Monday, 17 December 2012

HeinOnline App

A HeinOnline is now available in the itunes store for accessing HeinOnline on iPad or iPhone. View the image-based PDFs, access content by citation, browse by volume, navigate a volume with the electronic table of contents, and use full advanced searching techniques. Note that HeinOnline account/authentication is required.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Federal Court opinions indexed by Google

Courtney Minick over at Justia reports that Google is now indexing the federal court opinions that have been made available via the FDSys database. This is good news if the courts you are interested in are available on FDSys; unfortunately, not all federal courts are available and the number of cases uploaded is very limited.

Legal Education in hard times

Tax Prof Blog has an interesting post called "Stealth Restructuring in Legal Education". The author points out the parallels between recent downsizing in law firms and what is happening now in law school admissions and enrollment. He also points out that the "decline of roughly 8000 in first-year enrollment (across the country, as reported by the ABA) means law schools probably are missing roughly $200 million in first-year revenue for the 2012-2013 academic year as compared to the 2010-2011 academic year. He goes on to look more closely at which law schools lost most enrollment and how they are restructuring; and says that this isn't being reported - hence the title of "Stealth Restructuring". The post says that "almost no one is reporting on what is actually happening at the dozens of law schools trying to deal with significant budgetary distress. In the coming months or in the next year or two, law schools will be leaner – with fewer staff and possibly fewer faculty (if early retirement options are put on the table or if untenured faculty are released). And quite possibly, some law schools may close. While a law school being forced to close likely will be news, it appears that law school restructuring generally is less newsworthy than law firm restructuring."

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Manhattan Project

This is a little off-topic, but there is an interesting new website called "Voices of the Manhattan Project" that is the result of a collaboration between the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the Los Alamos Historical Society. The Manhattan Project, of course, was the top secret program that produced the first atomic bomb during WWII. The Project was a major human collaboration, with 130,000 people around the country working on it. There are about 26 interviews currently on the site. There is a long list of subjects; some of them do not yet have content but it does give an idea of the types of interviews that will be added. They plan to add add over 100 interviews.

Redesign of American FactFinder

American FactFinder, the U.S. Census Bureau website, is undergoing a redesign that should be available early in 2013. Some of the proposed improvements include:

  • "Community Facts" - the easy tools on the Census homepage and AFF homepage of "Quick Facts" and "Population Finder" will be merged and replaced by a new tool called "Community Facts". Just enter the name of a state, county, city, town, or zip code in the search box to get summary data about that geography.
  • "Guided Search" will be the /new /second choice, and consists of easy-to-work through prompted searches for these choices: "I'm looking for information about people" "I'm looking for information about housing" "I'm looking for information about businesses or industries" "I'm looking for information from a specific dataset" "I want to search for a table number or a table title" The user clicks their choice, then follows prompts to their data. The order is from the most general to the most specific, and can be used by the entire range of Census data users, novices to experts.

"Guided Search" is the topic approach to AFF that the Census Bureau has been promising to develop since the redesign of AFF began in 2010. According to librarians who have been beta testing the new site, "You're going to like it."

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Statutes at Large now on WLNext

Westlaw recently added the United States Statutes at Large to WestlawNext. In order to access the content, click on the link from the Browse All Content tab for Statutes & Court Rules. Then click on the link to United States Code Annotated (USCA). Once you link into the USCA, you will see a link to United States Statutes at Large under Tools & Resources on the right hand side of the screen. When you click on the link to United States Statutes at Large, you will be brought to a template where you can enter your search criteria.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

LLMC Digital Collection now in Pittcat

The LLMC (Law Library Microform Consortium) Digital collection is now cataloged and available via catalog search:  just do a Pittcat search for "LLMC Digital".  As you can see from its name, LLMC used to be a source of microfilm for law libraries. But for a number of years now they have been digitizing their holdings to make them available for subscribers online.  Barco Law Library has been a member of the consortium for a long time and we have had access to their databases, but until recently you had to know what was in the collection in order to access it.   LLMC has a wide-ranging assortment of legal resources, from a large collection of Blackstone and Blackstone spinoffs to the old laws of third world countries.  Since the hurricane that damaged Haiti a few years ago, LLMC has had a project to put all their Haitian materials online.  But they also have plenty of US federal and state materials, it's worth a browse just to see what all is available. Every month they post a Newsletter that tells what they've been up to, and a Recent Online Update that lists the most recently digitized materials. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

New database: ProQuest Statistical Datasets

We have subscribed to a new database from ProQuest called Statistical Datasets. This is a very rich and complex database containing vast stores of empirical information (more than 14 billion data points) that can be used, combined, and manipulated by researchers. The datasets contained in this resource include both public domain information and licensed information, all of which can be used dynamically, compared and combined. Intrinsic to the database are visualization tools that allow users present data visually in easy-to-comprehend graphs, charts and maps. You can access ProQuest Statistical Datasets at all campus computers, via the Pitt wireless network, and remotely via EZ Proxy. Please note that you must have the latest version of Java installed on your computer to use this resource; if you don’t, you may get a message telling you to download Java (it’s a free download). The default first page displays the “In the News” category of “Crude Oil Price” as a table and as a graph. However, in the lefthand menu you will see folders, all of which can be opened to display their dataset content. Because the resource is so complex, it is a good idea, before you start, to use two helpful links that you will see in the upper right of the page: Video Tutorial and LibGuide. The video tutorials are short, helpful and highly recommended. The libguides contain additional guidance on finding, selecting, and manipulating data as well as how to create maps, charts and graphs that you can use in presentations or print.
Please contact the Barco eResearch & Technology Services Librarian for more information. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

New database: KluwerArbitration

The Barco Law Library has a new database subscription to KluwerArbitration from Wolters Kluwer publishers. This database is a resource for legal research in the area of international arbitration and is maintained by Wolters Kluwer in conjunction with the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) and the Institute for Transnational Arbitration (ITA).  It contains primary source materials as well as secondary materials and includes exclusive materials including ICC cases and awards. Commentary and materials are from the (ICCA) which has has compiled, translated into English and edited case law, legislation, national reports and congress proceedings on international arbitration. ICCA's principal publications, prepared with the assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, are included in the database: the Yearbook Commercial Arbitration (edited by A.J. van den Berg), the International Handbook on Commercial Arbitration  and the ICCA Congress Series. The database contains materials from the ITA including the ITA Monthly Report which covers the latest developments in international arbitration.
KluwerArbitration also includes a useful set of practice tools that can help the practitioner draft arbitration documents, developed in conjunction with the International Arbitration Institute. A page of  weblinks and the Kluwer Arbitration Blog are also linked from the database. 

CQ Today and Roll Call combined into CQ News

CQ publications has introduced a new publication which incorporates the stories that have traditionally been found in CQ Today about the development of legislation with the key pieces of Roll Call — stories on  members of Congress, the politics that drive them, and the people and industries that influence them. So now  you can get  political and Hill coverage as well as  legislative news and schedules information in one place: CQ News. All CQ Today and Roll Call stories have been combined into a single database on CQ.com - CQ News. Stories are updated throughout the day at the NEWS tab. The CQ Today archive goes back to the 104th Congress (1995-1996), while Roll Call stories go back to the beginning of the 112th Congress (January 2011). If you have any e-mail alerts searching CQ Today, no changes are required and you’ll continue to receive your e-mail updates.
PS:  They also have a useful publication available on the website called "Guide to the New Congress: Profiles of new members, the legislative agenda, preview of committee activity".  

Monday, 12 November 2012

GlobaLex guides updated

News from GlobaLex, the electronic legal publication about international & foreign law research from the NYU law school. There is a new legal research guide titled "Research Guide of the Legal System of Kingdom of Nepal" by Ershadul Karim and Sirjana Sharma Pokhrel. The Guide includes information about the legal and political history of Nepal as well as a thorough guide to the legal system, online law, and legal education.
In addition, several of the GlobaLex Guides have been updated:

hat tip: Joe Hodnicki, at the Law Librarian Blog

Friday, 9 November 2012

Libraries and privacy

Librarians know that we must maintain the privacy of library patrons.  There is an interesting article in the Chronicle of  Education today titled "As Libraries Go Digital, Sharing of Data Is at Odds With Tradition of Privacy". It reports that Harvard University libraries had to stop tweeting about what books their patrons were checking out. . According to the story, "It seemed harmless enough—a typical tweet read, 'Reconstructing American Law by Bruce A. Ackerman,' with a link to the book's library catalog entry". Nonetheless, privacy concerns were raised and they had to stop the tweeting; the worry was that someone might somehow use other details to identify the borrowers.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

free 2013 Federal Rules for iPad etc.

Cornell's Legal Information Institute has made available free ebook editions (for iPad and all non-Kindle devices and software) of the 2013 Federal Rules of Evidence, Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Criminal Procedure. You will find them on the CALI eLangdell website. eLangdell has other ebooks for law students available as well.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Free books for ebook readers

The Digital Inspiration blog provides useful instructions on fairly painless ways to find free books for your Kindle and other ebook readers. The information includes websites that provide free copyright-expired books as well as tips on finding free Kindle books on Amazon by using search functionality on the Amazon website or using the Hundred Zeros website, a "frequently updated catalog of best-sellers that are free on Amazon". You can also see what books are currently free on the UK's Amazon site... but sadly, you can't "buy" them if you are in the U.S.

Take the numbers out of your FB page

Benjamin Grosser has created a web browser extention called the Demetricator that removes all the numbers on your Facebook page. The Facebook interface is filled with metrics that measure and display your social value and activity by enumerating friends, likes, comments, etc. Benjamin explains: "No longer is the focus on how many friends you have or on how much they like your status, but on who they are and what they said. Friend counts disappear. ’16 people like this’ becomes ‘people like this’. Through changes like these, Demetricator invites Facebook’s users to try the system without the numbers, to see how their experience is changed by their absence."

Friday, 19 October 2012

Updated Statute Compilations Available in House Legislative Counsel's site

Obtaining an up to date Federal statute in its section-by-section statutory form rather than its codified form in the U.S. Code can be a daunting task. Recently, however, the Office of the House Legislative Counsel has made available, on a site called Statute Compilations, selected compilations of public laws that are frequently requested. On the site, in PDF format, are some three hundred, recently updated public laws, which are either not in the U.S. Code or are part of a U.S. Code title that has not been enacted into positive law. In the site's alphabetical list of public laws are many of general interest including the very large Social Security Act broken up by title. The site cautions that these documents are not official and should not be cited as legal evidence of the law.
hat tip: Rich McKinney, Federal Reserve Board Law Library

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

LawLifeline: online resource for struggling law students

It's that time of year - mid-semester - when stress levels in law students start to get really high. There is a new online resource called LawLifeline, launched by the Dave Nee Foundation and the Jed Foundation, organizations serving law and undergraduate students with mental health issues.  LawLifeline is full of information tailored to a law school student’s emotional health needs. The web site features articles about topics ranging from what makes law school so stressful to how to manage a mental health condition. Users can find information about diseases and disorders including depression, suicide, anxiety and substance abuse. The site also offers an anonymous diagnostic screening tool created with Duke University to help users gauge whether they or their friends have symptoms of a mental health disease or disorder. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

UVA celebrates 100 years as FDL

The library at the University of Virginia has an exhibit online that celebrates 100 years as a Federal Depository Library. It showcases some of the first documents it received as a federal depository: since WWI broke out soon after, the Government Printing Office (GPO) printed and distributed posters, thrift flyers, educational materials, ads for Liberty Bonds, and other materials to encourage the “Army of 100,000,000” that would eventually win the war. Posters and publications promoted and supported women’s and workers’ roles in the war effort, Liberty and Victory Loan drives, and food and fuel conservation, and can be seen on this interesting exhibit. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

HathiTrust case decided: "near-complete victory"

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the opinion handed down yesterday in the HathiTrust case: Judge Hands HathiTrust Digital Repository a Win in Fair-Use Case.  In the case, The Authors Guild and other author associations challenged the legality of the HathiTrust digitization program and sued the schools participating in the program, including the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin and Indiana University.  According to NYU Law professor James Grimmelmann says that the HathiTrust won on every substantive copyright issue:

  •  Section 108 (17 USC 108) on library privileges doesn’t limit the scope of fair use. 
  • A search index and access for the print-disabled are both fair uses. 
  • Search indexing is a transformative use. 
  • The libraries aren’t making commercial uses, even though they partnered with Google to get the scans. 
  • The plaintiffs haven’t proven that HahiTrust is creating any security risks. 
  • There is no market for scanning and print-disabled access, nor is one likely to develop. 
  • UM is required under the ADA to provide equal access to the print-disabled, and is allowed to under Section 121 (17 USC 121) of the Copyright Act. 
Prof. Grimmelmann also comments that "this opinion together with the Georgia State e-reserve opinion and the UCLA streaming-video opinion strike me as a real trend—universities making internal technological uses of copyrighted works are doing quite well in court of late. Something significant in judicial attitudes towards copyright, computers, and education has clicked into place".

US Code: Classifications

Table of Classifications for Pub. L. 112-181 to 112-183, 112-186, and 112-188 to 112-195 are now available on the website of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel (uscode.house.gov). When you visit the website you will also see a link to the beta version of the new and improved (and long overdue!) website. The beta version includes not only the same content with an updated look, but additional pages that explain both the US Code and the codification process. Worth a look.
Beta new website for the Office of the Law Revision Counsel

Thursday, 4 October 2012

What's New in HeinOnline

The folks at Hein presented a "What's New in HeinOnline" update session at the July AALL conference. If you missed it (or if you want to see it again) they have recorded and posted an encore video presentation of the session available to everyone online. The one-hour presentation is designed to allow you to work through  at your own pace. Links are embedded throughout the presentation to allow you to focus in on areas that are of most importance to you; or you can  watch the whole presentation. Hein will also conduct a live "question forum" on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday October 16th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT when you can ask about the new content on HeinOnline.

Monday, 1 October 2012

PA Superior Court to Begin Posting Unpublished Morandums

The Pennsylvania state Superior Court will begin posting all unpublished memorandum decisions on its website in the "very near future," according to President Judge Correale F. Stevens in an interview with Law Weekly. He said that the court's technology department is working on the matter and the goal is to start posting opinions "definitely by the end of the year, but it may even be sooner than that." The announcement comes a little more than a year after the court began identifying the authors of its memorandum decisions. Eventually, the demand from Pennsylvania lawyers and members of the public to post the decisions led to a consensus to post them. "We're trying to be as open and responsive to the bar and public as we can be," Stevens said. "I just hope the bar understands there are going to be a lot of memorandums." In 2011, about 95% of the decisions were unpublished: according to statistics on the Superior Court's website, the court issued 4,879 unpublished memorandum decisions versus only 278 published opinions.

Bloomberg Report on federal government transparency

Bloomberg has published a report online called "Untangling FOIA: An Analysis of Obama's Open Government Pledge."  The article states that "On his first full day in the White House, Barack Obama promised to 'usher in a new era of open government' and ordered officials to be more transparent with the public they serve. An investigation to test that pledge shows that many of the president’s own appointees haven’t met those goals. In June, Washington-based reporters at Bloomberg News filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the out-of-town travel records for fiscal year 2011 for Cabinet secretaries and top officials at 57 major federal agencies subject to the law. Only about half of those contacted provided the records and costs."  The article includes helpful interactive graphics, including a video that explains what the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is.
hat tip: bespacific

Fake peer reviews

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a troubling story today titled "Fake Peer Reviews, the Latest Form of Scientific Fraud, Fool Journals."  The article reports on a number of incidents in which authors got to critique their own work by suggesting reviewers with contact email addresses that belonged to the article author, and then writing "peer reviews" of their own work using another name. Apparently there have been about 30 papers to date that have been retracted because of peer review fraud. The Chronicle also reports that "What's worse, said Ivan Oransky, co-publisher of the blog Retraction Watch, which first uncovered this pattern, is that some editors saw red flags but published the papers anyway. Later retractions don't undo the harm created by introducing falsehoods into the scientific literature, he said, noting that some of these papers were published years ago and have been cited by several other researchers."

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Gov Doc wins the 2012 Ig Noble Prize for Literature

The Ig Noble Prizes are awarded each year by Improbable Research Inc. The winners are announced at a gala ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre and prizes are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel laureates. This year's Ig Noble Prize for Literature was awarded to: the US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports. The winning title: "Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies," (32 page pdf, including a helpful link where you can report fraud, waste and abuse in federal programs)  US Government General Accountability Office report GAO-12-480R, May 10, 2012.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

New Congress.gov site in beta

Last week, the Library of Congress (LC) announced that the LC, the U.S. Congress and the Government Printing Office (GPO) launched the new beta Congress.gov, which combines Congress's internal LIS system with THOMAS. The Congress.gov site includes bill status and summary, bill text and member profiles and some new features:

  • Effective display on mobile devices; 
  • Ability to narrow and refine search results; 
  • Ability to simultaneously search all content across all available years, with some files dating from the 93rd congress; 
  • Easier identification of current bill status; 
  • Members’ legislative history and biographical profiles; 
  • Maintenance of existing features such as links to video of the House and Senate floor, top searched bills and the save/share feature. 

 While the site is in beta, it’s important that the Library of Congress hear feedback from legal researchers. The Library is releasing Congress.gov as a beta site to enable a period of time for collecting user feedback and refining functionality while other content is incorporated. The Library anticipates Congress.gov will operate as a beta site for approximately one year as this work is completed. During that time, both THOMAS and LIS will continue to operate as usual.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

JSTOR goes (more) mobile

JSTOR has announced improvements to using JSTOR on a mobile device. Rather than a device-specific app or a separate mobile site, they have used responsive design to implement an under-the-hood overhaul that enables the JSTOR interface to adapt to the screen size of a device automatically. This means that areas of the pages on the site are "reflowed", moved, or hidden to present a simpler but fully functional experience for researchers.  The new mobile design works well on a wide variety of mobile phones and tablets. Via mobile devices, researchers may now use the Institution Finder to log in from remote locations, complete advanced searches, save and manage citations and alerts, and access full-text content. There's a video explaining Institution Finder on the JSTOR video tutorial page. They are also offering a free webinar, called "Learn How to Get the Most from the JSTOR Platform", on October 19, 2012. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Blue Book comparison

Law librarian Mary Whishner, at the University of Washington, has written a comparison of the 3 formats of the Blue Book: print, online, and iPad/Phone/Pod app. Her article is on LLRX.  The cost of the print Bluebook is now $34 from the publisher, and it weighs 1 lb, 6 oz. A subscription to the online version, available at www.legalbluebook.com, is $32 for one year, $42 for two years, and $50 for three years. The app is a very recent option.  Users need to download the app Rulebook and then purchase the Bluebook content for $39.99.  

Friday, 14 September 2012

PA Supreme Court one judge short

The Legal Intelligencer published an editorial this week, titled "Absence of Seventh Justice Impairs Court's Ability to Act," commenting on the current situation of the PA Supreme Court since Justice Joan Orie Melvin was suspended earlier this year. This leaves the Court with 6 justices, which is a concern because it is very possible that there will be 3-3 split decisions and default affirmation of appellate court rulings.  The editorial points out that the result of this is that the PA appellate courts - Superior Court and Commonwealth Court - may be the last stop in the state judicial process. Says the Intelligencer: "This is madness. Members of the appellate bar and law professors agree that the votes will effectively neutralize the Supreme Court in many cases and leave in place rulings that litigants believe are dubious at best."

hat tip:  Joel Fishman

Thursday, 13 September 2012

State Employee Labor Laws

The teachers' strike in Chicago has prompted a post on the The Thicket blog called "Education Labor Laws in Light of Chicago Teachers' Strike".  The Thicket is a blog that is maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the post talks about differences in state labor laws that affect teachers.  The author also links to a database maintained by the NCSL called the Collective Bargaining and Labor Union Database that tracks state legislation on unions and collective bargaining. 

Mobile Apps for Law Students

A law librarian at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law has put together a great research guide called "Mobile Apps for Law Students". Many are free; others range in price from a few dollars to as much as $499.99 for a bar prep app.  The apps are categorized as:

  • Study Aids
  • Reference
  • Productivity 
  • News
  • Career
  • Bar Exam
  • Practice
  • Ohio
  • Federal
Thanks to Karen Schneiderman at CSU for creating the resource. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

New and Improved Legislative Source Book

The Law Librarians' Society of Washington D.C. (LLSDC) has provided the terrific online resource "Legislative Source Book" since 2000.  Now the site has been restructured and updated to make it even better; the content has been divided into more manageable general categories: Research Guides and Explanations, Resource Lists & Links, Tables of Information, and Other. It's a thorough guide for any sort of legislative research.      

Friday, 7 September 2012

Online Academy of Teaching and Learning Law

Vickie Eggers, a librarian who is the Director of Faculty Support & Distance Education at Cooley Law School in Michigan, has developed an excellent website called the ONLINE ACADEMY of Teaching & Learning Law. This valuable resource collects videos and articles about legal education in the categories teaching, learning, thinking, outcomes, assessment, skills, law practice, and technology.  The site focuses on law school pedagogy and curriculum, with a focus on educational methodology.  

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

sundown for Ref Works

A note from the University of Pittsburgh's library system has reminded us that they are not renewing their RefWorks subscription. Here's what they say: "After much consideration, the University Library System (ULS) has decided to not renew its subscription to the RefWorks citation management tool. The ULS subscription to RefWorks will end on September 30, 2012. Citation managers have evolved, and there are new, powerful tools available. The University Library System (ULS) looked at what citation management tools were used by the University of Pittsburgh faculty and students, and tested several other tools to see which might help our patrons make the most out of our resources for their research. The ULS will be offering training for two of these tools, Endnote and Mendeley, beginning in September 2012. The ULS will be reaching out to RefWorks account holders in several ways. The ULS will contact account holders via email to let them know of the subscription deadline. If you have already exported your citations or completed your research, please disregard this message. If you are still using RefWorks, the ULS is prepared to provide support during this time of transition in the form of online guides and one-on-one support." The ULS has created an online guide with instructions helping users to save and move their RefWorks collections to other citation management tools. The online guide Transitioning from RefWorks @ Pitt is available at http://pitt.libguides.com/refworkstransition."

Friday, 31 August 2012

If you digitize books can you throw them away?

The Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog has an interesting post that discusses the question of whether it is responsible to discard the print copies of books etc. after you have digitized them and saved them in digital format. The discussion brings up Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, the Nicholson Baker book that is a must-read for every library & info science student. Some librarians do not agree with Baker's opinion that it was shortsighted for libraries to discard newspapers after they had been converted to microfilm, but the post's author agrees. As he explains, "what about the things we can’t predict? What if the next generation of computers is so different from what we’re used to today that the very idea of digital files changes completely? What if a specialized virus destroys every TIFF file in creation?...The best answer is to do what people have done since 200 BC: go back to the paper versions. That’s why we counsel our partners to use the process of digitizing materials to serve as a catalyst for rehousing materials in archival storage if they’re not stored that way already. That’s why we urge conservation of fragile materials before they arrive at our center. That’s why we never tell them it’s safe to throw something away just because it’s been scanned, cataloged and placed in a digital collection."
This opinion is shared by a British Library study that says "In summary, digital is not generally viewed as a suitable long-term preservation archival surrogate for print. It is currently regarded more as an access medium. As a preservation medium, digital was generally seen as unstable, experimental, immature, unproven on a mass scale and unreliable in the long term."

Is it ok to cite to websites in court documents?

There's an interesting post over at the West Reference Attorney Blog that addresses this question. We know that lawyers and law librarians, law students and faculty, frequently use Wikipedia and other non-legal websites for leads or ideas on research, but how accepting are courts of documents or materials from these types of websites? The author conducted a WestlawNext search (and includes the search phrase she used) to find this information. She concludes that courts are not very accepting of these cites, but despite the fact that many courts view this practice negatively, it is still frequently done.

Mind your online presence

It's a good idea to monitor the information that's available about you by following this infographic's advice: the Google Yourself Challenge. As it says, too many people don't take the necessary steps to protect the information they've shared online. The infographic provides a lot of statistics that really bring the point home.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

New Congressional (ProQuest) interface launched

Just in time for the start of school .... the new interface for the popular ProQuest Congressional database has been launched.  It has a completely new look. The link from the law library databases list has been updated, though you can still use the "old" interface if you go to the old link (I don't know how long that will last).
ProQuest has provided a LibGuide with information on search syntax and other information.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hotmail accounts banned from CALI website

Due to a near-site killing influx of spammers and other internet ne'er-do-wells using Hotmail, CALI had to ban all CALI.org accounts that are affiliated with a Hotmail email address. Unfortunately, this will cause a number of legitimate registered CALI.org users to be banned from the CALI system. This is a small percentage of total users, but still a decent amount of people. If a student or faculty member complains of being unable to log onto the CALI.org website, add "ask them if they use Hotmail" to your trouble-shooting checklist.

Mendeley

The Pitt University Library System has ended its subscription to RefWorks and is promoting the use of Mendeley, a free and open source  research management tool. Tech Crunch has an excellent post today that explains what Mendeley is and how it is affecting academic research.  Mendeley's open source, free software differs from other research platforms. The post says that "most academic online networks remain locked up by academic publishers (such as Elsevier) with expensive licensing agreements for universities... (T)he difference between the way it (Mendeley) and Elsevier approaches the academic world is thrown into sharp relief today with the news that Mendeley’s third-party app eco-system is fast approaching three times the size of Elseviers’. This amounts to the difference between an open and closed approach to apps." The story goes on the provide the statistics that Mendeley now covers 65 million documents, compared to Thomson Reuters' 49 million and Elsevier's 47 million.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

BIALL Legal Information Literacy Statement

The British and Irish Association of Law Libraries has published a "Legal Information Literacy Statement", which aims to help law students develop a comprehensive legal research skill set following a five stage model. The five stages are: 

  • Research skill 1 - Demonstrate an understanding of the need for the thorough investigation of all relevant factual and legal issues involved in a research task. 
  • Research skill 2 - Demonstrate the ability to undertake systematic and comprehensive legal research. 
  •  Research skill 3 - Demonstrate the ability to analyse research findings effectively. 
  • Research skill 4 - Demonstrate the ability to present the results of research in an appropriate and effective manner. 
  • Research skill 5 – Continuing Professional Development – refreshing the legal research skills required of a modern lawyer.

The Statement describes each of these stages and then develops a set of subskills that are required for each stage.

Monday, 20 August 2012

New Stanford Law site helps students navigate curriculum

The Sacramento Bee reports that Stanford Law School has launched an online tool to help students navigate curriculum and career choices to better prepare them to practice in specific areas of the law. The school spent three years developing the SLSNavigator, which is available for anyone anywhere to use. The content in SLSNavigator is based on extensive interviews with faculty, alumni, practicing attorneys, and other legal professionals about the substantive knowledge and skills they use in their careers. It includes not only law school courses but also courses from across the university that are pertinent to different areas of the law, furthering law school's goal of fostering interdisciplinary education.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Feeling Lucky? Or Hungry? Or Doodly?

After 15 years, Google has made a change to the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that has been on the Google homepage since its inception. If you hover your mouse over the Feeling Lucky button for a second or two, it now shows a rotating list of Google’s other products like Hot Trends, The Arts Project, Image Search, Google Doodles, Google Earth and Local Search. So the wording on the button changes from "I'm Feeling Lucky" to other words like "I'm feeling Hungry", or "I'm Feeling Playful". Depending on which set of words is visible on the button when you hit enter, the results will be affected; you can't be sure where the search will take you.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

ReDigi hopes to sell used ebooks

Publishers Weekly reports that internet company ReDigi, which currently sells pre-owned digital music, hopes to do the same with pre-owned ebooks. The question that arises, of course, is whether we consumers actually own the apps, music, ebooks, and other content we have paid for, and whether we can legally resell them. ReDigi is currently involved in a copyright infringement case filed by Capitol Records in the US District Court in Manhattan involving their resale of digital music and whether the first-sale doctrine applies to digital content. ReDigi claims that it is just the cyber-version of a used record store and everything it does is lawful because its technology first validates, then transfers your music to its servers without copying. If ReDigi prevails, it will "upend the way e-books and other digital products are sold, since such products would get a second life on the resale market and provide a new revenue stream for publishers and authors."

Judge issues order in precedent-setting GSU case

Publishers Weekly reports on the final order filed by Judge Orinda Evans in the Georgia State University copyright case in a story titled "Final Order in GSU E-Reserves Case Is a Rebuke to Publishers." The case, Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et alfeatured three academic publishers (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publications) alleging that GSU administrators systematically encouraged faculty to commit copyright infringement via GSU’s e-reserve systems as a no-cost alternative to traditional coursepacks. The judge had found for the publishers on just five of ninety-nine counts of copyright infringement claims. Now with her order she not only rejected the publishers request for relief on the five counts but also (in what PW terms a "stunning development") ordered the publishers to pay the defendants' attorney costs. Georgia State University has prevailed in what is seen as a precedent-setting lawsuit that will help determine the future of copyright law in the digital age.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Google tweaks algorithms to include copyright removal requests

Information Week has an article,  "Google Joins Copyright Police Force", about Google's announcement last week that it will start demoting sites in search results that receive large numbers of valid copyright-infringement notices. A Google official is quoted as saying "Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily — whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify." The Information Week article, however, see this as a bad idea, saying that "Google Search should not participate in copyright enforcement any more than a hardware store should restrict the sale of hammers to prevent a potential crime. It should not circumvent the judicial process by passing judgment on websites just because someone complains. The legal system presumes innocence until guilt is proven; Google should make the same presumption."

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Digital legal resources: India

The Foreign, International and Comparative Law (FCIL) SIS of the AALL has posted an interesting and useful PowerPoint presentation given by Priya Rai at the recent AALL Conference in Boston. Ms. Rai is is the Deputy Librarian In-Charge at the Justice T.P.S. Chawla Library, National Law University Delhi, India. Her presentation,  Access to Legal Information in the Digital Age: A Comparative Study of Electronic Commercial Databases and Public Domain Resources in Law, was made possible by a grant from FCIL. The presentation contains information about the use of digital legal information resources in India, the commercial and public domain resources that are available for Indian law and an evaluation of the competing commercial and public resources.

St. Louis Law dean resigns in protest

The Wall Street Journal law blog has a post about the abrupt resignation of Annette Clark as Dean of St. Louis University School of Law. Her scathing letter of resignation was posted to the Above the Law Blog and has pretty much gone viral.  In her letter she accused the president of St. Louis University, Rev. Lawrence Biondi of taking law school money and using it for general university purposes, contrary to agreements made with the law school. She also complained about being left out of key decisions and said that she has no confidence the university's president or vice president for academic affairs.
She remains a tenured faculty member of the law school.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Online training in the new ProQuest Congressional

ProQuest Congressional is rolling out a new user interface, and they are offering free online sessions with ProQuest trainers "for a first look at the new interface and to discover what is NEW, BETTER, and DIFFERENT. We will also answer any questions about contacting technical support, accessing online help, and more."  The list of scheduled trainings is available on the ProQuest website; the webinars are free but they do ask that you register ahead of time. 

OR judge says inmate can choose to be executed

The ABA Journal reports that An inmate in Oregon who was sentenced to death after his second murder conviction,  and who has asked to be executed, has won a round in court.  The governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, had vetoed the death penalty for inmate Gary Haugen. Marion County Civil Court judge Timothy P. Alexander said in handing down his opinion that " "clemency is an act of grace, and the recipient is not obliged to accept it."  The state is expected to appeal the ruling. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Digital Preservation made easier

The National Digital Stewardship Alliance Outreach working group (an initiative of the Library of Congress)  has created a helpful website called "Digital Preservation in a Box", a "gentle" introduction to the concepts of preserving digital information. It provides a set of resources to support introductory-level information and education for those who may have little to no knowledge of digital preservation and digital curation issues, to help them with stewarding their digital information. It provides resources for preserving digital info in a variety of formats:  Photos, Audio, Video, Email, Personal documents, and Websites. There are links to other useful  digital preservation websites as well.  

Survey looks at smartphones and perceived/real privacy

A fascinating article in Technology Review looks at a recent study done by researchers at the University of California -Berkeley law school and published on SSRN. The paper is titled "Mobile Phones and Privacy" and the researchers report that there is a disconnect between user perception of the security and privacy of cellphones and the reality. For example, over 75% of people surveyed for the study believed that law enforcement needs special permission to access cellphone information; in fact, In fact, law enforcement can guess a password to unlock a confiscated device, and can impersonate the phone's owner by sending texts if the phone is unlocked. Neither activity has been struck down by the courts.

Storing files in the cloud

In his Personal Technology column this week, Walter Mossberg compares four of the leading online file storage repositories: Dropbox, SugarSync, Microsoft SkyDrive and Google Drive. As he says, "this type of service is useful for anyone with many computers and devices, either for personal or group use".  

Summer reading?

Are you all caught up on your reading and looking for something new?  There are still a few weeks to go in the summer. Publishers Weekly has some challenging reading suggestions for you: The Top 10 Most Difficult Books

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Mind Mapping Software demonstrated

Are you interested in mindmapping software but you're not sure what it is? Does the word "mindmapping" make you a little leery?  Here's a clever little demo from Lucidchart, a mindmapping software company, that demonstrates how you can use mindmapping to diagram ... Hey Jude. 



We're not pushing this particular product but props to whoever thought up this video.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

West eLearning webinars cover TWEN and WL Next

FYI, West is holding a series of free online webinars about TWEN (as well as WestlawNext) starting this week and continuing through July. The info is on their website. They make it quick and easy to register for one of the webinars and add it to your calendar. Note that there is also a pdf Quick Start guide that tells how to register, log in, and participate in a webinar. It also explains that if you register for the webinar but are unable to attend you will be able to access the recording of the webinar after the fact.
The webinar topics are:

  • TWEN 101
  • Transitioning from Westlaw Class to WestlawNext in 20 minutes
  • TWEN: don't recreate the wheel
  • The Key Number System on WL Next
  • Top Ten WLNext features
  • TWEN: how to add video and other cool stuff
  • How TWEN makes information sharing easy

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Comparing congressional bill versions

A query on the LLSDC listserv asked if anyone knew a good resource that would allow you to compare side by side amendments to a bill passed by Congress. One answer said that that while THOMAS does not yet have this feature, but CQ Roll Call's "Bill Compare" shows the version changes (unfortunately we don't have this resource because it is expensive). Then someone at Lexis chimed in with this helpful hint: "You can find bill text version on Lexis from 1989 forward (these are from CIS and are also in ProQuest Congressional, but only government, public, non-profit and law school libraries can access them on that platform), and then you can use a redlining program or even Word to highlight differences or changes in the versions from introduced through enrolled- you just get plain html text though, no interlineations or italics. The file is BLTEXT for current Congress, or the archives are BTX111, or BTXxxx back to 101. PQ Congressional is digitizing bills & resolutions back to 1789 as a new PDF collection."

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Legal Information Institute releases first US Code ebook

Our friends at the Legal Information Institute at Cornell (LII) have announced that they have released their first title in eBook form: United States Code Title 17 – Copyrights. It's available for download from the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook stores for $5.99. The LII plans to offer full-featured primary legal materials in these two popular eBook formats. All LII titles will feature livelink cross-references with fully-functional navigation between references within each title. Out-of-title cross-references and references to supporting notes and documents link directly to the LII web site. Each eBook title is updated annually, but links to the LII web site put the most recent official version and an array of updating and research tools at your disposal. The text of LII eBook editions is beautifully formatted and indented, making it far easier to read than other e-book editions.

Hat tip: Katie Nye

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Social Media simplified


This says it all.  Thanks to Pat Roncevich for passing it along. She got it from her friend Lisa Santucci, librarian at Miami University of Ohio. Before that, we're not sure.  

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Changes to Google Scholar search interface

The Internet for Lawyers website reports that Google is testing a new interface design for their Google Scholar service. And according to the report, the redesign reduces the user's ability to do successful case law research because it's more difficult to find what you need. Fortunately, they point out, you can still access the "old" (better) interface either via the direct url or by clicking the link in the lower lefthand corner that says "revert to old venerable look".  

Friday, 1 June 2012

"Dr. Livingstone I Presume"'s field diary

The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that a group of scholars and archivists have been working to make legible an 1871 field diary kept by Dr. David Livingstone in Africa. Apparently Dr. Livingstone ran out of writing equipment and wrote some of his diary on old newspaper sheets with ink he made from berries. It has taken more than two years but with fancy scanners they have succeeded in making 99 percent of the diary legible. The article includes before-and-after images of one of the pages, and has a link to the entire Livingstone Spectral Image Archive which includes TIFF images, XML transcriptions, and metadata for the diary.

Supreme Court affirmative action case amici briefs

Inside Higher Education has an interesting article about an upcoming affirmative action case before the Supreme Court.  The case, Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, challenges the right of the University to consider race and ethnicity in admissions when it has been able to achieve diversity through the race-neutral "10 percent" rule (assuring all graduates in the top 10 percent of high schools in Texas admission into any public university in Texas).  Now amici briefs have been or will be filed by Asian-American groups for both the plaintiff and the defendant. A brief supporting Ms. Fisher and arguing against race-based admissions was filed by a group including the 80-20 National Asian-American Educational Foundation and the National Federation of Indian American Associations. Four other groups including the Asian American Justice Center plan to file an appeal backing the University of Texas; they filed a joint brief when the case was considered by the Fifth Circuit. The Inside Higher Education article discusses more fully the Asian-American perspective on race-based admissions. 

Most cited law reviews

The Michigan Law review has published a new study (36 page pdf) of the most-cited law review articles of all times. The article (the abstract is also available) is an update by Yale law librarian Fred Shapiro, who first published such a survey in 1985,  and Harvard law librarian Michelle Pearse. The study compiles law review citation information in a variety of ways, and the authors say that "New research tools from the HeinOnline and Web of Science databases now allow lists to be compiled that are more thorough and more accurate than anything previously possible." The authors give a detailed and thoughtful analysis of trends in the data over the years. For example, they note that articles about law and economics have "been plentiful among the citation elite", continuing a trend seen in previous surveys, while articles about critical race theory and critical legal studies have "faded in acceptance" over the last decade.  The subject of intellectual property has also been increasingly the focus of scholarship, but the authors say that "this field's ascendance is more attributable to technological developments than to personal ones".  

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Women's Equality around the world

The Law Library of Congress has prepared a resource called "Constitutional Provisions on Women's Equality" (9 page pdf) that provides links to the constitutions of foreign jurisdictions with language stating women's equality and/or states' anti-discrimination policies.

Chrome edges out Internet Explorer

Web analytics firm StatCounter reports that for the first time the Google Chrome browser has edged past Internet Explorer in browser usage. In the same report, it looks like Firefox usage has stayed fairly constant.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ruling in Georgia State copyright infringement case

Judge Orinda Evans of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has handed down her ruling (350 page pdf) in the case of Cambridge University Press v. Becker. The case is a closely-watched lawsuit in which a group of academic publishers sued Georgia State University over its use of copyrighted material in electronic reserves. The ruling is being hailed as something of a victory for Georgia State, as the ruling cleared most of the copyright claims against the university, although Businessweek reports that Georgia State was held liable for five of the 99 claims. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the publisher-plaintiffs in the case are disappointed with much of the ruling.  

Summer reading...

If it's May, it must be time to catch up on non-law reading for pleasure.  The Christian Science Monitor has an especially interesting list of 15 new novels recommended for summer reading. The plots range from a story about a duck-billed playpus in Adelaide, Australia (Albert of Adelaide), to a book offering an updated version of "Age of Innocence" set in a Jewish suburb of London (The Innocents).  If you prefer non-fiction, they also provide a list of 21 "smart" nonfiction books that are being published just in time for summer reading.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

LLSDC provides major update to the online section of the Legislative Source Book

The Law Librarians' Society of Washington D.C., Inc. (LLSDC) has announced a major update to its 21 year old publication entitled, "Internet and Online Sources of U.S. Legislative and Regulatory Information" part of LLSDC's extensive and highly regarded Legislative Source Book. The ten page publication briefly describes and then sets out in a comparison table more than 60 Internet and online sources for U.S. federal and state legislative and regulatory information. It describes both subscription sources and non-subscription source, so that readers can see what kind of legislative and regulatory information is or is not available from each provider, and frequently the dates of coverage and the file name.

ProQuest announces individual access to databases

ProQuest has announced a new service called Udini that is geared towards "the individual researcher".  According to the press release, Udini is geared towards knowledge workers without access to research libraries, providing  individuals with access to "premium" ProQuest content like peer-reviewed and trade journals, dissertations, newswires, and more. It includes content from publishers like Springer, the Economist, Cambridge University Press, and 3800 others. It is easy to sign up for a Udini account, and you get 5 articles for free to keep forever.  After that you can preview articles and decide if you want to pay to get the entire article added to your Udini library.
It certainly marks a new approach to selling proprietary content, and it will be interesting to watch.
Hat tip: Law Librarian Blog

Graphic: gay rights in the US, state by state

The UK Guardian has an interesting "data visualization" on their website that illustrates gay rights in the United States, state by state. The categories in which states are compared include gay marriage, gay adoption, hospital visitation and medical decision-making, and various anti-discrimination areas of law. The states are grouped by region.
Hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

National Archives catches inside thief

The Washington Post reports that a sharp-eyed collector of radio ephemera has helped the National Archives bring a thief to justice. The collector was shopping on eBay for additions to his collection when he came upon an item that piqued his interest: the master copy of a broadcast radio interview with baseball legend Babe Ruth as he hunted for quail and pheasants on a crisp morning in 1937. A close look, however, made him realize that the item had been stolen from the National Archives. Working with federal authorities, he helped them track down the seller- who turned out to be a longtime Archives official who has admitted to stealing 955 items from the Archives – including original recordings of the 1948 World Series and a rare recording of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster.

Monday, 7 May 2012

NYC public schools forbid Facebook friending for teachers

The New York Times reports that the New York City Dept. of Education has issued guidelines governing social media interactions between teachers and students. Following numerous inappropriate relationships between students and teachers that began on social networking sites, the rules prohibit teachers from communicating with students using their 'personal' Facebook or Twitter accounts, and requires parental consent before students can participate in social networking for educational purposes. The rules also state that teachers have no expectation of privacy online, and that principals and other officials will inspect teachers' profiles.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

LOC on born digital collections

The Library of Congress's Digital Preservation blog today has a really interesting post about the Rhizome ArtBase online archive of digital art. This is the beginning of a new series that the LOC is trying out that will focus on interesting and valuable "born digital" collections. The series will look at particular collections and include conversations with archivists, curators, librarians and others who work to collect, preserve, and provide access to "our born digital cultural record". Today's article features an interview with the digital conservator of Rhizome ArtBase, who talks about the sort of work that is in the collection including Jellotime.com (2008) and the Endangered GIF Preserve (2012-ongoing) which collects animated GIFs that have been marked for deletion from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Digital library for all

Technology Review has a terrific article feature titled "The Library of Utopia". The article discusses the utopian ideal of making all knowledge available to everyone in a public library of all books ever published. In particular, the article looks at two projects with these ambitions: the Google Book project and Robert Darnton's Digital Public Library project. The author discusses the problems that have arisen with each, and the prospects for the future.

Dropbox price compared with other online storage

Amit Agarwal's Digital Inspiration blog has a useful post in which he compares the cost of "cloud" storage in the top online storage services. The services he looks at are Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box, and SugarSync. He points out that the pricing strategy of Google (for Google Drive) and Microsoft (for SkyDrive)has pressured Dropbox to offer smaller and less expensive plans.

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Digital Campus 2012

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a Special Report on the Digital Campus 2012. The report looks at the current status of technology in higher education, and includes articles about open education, designing online courses, and how one professor at Virginia Tech, John Boyer, teaches a megaclass of 2,670 students using technology.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Preservation Week in law libraries

+Margaret Maes, director of the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA)is highlighting projects undertaken by LIPA member during Preservation Week. The first story comes from the University of Arizona, where the Cracchiolo Law Library has established a digital projects initiative to provide online access to content from the Law Library's Special Collections. The focus has been on Law College publications (such as alumni magazines and course catalogs) and Arizona pre-statehood materials (including territorial session laws and legislative journals, among others). Many of the Law College’s own development publications, while widely distributed when first printed, are now available only through the library’s Special Collections; and although some of the Arizona pre-statehood materials can be found in subscription databases, most are not freely available to the public. By making these materials available online, the Law Library hopes to encourage use of Special Collections resources while preserving the physical items. The Law Library staff have digitized approximately 24,000 pages in-house, spanning 71 magazines, 39 newspapers, and 51 volumes. Of this, nearly half (12,000 pages) is currently available to the public on the Law library website. The Law Library’s most recent efforts involve digitizing Law College newspapers issued between 1966 and 1993, some of which are in poor condition, and transferring material to a digital repository to facilitate search and access.

Lexis teams with Overdrive for eBook lending


LexisNexis has announced an e-book library application for law firms developed in partnership with digital content distributor OverDrive. Until now, legal professionals could only buy Lexis' 1,100 e-books individually. The new Digital Library product gives firms customizable software from which lawyers can check out titles, and for librarians to establish lending policies. "About a year and a half ago, we started introducing our e-books into the market in a piloted way," noted Lexis' Susan Slisz, vice president of research. Customers asked for administrative tools, leading Lexis to find OverDrive, she said. "We looked at that and said it's kind of what we need. We worked with [OverDrive] to create a custom solution for law firms." Slisz said other features are planned. "Our e-books have links today into Lexis.com. In the very short future we're going to have links into Lexis Advance," she said. An automatic update feature for e-books is also planned, and a version for law school books is under way, she added. Digital Library is priced based on the number of users and content.

Friday, 20 April 2012

TRAC reports

TRAC has released two new reports this week, using the data they collect from the Justice Deaprtment.
There is a new report on a prosecutorial discretion initiative by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). TRAC's findings are based on case-by-case data, obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). TRAC is hosting a free webinar next Thursday to discuss the report. 
A second report is on White Collar Crime Prosecutions, showing that these prosecutions are down over 40 percent since August 2011.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pittsburgh "literary lab"

Pop City has an interesting story today about "Cyberpunk Apocalypse", a Pittsburgh writers' project.  The project is moving from Lawrenceville to the North Side.  According to the article, the Cyberpunk Apocalypse is "a multifaceted writers’ project based around a close quarters residency program. Our mission is to aid and abet writers and comic artists in Pittsburgh.a one of a kind project--the only zine residency program in the US, and the only residency program that puts zinesters, novelists, and comic artists on equal footing. We’ve grown organically, and consider ourselves a kind of literary laboratory--a place to experiment in a changing world."

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Following the money

Two online databases are helping to track money going to politicians and how it affects their voting records. SOPAtrack was originally developed as the Stop Online Piracy Act was being rushed through Congress last fall without public debate. Eventually the bill was tabled because of the interest aroused by this website and others. Now Sopatrack is continuing the same scrutiny of other Congressional bills. Maplight has similar data, and presents it in a variety of formats, so that you can track money going from interest groups to legislators to influence voting on bills in Congress.

hat tip: Pat Roncevich

ABA database has trove of law school graduate info

The ABA Journal has a story about an analysis of law school data that was done by the National Law Journal using an online ABA database. The result reveals the number of 2010 grads in jobs paid for by their law schools, the number whose jobs are short-term or temporary, and the number working in different size firms. They also report that Above the Law has dubbed the University of Michigan "the Most Honest Law School" because of the transparency of its reporting on graduates. It reported that 27 graduates over the 2009-2011 3 year period had non-legal jobs, including bar owner, acotr, sheep farmer, polo coach and professional poker player.

ideas for "mixing the web with everyday things"

Technology Review reports on a new device called a "Ninja Block" that is the latest step in "democratizing computing".  Ninja Blocks contain sensors with the ability to sense their environment: acceleration, temperature, current, humidity, motion, distance, sound, light and even capture video. Consumers can program them to do a variety of tasks that would utilize these abilities. The Ninja Block is connected to the "Ninja Cloud" which connects the sensor device to social media, so that sensed events can be tweeted, emailed, etc. Without writing a line of code, Ninja Cloud allows you to control your Ninja Blocks with simple “if this then that” style tasks. The example given by the Ninja Blocks website is that with a Ninja Block you would be able to take a picture of your front yard and save it to Dropbox when movement is detected.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

DOJ files antitrust suit against publishers, Apple

Publishers Weekly reports that the US Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, HarperCollins and Macmillan, charging them with colluding to raise e-book prices. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, states that "by the end of 2009... the Publisher Defendants had concluded that unilateral efforts to move Ama zon away from its practice of offering low retail prices would not work, and they thereafter conspired to raise retail e-book prices and to otherwise limit competition in the sale of e-books. To effectuate their conspiracy,the Publisher Defendants teamed up with Defendant Apple, whichshared the same goal of restraining retail price competition in the sale of e-books."

Monday, 9 April 2012

It's official: law school applications down

The ABA Journal reports that there has been a >15% drop in law school applicants since last year, according to data from the Law School Admission Council. This comes after an 11% drop in applicants in 2011 compared to 2010. The ABA story quotes the Chicago Tribune as saying “Demand for legal education, as measured by the number of applicants, has experienced double-digit percentage declines for the second year in a row. If demand continues to decline, schools have to consider cutting class sizes or tuition, or both.”

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

1940 Census data available

The Census Bureau in 1940 conducted a survey of  the nation's 33 million homes and 7 million farms. On April 2, the 72 years of confidentiality expired, and the National Archives website buckled under the load as the 1940 census records were released and 1.9 million users hit the archives servers in the first four hours the data went public. At one point, the Archives said, its computers were receiving 100,000 requests per second. The data, available via the Census bureau's website, comprises more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps and other sociological minutiae.  The 1940 census was the first Census that looked deeper into the details of much of American life. 

tiny tech

The Apartment Therapy blog is geared towards young hipsters living in expensive places where space is at a premium. So not your average Pitt Law librarian.  However, today they have a very appealing blog post, "12 Tech Helpers for Teeny, Tiny Offices", about how to maximize your technocapability in a small space. Even if your home isn't cramped you might be interested in these spacesaving tips. 

Friday, 30 March 2012

FTC report on best practices for consumer privacy

The Federal Trade Commission, which calls itself  "the nation's chief privacy policy and enforcement agency", has issued a final report setting forth best practices for businesses to protect the privacy of American consumers and give them greater control over the collection and use of their personal data. In the report, "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations For Businesses and Policymakers" (112 page pdf), the FTC also recommends that Congress consider enacting general privacy legislation, data security and breach notification legislation, and "data broker" legislation. The report includes a chronology (page 93) of FTC action on consumer privacy beginning in 1970, and including laws, cases, reports, workshops, and educational publications. 

App that simplifies smartphones

Digital Inspiration reports on an app for Android phones that "turns your smart phone into a simple phone for seniors".  Or for anybody else who doesn't want to have to deal with all the bells and whistles all the time.  The Phonotto app is free and hides all the junk, giving access to just the essential phone functions, with  nice big readable buttons to use. 

Clever idea for pizza lovers

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Japanese Court tells Google to turn off auto-complete

PC Magazine reports that a District Court in Tokyo, Japan has approved a petition seeking to force Google to turn off the auto-complete search feature. The petition against Google was filed by a Japanese man who claims the feature breached his privacy and eventually led to the loss of his job. According to the man, when his name is typed into the Google search engine auto-complete suggests words associated with criminal behavior. And when those suggested searches are clicked, over 10,000 results are shown that disparage or defame him. According to the plaintiff, this negative Google footprint has prevented him from finding employment since his initial firing several years ago. Unfortunately for him, "Google has rejected the order, saying that its U.S. headquarters will not be regulated by Japanese law."

Friday, 23 March 2012

Statistical Abstract revived

Good news for Statistical Abstract fans: ProQuest has announced that it will be picking up where the Census Bureau left off: The Statistical Abstract of the United States has been published by the Census Bureau since 1898, but the Census Bureau announced  in March 2011 that it would cease production of the Statistical Abstract after the 2012 edition, prompting widespread concern among librarians, journalists, and researchers about the disappearance of this essential research tool. .  ProQuest will take on publication of the Statistical Abstract beginning with the 2013 edition. The move ensures continuation of this popular guide to a wide array of statistics about the population of the United States. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Lexis Advance adds graphical Shepard's

Shepard’s citator offers the direct comprehensive prior history and subsequent history of case law, showing good law, including positive treatment from courts, versus what has been overruled or diminished. Now Lexis Advance has announced Shepard’s® Graphical which the history of the citing decisions in an easy-to-browse visual grid or map format. This feature is available on Pitt Law's Lexis Advance accounts. All Shepard’s features are still available, so you can filter by editorial treatment(s), headnotes etc.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

LexisNexis acquires Law 360

LexisNexis has announced the acquisition Law 360, a trusted online legal news service. Law360 publishes breaking news and analysis with a particular focus on high-stakes litigation across more than 30 practice areas. This content is distributed through online daily newsletters that are read by well over 100,000 law firm and business professionals ranging from litigators, corporate counsel and transactional attorneys to law librarians and legal administrators. Founded in 2004, Law360 produces more than 30 daily newsletters covering major practice areas and regulated industries.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

More info on FDsys

The GovernmentBookTalk blog has a post with concise information about FDsys- including that "those in the know" know to pronounce it "F D sis". GPO exited the internet yesterday, March 16. The blogpost informs us that FDsys boasts key enhancements to GPO Access that allow users from librarians to scholars, researchers, lawyers and the public to:

  • Easily search across multiple Government publications; 
  • Perform advanced searches against robust metadata about each publication; 
  • Construct complex search queries; 
  • Refine and narrow searches; 
  • Retrieve individual Government documents and publications in seconds directly from each search result; 
  • View more information about a publication and access multiple file formats for each search result; 
  • Access metadata in standard XML formats; 
  • Download content and metadata packaged together as a single ZIP file; 
  • Browse FDsys alphabetically by collection, by Congressional committee, by date, and by Government author; and 
  • Utilize extensive help tools and tutorials.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

citing tweets?

Digital Inspiration has a post titled "The Proper Way to Cite Tweets in Your Paper". The author notes that "tweets, though still limited to 140 characters, regularly inspire news stories in traditional media, researchers cite tweets in their academic papers and authors have written complete books using curated tweets " He goes on to provide two widely used academic citation styles - the APA (American Psychological Assocation) and MLA (Modern Language Association) - for citations to Twitter. Bluebook style is not mentioned.

Monday, 12 March 2012

There's an excellent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education today called "Digital Magic Preservation for a New Era".  It's by an English professor who talks about the problem of keeping our writings accessible even if they are preserved in formats that are obsolete or becoming obsolete, like floppy disks and CDs.  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Goodbye GPO Access

News from the Federal Depository Library Program:  On March 16, 2012 (not coincidentally, James Madison's birthday), after 16 years of keeping America informed, GPO Access will shut down for good. URL redirects will be enabled to send users to the FDsys equivalent of GPO Access resources.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Vuitton claims Penn Law IP symposium poster infringes their trademark

An post on the Business Law Post blog has an interesting story. The University of Pennsylvania Law School's Penn Intellectual Property Group is planning a March 20 symposium on Fashion Law. The students hosting the symposium designed a poster that parodies the well-known Louis Vuitton handbag design, with copyright and trademark symbols inserted into the design. This triggered a cease-and-desist letter from Louis Vuitton to the law school's dean. However, Penn's general counsel disagreed in a response that discusses willful infringement and parody.