Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1995

Abstract

The other papers in this Symposium demonstrate that we have the technical capacity to build a filing system that will exceed the expectations of Grant Gilmore in every dimension.1 With more thought about what is put into the system and more clever software to get it out, the most sophisticated system possible under current technology will store and produce enough information about a debtor to give the ACLU a fright. All of the issues on improving the filing system are important, but I do not concern myself with any of them directly. I am here discuss a different question. In light of the proposed new filing system, this Article asks what legal rights should accrue to the first to file. One might argue that my essay is out of place in a Symposium that deals with filing. But filing does have legal purpose, not so? There is no filing for filing's sake. At minimum, the energy that the filing project deserves might be influenced by the legal consequences, and the propriety of certain legal consequences may depend on the nature of the available filing system. One of my hypotheses is that reform in filing may call for reallocation of risks between filers and searchers. I approach the issue of what legal rights should flow from filing with three questions. I first ask what we know about the uses of the system. I then ask what rights should be granted based on that knowledge and based on our ideas of fairness and efficiency. Finally, I ask how those rights should change in the face of new filing systems that will make the collection and dissemination of reliable information cheaper and easier.


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