Friday, December 21, 2018

Amicus Brief of Scholars of Corpus Linguistics in Rimini Street v. Oracle

Just found this use of linguistics super interesting. Abstract:
The question presented in Rimini Street v. Oracle is whether the Copyright Act's allowance of "full costs" is limited to the categories and amounts of costs enumerated in 28 U.S.C. 1920 & 1821, or whether it refers to all litigation expenses. Because Congress and the Supreme Court have stated that the word "costs" is a term of art, the question turns on whether the word "full" -- as the Ninth Circuit held -- can cause "costs" to lose its technical meaning. This brief, filed on behalf of eleven corpus linguistics scholars, presents empirical evidence derived from corpora -- electronically searchable databases of texts -- that shows that it cannot. The meaning of adjectives is determined by the nouns they modify, not the other way around. That is why we judge a "tall seven year old" by a different standard of tallness than a "tall NBA player" and why the word "long" means one thing when modifying "story" and something else entirely when modifying "table." Furthermore, the linguistic evidence shows that "full" in Section 505 should be considered a "delexicalized" adjective -- meaning its purpose is to draw attention to and underline an attribute that is already fundamental to and embedded in the nature of the noun. "Full" often serves to emphasize the completeness of an object that is already presumed to be complete, like "full deck of cards," "full set of teeth," and "full costs."

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