Monday, 20 May 2013

Open and machine-readable data requirement for all gov info

Last week the White House announced that President Obama has issued Executive Order 13642 (3 page pdf) "Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information", affecting federal agencies. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has sent a memorandum (12 page pdf) to agency heads establishing guidance for implementing the Open Data Policy. The guidance identifies the policy requirements to collect or create information, build information systems that support interoperability and accessibility, manage data and release practices, and identify related privacy and confidentiality measures.The memo defines “open data” as publicly available data that is “structured in a way that enables the data to be fully discoverable and usable by end users.” Under the guidance, open data is: public; accessable in open formats; fully described with documentation; reusable (available under open license); complete, with as much detail allowed by law; timely; and supportable after release.  This is a big step forward in making government data accessible and useful for citizens, scholars, entrepreneurs, politicians, and others.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

LLMC to launch new interface

The Law Library Microform Consortium publishes a monthly newsletter which it sends via email link. The May 2013 newsletter just arrived and it contains the excellent news that LLMC has been beta testing a major redesign of the LLMC-Digital interface. The new interface is set to launch at the AALL annual meeting in Seattle this July.

3D printer gun plans pulled from website

A University of Texas law student and his company called "Defense Distributed" recently figured out how to make a working handgun on a 3D printer and made the plans available on the Defense Distributed website. The federal government got involved when the "Department of Defense Trade Controls", an agency of the State Department, wrote to the company arguing that the files should not be posted because the website uses servers in New Zealand, and sharing gun manufacturing information through servers operated in a foreign country amounts to an illegal export. The plans were removed from the website but the New York Daily News reports that prior to the takedown, copies of the gun blueprint were downloaded more than 100,000 times and are now available on other websites. The Atlantic has an interesting story, titled "How Defense Distributed Already Upended the World", in which there is a discussion of various facets of the issues involved.

Build-Your-Own Law School Rankings

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System has an online tool that essentially lets you build your own law school rankings, depending on what sort of legal career you want. The tool they provide is called "Law Jobs By the Numbers" and it focuses on the types of jobs graduates get. According to the website, "you have the flexibility to review the (law school) employment rates using formulas that are commonly applied by organizations such as the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), US News & World Report, National Jurist and Law School Transparency (LST). But more importantly, you can build a formula based on what matters most to you."

Monday, 13 May 2013

Justice Dept. approves use of data-review software

The Wall Street Journal and the ABA Journal report that the U.S. Justice Department recently approved the use of data-sifting software (rather than lawyers) to go through over a million documents produced for review in the proposed merger of beer producers Anheuser-Busch and Grupo Modelo. Lawyers for the 2 companies loaded the documents into a software program (by kCura Corp.) and manually reviewed a batch to train the software to recognize relevant documents. The manual review was repeated until the Justice Department and Constellation were satisfied that the program could accurately predict relevance in the rest of the documents. The companies spent 50% less than they would have using more traditional methods, said Warren Rosborough, a partner at the firm who represented one of the parties. "Something that would easily cost three, four, five million dollars, you can do in the range of one to two," Mr. Rosborough said.
The Wall Street Journal says that "Only a handful of judges have approved the use of such data-review software in litigation, and law firms have been cautious about deploying the technology, which can be trained to hunt for concepts and unleashed across millions of documents at once."

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Important Lexis Info: single access ID

To everyone at Pitt Law who uses LexisNexis, please note that LexisNexis is moving to a single ID system in early summer 2013. Your current® ID will be deactivated; your Lexis Advance® ID will be required to access, Lexis Advance, Web Courses and the Law School Home Page. If you don't have a Lexis Advance ID, or if you have forgotten your Lexis Advance username/password, contact Susanna Leers, eResearch & Technology Services Librarian.

Friday, 3 May 2013

50 years of Nimmer on Copyright

The U.S. Copyright Office is recognizing the 50th anniversary of the treatise "Nimmer on Copyright" by hosting a program on May 6, 2013. "nimmer" is the most cited work in the field and the undisputed leading authority for in-depth, comprehensive analysis of U.S. copyright law. The program will feature David Nimmer of UCLA School of Law who will discuss his own role with respect to the treatise, as well as that of his father, the late Melville Nimmer. Scholars Robert Brauneis of The George Washington University Law School and Peter Menell of Berkeley School of Law will also speak, as will Jon Baumgarten, former general counsel in the Copyright Office, and Shira Perlmutter, Chief Policy Officer at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Karyn Temple Claggett, Associate Register of Copyrights for Policy and International Affairs, will moderate the discussion. The panel of experts will offer insights and observations about the treatise, including its effect on both the theory and practice of copyright law.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

International content added to WestlawNext

Info from WL: The first set of International Content is now available on WestlawNext. The International Materials browse category will allow you to access the following international materials directly on WestlawNext without having to bridge out to Westlaw Classic: • UK Cases/Statutes/Journals • EU Cases/Journals • Australia Cases/Journals • Some UK Treatises To get to the unmigrated international materials, click the International Materials (on Westlaw Classic) link under Tools & Resources in the right pane of the International Materials page. This link bridges to the International Directory on Westlaw Classic.

Immigration FOIA requests problem

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University (TRAC)  reports that "at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) there has been a rapid rise in the backlog of FOIA requests received that have been waiting unanswered for long periods of time. According to its annual FOIA report, ICE had only 50 pending requests at the end of FY 2011; this number jumped to 2,903 at the end of FY 2012 after the agency was assigned the responsibility of processing some of the backlog of FOIA requests received by the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS). And according to the latest available agency records analyzed by TRAC, ICE's backlog is projected to grow to over 13,125 by the end of September 2013 when the fiscal year ends, three and a half times higher than it was at the end of FY 2012."
TRAC derives much of its data from FOIA requests that it files with the federal government.