Friday, 27 February 2009

Transparency at the OMB

The US Office of Management and Budget has begun to keep a blog with information about the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget of the U.S. Government. Congratulations to Peter Orszag, Director of the OMB, and welcome to the blogosphere!

AALL conference

For those of you who are going to the AALL conference in Washington DC in July (or for anyone going to the convention center in DC at any time), the law librarians in DC have already prepared a really nice restaurant guide of the area.

Westlaw adds PRES-OBAMA database

Now available on Westlaw, the Obama Presidential Documents database (PRES-OBAMA) contains a variety of documents relating to, or issued by, the Obama White House or the Office of the President of the United States. The initial release of PRES-OBAMA contains President Obama's inaugural address, executive orders, and other recent statements by the president-elect or president issued since Nov. 4, 2008. Bill text, regulations, laws, and other documents reflecting Obama administration policies will be released in the coming months.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Best headline for a SCOTUS case:

And the winner is.... Slate, for "This case puts the Superfun Back in Superfund". Plus they give an entertaining report of what went on during the oral arguments for the consolidated cases Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway Co. v. U.S. and California, and Shell Oil v. U.S. and California. Both involve an agricultural chemical distribution facility in Arvin, Calif., called B&B that had possibly been dumping toxic goo since 1960. In an effort to recoup the money it spent to clean up the site, in 1996 the EPA sought to impose liability on both the railroad that owned part of the contaminated land and Shell Oil, which sold a pesticide known as D-D to B&B. Sounds like Justice Ginsberg was in rare form.

10 reasons to get - and NOT get - a Kindle

CrunchGear just unpacked their new Kindle 2, and they have posted lists of 10 reasons to buy- and not buy- one. Among the pluses: it's very portable and great for traveling. Among the minuses: it's not ready for students yet, for a variety of reasons. Oh, and "Flight attendants will tell you to turn it off on take off and landing. You can’t explain that it’s epaper and uses no current. You just can’t. It’s like explaining heaven to bears."

UConn law library suit thrown out

The Hartford Courant reports that the lawsuit filed by the state of Connecticut against the designers and builders of University of Connecticut law library has been thrown out by a Connecticut Superior Court judge because the suit was filed beyond the statute of limitations. The state had argued that it is immune to statutes of limitations and contractual provisions limiting its right to sue. Connecticut law generally has a 6 year statute of limitations for bringing a legal action in matters involving a written contract; the state filed the lawsuit 12 years after the building was completed. The building cost $23 million to build in 1996, and has already required $20 million in repairs because of a leaky facade and extensive water damage.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

E-books and Print Books

Over at the book trade blog Shelf-Awareness, booksellers and others discuss the value of e-books and print books . From Rachel Whang of Atomic Books, Baltimore, MD: I don't understand why anyone would go to a bookstore to download e-books, as some have proposed. Do people go to record stores to download music? No. People don't go to places to download anything. That's why they like it. And that's why music-selling stores are going away.
From Jodi Kaplan who runs Squidoo lens, a print-book proponent website: For print and bookstores to survive, they have to add value. Bring authors in, host book groups, have authors blog on their sites (or connect to the authors' blogs). Send e-mails to loyal customers informing them of new books they might like to read. Invite people into the store to form connections with the store, the authors and other readers.
From Michael Herrmann of Gibson's Bookstore in N.H.: If Amazon succeeds in diverting publishers' creative energy into the e-book category, there will be incredible disruption in publishing and in retail.

Digital cameras and the law

PC World has an article entitled "Your Digital Camera and the Law" that tries to alleviate some of the confusion about what's legal to photograph and where it's okay to use a camera. The author says that "In general, you can photograph anything or anyone as long as you are on public property. Public property includes city streets, municipal parks, and national parks and forests" but doesn't include "places like the mall, parking lots, churches, or amusement parks." The author doesn't have much advise on what to do if you are challenged by the police or by anyone else - he seems to feel it's best to just comply. He also points out that New York City is embroiled in an effort to limit public photography and links to "Picture New York Without Pictures of New York" for a fascinating look at how photo rights in the Big Apple are changing.

National Infrastructure Protection Plan 2009

The Dept. of Homeland Security has published the 2009 National Infrastructure Protection Plan (188 page pdf) The 2009 Plan replaces the 2006 version and reflects changes and updates to program elements and concepts. According to the DHS website, the Plan "provides the unifying structure for the integration of a wide range of efforts for the enhanced protection and resiliency of the nation's critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) into a single national program.
The overarching goal of the NIPP is to build a safer, more secure, and more resilient America by preventing, deterring, neutralizing, or mitigating the effects of deliberate efforts by terrorists to destroy, incapacitate, or exploit elements of our nation's CIKR and to strengthen national preparedness, timely response, and rapid recovery of CIKR in the event of an attack, natural disaster, or other emergency."
It was developed "collaboratively with CIKR partners in all levels of government and the private sector." There is much discussion of cyber security, since " DHS is also a focal point for the security of cyberspace."

The future is...

Monday, 23 February 2009

English reports

English Reports is a comprehensive database containing almost 125,000 English court decisions from the year 1220 (!) through June 26, 1873. Decisions are organized by year and month. The interface is pretty bare-bones, but there is Boolean searching though I can't vouch for its accuracy. The database comes to us from the Commonwealth Legal Information Institute a nonprofit initiative that provides 571 databases from 59 Commonwealth and common law countries and territories as farflung as Mozambique, Belize, Australia and Samoa.

hat tip: InSite

The "hot news" doctrine

The AP reports that U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Castel in the Southern District of New York has reaffirmed a 1918 legal doctrine known as the "hot news" doctrine. The judge issued an order (16 page pdf) allowing a case brought by the AP (Associated Press v. All Headline News Corp.) to proceed because the "hot news doctrine" applies. All Headline News had claimed that the doctrine was superseded by subsequent federal copyright law. This may be the first case to apply the U.S. Supreme Court's 90-year-old doctrine to news dissemination over the Internet. All Headline News Corp. employees search the Internet for news stories for republication, sometimes after rewriting the text but often replicating the stories in full. According to the AP, many of AHN's stories are based on the AP's work, but are republished as being originated by AHN. Facts generally cannot be copyrighted, but in International News Service v. Associated Press 248 U.S. 215 (1918), the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the injunction of the lower court that "restrains any taking or gainfully using of the complainant's news, either bodily or in substance from bulletins issued by the complainant or any of its members, or from editions of their newspapers, 'until its commercial value as news to the complainant and all of its members has passed away.' "
Justice Brandeis wrote a vigorous dissent to this opinion.

Closed circuit TV required?

British newssource The Guardian reports that a new pub owner was told by London police that he would not be granted a liquor license (they spell it "licence" across the pond) unless he installed closed circuit television in his pub "capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request." He has so far not complied, insisting that filming his regulars would impinge on their rights. "When was it that the constant erosion of our liberties became irreversible?" he said. The article doesn't say whether he's gotten his license or not.
Britain, with an estimated 4 million closed circuit surveillance cameras in use, has constructed one of the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world in the name of combating terrorism and crime and improving administrative efficiency.

Permission to hyperlink?

Ars Technica has a story about a small company called Block Shopper that was threatened with a trademark lawsuit by law firm Jones Day and decided to change, or adopt, a new policy for hyperlinks on their website. According to the story, "Essentially, is okay, but not blah blah blah." Or anything that isn't What happened was that BlockShopper , a website that provides "real intelligence about real estate", linked to the Web profile of a JD lawyer in a posting that highlighted his purchase of a condo, and noted that Jones Day had purchased real estate on Chicago's North Side. The information on these sales is public record, and BlockShopper did nothing more than follow standard Web linking procedure. Jones Day was displeased by these links and filed a lawsuit against BlockShopper leveling a charge of trademark dilution. The complaint cites the issue as "confusion"—the claim was that people visiting BlockShopper and seeing the links in question might assume that it was somehow officially related to Jones Day. Ars concludes the story by saying that "Turning the Web into a permissions-based linking system would be, at worst, catastrophic, and at best, annoying. "

Chancellor Nordenberg on Pitt and the economy

Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg has published a news release on the Pitt website that details the difficulties that the university is facing in this economic recession. Though there is some optimism in his message, he says that "we continue to be affected by what is a true economic crisis, all of our revenue streams are under stress, and crafting an operating budget for the next fiscal year will be very challenging....
the successes of our University have continued to grow, which is a credit to you and others like you-people who have believed in our mission and who have worked both tirelessly and effectively to advance it. As the University moves further into its third century, that commitment will be essential in crafting what may be remembered as one of Pitt's most critical successes-maintaining the momentum we already have built as we move through this very difficult time together."

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Sweeping new legislation proposed for the internet

CNET reports that bills have been introduced in both the House ( H.R.1076 ) and the Senate (S.436 ) that would require all ISPs and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points including hotels, coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about internet usage for two years to aid police investigations. Both bills are called the "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet SAFETY Act. The language of the bill says "A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user."
According to CNET, this means that the law applies not just to AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc., and not just public Wi-Fi access points, but to individuals, homes, small businesses, large corporations, libraries, schools, universities, and even government agencies.

Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents online

Another topic that came up on the govdocs listserv this week was the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents, now available on the GPO's snazzy new FDSys site. It was pointed out that the Presidential Documents published at whitehouse dot gov aren't exactly the same as the ones on FDsys: for example you can look at the Remarks on Signing the Children's Health Insurance Program ReauthorizationAct of 2009on and on FDSys. They're similar, very similar, but not word for word exactly the same.

Congressional Bibliographies project at NCSU

The following was posted to the govdocs listserv this week:
Folks, After spending more than twenty years in the enjoyable role of editing the Congressional Bibliographies project at NCSU, it's time to move on. NCSU was the home of Mary Elizabeth Poole, a petite documents giant of the old school, the author of "Documents Office Classification" and other federal document bibliographic studies. The Congressional Bibliographies continues that same tradition of research and service. A unique confluence of factors allowed me to devote time and energy to this project, but that alignment no longer exists. Congressional Bibliographies at NCSU will soon become static. Perhaps its only future source will be the Internet Archives Wayback Machine. (That site is mysterious to me, it sometimes shows more site crawls than at other times. Search there for )
There's an opportunity here for a new person to step up and take over this valuable project, to develop new features, to further its capabilities, to enhance its behind-the-scene data-gathering functions. I've filled this editorial role at NCSU since the mid-1980s, since not long after the Senate applied its numbering scheme to hearings, prints, and publications in 1983. GPO compiled one issue of a proposed biennial "List of committee hearings, committee prints, and publications of the United States Senate," for the 98th Congress (1983-84) in 1988. NCSU's Congressional Bibliographies is the place to visit if you want to know that all the hearings of a given Senate committee are found in your collection.This first goal of the Congressional Bibliographies is of primary interest to documents librarians. Over time I enlarged the project's resources to encompass other objectives. It offers a poor man's alternative to LexisNexis Congressional as it facilitates study of Congressional activity. It has brought me professional satisfaction as I've helped scholars (and school children) worldwide who ask how to find U.S. federal government information.The site's study of unprinted Senate hearings has documented the fact that fugitive documents exist even in the halls of Congress. Not all Congressional committee hearings (setting aside those that are classified) are available to the public. Why does this happen!? I've graded Senate committees' publishing activity for 1993-2003 with the Congressional Bibliographies' "Senate Report Cards." The titles of unprinted Senate hearings will raise your eyebrows, where percentages might not, and are found on the site for those same years. Data for House and Senate committee meetings, drawn from the Congressional Record's Daily Digest, drove a sophisticated application that allowed much more refined searches for committees meetings than do Thomas or LexisNexis. That data can be provided to a new editor who could then create a new version of the Congressional Committee Meetings Index. This search feature no longer exists on the NCSU site.There are other innovative possibilities a new editor could bring to fruition. To continue this service would require a dedicated documents librarian's time, commitment and vision; computer resources (staff time, server and storage space); and your administrators' support. I'm happy to discuss with any potential partner the possible transfer of the Congressional Bibliographies to a new home.You can review the project's background and read how its components are currently compiled by visiting these pages:background - - Please contact me with proposals, thoughts and/or suggestions. Thanks.
Jack McGeachy-- John A. McGeachySocial Sciences Reference LibrarianResearch & Information Services DepartmentCampus Box 7111North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, N.C. 27695-7111(919) 513-0444 phone
I've emailed Mr. McGeachy for more info about the time and $ commitment necessary to keep this excellent service going.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

US Federal Court website adds court forms by category

The official federal courts website has posted a list of 56 new and restyled civil and criminal court forms in a categorized listing, including forms for attorneys, court reporters, jury, civil court forms and criminal and Criminal Justice Act forms. If you know the number of the form you need they also offer a list of 127 forms sorted by form number.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

PACER free trial update

I think it's worthwhile to mention Joe Hodnicki's post on Law Lib yesterday, since we've all been wondering whatever happened to the PACER pilot that offered free PACER access in a few select libraries. On Feb. 13, the New York Times reported on what happened. Apparently a young man named Aaron Swartz, a 22-year-old Stanford dropout and "entrepreneur" downloaded an estimated 20 percent of the entire database: 19,856,160 pages of text, in response to Carl Malamud of asking people to get the documents for the Public Resource databases.
The free service stopped suddenly on Sept. 29 and notice went out from the GPO that the free Pacer pilot program was suspended, “pending an evaluation.” A couple of weeks later, a Government Printing Office official, Richard G. Davis, told librarians that “the security of the Pacer service was compromised. The F.B.I. is conducting an investigation.” Lawyers for Mr. Malamud and Mr. Swartz say that they appeared to have broken no laws, noting nonetheless that it is impossible to say what angry government officials might do.

GM, Chrysler restructuring plans

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner announced late yesterday that he had received restructuring reports from Chrysler and General Motors Corporation as required under the terms of the loans made available to in December to help the domestic auto industry in becoming financially viable Later this week National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers and Geithner will be convene the President's Task Force on Autos to analyze the companies' plans and to solicit the full range of input from across the Administration on the restructuring necessary for the two companies to be viable.
The full text of the GM plan (117 page pdf) and Chrysler plan (177 page pdf) are available on the Treasury Dept. website. Reuters has prepared "Factbox" highlights of both the Chrysler and the GM plans.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

New Acquisitions

Barco Law Library's New Acquisitions site is close to being what might be considered "out of Beta". We're uploading the new books etc. that come in once a week, and including the cover art, a description, and a link to Pittcat . The default sort is by "most recent first"; but you can also sort alphabetically by Author or Title. We are keeping the maximum number of new books displayed at 50; when new ones are added the older ones drop off the visible list.
If you have any comments or suggestions just let us know, we're still doing a little bit of tweaking, thanks to the generous assistance of Mark Frey.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The $311 billion spending bill passed by Congress

ProPublica has published a detailed list of spending that was in the the 1,071-page spending bill that passed on Friday. In addition to the spending chart, they also have provided a chart of the bill's tax provisions.
The appropriations section of the bill details spending in excess of $311 billion for programs ranging from Pell grants for college students to clean water in central Utah to nearly $100 billion in new transportation and infrastructure projects.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Copryight Act reintroduced

Open Access News reports that H.R. 801, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (6 page pdf) has been reintroduced into Congress by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. According to Open Access, the bill will ban open access policies in federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These policies currently require scientists to provide public access to their work if it has been funded with money from an agency with an open access policy, ensuring that the public has access to read the results of research that it has funded.

Twitter: billions of 140 character thoughts...

Are you a Twitter skeptic? Tech Crunch explains why Twitter is such a valuable commodity in its article Mining the Thought Stream. "Twitter may just be a collection of inane thoughts, but in aggregate that is a valuable thing."

Friday, 13 February 2009

Bad day for the PA state library

Gov. Ed Rendell has announced that he is eliminating most state library positions, according to a story in the Central PA News. Fifty of the library's 57 positions would be eliminated, with one person transferred elsewhere in the state Department of Education, which oversees the library.
That would leave a staff of six, presumably to maintain public access to the facility, which the administration has wants to "try" to keep open. The library budget will be cut in half. The State Library houses an extensive general and legal reference collection and is perhaps the state's leading repository of Pennsylvania and U.S. government reports, from election results to postings of salaries of all state employees. It also contains a state-of-the-art rare-books room that preserves a collection of books and newspapers started by Benjamin Franklin.

hat tip: Brian Hare

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Word tutorials for legal writing

Technolawyer received a query from a legal writing professor who is trying to make the switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and would like some tips. Technolawyer suggests looking at a helpful site set up by a lawyer in Wisconsin that kindly provides an updated version of Microsoft's Legal Users' Guide to Word. The guide is focused on giving legal professionals step by step instructions for becoming adept at creating legal documents using all the functionality in Word 97-2003; most of the tips apply to Word 2007 too.

Are the children Un-Guilty?

The story of Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, the two judges in Luzerne County (eastern PA; Wilkes Barre is the county seat) who have pleaded guilty to accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks for sending juvenile offenders to privately-operated detention facilities, is everywhere, with headlines like US judges admit to jailing children for money (Reuters) and 2 judges plead guilty in sending kids to lockup (AP) and Two judges imprisoned teens for cash (Examiner). One of the two detention facilities, Western PA Child Care LLC, is located in Butler County and owned by a Pittsburgh businessman.
Slate takes a slightly different look at the story, with an article that discusses what might happen to the children whom the allegedly corrupt judges have sentenced over the years. The answer, of course, is "it depends". The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has already appointed Berks County judge Arthur E. Grim to review every case that the two judges heard during the period in which they allegedly took money—about 5,000 hearings from 2003 to 2006. If that Grim determines that a sentence was unfair, he can order a new hearing, petition to clear the youngster's record, or declare the entire verdict void ab initio.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Judge orders website to give up info on anonymous comment-posters

ComputerWorld has a story about a case in Texas in which a judge has ruled that the First Amendment doesn't offer the right to libel someone anonymously. Tarrant County District Court Judge Dana Womack served a subpoena to to turn over any potentially identifying information it has on 178 people who had anonymously posted allegedly defamatory comments on the site about two individuals involved in a sexual assault case.
Mark and Rhonda Lesher were accused last year of the crime against a former client of Mark Lesher but were acquitted on all counts by a jury in January. In a lawsuit they filed (PDF document) against "John and Jane Doe" the Leshers claim that they were victims of "a vicious cyber-defamation campaign waged against them on". They claim that the comments were a form of persecution against them and that the anonymous posters had defamed them and tarnished their reputation, their standing in the community and their businesses.

Comparing Senate & House Recovery Acts

The Senate Finance committee has published a very helpful Side-By-Side Chart that compares the Senate-Passed and the House-Passed versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009(5 page pdf).

University website rankings

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a research group based in Spain called the Cybermetrics Lab has published its biannual Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, which seeks to measure “the performance and impact of universities through their Web presence.”
MIT, whose OpenCourseWare project boasts the world’s largest collection of free teaching materials, comes in first (The rankings were originally conceived as a way of promoting open access to academic materials online.). Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, and Cornell University are in the top five. Pitt ranks #36; CMU comes in at #15. The University of Toronto, at No. 24, is the highest-ranked institution from outside the United States, and the University of Cambridge, at No. 28, registered as the highest-ranked European institution (most of the top 50 university sites are American).

Social networking sites sign pact with EU

Technology Review reports that the European Union has had seventeen networking sites including Google, MySpace and Facebook sign an agreement to improve safeguards against "cyberbullying" -the bullying and abuse of teenagers online. The sites agree to limit the risks of misuse by providing a "report abuse" button allowing users to report "inappropriate contact from or conduct by" another user to the site operator, which will relay the complaint to local authorities. The site operators also must make sure online profiles and contact lists of underage users are set to the highest privacy settings and to ensure they are not obtainable on search engines.

U.S.Federal Court news

News from the Office of the US Courts:
Text messaging support to the federal judiciary's email subscription service is newly available. This service allows visitors to to receive notifications by email when new information is available, including news, newsletters, specific web site content and other alerts. If you sign up for automatic updates, the service will notify you with an email sent directly to your inbox. In addition to receiving Email Updates, you can now get the Emergency Notices & Updates sent directly to your cell phone or mobile device. The U.S. Courts offers text message alerts for Emergency Notices & Updates on some major incidents (such as a hurricane or other large scale crisis) involving wide-spread court operations soon after official information is made available. Sign up by by clicking here.
Federal Court Management Statistics for 2008, a report that provides profiles for each of the 12 regional U.S. courts of appeals and 94 U.S. district courts - plus national totals - for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, is now available on the US Courts website.
The FY 2009 update to the Long Range Plan for Information Technology in the Federal Judiciary is now available. The update articulates five-year directions and objectives for the judiciary's information technology program, including PACER.

Monday, 9 February 2009

CRS reports available

Wikileaks claims it has published 6780 Congressional Research Service CRS reports on its website, supposedly the entire electronic output made available to all the Congressional Offices (wikileaks claims it's "nearly a billion dollars worth of quasi-secret reports".) There are additional reports and briefings prepared for specific offices that aren't included. You can access the reports from the Wikileaks website from either an alphabetical list or a chronological list of the reports (the lists are long, please be patient).

NELLCO legal scholarship repository

NELLCO, the New England Law Library Consortium (no, you don't have to be in New England and yes, Barco is a member) has a legal scholarship repository on its website that has grown to include not just working papers but also reports, lecture series, topical collections, workshop presentations, and other scholarship created by faculty and graduate students at NELLCO member schools. It contains, for example, the Cornell Law School Berger International Speaker Series , the Harvard Law School Student Scholarship Series , New York University Law and Economics Working Papers , Yale Law School Student Prize Paper Series , and Vermont Law School LL.M. Dissertations on Environmental Law .

AALL wiki for the recession

From James E Duggan, AALL President, comes this announcement:
In response to the U.S. recession and its impact on law libraries, AALL has created a wiki of Tools for Success in Today’s Economy. On the wiki you will find:
  • Tips for operating your law library with a tight budget
  • Advice on negotiating contracts with vendors
  • How to interview effectively for your next job
  • Resources for professional development
  • And much more
Any AALL member can add material to the wiki, and all are encouraged to use the tools and share more resources that might help friends and colleagues in AALL.

Collection of Legal information websites

The Legal Information Systems & Legal Informatics Resources website has links to lots of sources of legal information including Blogs, computer-assisted legal research (calr), conferences & conference proceedings , copyright resources , definitions, departments, courses, programs & institutes , institutional & scholarly repositories and ejournals .

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Tips for Gmail users

If you're a Google Gmail user - and who isn't? - Lifehacker has a list of 10 features developed in Gmail labs that you might fine useful. A couple that appeal to me are multiple inboxes allowing you to filter your mail into several "buckets", Canned Responses that let you set up canned replies so you can quickly and easily fire off that same old reply, and my favorite, Forgotten Attachment Detector, which scans your email to determine whether or not you had meant to attach a file and alerts you if an attachment is missing (how many times have I done that?).

Energy Law current legal literature

The Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas has created a website that providing links and updates to current legal literature in the field of energy law. The website is a resource for keeping informed of current articles about the development and regulation of energy resources and related policy, primarily in the United States. The emphasis is on renewable and alternative energy sources and new developments in traditional sources, including articles about directly applicable environmental law. The articles are hand-selected by law librarians from newly published law reviews and journals. If you use a feedreader, the site provides an RSS feed.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Westlaw Headnote reclassification Feb. 27 - Mar 1

From Feb. 27th through March 1st, Westlaw will start their 2009 Headnote Reclassification. They will be uploading approximately 245,500+ headnotes and 105,700+ full text documents.
Westlaw users may see discrepancies in old and new key numbers as they release new/revised headnotes for the 2009 Headnote Reclassification starting late Friday evening (after 10:00 pm) and ending on Sunday (February 27 - March 1).
These topics have been completed revised: CONVICTS, DISORDERLY CONDUCT, PRISONS, and PRODUCTS LIABILITY.
Dozens of other areas of the Key Number System have been given minor improvements, particularly in the topics COUNTIES, CRIMINAL LAW, INDIANS, INFANTS, NEGLIGENCE, and PROCESS.

CCH: Financial crisis news

CCH has a financial crisis news blog intended to provide the legal community and others with news and links to vital information on the current financial crisis. Maintained by a staff of CCH attorney-editors, the site tracks ongoing developments and the responses from lawmakers and regulatory agencies. Users can also receive the site’s RSS feed or subscribe via e-mail.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Penn Law students start underground newspaper

University of Pennsylvania law students have launched a new publication: an Onion-style underground legal newspaper called Goat's Milk (PDF). The lead story reports that students are blaming the disastrous economy for bad grades, bad luck in getting dates and even a favorite football team's recent loss.

SSRN adds eJournal for legal information & technology

Lee Peoples has announced that with the help of other law librarians he has successfully begun a new eJournal on SSRN called the Legal Information and Technology eJournal. The journal features the works of law librarians and other academics in the legal information field. The eJournal will allow us to get feedback on works in progress, develop the profession’s scholarly agenda, and present our work to a wider audience. It is hoped that it will inspire more of us to write, to share our work more readily within the profession, and to extend our knowledge to the broader legal academy and other disciplines interested in our field and expertise. The journal welcomes all significant contributions to legal information scholarship and to the practice of law librarianship.
They are in the process of inviting LLJ, LRSQ, IJLI, and Perspectives authors to post their works back to 2005 and welcome all other publications from that time frame fitting within the journal’s subject matter.

Testimony from Madoff whistleblower available

Harry Markopolos, the "whistleblower" who contacted the SEC about Madoff's "Ponzi scheme" several years ago, testfied before a hearing of the House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets yesterday. You can read his submitted written testimony and supplemental documents that he submitted along with the testimony including email exchanges and lengthy memos he sent to the SEC documenting irregulaties in Madoff's operations. Markopolos said he began his investigation into Madoff in late 1999 when a marketing executive from Rampart Investment Management Company Inc. told him of Bernard Madoff’s fantastic returns. Markopolos said he determined in less than four hours that Madoff’s operation was a fraud.
The Wall Street Journal has made the Court Document: Madoff Client List available. It is 163 tightly spaced pages long.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Surname distribution in the US

Dynastree, a website where you can create your family tree, has a cool feature: type in a surname and it will show you the distribution of that surname throughout the US. Surnames frequently searched for: Gonzalez, O'Connor, and Obama.

Local startup's technology adapts RSS feeds to your preferences

Pittsburgh's online weekly Pop City has an article today about interesting Pittsburgh startup mSpoke, working "at the hot intersection of the semantic and implicit web, an area that involves the synthesis of personal web data." Try mSpoke’s FeedHub personalization technology for RSS feeds. It's very easy to use. Just upload the OPML from you feedreader (if you use Google Reader you can easily export the OPML for all your feeds). Then add the FeedHub feedreader to your homepage on Google or Google Reader. The cool thing is that it looks at all the feeds you subscribe to (for example, mine include Jurist, LawLibTech, Legal Scholarship Blog, Madisonian, Wired, CNet, the WSJ law blog, and other law/technology types). FeedHub will then "feed" you information by choosing great posts based on what it has learned from your OPML.
FeedHub chooses personalized content for you based on both your reading behavior and explicit feedback. The more posts you read, and the more you tell FeedHub how you feel about your content, the better we'll get at choosing content to feed you.

LexisNexis representative change

Jim O’Leary, our LexisNexis representative, has taken a job as the Lexis rep for Duke law school in North Carolina starting immediately, so we are without a Pittsburgh-located rep for a while. The regional manager, Tom Berdan (in Philadelphia) is fielding our LexisNexis questions until they hire a new rep: .

Overview of the US Intelligence Community

The Director of National Intelligence has released the Intelligence Community's report "An Overview of the United States Intelligence Community for the 111th Congress" (29 page pdf). The report includes a description of the various programs, departmental components, armed services components, and contact information for legislative affairs offices of the intelligence community.

What is a recession?

The February issue of Liber8, the newsletter of the Research Library of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, has an article that answers the question "What is a recession?". The article explains how the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research studies data and decides when the economy is in a recession (and yes, we are in one and have been since Dec. 2007).
The article has links to other Federal Reserve Bank articles on the recession.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Dutch agreement on orphan works digitization

Open Access reports that Netherlands Library Forum and the Netherlands Association of Organisations for the Collective Management of Intellectual Property Rights have issued a joint declaration on the digitization of orphan works that is a significant "step forward" for orphan works still under copyright. "Orphan works" are works whose rights holders cannot be traced. As far as is known, this is the first agreement of this type anywhere in the world between libraries and right holders. The essence of the agreement is that the libraries that are represented receive permission, on certain conditions, from virtually all right holders to digitize their collections and make them publically available on their own premises for teaching or research purposes. The libraries do not need to pay the right holders as long as the works are only made available on their own premises. Separate consent is required, however, if the digitized works are made more widely available via the Internet. In that case, an agreed payment must be made, but the library will not need to go in search of the right holders because this will be done by collecting societies.

Search personalization

Google has been working to "personalize" search results, so that when you do a search after you've logged into Google it will remember your prior searches and adjust your results accordingly. Technology Review reports on a new Web search personalization app from Surf Canyon. You can download the sofware and install it on your Firefox or Internet Explorer browser. It will then enhance your individual searches on Google or other major search engines by evaluating which links you click on, and then instantly giving you revised search returns, including three sites that relate in some way to the site you clicked on. "We have invented real-time personalization," says Mark Cramer, CEO of the company.

Legal citation

The Irish legal blogger has a post in which he discusses various legal citation standards. He looks at the various legal citation formats in the English-speaking world including the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) used in the UK, the Australian Guide to Legal Citation and the bilingual English-French Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation . He has this to say about the Bluebook: "However, one citation system stands out, and this is one situation where you really can judge a book by its cover: the Standard System of American Legal Citation is universally called The Bluebook, because of the colour (or, I suppose, the color) of its cover. It was first published in 1926.. it is now in its eighteenth edition. I’m not a fan: it is clumsy and overly pedantic, premised as it is on the formalist Langellian conceit that there can be a rule for every possible citation occasion. Worse than that, quite frankly, it simply looks ugly on the page."

hat tip: Tom Bruce

Big Day for western PA

Our beloved Steelers made Superbowl history last night, becoming the first NFL team to win SIX Superbowls. The 'burgh was rocking. Even in staid Squirrel Hill, where I live, the streets were filled with whooping, screaming fans, honking cars, and fireworks everywhere.
And today, of course, is Groundhog Day - so many intrepid Pittsburghers drove out to Punxatawney, about an hour northeast of Pittsburgh, to see what Punxatawney Phil would predict. More winter, of course.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report

Newly released : The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)Quarterly Report to Congress [January 2009] and The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)Quarterly Report to Congress [January 2009]. The reports have been broken into many smaller parts to allow for easier downloading. The Iraq report includes a section of Highlights from the Report and a List of Contracts (Excel).