January 18, 2007 | By Fred von Lohmann

Update on Eli Lilly Zyprexa Documents Fight

EFF was back in court January 16-17 defending the right of an anonymous wiki contributor to post links to important internal Eli Lilly documents about its biggest-selling drug, Zyprexa. After hearing two days of testimony from those involved (and not involved) with the disclosure of the Lilly documents, the judge has ordered additional briefs and promised a decision sometime in early February.

Unfortunately, he also extended his January 4 injunction that bars anyone from posting the documents or information that would "facilitate the dissemination of the documents" (presumably, including links) to zyprexa.pbwiki.com until he is able to issue his ruling.

The good news is that the documents continue to be readily available on the Internet (one law professor said he was able to find and download them in 19 minutes).

The bad news is that the judge's order constitutes a prior restraint on free speech -- the court's injunction prohibits the whole world from publishing the documents on zyprexa.pbwiki.com. It's hard not to compare this outcome with the Pentagon Papers case, where the Supreme Court threw out even a temporary injunction against publication of stolen Pentagon documents in the New York Times and Washington Post. (It's also reminiscent of Proctor & Gamble v. Bankers Trust, where the court threw out a prior restraint against Business Week over documents leaked from a lawsuit).

But based on the evidence introduced in court, it appears clearer than ever that Eli Lilly will not be able to justify any ongoing restriction on publication of these documents by those who were not involved in the initial leak. So we are looking forward to Judge Weinstein's ultimate ruling.

For more on this, see the recent New York Times article (which also broke the story about the damning evidence against Lilly contained in the documents). For more about why these documents are so important, take a look at this summary of yesterday's testimony in court by Vera Sharav, head of the Association for Human Research Protection.

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