In the early days of the Web, before law firms discovered blogs, they would sweeten the allure of their websites by filling them with content intended to show off their knowledge and expertise. Law firm websites often included FAQs about specific areas of law and some of the more ambitious firms had what amounted to mini-treatises on legal topics. But as more and more firms decided that blogging was the better way to add content to their sites, these sorts of pages all but disappeared.
Now, an IP and technology law firm is reviving that approach, but in a decidedly contemporary way. The law firm Adler Vermillion & Skocilich, which has offices in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Seattle, Wash., is publishing the Copyright Codex: A Free Treatise for Lawyers and Artists. The treatise is described as an attempt “to make copyright law useful and accessible for designers, coders and lawyers,” and it does a good job of achieving that.
While this is no Nimmer on Copyright in the span of its coverage, it nonetheless goes into a fair degree of detail on many topics. It includes discussion of specific cases and how they flesh out various concepts.
The treatise is well organized using drop-down menus from seven main categories: Basics, License, Rights, Infringement, Fair Use, Litigate and Copyright Act. Within the drop-down menus are subtopics and sub-subtopics. The whole thing is searchable, of course.
Two aspects of this treatise stand out. One is the writing. It appears that this is primarily the work of partner Eric Adler, and he has done a good job of presenting these concepts in a style that is easy to understand and also well suited to the web — with lots of subheds and bullet points.
The other is the design. The treatise uses an airy design with large readable fonts. Many pages include plus-sign icons you can click to open a sidebar discussion that goes into greater depth on a particular case or concept.
If you are a veteran copyright lawyer, you probably won’t be going here to start your research. But for lawyers (and non-lawyers) who want a quick overview or refresher of a particular issue in copyright law, this is a page worth adding to your bookmarks.
And, with law firms struggling to differentiate themselves on the web, this site could offer a lesson in how a creative approach to content can help you stand out.