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Copyright and Bar Exam Questions

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7 Responses

  1. The opinion contains a number of damning statements about PMBR, including one that confirms what many students cramming for the bar exam have long suspected: review courses feed you wrong answers.

    At page 11, after reciting a question from the MBE and its nearly identical PMBE cousin, the opinion wryly notes:

    This question tests the same legal concept using the same fictitious statute and four virtually identical answer choices in the same order. As with a number of PMBE questions, the answer key here is incorrect, further undermining Mr. Feinberg’s claims that he derived his questions independently from authoritative legal sources.

  2. Keith Sharfman says:

    This is fascinating, Dan. I wonder of there’s any copyright as well in canddiate answers. The examiners seem to have no problem making model answers available without getting a copyright waiver from the author. Perhaps this case will change things, since it’s hard to see a compelling distinction as a matter of copyright between exam questions and answers.

  3. Keith Sharfman says:

    This is fascinating, Dan. I wonder if there’s any copyright as well in candidate answers. The examiners seem to have no problem making model answers available without getting a copyright waiver from the author. Perhaps this case will change things, since it’s hard to see a compelling distinction as a matter of copyright between exam questions and answers.

  4. LM says:

    James, I’m intrigued by your comment (“review courses feed you wrong answers”). I’ve heard/read this from others as well. Being as it is that I’ll be taking the bar in less than a year from now, I have to ask: if bar review courses commonly provide the wrong answers, thereby making the bar exam study process that much more difficult, should students even consider taking a review course? Or would we be better off saving our money for review books purchased on e-bay and a nice post-bar exam vacation?

  5. Frank says:

    My sense of the opinion is that the judge found the course promoters quite distasteful, and wanted to put them out of business.

    I thought the weakest part was the damages section, where he just plucks from nowhere a notion that 1/3 of PMBR’s revenues were due to the 100 or so substantially similar questions.

    Admittedly, PMBR apparently did not submit good information on the companies’ books. But it seems to me that this is a case where statutory damages are far more appropriate than an “accounting of profits.” He could easily have gotten to the $11 million figure by fining them $100,000 per question.

    FWIW, I have a post on this today at madisonian.net.

  6. clvarallo says:

    I’ve been in practice a long time and I’m licensed in 3 jurisdictions – soon to be 4 if all goes well this July ’07. PMBR is by far the best MBE review course I’ve taken, because of the number of practice questions. By the time you get to the exam you’re proficient with (1) time management; (2) legal nuances and distinctions; (3)confidence. There may be a few answers that can go either way in the materials, but it’s usually because the Bar Examiners sometimes give credit for two answers. I would recommend it to any individual studying for the bar exam. And for the guy who was thinking of not taking a review course, that’s just plain stupid. Even if it’s not PMBR, you’ve gotta take a review course.

    CLV

  7. lyjn says:

    Use of only part of the bar exam, with some modifications, for the purpose of education, where said use did not deprive the author of income … how is that not fair use?

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