Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An Empirical Study of Legislative History

One of the most unsuccessful postings I think I have done was on the use of legislative history in general civil litigation. I regard it as unsuccessful because it led to polemical shouting and no real advance in understanding. I decided to do something different in light of this failure, namely a study of what courts actually do. I read almost 1,000 copyright opinions in which legislative history (mostly committee reports) are referred to. The results of that study are found in two documents I have created. The first, linked here, is six pages of single space string cites, broken down by circuit with a parenthetical about the issue for which the legislative history was used). The second, linked here, is a 26 page textual discussion of 22 Supreme Court opinions in which legislative history was used. I haven't attempted to be comprehensive, although I think 1,000 cases is a pretty good sample.

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