Friday 27 June 2008

BNA tests new web interface for Reports

BNA is moving all BNA current reports to a new platform with a new look and with functionality enhancements and new personalization options. A beta version of the new design is now available for anyone to preview. The beta version is very easy to access - near the top of each Current Report there is a prominent link that says "Preview Our New Platform" in red letters. See, for example, U.S. Law Week ; click the red-lettered link to go the Welcome page and then the link on that page to go to the beta version. The Welcome page also has links to a Quick Tour of new features, a Quick Reference Card (2 page pdf), and a form to sign up for a 30-minute live instructor-led Webinar.
There is also a link to a survey where you can give BNA feedback on the new design.
According to the BNA announcement, they hope to keep the link from the old to the new available for several months, after which only the new design will be available.
Our BNA subscriptions include:
ABA/BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Report
Bankruptcy Law Reporter
Criminal Law Reporter
Electronic Commerce & Law Report
Employment Discrimination Report
Environment Reporter
Family Law Reporter
Health Law Reporter
International Trade Reporter
Labor & Employment Law Library
Patent, Trademark, & Copyright Journal
Patent, Trademark & Copyright Law Daily
Privacy and Security Law Report
Securities Regulation and Law Report
Tax Policy Weekly Report
U.S. Law Week
World Intellectual Property Report (Note: this database doesn't yet have a link to the beta test.)

Georgia State answers complaint

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Georgia State University has filed a response in the copyright lawsuit that Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications have filed against them. The plaintiffs argue that course readings that professors and librarians disseminate online at Georgia State infringe publishers' copyrights. Named in the lawsuit are the President of the university, the Dean of Libraries, and the Associate Provost for Information Systems and Technology. In the response, Georgia State says that "Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the doctrine of fair use pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 107, including the fact that any alleged use of copyrighted materials was for the purpose of teaching, scholarship or research and for nonprofit educational purposes. "
The case is in the Northern District Court of Georgia, docket number 1:08-cv-01425-ODE.

Statutes At Large online

beSpacific reports that the Statutes at Large for the 109th Congress, 2nd session are now available online at GPO Access. The US Statutes at Large is the permanent collection of all laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress; every public and private law passed by Congress is published in the order of the date it was enacted into law and arranged by Public Law number.

Copyright Office expands online services

Government Computer News reports that as of July 1, the public will be able to use the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) portal to submit basic claims and copyright applications electronically, make online payments and upload works being registered. For those who want to submit hard copies of the registered material, shipping labels can be generated online and printed out. The project has been beta testing since last July, and has gradually expanded over the past year. Since the beta test began, about half of the online registrations have been published works, many of them registered by large companies such as publishers. The other half have been unpublished works, from screenplays to photographs, many registered by individuals.

Thursday 26 June 2008

Landmark Second Amendment opinion online

"We turn first to the meaning of the Second Amendment." Thus begins the majority opinion for the District of Columbia v. Heller , handed down by the Supreme Court today, and available online (pdf) thanks to Scotusblog.

The Duke University law school has a Webcast District of Columbia v. Heller: The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms made on March 24, 2008 in which Robert A. Levy, co-counsel for the plaintiff gun-owners in the case, discusses the legal issues implicated in the case. This was the first Supreme Court case to seriously consider gun-ownership rights in the context of the Second Amendment since 1939.

Tuesday 24 June 2008

University Presses sign on with Amazon's Kindle

Inside Higher Ed. reports that a number of university presses are making their books available for digital downloading onto the Amazon Kindle - among them Princeton University Press, Yale University Press, Oxford University Press and the University of California Press - and the number of scholarly books is growing rapidly. Neither the presses nor Amazon would discuss the financial arrangements but said that they were revenue-sharing deals, and that preparing the books for release on Kindle was not particularly burdensome or expensive.
The article notes that illustrations aren't included in the books due to copyright issues, so books that benefit from illustrations (art books, for example) aren't available for the Kindle yet.

Monday 23 June 2008

NH law school grads have option to bypass the bar exam

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that New Hampshire has an alternate certification program that allows law students to bypass the usual bar exam, and its first 13 members were sworn in last month. Supreme Court justices teamed up with New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners, the state's Bar Association, and the Franklin Pierce law school to create a training and certification program that would require students to prove that they know how to prepare and try a case, examine a witness, negotiate a settlement, and reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses as future lawyers. Students in the program, called Daniel Webster Honor Scholars, have spent the past two years honing their courtroom skills and demonstrating them to judges and lawyers.

Monday 9 June 2008

SSRN in the news

Today's New York Times has a story about SSRN and how it has turned into a sort of rankings system for legal scholars. "The network was not created to be a Top 40 list for academics, said Michael C. Jensen, its chairman and one of its founders, but it has turned out that way."
The ABA Journal Daily Newsletter picked up on the story, using the headline "S.S.R.N. Rankings Temporarily Boost Instapundit Law Prof Above Cass Sunstein". The reporter said that SSRN is a good thing for law professors who are achieving notoriety because of frequent downloads of their papers - Instapundit and U. Tennessee law prof. Glen Reynolds, for example.

Saturday 7 June 2008

The Firewall of China

PC Magazine has a fascinating article that takes an in-depth look at how the Chinese government polices the internet- something they've been getting flack about, especially in anticipation of the many foreigners who will be attending the Olympics in August.

Friday 6 June 2008

New Search Engine gathers info from Wikipedia

Mary Ellen Bates's Infotip today discusses Powerset, a search engine that pulls information from Wikipedia. Powerset’s goal is to change the way people interact with technology by enabling computers to understand our language- they are attempting to make searching much more intelligent by teaching the computers to understand the sense of what is being asked and the sense of what is on web pages, and then to match the most applicable pages. According to the Infotip, "PowerSet is best used for those searches that cover a number of topics or areas. It's not perfect, and it only searches Wikipedia, but I find it an exciting new approach in the efforts of search engines to make sense out of web content. " A search for "First Amendment rights" did an excellent job of pulling relevant information and ordering the results.

Greatest Defunct Websites

CNet has an article featuring "The Greatest Defunct Websites and Dotcom Disasters" including search engines that have bit the dust. As the author says, Welcome to the dotcom bubble: the black hole of Web history.

Sandra Day O'Connor developing educational computer game

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has announced that she is working on the development of an educational computer game that will teach about the Judicial branch of our government according to an article in Wired magazine. Speaking at the annual Games For Change conference at Parsons School For Design in New York, O'Connor said that she plans to work alongside University of Wisconsin-Madison professor James Paul Gee to create Our Courts, an online interactive game geared at 7th and 8th graders that will familiarize students with the legal system. In her speech, O'Connor said that she is motivated to provide better civics education for students because "Only one-third of Americans can name the three branches of government, but two-thirds can name a judge on American Idol."

Wednesday 4 June 2008

10 websites for litigators

Yesterday's edition of The Virtual Chase has an article about the Top Ten Essential Web Sites for Litigators. Most but not all are free. The list includes one of our favorites, the Cornell Legal Information Institute; GPO Access, The Bluebook online version (subscription), and one we didn't know about, the BRB Publications Inc. site that has great links to government agencies that provide free online access to public record information.

Librarian in the janitor's closet

The Chronicle's Wired Campus blog has a funny entry that points to a very entertaining blogpost by Stephanie Willen Brown at the official blog of the ACRL (Assn. of College and Research Libraries). Stephanie spent a month holding office hours in a janitor's closet in her academic dept. building instead of the library, and talks about how that went - but she also talks about office hours more generally and has some interesting information.

Monday 2 June 2008

Adobe Acrobat online!

Computerworld reports that Adobe Acrobat, the Adobe software program that is used to create pdf "documents", is now available (in beta mode) online. You need to register and are only allowed to create 5 pdfs from files on your computer, but it looks like Adobe is definitely moving into web-based applications; the beta site also has a web-based word processor called Buzzword that Adobe says creates more polished documents than other web-based apps like Google docs.

The future of books and libraries

There's an excellent article about the history and future of information technology in the New York Review of Books. Written by Robert Darnton, director of the University Library at Harvard, the article traces the history of information technology from the codex through the internet and concludes "Therefore, I say: long live Google, but don't count on it living long enough to replace that venerable building with the Corinthian columns. As a citadel of learning and as a platform for adventure on the Internet, the research library still deserves to stand at the center of the campus, preserving the past and accumulating energy for the future."

Stanford Law eliminates letter grades

Inside Higher Education reports that the Stanford Law School faculty has voted to drop letter grades and replace them with four levels of achievement: honors, pass, restricted credit and no credit.

InSITE website revamped

Cornell Law Library's InSITE website, a current awareness service, highlights selected law-related Web sites in two ways: as an annotated publication issued electronically and in print; and as a keyword-searchable database. The law librarians at Cornell evaluate potentially useful Web sites, select the most valuable ones, and provide commentary and subject access to them. InSITE was recently revamped and now features a quick search on the home page and a great new feature - it allows anyone to search all the websites ever annotated by InSITE with a single click!

Pitt Recycling Info

The new blue recycling cans in offices and the big trash cans marked “Recyclable” are ONLY FOR PAPER and are emptied on Tues & Fri. They are for most types of paper but NOT paper towels or tissues.

If you would like to recycle :
§ aluminum beverage cans
§ tin cans
§ glass bottles and jars
§ plastic containers : (only those marked PETE 1 and HDPE 2 are recyclable)
they must be put into the special trash containers marked “ALUMINUM, GLASS AND PLASTIC.” There is one on the first floor in the lobby.
The Pitt Facilities Management website has more information on Pitt's recycling efforts.