Friday 30 May 2008

EPA library update

Not so great news about the EPA libraries. Congress ordered the EPA to reopen the libraries it had closed but apparently the EPA is only grudgingly complying. According to the PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) website one of the libraries is being stuck in a space that is smaller than the men's rooms in the same building. And a political appointee with no library experience has been made the EPA "library czar". Stay tuned.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Creative moments in American law

Robert Blomquist, Aa law professor from Valparaiso University Law School, recently published a paper on SSRN titled "the 100 Most Creative Moments in American Law." According to the abstract, the article discusses the most creative moments in Anglo-American law and compares legal creativity with other kinds of creativity (corporate, artistic, military and rhetorical). The article then ranks the top hundred moments in American law. The top 10 include the Constitution, Northwest Ordinance and Marbury v. Madison. The final 20 are all Supreme Court opinions including Miranda v. Arizona and Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council.

Google Book Search bibliography now available

Digital librarian Charles W. Bailey Jr. has posted a Google Book Search bibliography on the Digital Scholarship website. The bibliography focuses on the evolution of Google Book Search and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it. Where possible, links are provided to works that are freely available on the Internet, including e-prints in disciplinary archives and institutional repositories.
Meanwhile, Inside Higher Ed. reports that Microsoft is ending two projects - Live Search Books and Live Search Academic - designed to digitize books and journals. A post on the official MS Live Search blog explains that they digitized 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles but concluded from this experience that best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries.

Monday 26 May 2008

Copyright infringement news

The Associated Press reports that Google's lawyers have filed documents that claim Viacom's copyright infringement lawsuit of YouTube is a threat to the freedom of the internet. Google owns YouTube and was responding to Viacom's latest lawsuit alleging that the Internet has led to "an explosion of copyright infringement" by YouTube and others.
And Ars Technica has a story about multimillion dollar infringement judgments against 2 small websites, and, for copyright infringement of various movies and TV shows. They were sued by the Motion Picture Association of America and were found guilty of contributory copyright infringement because they searched for, identified, collected, and indexed links to illegal copies of movies and TV shows - even though they didn't host any infringing content. The folks blogging at Techwhack say that " similar charges can now be levied against search engine giants like Google and Yahoo which also enable users to hunt for pirated media online. "

Saturday 24 May 2008


Congratulations and best of luck to all of our newly minted JD's, graduating today. We'll miss having you around the library - and remember, you can always email or call us for help with your legal research!

Friday 23 May 2008

Lexis Academic webseminars

Lexis Academic is offering a number of free online 1-hour seminars this summer; register on their website if you're interested.
The schedule is as follows:
June 17th: 12 noon: LexisNexis Academic Basic Overview
June 18th: 12 noon: Legal Research Using LexisNexis Academic
June 19th: 12 noon: Finding Sources on LexisNexis Academic
June 20th: 12 noon: Business Research Using LexisNexis Academic

July 22nd: 1:00 pm: Business Research Using LexisNexis Academic
July 23rd: 1:00 pm: LexisNexis Academic Basic Overview
July 24th: 1:00 pm: Legal Research Using LexisNexis Academic
July 25th: 1:00 pm: Finding Sources on LexisNexis Academic

August 19th: 1:00 pm: LexisNexis Academic Basic Overview
August 20th: 1:00 pm: Finding Sources on LexisNexis Academic
August 21st: 1:00 pm: Legal Research Using LexisNexis Academic
August 22nd: 1:00 pm: Business Research Using LexisNexis Academic

The session on Finding Sources (taught by Andrea Sevetson) combines techniques within the interface for finding sources (what’s different about Browse and Find, for example) and for searching for individual titles with using sources like the Subscriber Resources site and tags for creating direct links to sources and creating URLs for searches.

Changes in the US Code from LII

The Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell is the first place many of us go when we need to research something in the US Code. LII has added a feature to their US Code information: when you scroll down the page and look at the Titles of the US Code you will notice a little RSS feed icon next to each Title. You can use these to subscribe to an RSS feed of any classification updates (that is, new legislation) affecting that Title.

Thursday 22 May 2008

OCLC and Google Book Search ink agreement

Info Today reports that OCLC and Google Book Search have formalized an agreement that strengthens the ties between WorldCat and Google Book Search's "Find in a Library". The article reports that Google will have access to MARC records from WorldCat and OCLC will create MARC records for Google Book Search digitized content from existing records for print content in their system and will also create new records for any content they do not already have.

Public Law news

There was an interesting exchange on the law librarian listserv yesterday. Someone was researching a federal bill that was just signed into law and wanted to know where it was going to be codified so he could cite it. A response came from Bryan Carson that provided a link to an OFR listserv that will automatically let you know when a law has been passed with the Bill number, Public Law Number, Name of Act, Approval date, and the U.S. Statutes at Large page citation. It usually takes about a week or so for the law to make it from the President's pen to the OFR listserv announcement.

Google calendar

Speaking of tips... I know a lot of you use Google Calendar, and Computerworld has some great tips about how to be a savvy user. At the same time, they offer an article about the top ten Google failures (remember Google Answers?).

Tips for DIY copyright protection

The Online Journalism Review from USC's Annenberg School for Communication has an article with tips about how to protect your intellectual property online. The article recommends some websites for finding out if any of your writing is being "stolen" and has tips about what to do about it.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Jonathan Zittrain on the future of the internet

Big Think has a feature on Oxford Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain and his book "The Future of the Internet". Prof. Zittrain is an American Internet law professor at the Oxford Internet Institute of the University of Oxford and visiting professor and researcher at Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. You can see the Big Think video in which he discusses the question "Why is the future of the Internet so bleak?"

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Personal information on the Web

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an article (subscription required) with the disconcerting title "New Sites Make It Easier to Spy On Your Friends." The author points to free websites that make it easy to find information about anyone on the web. The websites include , a search site that lets users see what their friends are doing on other Web sites; for public records (including criminal history and birthdates); for finding up personal pages, such as social-networking profiles; for real estate valuation (it estimates the value of people's homes by looking at other home sales in the area); and where people can share information from business cards they've collected.
The article also tells how to keep your information private on some of the big websites like Amazon and Flickr.
Is it just a coincidence that the two people interviewed for the article who talk about how they found surprising/embarrassing information information are both librarians?

Interview with a military librarian

The Association of College and Research Libraries has an online article about Greta Marlatt, information services manager at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California. In the article Marlatt talks about military librarianship and her work on the Homeland Security Digital Library.

Monday 12 May 2008

GPO would like your input: public access assessment

The Government Printing Office has announced the drafts of 2 documents that they plan to use to assess the public access policies and practices of Federal Depository Libraries (Barco is one). They are asking for comments from anyone interested in the FDLP program and free public access to government documents; the deadline for comments is May 23.

"Trainee Lawyer" rocks the house

A British "trainee lawyer" (is that like a US law student?) got a standing ovation for his recent TV performance.

Pittsburgh hosts American Council of Learned Societies

The annual meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies was held in Pittsburgh last week and much of the program focused on the effects of the internet on scholarly communication and publishing as well as legal and political obstacles facing international scholars according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. The agenda featured a panel discussion on the future of scholarly publishing during which Michael A. Keller, university librarian at Stanford, sparred with a philosopher who blamed libraries for playing along with commercial publishers' overpricing of journals in the science, technical, and medical fields, wreaking havoc with library budgets. "Libraries blew it," Mr. Keller agreed, "when they started shelling out for all the crap journals" distributed by the commercial-publishing giants.
The keynote lecture was delivered by Theodor Meron, Appeals Judge and former President, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Charles L. Denison Professor of Law Emeritus and Judicial Fellow at NYU Law School; he is the first lawyer to be awarded the ACLS Charles Homer Haskins prize which recognizes distinguished humanists for a life of scholarly achievement.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Why consumers return electronic purchases

There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today entitled "The War on Returns" about how retailers and manufacturers of electronic goods are trying to stem the tide of product returns. According to the article, consumers return between 11 and 20% of all the electronic goods they purchase - wireless phones, GPS units, MP3 players and wireless networking equipment have the highest rates. Only 5% of the items are returned because they are defective. A whopping 68% are returned with "no trouble found" simply because consumers didn't understand the product, and 27% are returned because of "buyer's remorse" (spent too much, spouse got mad).

Historic Documents from the Copyright Office

The US Copyright Office is making a number historical documents available on its website. There are reports and publications, announcements from 1954-2001, annual reports from 1866 to the present, the copyright laws of 1790 and 1909, and biographies of the Registers of Copyright. There are also some interesting illustrated articles about "copyright lore", including stories about the copyrights for the Statue of Liberty and Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

Dept. of Education postpones ABA review

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the US Department of Education has postponed its review of the authority vested in the American Bar Association to accredit law schools. The Dept. of Ed. wrote to the ABA and told them that they have to fully investigate allegations in comments filed by the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Wallace Riley (a past ABA president) and analyze all of the documents the ABA filed. According to the Chronicle, the ABA has attracted scrutiny over its requirements that law schools prove they are taking concrete steps to diversify their pools of students and faculty members, and that their graduates meet certain passage rates on bar examinations.

Internet Archive challenges FBI

Silicon Valley dot com reports that the Internet Archive has successfully challenged an FBI attempt to get information about one of its users. The Internet Archive is a non-profit Internet library that offers permanent access to historical collections that exist in digital format. The FBI presented a national security letter in November asking for a library patron's records but the Internet Archive sued the FBI a month later, alleging the letter violated free speech rights because they prohibit recipients from talking to anyone else about them. The Internet Archive said today the FBI agreed to withdraw the letter last week and make the case, which was filed under seal, public.

Monday 5 May 2008

Another threatened federal library

The Washington Post reports that the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville Maryland is threatened by looming budget cuts begining Oct. 1. The library was signed into being by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 and is the greatest agricultural library in the world according to the WaPo.

Oregon claims the Oregon Revised Statutes are copyrighted

Lawyers for the state of Oregon are accusing online legal publisher Justia of copyright infringement for publishing the Oregon state code on the Justia website. Oregon's Legislative Counsel Committee sent Justia cease-and-desist letter accusing them of copyright infringement. The Justia website makes laws, regulations and legal decisions freely available online. Oregon does not claim a copyright in the "text of the law itself," but rather in "the arrangement and subject-matter compilation" of the law, Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson says in an April 7 letter to Tim Stanley, chief executive officer of The letter advised Justia that it may link to the law on the state's own Web site, or it must pay for a license to publish it.
Sam Bayard of the Citizen Media Law Project blogs that "it looks extremely suspect (for Oregon) to claim (intellectual property) rights in the overall organizational structure and the numbering for each statutory section."
Hat tip: Valerie Weis

Friday 2 May 2008

Patent filed for sending scent over cellphones

German interactive services firm Convisual has announced that it has, along with ISI institute of sensory analysis and marketing consultancy, filed for a patent for applications allowing users to send scents to properly equipped cell phones. According to the announcement, "In the near future, you will have the ability to send a text message along with a whiff of a fresh ocean breeze".

Thursday 1 May 2008

Harvard Law School Library appoints Palfry

The Harvard Crimson reports that John F. Palfry is the new head of the Harvard Law School Library. Palfry is a well-known scholar of cyberlaw and has been the director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School’s largest affiliated research institute and one of the most prominent cyber law centers in the country. According to the Berkman Center website, Palfrey is Harvard Law School's first Associate Dean of Library and Information Resources; he will take over as director of the Harvard Law School Library and become a tenured professor at the Law School.

Bluebook survey

The editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are making revisions to the forthcoming Nineteenth Edition and request that Bluebook users take an online survey about how they can improve the updated version. Surveys must be received by June 30, 2008 in order to be considered for the Nineteenth Edition.

Don't be a victim of identity thieves

Walt Mossberg's column in today's Wall Street Journal has great information about how to avoid being scammed and robbed of your identity or money by online "social engineering" attackers.
He discusses his main points in this video:

Recent reports on Iraq Reconstruction

Several recent reports on the status of reconstruction in Iraq have been released this week from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and are in the news; the SIGIR homepage is here. The reports are in pdf format and the titles of recently released reports include:
08-011 Review of Outcome, Cost, and Oversight of Electricity-Sector Reconstruction Contract with Perini Corporation
08-017 Transferring Reconstruction Projects to the Government of Iraq: Some Progress Made but Further Improvements Needed to Avoid Waste
08-013 Interim Report on Iraq Reconstruction Contract Terminations
08-015 Interim Analysis of Iraqi Security Force Information Provided by the Department of Defense Report, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq
08-016 U.S. Anticorruption Efforts in Iraq: Progress Made in Implementing Revised Management Plan
08-014 Progress on Recommended Improvements to Contract Administration for the Iraqi Police Training Program