Wednesday, 22 June 2016

new app for mapping the world

The Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog has 2 posts, here and here,  about a new project to create memorable "addresses" for every (3 x 3 meter) spot in the world.  It's called what3words and the project is dividing the world into 3 x 3 meter square blocks and then giving each a unique 3 word name or address.
Sounds pretty crazy, but it turns out that Mongolia is now adopting the system and using it for its postal system.
You can register to use it and then download the app. And pull up a map that will give you a three word address for your location. For example, "the Capitol Rotunda is in “shall.spider.bake” and the Empire State building in “heaves.wipes.clay.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

free webinar from GAO

A free webinar, "GAO Podcasts and Social Media," will be offered on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Jacques A. Arsenault, Digital Communications Manager, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will take you through GAO social media initiatives, including their great podcast GAO Watchdog Report. Jacques will also offer tips on how to set up a podcast.
This webinar is brought to you courtesy of the U.S. Government Publishing Office's FDLP Academy. Register here

Monday, 13 June 2016

CMS can help identify students needing help

Inside Higher Ed has a story today titled "Logging Off, Dropping Out." The story reports that knowing how often students log onto course management software sites is "one of the best ways to predict whether they will stick with their studies or drop out." A study looked at how often students logged on to their course management system (such as Blackboard or TWEN) during the first two weeks of classes. It found that the student "persistence rate" (percent of students who remain enrolled after their first year) was 98% for students who used their CMS at least five days during the first two weeks; for students who used the CMS one day or fewer the persistence rate was 48%, meaning more than half did not continue in college. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

New PLI titles

Listed below are the Practicing Law Institute Course Handbooks published in May 2016; these are available via Barco's PLI subscription:
 CORPORATE LAW
• 21st Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute 2016
• Antitrust Institute 2016: Developments & Hot Topics
• Enforcement 2016: Perspectives from Government Agencies
• Financial Services IT 2016: Avoidance of Risk
• Fourth Annual Institute on Corporate & Securities Law in Hong Kong 2016
• Leveraged Financing 2016
• The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2016
• The Volcker Rule 2016: What it Means for Financial Institutions and Markets
• Venture Capital 2016: Nuts and Bolts
 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
• 10th Annual Patent Law Institute
 • Fundamentals of Patent Litigation 2016

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

ProQuest training

For those of you who are interested in our trial of ProQuest's Reguatory Insight, they are offering a training Thursday June 9, 2016) at 1 pm with the always excellent Andrea Sevetson. You can view this and other upcoming webinars, as well as recordings of past webinars, here.

Twitter search tips

The Digital Inspiration blog, by Amit Agarwal, has a post titled "The best Twitter search tricks." The post provides a list of search operators that will help you "search Twitter like a pro."

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

North Carolina helps faculty publish diy textbooks

The Chronicle of Higher Educations reports that the University of North Carolina Press recently opened an Office of Scholarly Publishing Services that will assist faculty with editing, layout, distribution and seed money for creating their own course materials - rather than using expensive textbooks. The article says that this new role for the UNC Press is " an opportunity for professors to seek advice on various materials they may have kept tucked away but would like to publish online or digitize...(and) as a way to collaborate on open educational resources." The Press's website has a list of FAQ's, as well as easy-to-complete forms for faculty who are interested in publishing a book or an article.

Friday, 27 May 2016

HeinOnline to add UNC Press titles

HeinOnline has announced that they are adding more than 100 titles published by the University of North Carolina Press to their Core collection. Hein says ". A new collection will be created to house these titles, and they will also be added to subject-appropriate collections. For example, more than 50 of the titles relate to slavery and the law."

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Legal Research Basics presentation

The North Carolina Library Association continued its excellent webinar series "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" last week with a presentation titled "Legal Research Basics Redux." The presenter was our friend Jennifer Behrens, a law librarian at Duke. Her presentation was well-organized and very engaging. And though okay - we should all be familiar with the basics of legal research- it doesn't hurt to have a refresher.
If you missed it, the NCLA has helpfully provided an online recording of the webinar, as well as the powerpoint slides from the presentation.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The GSU case and copyright monitoring

Prof. Pamela Samuelson has published an opinion piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "Colleges Shouldn't have to Deal With Copyright Monitoring." She discusses the lawsuit against Georgia State University by several academic publishers that is now in its eighth year. The trial court has recently ruled that "...of the 48 claims remaining in the case, only four uses, each involving multiple chapters, infringed. The question now is, What should be the remedy for those four infringements?" The publishers involved in the suit are asking the court for a permanent injunction that would impose new duties on GSU and require close monitoring of the content of all online course websites, including giving the publishers access to the online course system. Eventually this would affect course content in course websites at all US colleges and universities. Samuelson outlines the specifics of the proposed injunction, and argues that "If the overwhelming majority of the university’s uses were fair, it doesn’t make sense to impose substantial and costly compliance measures on it."

Monday, 23 May 2016

WIRED on PACER

WIRED magazine has published an article about PACER titled "Here's the problem with the Feds profinting from court filings." The article explains how PACER works and the costs of using it and summarizes the problems with PACER. It looks at the class action lawsuit filed against PACER recently, with the claim that PACER profits far outweigh costs.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Robot Lawyer

Gizmodo reports that "A Major Law Firm Will Soon Be Using A Robotic Lawyer" , aka an "artificial intelligence attorney." The "robot" is named ROSS and was created using technology from IBM's Watson. It acts as an advanced legal research tool, providing more elaborate and intuitive advanced searching. The law firm Baker & Hostetler announced that they will use ROSS in their bankruptcy division. But the article adds that ROSS won't be appearing in court anytime soon.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Alliance for Justice sues over PACER fees

The ABA Journal reports that the Alliance for Justice, along with the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the National Consumer Law Center, has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court accusing the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts of illegally charging excessive fees to access court records through its online Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. The lawsuit charges that the Administrative Office is in violation of the E-Government Act of 2002, which mandated that the fees to access court records online cannot exceed the amount needed to maintain the system itself. The lawsuit (15 page pdf) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A press release announcing the lawsuit says “Faith in our judicial system depends on transparency and uninhibited access to court documents for all Americans, regardless of the ability to pay. It’s particularly disturbing that the courts themselves are violating a plainly written law, especially one designed specifically to promote public confidence in the judicial system.”

Friday, 22 April 2016

Update on the baby Bluebook

Another event in the Carl Malamud and Baby Blue saga.. the Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog reports that Carl Malamud has alerted the Harvard Law Review Association that his alternative version of the Bluebook has been renamed  "the Indigo Book ."  This should avoid any confusion over the use of the word "Blue." 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Short fast books

The EBook Friendly website points out that "Reading for 6 minutes can reduce stress by 68%. It's three times more effective than video games... Reading a book, even for a couple of minutes, can increase self-worth and trigger imagination" (no argument from librarians). The site has a helpful infographic with "24 Books You Can Read In Under An Hour"...  all by respected authors like E.A. Poe, Annie Proulx, R.L. Stevenson, Nick Hornby and Nikolai Gogol. So no excuses, get reading!

Authors Guild v. Google: the end

Inside Higher Ed reports that a United States Supreme Court order issued today ends a more than a decade-long legal battle between Google and the Authors Guild. At issue was whether Google's book digitization project, in which millions of copyrighted books are being scanned without the authors' permission, is legal. The Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, allowing the Second Circuit's opinion of the case to stand: see Author's Guild v. Google, Inc., 804 F. 3d 202, 2015. The scanning project is considered "fair use."

LLOC signs on to Perma.cc

The DigitalGov blog posts that the Law Library of Congress is now using Perma.cc as the solution to the problem of "link rot" in all its reports. The blog post says "The Law Library’s discovery regarding the extent of link rot in its own reports led to the search for an archiving solution that would allow readers of those reports to access linked content in real time, as they were reading, without having to jump out of the report to search a database of archived material. The exploration of options ultimately lead to a solution known as Perma.cc, developed specifically for the legal community by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. Perma.cc allows authors to archive documents referenced in their work as they are writing and simultaneously generates a permalink to the archived document for inclusion in the work." The University of Pittsburgh School of Law's Barco Law Library is, of course, also a "member" of Perma.cc.

hat tip: Karen Shephard

Saturday, 16 April 2016

For faculty, 37 ways to use technology in teaching

John Mayer, the director of CALI (Computer Assisted Legal Instruction), has posted an article titled "37 Free Ways to Use Tech in Your Law School Course."  A few of the ideas do involve using CALI tools - which anyone at Pitt Law can do since we are a member of CALI. But there are many other ideas that may be useful in law school teaching - worth a look. 

Friday, 15 April 2016

Con Law Prof scolding

Above the Law has a (somewhat amusing) post titled "Con Law Professor Has Meltdown In Email Blast To Students", with a story about a law professor at Wayne State who sent a scolding email to his students. It sounds more like a scolding than a "meltdown" - there is only one word that might possibly be considered a swear word (and it isn't pinkeye). Hopefully students will take it to heart and attend all the remaining classes of the semester.

Twitter and hashtags

The RIPS Law Librarian Blog (RIPS stands for research, instruction, and patron services) has an interesting post that discusses Twitter and, more specifically, the use of hashtags on Twitter. Author Christine George says "I’ve found that there are some definite benefits to Team Hashtag. Using institution-wide hashtags helps build relationships with other units. They become aware that you are active on social media and can sometimes come through when you need to get the word out. Using trending hashtags—as appropriate, of course—can help you gain new followers that might not have been aware of you otherwise."

hat tip: Karen Shephard

Friday, 8 April 2016

Country by Country Guide to Foreign Law Research from the Yale Law School Library

Yale Law Library recently updated their excellent country by country foreign law guide; it will help get you started on foreign law research by connecting you to the best research guides and databases for each country.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Coral Project working to make comments better

The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard has a post about The Coral Project - "a joint effort between The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Mozilla Foundation, and The Knight Foundation." The project is developing an app called Trust, aimed at building communities around journalism by using the "Comments" section of user-generated contributions to journalist articles.

hat tip: Karen Shephard

2015 Justice Dept. report available

The Justice Department's Office of Information Policy has posted Justice's 2015 Litigation and Compliance Report (25 page pdf), detailing the department’s efforts to encourage agency compliance with the FOIA, and listing of all FOIA litigation cases received and decided in the prior calendar year. Once of the things they did this year was produce an FOIA infographic as a training resource for all government agencies.

Monday, 4 April 2016

ABA Peeps in Law contest update

You can see the 2016 gallery here.

Update: Georgia State copyright case

Inside Higher Ed reports "Publishers Dealt Another Blow in Copyright Lawsuit." This is the continuing story of the case Cambridge U. Press, Oxford U. Press, Sage Publications v. Mark P. Becker, President of Georgia State University, commonly known as the Georgia State copyright case or e-reserves case. In the decision, a federal court has once again found that Georgia State University’s use of digitized course readings known as e-reserves is protected by fair use. This is an ongoing case in the Northern District of Georgia in which three publishers, Cambridge University Press, SAGE Publications, and Oxford University Press, are suing Georgia State University for copyright infringement, claiming that Georgia State University engaged in "systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works" through its e-reserves system. Georgia State asserted that its system did not infringe copyright because its uses were fair use.
The original case is Cambridge Univ. Press v. Becker, 863 F. Supp. 2d 1190 (N.D. Ga. 2012). The judge's 220 page ruling is available here.

massive Doc leak from Panamanian/international law firm show global tax dodging

BBC News and The Guardian, among many other news sources, are reporting on the "Panama Papers" - millions of papers leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Among the stories are pieces on Vladimir Putin’s $1 billion in offshore holdings; the Prime Minister of Iceland’s shady dealings with a private company, which served as a tax haven for his private wealth; and FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, whose members also appear in the documents. The papers were first leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a part of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. The Süddeutsche Zeitung has a full report on this fascinating story in English as well as German.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Solar Powered Books!

Lulu, a website for self-publishing authors, has announced an amazing new release in "Press Release: Lulu Leaps Ahead of Competitors with Release of Solar-Powered Books."
According to the press release:
"every page of a book ordered on Lulu.com acts as its own solar-powered reading substrate. The paper’s reflective qualities highlight the print in such a way that when a page is exposed to light, black text appears to float in a pool of white and colors seem to vibrantly leap off the page...Lulu’s solar-powered books are not limited to use in direct sunlight, but are fully functional with LED, incandescent, fluorescent, firelight, candlelight and even moonlight on clear nights. This breakthrough ensures that students and readers everywhere can complete their assignments and even read for pleasure in any lighted space regardless of access to electricity or charging stations."
Congratulations, Lulu!....

...and April Fool's!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Upcoming ProQuest Congressional webinars

ProQuest has announced a series of Congressional webinars for April and May:
1. Tuesday April 5, 12:00 noon:  Using/searching ProQuest Congressional Hearings for Expert Testimony : Join this 30 minute webinar for how to search Congressional hearings for expert testimony - including companies, scientists, researchers and more. Register here.
2. Tues. April 19, 12:00 noon:  Legislative Insight Overview :  Join this 30 minute webinar for a quick review of ProQuest Legislative Insight. We’ll look at two legislative histories, one more straightforward and the other more complex, to explore the legislative histories and the functionality of Legislative Insight. Register here.
3. Thurs. April 21, 12:00 noon:  101 Uses for the Congressional Research Digital Collection  The Congressional Research Digital Collection, made up of Committee Prints and CRS Reports, is a rich source of varied content – from pro/con discussions to Democratic and Republican staff papers. Join this appr. 45 minute webinar to explore some of the content types and how to find them. Register here.
4. Tues. May 3, 1:00 pm: Using ProQuest Congressional for Historical Research The ProQuest Congressional Collection, with all of the full text modules, creates a rich source of information for those doing historical research. Join this webinar (45-60 minutes) to explore sources available - the Congressional Record, Committee Hearings, the US Congressional Serial Set, the Executive Branch Documents collection and the Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations and how you might use them for research.  Register here. 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Security in libraries

Inside Higher Education recently posted an article titled "Library Access vs. Library Security" in which it discusses security and safety in academic libraries that are open to the public. The article uses the Pitt ULS as an example of how some libraries deal with public access: "The University of Pittsburgh library system, for example, lets everyone in but charges a $100 fee for borrowing privileges for the unaffiliated." Other university libraries have guards and security cameras; Georgia State recently closed the library to the public after a series of armed robberies inside the building - they are upgrading security cameras and improving sign-in procedures during the closure.

AAUP draft report on Title IX enforcement by the Dept. of Education

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has released a draft report, available for comment (56 page pdf), called "The History, Uses and Abuses of Title IX." In the report, the AAUP warns that the manner in which Title IX enforcement dealing with sexual harassment and assault, by the Education Department and campus administrators, is trampling faculty members' rights to academic freedom, due process, and shared governance. It also warns that "colleges’ current focus on eliminating sexual harassment may be contributing to other campus inequities, and may actually be hindering broader efforts to fight sexual discrimination under the gender-equity law known as Title IX." The report concludes that ""The contemporary interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of Title IX threatens academic freedom and shared governance in ways that frustrate the statute’s stated goals," and that by interpreting Title IX "to focus primarily on sexual harassment and assault on campus" the department has been distracted from its duties under that law to protect women from discrimination in other areas, such as access to academic programs and participation in collegiate athletics.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Blue(book)s Wars

Carl Malamud of Public Resource has been on the case of the Bluebook for a couple of years now . The latest salvo came in a recent posting in the Harvard Law Record titled "The Blue Wars: A Report From the Front" written by Mr. Malamud. In the post he refers to a letter he received from attorneys for the Harvard Law Review Association "concerning Mr. Malamud's recent Twitter postings." The post gives the history of the wranglings over the Bluebook that Public Resource has been involved in since 2009.

hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Google Scholar search button

If you like to use Google Scholar to find free cases and scholarly articles (and who doesn't?) you can add a Google Scholar button to your browser, if you use Firefox or Chrome. This lets you launch the Google Scholar search box from your browser bar. The default is set for articles; if you want to change the default to case law, click on the gear icon at the bottom right to for the "Scholar Settings" page. Then you can include patents, or search for caselaw and articles, and set the results to a max of 20 per page.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Webinar on Government Apps and Mobile Sites

"Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian" Webinars from the Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association is a series of free webinars designed to help librarians do better reference work by increasing familiarity with government information resources, and by discovering the best strategies for navigating them. These sessions are recorded and made available after the live sessions from the NCLA GRS web page.
On Friday, March 18 from 12-1 there is a webinar called "Get App(y): Government apps and mobile sites." You can register here.

Transparency for the Congressional Research Service

Recently, bipartisan bills were introduced in both houses of Congress (S 2639 and HR 4702) that authorize the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) to make reports prepared for Congress freely available to the public. Libraries, educators, and groups advocating for transparency in government support the legislation. An agency within the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) employs more than 400 policy analysts, attorneys, and information professionals across a variety of disciplines in five research divisions: American Law; Domestic Social Policy; Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade; Government and Finance; and Resources, Science and Industry.  CRS provides policy and legal analysis to Congress, and its reports remain the province of congressional members and their staff. They are released to the public mainly when referred to during hearings. A new website, CRSReports.com, was launched in December 2015, and purports to be the “largest free and public collection of Congressional Research Service reports.” The earliest report in the repository is from 1989. The "Search" function is, at present, rudimentary. 

Friday, 4 March 2016

We say carNAYgie, you say CARnegie. You're wrong.


Aha! Irrefutable proof that we Pittsburghers (unlike everyone else in the world) pronounce "Carnegie" correctly.


hat tip: CMOA

Monday, 29 February 2016

National Archives website adds new features

The National Archives has announced updates to their website - in particular, to the National Archives Catalog. "You can now:
- Enjoy the updated homepage featuring background images from Catalog records.
- Find what you need with a more intuitive advanced search page.
- Add your comments on digitized records, descriptions, and authority records; and
- Track your "citizen archivist" contributions with updated user account pages.
- Add data from scanned records to your developer toolbox with increased API functionality.”
Also, if you enjoy coloring books, the National Archives recently released the "Coloring Book of Patents 2016," available as a free 17 page PDF and full of "sheer inventive weirdness." 

Friday, 26 February 2016

Psychology & Lawyering symposium

The U. of Nevada - Las Vegas law school recently published a collection of papers that were presented at their symposium on Psychology and Lawyering. These articles discuss how research in psychology can be used to inform legal education and lawyering in general. Among the interesting titles:
Getting Students Psyched: Using Psychology to Encourage Classroom Participation;
Hiding the Elephant: How the Psychological Techniques of Magicians Can Be Used to Manipulate Witnesses at Trial;
Virtuous Billing; and
Silencing our Elders.

US v. Apple at a glance

The Wall Street Journal Tech Blog has a very concise explanation of the U.S. v. Apple dispute titled U.S. v. Apple: Where They Disagree. For a slightly longer take on the dispute, the MIT Technology Review has an article called The Legal Question At the Core of the Apple Encryption Standoff. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

cellphone battery help

The New York Times Personal Tech blog has a really helpful article today called "Tips and Myths About Extending Smartphone Battery Life." The bad news is that we're stuck with not very good batteries for "the forseeable future"; but there are some ways to eke out battery life that I didn't know about.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

ABA Journal Peeps diorama contest opens

It's that time of the year again: Law in Peepculture, aka the ABA Journal's Peeps Diorama Contest. To quote the ABA Journal article: "The spring awakens, which means it is time for 2016 Peeps in Law: Peep Wars... Create a law-related diorama with Peeps, take a photo of the diorama and send the photo (JPG, GIF or PNG) by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 21 to peeps@abajournal.com. Include a title of the diorama, how you would like to be identified and a description of what the diorama represents. If you’d like to attach additional multimedia, go for it! In the past, some dioramas have had accompanying videos and original songs. Decisions to accept and post dioramas are solely up to ABA Journal staff. Here is a photo gallery of 2015 entries to give you some inspiration."

Finally, Fastcase

We were intrigued and a bit nervous last fall when new-ish legal research company Fastcase announced the acquisition of competing service Loislaw from Wolters Kluwer. We had a subscription to Loislaw but not to Fastcase. So we are pleased that Fastcase invited us to "grandfather" our Loislaw subscription into a Fastcase subscription, now available on the Barco databases page. And Fastcase's "smarter legal research tools" are more intuitive and help users drill down to the information they need more quickly. Features include:
- Interactive Timeline - the first data visualization for results.
- Smartphone apps, for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
- Bad Law Bot, the first big data service to find negative history.
- Integrated citation analysis - know which results are most important with a single click.
- The Loislaw treatise libraries.

Fastcase helpfully links out to other websites for information not (currently) included in the database, like Federal docket filings and HeinOnline. There's a "Search Newspapers" link to NewsLibrary, where you can find stories from newspapers across the US.
Fastcase is available to law school faculty, staff and students inside the Barco Law Building (including via wireless network). Currently it isn't available off-campus.
Fastcase also provides free live training webinars that you can register for throughout the spring.