From our present perspective in 2013, Nimmer on Copyright by Mel- ville B. Nimmer and David Nimmer has become a monument of legal scholarship: eleven volumes cited almost 3,100 times by the courts since it was published in 1963.1 But all enduring monuments must first be carved out of stone, in a painstaking process where every chisel stroke must fol- low the grand design. And all legal treatises, no matter how authoritative on the law, must begin and end with words. The better the words, the better the law.

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Nimmer on Copyright, we return to the original source, the one-volume 1963 first edi- tion written by Melville B. Nimmer, to consider how a consummate legal writer used words to express himself on the topic of copyright law, and in so doing created a style of writing, philosophy of enquiry, and standard of uncompromising questioning about the law that still resonates. After fifty years, we best honor the work of a legal writer the way we best honor any author, by reading his words as they were first offered to the world.