Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Bluebook Alternative? - The Indigo Book

There is a new online, open source legal citation manual that went live in February of this year. It was originally referred to as "Baby Blue Manual of Legal Citation." The nonprofit Public.Resource.Org, which released the manual, now referred to as The Indigo Book, had been at loggerheads with the Harvard Law Review Association for years over copyright interests.

NYU School of Law professor Christopher J. Sprigman oversaw the open source citation project with his students' assistance, and joined up with Carl Maalamud, president of Public Resource. They restated The Bluebook rules and created numerous citation examples to demonstrate the rules in action.

The Bluebook is published by the Harvard Law Review Association (HLRA), along with the Columbia Law Review Association, Yale Law Journal Co., and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and is currently in its 20th edition. Malamud learned that The Bluebook's 10th edition had not renewed its copyright and was in the public domain, and publicized that information.

I just noticed today that the name of the open source citation manual changed to The Indigo Book. Apparently, HLRA's attorneys had notified Malamud that "any title consisting of or comprising the word 'Blue,'" would violate HLRA's federal and state rights. Whether the new title will prevent possible litigation remains to be seen.

It is interesting that the law students at Harvard, NYU, Stanford, and Yale have supported the open source citation project, noting that they feel obliged to make the citation system accessible to users. A letter that almost 30% of Yale law students signed states: "We believe democratizing the rules of citation increases access to justice for all." 

The Bluebook is often described as complicated and poorly organized.  Take a look at The Indigo Book and see what you think of the ease of use, organization, examples, and the "Indigo Inklings" sprinkled throughout the resource.

R15. Short Form Citation for Cases:

If you are interested in free access to the law, free and open access to the system of citation of the law is critical!

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