produces through this process is the result of considerable labor, talent, and judgment. As discussed above, supra slip op. pp. 5–6, to meet intellectual-creation requirements a work need only be the product of a modicum of intellectual labor; West's case arrangements easily meet this standard. Further, since there is no allegation that West copies its case arrangements from some other source, the requirement of originality poses no obstacle to copyrighting the arrangements. In the end, MDC's position must stand or fall on its insistence that all West seeks to protect is numbers on pages. If this is a correct characterization, MDC wins: two always comes after one, and no one can copyright the mere sequence of Arabic numbers. As MDC points out, the specific goal of this suit is to protect some of West's page numbers, those occurring within the body of individual court opinions. But protection for the numbers is not sought for their own sake. It is sought, rather, because access to these particular numbers – the "jump cites" – would give users of Decision a large part of what West has spent so much labor and industry in compiling, and would pro tanto reduce anyone's need to buy West's books. The key to this case, then, is not whether numbers are copyrightable, but whether the copyright on the books as a whole is infringed by the unauthorized appropriation of these particular numbers. On the record before us (and subject to reconsideration if materially new evidence comes in at the plenary trial on the merits), the District Court's findings of fact relevant to this issue are supportable. We therefore hold (again subject to reexamination after the record has closed) that West's case arrangements, an important part of which is internal page citations, are original works of authorship entitled to copyright protection.

B. Infringement[edit]

We further hold (with a similar qualification) that MDC's proposed use of West page numbers will infringe West's copyright in the arrangement. The Decision Star Pagination Feature, when used in conjunction with another Decision feature called "LEXSEE," will permit Decision users to view the arrangement of cases in every volume of West's National Reporter System. LEXSEE enables the Decision user to have his or her terminal display a case by "inputting" the citation to the first page of West's report of the case. With the Decision Star Pagination Feature, a Decision user could summon up the first case in a West Volume, page through it until he or she reaches the end of the case, and discern from the "jump cite" for the final page of the case the citation for the first page of the next case in the volume. The Decision user could then use LEXSEE to call up the next case. By repeating this procedure, the Decision user would be able to page through each succeeding case in the West reporter. MDC conceded at oral argument that this operation would be possible, but argued that Decisionusers would be unlikely to perform it because of the cost involved in doing repeated LEXSEE searches. However, MDC has cited no authority, nor do we see any persuasive argument, for the proposition that because consumers may find an infringing work uneconomical, the work is not an infringement. An author's rights in a copyrighted work protect the author not only against infringing works less expensive than the original, but against more expensive infringements as well. Further, though this use of Decision may presently be uneconomical, changes in technology and other market conditions could well alter the situation.

Even if the Decision Star Pagination Feature did not make it possible to use Decision to page through cases as they are arranged in West volumes, we would still hold that MDC's use of West's page numbers infringes West's copyright in the arrangement. Jump cites to West volumes within a case on Decision are infringing because they enable Decision users to discern the precise location in West's arrangement of the portion of the opinion being viewed. MDC contends that these page numbers communicate nothing about West's arrangement. This might be true if MDC proposed to use the numbers in some way unconnected to their position in West's reporters, for example by simply printing a list of the numbers. However, MDC understandably has no interest in making such a use of the numbers; instead, it plans to replicate on Decision every page break in West's volumes and to note the corresponding West page number. Communication to Decision users of the location in West's arrangement of specific portions of text is precisely what the Decision Star Pagination Feature is designed to do.

With MDC's star pagination, consumers would no longer need to purchase West's reporters to get every aspect of West's arrangement. Since knowledge of the location of opinions and parts of opinions within West's arrangement is a large part of the reason one would purchase West's volumes, the Decision star pagination feature would adversely affect West's market position. "[A] use that supplants any part of the normal market for a copyrighted work would ordinarily be considered an infringement." S. Rep. No. 473, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. 65 (1975), quoted in Harper & Row Publishers v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 105 S.Ct. 2218, 2235, 85 L.Ed.2d 588 (1985).

MDC asserts that enjoining its use of West page numbers is tantamount to giving West a copyright in the Arabic numbering system. West cannot, MDC argues, claim that its use of the numbering system is an original work of authorship. It is true that some uses of a numbering system cannot meet originality requirements for copyright. See Toro Co. v. R & R Products Co., 787 F.2d 1208 (8th Cir. 1986) (arbitrary assignment of random numbers to replacement parts did not qualify for copyright protection). However, as already noted, the copyright we recognize here is in West's arrangement, not in its numbering system; MDC's use of West's page numbers is problematic because it infringes West's copyrighted arrangement, not because the numbers themselves are copyrighted.

MDC also argues that the Decision Star Pagination Feature does not infringe West's copyright because its citations to page numbers in West reporters are merely statements of pure fact. The flaw in this argument is that it does not distinguish between isolated use of the factual aspects of a compilation or arrangement and wholesale appropriation of the arrangement. "Isolated instances of minor infringements, when multiplied many times, become in the aggregate a major inroad on copyright that must be prevented." S. Rep. No. 473, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. 65 (1975), quoted in Harper & Row, 105 S.Ct. at 2235. The names, addresses, and phone numbers in a telephone directory are "facts"; though isolated use of these facts is not copyright infringement, copying each and every listing is an infringement. See Hutchinson Telephone Co. v. Fronteer Directory, 770 F.2d 128 (8th Cir. 1985). Similarly, MDC's wholesale appropriation of West's arrangement and pagination for a competitive, commercial purpose is an infringement.[3]

We hold that West's arrangement of cases in its National Reporter System publications is entitled to copyright protection and that the Decision Star Pagination feature infringes West's copyright in the arrangement. On the basis of the present record, it is probable that West will succeed on the merits at trial.


MDC also contends that the District Court did not accurately assess and weigh the three remaining Dataphase factors: the threat of irreparable harm to West, the relative harm to MDC, and the public interest. We disagree.

In copyright infringement cases, the general rule is that a showing of a prima facie case raises a presumption of irreparable harm. Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp., 714 F.2d 1240, 1254 (3d Cir. 1983), cert. dismissed, 464 U.S. 1033, 104 S.Ct. 690, 79 L.Ed.2d 158 (1984). West has made a strong claim for copyright infringement and is therefore entitled to this presumption. Furthermore, MDC's intended use of West's page numbers may significantly affect demand for West's volumes; this further supports West's claim of irreparable injury. See Wainwright Securities, Inc. v. Wall Street Transcript Corp., 558 F.2d 91, 94 (2d Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1014, 98 S.Ct. 730, 54 L.Ed.2d 759, 196 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 864 (1978). On the other hand, the harm which MDC claims it will suffer is principally loss of the market share and revenues it would garner from use of West's page numbers. Yet, West has demonstrated that it will probably succeed on its claim that MDC's use of West's page numbers is a copyright infringement.

Finally, the public interest favors issuing a preliminary injunction. While MDC argues that there is a public interest in free access to the law embodied in West's reporters, we note that West's works are not the only reports of judicial opinions available – MDC itself reports the decisions on Decision. More importantly, MDC's argument ignores the purpose of affording authors a monopoly in their copyrightable material; "'if every volume that was in the public interest could be pirated away by a competing publisher, … the public [soon] would have nothing worth reading.'" Harper & Row, 105 S.Ct. at 2230, quoting Sobel, Copyright and the First Amendment: A Gathering Storm?, 19 ASCAP Copyright Law Symposium 43, 78 (1971).

We conclude that the District Court correctly assessed the various Dataphase factors and that it did not abuse its discretion in determining that the balance of equities in this case favors issuing a preliminary injunction.


West has shown that it will probably succeed on the merits of its claim at trial; West's case arrangements are entitled to copyright protection and MDC's intended use of West page numbers would infringe West's copyright in its arrangements. The District Court correctly balanced this factor with the threat of irreparable harm to West, the relative harm to MDC, and the public interest to determine that West should be granted a preliminary injunction. Accordingly, the decision of the District Court will be affirmed.

We add a word about the procedural posture of this case. It comes to us on appeal from an order granting a preliminary injunction. The case has yet to be tried. We trust it will be tried soon. (Indeed, so far as any requirements of law are concerned, it could have been tried already: the pendency of an interlocutory appeal from an order granting or denying a preliminary injunction does not wholly divest the District Court of jurisdiction over the entire case.) When it is tried, and when judgment is entered, another appeal can be filed. At that time it will be our duty to examine anew, on the basis of the full record, the issues discussed in this opinion. As we have observed before, e.g., Independent Fed'n of Flight Attendants v. Trans World Airlines, 655 F.2d 155, 159 (8th Cir. 1981), "the District Court's findings, and our observations as to the governing law made in this opinion, are tentative and provisional, in the sense that different findings or conclusions might be warranted after a trial on the merits."

For this reason, the attention of the district courts in this Circuit is called to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a)(2), under which, in appropriate cases, those courts have discretion to combine the hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction with the trial on the merits. This procedure is a good one, and we wish to encourage it. In the present case, for example, we got the definite impression at oral argument that most of the evidence on both sides had already been put in. If this is true, the case could have been tried with little additional effort, and the result could have been one appeal instead of two, with a final resolution of the case instead of a provisional one.



  1.   The Hon. James M. Rosenbaum, United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota.
  2.   West does not and could not claim any copyright in the judicial opinions themselves. See Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 591, 668, 8 L.Ed. 1055 (1834) ("no reporter … can have any copyright in the written opinions delivered by this court").
  3.   In the District Court MDC also argued that its star pagination, like its citation to the first page of West's report of a case, is "fair use" of copyrighted material under 17 U.S.C. § 107. The District Court rejected this contention, noting that MDC's use is commercial, that MDC is appropriating the whole of West's arrangement, and that MDC's use will supersede a substantial use of West's volumes. 616 F. Supp. at 1580–1581. See Sony Corp. of America v. University City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 451, 104 S.Ct. 774, 78 L.Ed.2d 574 (1984); Harper & Row, 105 S. Ct. at 2226, 2235. MDC did not raise this issue in its briefs or its argument on appeal, and we find the reasoning of the District Court persuasive.