Wednesday 22 December 2010

RECOP from Public Resource

From Carl Malamud and Law.Gov (which recently won a million dollar grant from Google for the effort to make all primary legal materials in the United States available to everyone) comes an announcement that in 2011 his project  will begin providing a weekly release of the Report of Current Opinions (RECOP). This will  initially consist of HTML of all slip and final opinions of the appellate and supreme courts of the 50 states and the federal government. The feed will include full star pagination.  It will be treated as an open source project, and will be available for reuse without restriction under a Creative Commons License.
The data is being obtained through an agreement with Fastcase, one of the leading legal information publishers.

Friday 17 December 2010

George Pike on cybervigilanteism

Barco Law Library Director Prof. George Pike was quoted in an online article on on The Rise of Cybervigilantism. The article addresses online attacks and counterattacks associated with WikiLeaks, including attacks by Wikileaks supporters on MasterCard and Paypal for declining to accept donations for Wikileaks. In the article, Prof. Pike discusses differences between legal protest and illegal protest activities, and whether such attacks might been as civil disobedience or vigilantism.

Thursday 16 December 2010

GPO publications available in Google's eBookstore

The Federal Eye blog at the Washington Post reports that hundreds of federal publications from the GPO are available for download through Google's new eBookstore. Plans are for about 1,800 government publications to be available for download and purchase according to the GPO. Currently GPO has about 100 titles in the catalog and will continue to add titles in the next several months, which will include the first volume of the Public Papers of President Barack Obama and the Budget of the United States, Fiscal Year 2012.
And if you are interested in the GPO, you can also subscribe to the GPO's YouTube Channel.

Obama administration calls for 'Bill of Rights' for web privacy

The Wall Street Journal technology blog reports that the Obama administration has recommended the creation of a Privacy Policy Office to develop a "bill of rights" for the internet for US citizens.  The office would also coordinate internet privacy issues globally.  The "bill of rights" would be a framework used to protect citizens from online personal information-gathering and would help the personal data-gathering industry develop codes of conduct that could be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. These policy recommendations were part of a report released by the Dept. of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force titled Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework (88 page pdf). The Privacy and Information Security Law Blog has posted a summary of the key proposals in the report.

George Pike discusses Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Track proposal

On Tuesday, December 9, Professor and library Director George Pike was a guest panelist on The American Entrepreneur, a radio talk show on Pittsburgh radio station WMNY, Money Talk AM 1360, hosted by Ron Morris. Professor Pike spoke on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Track proposal, released last week. In addition to Prof. Pike and Mr. Morris, the other panelists included John M. Simpson of the public interest group Consumer Watchdog, and Al Polanec, co-principal of Blue Archer, a Pittsburgh web design and marketing company. The broadcast is available online for your listening pleasure.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

New Books for the Barco Commons Collection

Every year at the end of the first semester we ask our law school faculty for recommendations of books that we can add to our Commons Collection, recreational reading located in the Fawcett Student Commons on the 4th floor of the Barco Law Library.  The list of this year's New Books in the Commons Collection is now available online.

Monday 13 December 2010

TrueSerials resource comparison tool

Tracy L. Thompson-Przylucki, Executive Director of NELLCO, just tweeted about a cool online resource from TrueSerials called the Resource Comparison.  It lets you compare the content of  up to 4 databases, choosing from a dropdown menu.  For example, you can compare the content of HeinOnline, Legal Trac, and LexisNexis Academic.  Once you choose the databases you want to compare you will get a table showing all the duplicate content in the databases, the content scope and currency.  You can also limit the search to full-text availability.

Online shopping resources

OK, the relationship of this information to legal research is, erm,  tenuous at best.  But many of us are thinking about shopping these days... so this is in the nature of a public service.  :-)  LLRX has a story and guide about ShoppingBots and Online Shopping Resources 2011, providing a "comprehensive listing of shoppingbot and online shopping resources and sites on the Internet."  The list is also available in pdf format. A shoppingbot, in case you are unfamiliar with the term, is a program that searches the Web for the best price for a particular item you wish to purchase; and there are many of them to try. The article on LLRX also provides some tips on virtual shopping to help ensure you have a positive online shopping experience.

Sunday 12 December 2010

In the wake of WikiLeaks, Pentagon bans removable storage devices

Wired Magazine reports that the U.S. military has issued a directive banning the use of removable media such as USB sticks, CDs, and DVDs on any computer systems or servers.  This comes in the wake of the leak of thousands of diplomatic cables to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks by a 22 year old Army intelligence analyst. According to the Wired story, soldiers are now strictly prohibited from using CDs, DVDs, USB drives and other removable media, at the risk of being court martialed, due to the perceived threat to national security.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Atlantic Monthly: How to Think About WikiLeaks

The online Atlantic has a blogpost by editor Alexis Madrigal called "How to Think About WikiLeaks". Despite the title, the post doesn't tell you what to think about WikiLeaks - rather, it recognizes the importance of how the WikiLeaks situation plays out, and the difficulty of forming an opinion. And so what the Atlantic is doing is helping us figure out HOW to think about WikiLeaks by gathering the thoughts of many eloquent thinkers/writers. As Mr. Madrigal says, "Writers pulling at the knot of press freedom, liberty, nationalism, secrecy and security that sits at the center of the debate have produced dozens of fantastic pieces. We're collecting the very best here. This page will be updated often."

Update: Jonathan Zittrain has an article posted on  Technology Review titled "Everything You Need to Know about Wikileaks."

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Mega datasets

The MIT Technology Review has gathered together 70 databases that contain large datasets of various types of information about the world we live in: social science data, climate data, financial data, urban data, scientific data, traffic data, and others. It includes familiar datasets like Wikipedia, the Wayback Machine, and Google Maps as well as lesser knowns like the Global Urban Observatory, the National Household Travel Survey, and Gapminder World, which contains multiple datasets on diverse socio-economic indicators.
A good resource for empirical researchers to bookmark.

Legislation introduced for Wi-Fi in federal buildings

Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Mark Warner (Va.) have introduced legislation that would require all public federal buildings to install WiFi base stations in order to free up cell phone networks. The Federal Wi-Net Act  (6 page pdf) (S. 3995) doesn't say anything about free access, but it would "direct the Administrator of the General Services Administration to installWi-Fi hotspots and wireless neutral host systems in all Federal buildingsin order to improve in-building wireless communications coverage andcommercial network capacity by offloading wireless traffic onto wirelinebroadband networks".

ps  If you look at the pdf, note the certification that is now appended to indicate that it is authoritative and the Signature properties.

Future of Interface Design on LawLibCon

This week on Law Library Conversations: a discussion of the Future of Interface Design for legal information products. The show will feature Jason Wilson, Vice President Jones McClure Publishing; Ed Walters, CEO, Fastcase; and Tom Boone, Reference Librarian, Loyola Law School. The online, one hour broadcast is on Fri Dec 10 at 3:00 pm Eastern time. The show is hosted and supported by CALI.   You can register here.

Friday 3 December 2010

Report on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

The Department of Defense has posted the Nov. 30, 2010  "Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'" (264 page pdf) on the DOD website.

Sundown for GPO Access

LLRX has some excellent information about the migration of information from GPO Access to FDsys. The GPO Access website is set to ‘sundown’ in late December, as all of the data has been migrated onto the FDsys platform. FDSys offers greater functionality than GPO Access, including the ability to search across multiple collections with keyword searches and more sophisticated search options..  The information on LLRX is from a recent presentation by Ashley Dahlen - Outreach Librarian at the U.S. Government Printing Office.  It includes a video of her presentation, a link to her comprehensive handout (10 page pdf) and a downloadable powerpoint presentation with lots of useful information including a table comparing GPO Access with FDsys. She also reminds us that Federal Depository Libraries like Barco should start planning for the following:
 Replacing uses of the GPO Access name and logo to the FDsys branding.
 Updating screenshots of GPO Access pages to reflect the FDsys pages.
 Ordering the new promotional brochures.

LexisNexis acquires State Net

On Wednesday LexisNexis announced the acquisition of State Net, a database that tracks legislation and regulations in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.  According to the press release, "State Net provides users access to information on individual legislative bills and their progress within twenty-four hours of public availability. It also enables subscribers to obtain current versions of bills and statutes, check the validity of statutes, track pending changes to statutes and regulations, and research historical summaries of legislative actions. State Net tools and content enable users to assess the impact of proposed legislation and regulations, influence proposed matters, and reduce compliance risk... This acquisition will enable LexisNexis to improve upon them with the addition of primary law content and integration into its offerings for the US legal, business, government and academic markets."  The website has conveniently formatted information about legislative calendars for the states and a variety of online tools for users.

hat tip: Law Librarian Blog

Adopt a Word from the Oxford English Dictionary

'Tis the Season of giving and generosity, and the Oxford English Dictionary is asking friends and admirers to open their hearts and Adopt-A-Word.  The Save the Words campaign has an excellent website where you can choose from  lots and lots of hopeful adoptees. You're sure to find a word you love, though some may misqueme* you.  According to the site, "Each year hundreds of words are dropped from the English language.  Old words, Wise words, hard-working words.  Words that once led meaningful lives but now lie unused, unloved and unwanted.  You can change all that Help save the words!" You can select a word randomly or choose a specific word that you want to adopt.  When you adopt your word (or words) you must pledge to "use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible to the very best of my ability."

*misqueme: v. to displease

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Free OCLC webinar: Intro to Digital Preservation

OCLC is offering librarians a free 2-hour online webinar called "An Introduction to Digital Preservation" on Weds. Dec. 15 at 1 pm. From the description on the website: "Digital preservation is a phrase that is thrown about frequently in the archives and library world. And responsibility for saving our era from being known as the "Digital Dark Age" has fallen to us. But do you really understand what it means and is required to preserve digital objects? Join us for this 2-hour online webinar for an introduction to terms, concepts, and some methods for beginning your institution’s foray into this important and challenging area." You can register for the webinar here.

LexisNexis sells databases to ProQuest

Yesterday ProQuest announced that they have acquired some of LexisNexis's most popular databases. ProQuest, based in Ann Arbor, MI,  says it is excited to announce that it  is significantly expanding its service.  Though LexisNexis doesn't have any info on its website, a quote from the ProQuest press release says“As LexisNexis continues to transform its portfolio of products and services, we are very pleased to place this business unit with ProQuest as it is an excellent fit for them and their customers,” said Mike Simmons, senior vice president of Specialty Businesses at LexisNexis. “We look forward to working with ProQuest – including licensing back certain legislative content sets from ProQuest for our legal professional customers.”
ProQuest has acquired the following LexisNexis products:
LexisNexis Congressional (to be renamed ProQuest Congressional)
LexisNexis Statistical Insight (to be renamed ProQuest Statistical Insight)
LexisNexis DataSets (to be renamed ProQuest DataSets)
LexisNexis Statutes at Large (to be renamed ProQuest Statutes at Large)
LexisNexis Government Periodical Index (to be renamed ProQuest Government Periodical Index)
LexisNexis Primary Sources in US History (to be renamed ProQuest Primary Sources in US History)
Congressional Hearings Digital Collection
Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection
Congressional Research Digital Collection
US Serial Set Digital Collection
US Serial Set Maps Collection
All CIS microform and print products
All statistical microform and print products
All UPA microform collections
LexisNexis is retaining these academic-oriented products:
LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Library Express
LexisNexis Scholastic
LexisNexis State Capital
LexisNexis for Development Professionals

OK law says executors control social media accounts after death

The ABA Journal reports that an Oklahoma law that went into effect Nov. 1 grants estate executors control over a dead person's social media accounts such as Facebook and MySpace.  This law assumes that a social network account is the property of the person who creates it and uses it, even though most social networking websites claim that information as their own when users sign up.

Monday 29 November 2010

Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective database

In case you've missed it, we're happy to announce that the problems we've been having with the Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective database have been solved and it is now up and running smoothly. This retrospective database, from H.W. Wilson, indexes over 750 legal periodicals published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand (you can see the full list of journals, including the dates available, here). Annual surveys of the laws of a jurisdiction, annual surveys of the federal courts, yearbooks, annual institutes, and annual reviews of the work in a given field or on a given topic will also be covered (according to the Wilson blurb).

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Law Library wanted in Harlem

Black Star News reports that a community activist in Harlem proposed the development of a Charitable Memorial Law Library  at a recent forum at the Harlem Branch Library of the NY Public Library system at 9 W. 124th St. The library would give free access to legal resources to community residents.  Cornelus Ricks, the community activist spearheading the proposal, said that "The Harlem community needs to build a law Library as a memorial to our great African Americans ancestors who fought for justice for all Americans.”

Monday 22 November 2010

App for citizens to complain to city government

Technology Today has an interesting article today about a startup called CitySourced that has created an app (for smart phones)  to help cities get information about citizen complaints in a helpful way.  The app lets people send pictures of problems like potholes, downed tree limbs, or graffit to city hall complete with a georgraphical tag to pinpoint the location, a tag category like "graffiti", and a note.  The information is fed into the city's back-office workflow management system—servers that manage work orders for various departments.  Because of the way it works the right people in city government get the information quickly and can respond quickly. CitySourced says the app could save cities a lot of money.

Reimagining the University Press

The Journal of Electronic Publishing's Fall 2010 issue is dedicated to the topic "Reimagining the University Press".  The Editor's note, written by Phil Pochoda who is the director of the University of Michigan Press, says that his hope in announcing the subject of  this issue that it would "elicit guidance for this radical overhaul of scholarly publishing—and, in particular, would provide useful predictions of how or even whether the presses will play a role in a fundamentally reconfigured and mutating publishing ecosystem—from many of the individuals whom I have found to be the most informed and prescient on these complex issues." He invited submission of articles in which the authors would "take nothing for granted about current organization, goals, processes, venues, business models, disciplinary publishing, personnel, of the presses, etc. but to rethink from scratch what scholarly communication in the fully digital era might look like; how it might be organized within and among universities; how scholarly texts and materials might be best recruited, organized, reviewed, edited, produced, marketed, disseminated and funded. There cannot be only one ‘correct’ solution to any and all of these questions, but any proposed transformation will certainly impinge on (or obliterate) all of them (and more). I am most curious to see what ideas people can come up with when unshackled from all existing relationships and arrangement.”

Friday 19 November 2010

Hein Legislative Histories webinar archived

Yesterday's excellent Legislative History webinar given by Marcie Baranich of HeinOnline is now archived and available online to view at your convenience. Some of the topics that are covered in the webinar include:
  • Where you should start your research in HeinOnline when looking for a legislative history
  • What is Nancy Johnson's Sources of Compiled Legislative History Database and why should you use it?
  • Browsing by popular name or public law number
  • Linking to Nancy Johnson's database entry from the title listing to view additional resources related to the public law
  • Viewing the cumulative contents for a legislative history
  • Searching across a specific legislative history
  • Searching across a specific document within a legislative history
  • Cross library searching within the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library
  • Faceted searching and it's integration into the HeinOnline libraries.
The HeinOnline Federal Legislative History Library is a great resource for researching legislative histories and the webinar gives you lots of excellent advice on how to use this resource best.

3 Geeks ask Thomson Reuters what's up

The 3 Geeks Law Blog (specifically Greg Lambert), hearing of the latest shakeup of the Library Relations team at Thomson Reuters Legal, took the initiative to find out what's going on over there.  He got a reply from Chris Cartrett, VP of Sales & Account Mgmt., large and medium law firms.  Mr. Cartrett told Greg he could post the complete reply on the 3 Geeks blog, so we can read all about it here. Mr. Cartrett says, "This week’s changes aligned our resources across the company to give us greater coverage to more firms and more librarians. Specifically, we have increased our dedicated coverage to branch offices six-fold. Our librarians have consistently requested that we assist them with more in-house training, e-learning, on-demand virtual support options, and greater support of branch offices. The moves we have taken this week help us achieve these goals.... Obviously, these are difficult decisions, but we do feel that these changes allow us the best opportunity to service you better."

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Kentucky Bar Assn. proposes regulation of lawyers' use of social media

According to an article in the Louisville Courier, the Kentucky bar association is proposing a regulation to limit lawyers' use of social media websites like Facebook for communications that are legal in nature.  Under the proposed regulations, the bar's Advertising Commission would regulate posting on such social media sites, and lawyers would have to pay a $75 filing fee.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

HeinOnline news

You may have noticed that HeinOnline has recently updated their home page so that it has a slick professional look.  Instead of clicking on the green "Subscribers Click Here to Enter" link on the old home page, you can now click on the "Log in to HeinOnline" link in the righthand menu; since our access is through IP address you won't require a login if you are on campus.  Or bookmark the page link to go directly to our subscriptions.
Hein is also offering a free webinar in Legislative Histories in HeinOnline on Thursday Nov. 18, at 10 am and 2 pm.  You can read more about the webinar and register online on the HeinOnline Blog.

Monday 15 November 2010

National Federation of the Blind files discrimination complaint against Penn State

The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog reports that the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, requesting an investigation of Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) for violating the civil rights of blind students and faculty.  According to an NFB press release, the complaint was filed because a variety of computer- and technology-based services and Web sites at Penn State are inaccessible to blind students and faculty and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public state universities to offer equal access to their programs and services. The NFB cites accessibility problems that  include Penn State’s course-management software, library catalogue, and departmental Web sites. Even the Web site for its Office of Disability Services is not fully accessible to the blind, said the federation. The official complaint is available on the NFB website (7 page Word document).

Brooklyn Law School library photoshoot causes consternation

The ABA Journal online reports that a recent photoshoot at the Brooklyn Law School Library by clothingmaker Diesel has resulted in law school officials being "shocked and mortified" at the results. Last week Diesel posted the photos on its website according to the New York Post. Underwear-clad models are lying on top of computer stations, perched on top of book shelves full of  Reporters, and standing suggestively in the law library stacks. Interim law school dean Michael Gerber sent an e-mail to students after the photos were posted, saying "We are as shocked and mortified as you must be by these photographs," the e-mail said. "When the school gave its permission to do the shoot, the school was assured that the photos would be in good taste. They are not." Law school officials understood Diesel models would be wearing the company’s jeans, rather than what is worn under them. According to the ABA report, "One female student expressed disgust at a photo of two panty-wearing women climbing over law library computers toward an open-mouthed man. 'It's gross,' she told the New York Post. 'I work on those computers every day!'"

Alaska Senate election and misspelling

Prof. Richard Hasen of Loyola Law School Los Angeles has an interesting article in Slate in which he analyzes the Alaska Senate election lawsuit filed by Republican Joe Miller.  Mr. Miller is trailing write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski by more than 10,000 votes. The lawsuit is based on the fact that not everyone who wrote in for Ms. Murkowski spelled her name right, and Miller has sued to block the rules being used to count the misspelled ballots.  Alaska election officials have adopted the looser standard of "voter intent" to allow for misspellings. The complaint filed by Mr. Miller is available online (14 page pdf).

Friday 12 November 2010

Obama administration plans to step up online privacy oversight

The Wall Street Journal reports that The Obama administration is preparing a stepped-up approach to policing Internet privacy that calls for new laws and the creation of a new position to oversee the effort. The strategy is expected to be unveiled in an upcoming report from the U.S. Commerce Department. In a related move, the White House has created a special task force that is expected to help transform the Commerce Department recommendations into policy.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Dirksen Center introduces the Congressional Timeline

The Dirksen Congressional Center has announced the introduction of a new website called the Congressional Timeline.  The timeline gives a history of the US congress beginning with the 73rd (1933-35), and features session dates, partisan composition, the presidential administration, a list of congressional leaders, and notable legislation passed. This first version only addresses legislative output, not non-legislative events such as the impeachment of President Clinton or internal congressional processes or congressional politics. The Dirksen Center plans to leave room for expansion to include such elements as a timeline of notable, non-congressional events and selections from their historical collections.
To see how it works, go to the site and select the 88th Congress from the drop-down menu on the right.  Click the "expand" button under 1963 to see general information about the 88th Congress. To experience the multimedia potential for the site, click the "collapse" button for 1963 and then the "expand" button for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at July 2, 1964. Look at the rotating cube! You will see additional content documents, photos, and a video of the presidential signing ceremony.
You can also contribute to the timeline using the wiki component: click on "wiki" on the rotating cube.

Monday 1 November 2010

Supreme Court agrees to Hear Case on Universities' Rights to Faculty Inventions

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that  U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving Stanford University and Roche Holding AG to consider reinforcing the patent rights of research universities that rely on federal funds.  The justices today said they will hear Stanford’s bid to revive its lawsuit against a Roche unit over patents covering ways to test how well AIDS treatments are working.  The case will clarify the workings of a 1980 law that allocates patent rights among the government, investors and institutions ions that receive federal money. Universities contend that a federal appeals court decision (583 F.3d 832 ) favoring Roche casts doubt on patents stemming from hundreds of billions of dollars in research.

US Copyright Office: Comments on Federal Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

On Wednesday (Nov. 3) The US Copyright Office is publishing a Federal Register notice requesting written comments from all interested parties on the desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under federal jurisdiction. Unlike sound recordings created on or after February 15, 1972, which are protected by federal copyright law, these earlier sound recordings currently are protected under a patchwork of state statutory and common laws from their date of creation until 2067. The Office seeks these comments to assist it in conducting a study on pre-1972 sound recordings at the direction of Congress. Specifically, the Office seeks comments on the likely effect of federal protection upon preservation of and public access to pre-1972 sound recordings and the effect upon the economic interests of rights holders. The Office also seeks comments on how the incorporation of pre-1972 sound recordings into federal law might best be achieved. The notice of inquiry is now available here. The deadline for comments will be December 20, and reply comments will be due 30 days later.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Survey of social media use in state government

NASCIO, the National , has released a survey (37 page pdf) of how state governments are using social media. The bottom-line is that social media tools are being actively adopted and used throughout state governments across the country, and this poses challenges to states in the areas of security, privacy, and acceptable use.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Amazon Purchases free from Govt. Oversight

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that Seattle federal district court judge Marsha Pechman ruled Monday that the First Amendment protects a buyer from the government demanding to know the books, music, and audiovisual products they've bought. Amazon filed the lawsuit in its hometown of Seattle and said that that disclosing the names, addresses and purchases of its customers as requested by the North Carolina Revenue Department would harm anyone who may have bought controversial books or movies. North Carolina requires residents to pay taxes on online purchases if buying the same item in a physical store would result in a sales tax. But out-of-state retailers can't be forced to collect North Carolina's tax if they have no physical presence in the state. More information and the decision are available online on the ACLU's website.

20 dying technologies

Bloomberg Businessweek has an online article with a slideshow of "20 Dying Technologies".   Some of them should go sooner rather than later (powercords, remote controls, fax machines) but others... will be missed if they go away completely (desktop computers, metronomes, keys).

Tuesday 26 October 2010

US Patent & Trademark Office, European Patent Office work toward joint classification system

USPTO press release has announced plans to work with the European Patent Office on the formation of a joint patent classification system aligned with global standards. While they will base the new joint system on the European Patent Office (EPO) standard, it will also incorporate the best practices of both offices. The press release says that a unified classification system would help the two agencies "move closer to eliminating the unnecessary duplication of work between the two offices, thus promoting more efficient examinations, while also enhancing patent examination quality." Since the PTO and EPO are already involved in work-sharing arrangements, "the idea of having a consistent classification system is a good one," said Pitt Law alum Q. Todd Dickinson, executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.  "It's a very important aspect of quality," Dickinson said. "The more efficient the classification system, the better the search. [But a] key question is how long it might take and how much it might cost. Those are key issues. In concept, it's a very good idea; we await the details."

Monday 25 October 2010

WestlawNext:change in copy with citation

When I demonstrated some of the features of WestlawNext to librarians and faculty a few weeks ago I noted that one of the features is that you can highlight text in any document you are viewing and you will automatically see a popup window that offers the options of copying and pasting the text with the citation in your choice of format: Bluebook, ALWD, California, Florida or New York. I noticed last week that this feature has changed in that Bluebook is no longer offered as a choice of citation format; instead, that choice is now called "Standard". But be careful: several people on the law librarian listserv have pointed out that the citation format you get if you choose "Standard" is not necessarily Bluebook format.

Ms JD 2011 Writers in Residence application period open

Ms JD, an organization that seeks to support and improve the experiences of women law students and lawyers, is currently seeking law students and professionals to serve as 2011 Ms. JD Writers in Residence. According to the announcement (which includes information on how to apply), the Writers in Residence program consists of a small group of columnists who provide monthly articles on a selected topic; the program launched last year and gave rise to some of Ms. JD's most inspiring, hilarious, and provocative content.  The application deadline is Nov. 15, 2010.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Justia's legal portal for Mexican law

 Justia has launched a legal portal for Mexico called Justia México. The portal provides access to Mexican federal law, including the Constitution ,  statutes, codes, and regulations.  It also has  legal information about the 32 Mexican states, with state laws and codes, as well as links to state government resource.
Justia México also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account,  where you can keep up to date on Mexican legal news.
Of course, the website is in Spanish.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

New enhancements to the Lexis interface

LexisNexis has changed the interface we see when we log on to our accounts.  You can read about these "new enhancements" on the Lexis website.

Best practices for open access law journals

This Friday, Oct. 22, the Duke Law Library  is hosting an all-day program called "Implementing the Durham Statement: Best Practices for Open Access Law Journals."  The Durham Statement was created in 2008 by a group of law library directors and calls for all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.  The Agenda for Friday's meeting includes sessions with experts on open access in legal publishing and technologists who are addressing issues in access and preservation of digital documents.
If you haven't signed up to attend the program you can still participate as it will be streamed live through Duke's ustream channel.

Monday 18 October 2010

Lawyer reprimanded for plagiarism in brief

The ABA Journal reports that a lawyer in Iowa was reprimanded by the Iowa Supreme Court for filing briefs in a bankruptcy case that were mostly copied from a law review article.  According to the Court opinion in the case, one of the judges reading the brief noticed that it was "of unusually high quality"  and asked the lawyer to certify that he was the author. At that point the lawyer admitted the plagiarism to the court, his client, and the bar association.   The judge found that the lawyer had copied 17 out of 19 pages of legal analysis in his initial brief and a long citation string in the reply brief. The lawyer was ordered to refund fees charged for preparing the briefs and to return to law school for a legal ethics course.

Email signature files: smaller, please

The New York Times has a Gadgetwise blog post titled "Stop the Signature File Insanity.".  An example of a way-too-long email signature, with 15 lines (!) of information, is given - along with suggestions on how to make it a lot shorter.  We should remember that many people are looking at email on their phones and really, this kind of thing can be very annoying, even if we're using a desktop.  :-)

The commercialization of academic libraries

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a special Chronicle Review issue this week that looks at "The Making of the Corporate University" with articles on how various aspects of academia have been commercialized.  One of the articles is titled "Library Inc." and it argues that academic libraries are the most commercialized academic area within universities, with troubling implications for the future of higher education. Written by an academic librarian from UC Davis, the article describes how information technologies have erased the division that used to exist between the commercial process of acquiring materials and the academic objective of using those materials.  Because many materials now are owned by publishers or vendors, libraries pay for access rather than ownership  and the commercial interests of the publishers and vendors have unfortunately become entwined as part of the academic library's interests and values. This is a must-read article for any academic librarians, both technical services and public services.

Friday 15 October 2010

Friday fun

xkcd has a comic strip about an electronic services librarian's dream. How true!

Hat tip (and thanx for the laugh): Meg Kribble

New law school breaks ground in Nashville

Belmont University in Nashville, TN, broke ground yesterday on the $32 million, 71,000-square-foot Randall and Sadie Baskin Center, home for a brand  new College of Law (with eventual enrollment of 360 students) and "state-of-the-art" law library,slated to open in fall 2012 The building is being designed with the needs of law students in mind and will feature numerous amenities including a student commons, wireless Internet access, offices for student organizations, a locker room and food service, according to the university's press release.

Federated search engine for US government documents

Speaking of the Government Printing Office, it has recently introduced Metalib, a library portal that provides an easy interface to search simultaneously through a variety of electronic resources, such as catalogs, reference databases, digital repositories or subject-based Web gateways. This federated search engine ("federated" means it searches multiple databases) searches across U.S. Federal government databases, retrieving reports, articles, and citations while providing direct links to selected resources available online. When you find the information you need, MetaLib provides tools to save it for future reference in your E-shelf, save it to disk or send it by email. You can search multiple databases in parallel using the Basic, Advanced or Expert interface. You can also search individual databases using theA-Z Resource List , which enables you to locate specific databases from the wide range of databases available. The A-Z Resource List also lets you create your own sets of databases for searching at your convenience. In addition you can link to the native interface of a database and use that for searching.

hat tip: Joe Hodnicki

U. Va. celebrates 100 years as depository library

The University of Virginia library is celebrating 100 years as a federal depository library. To mark the occasion, he library is mounting an exhibit called "An Army of 100,000,000": Celebrating 100 Years of Government Information at U.Va." The exhibit focuses on WWI and how the Government Printing Office, along with the Committee on Public Information, urged Americans to support our soldiers as well as our allies and the war effort. WWI posters, pamphlets and other materials from the depository collection are in the exhibit. There is more information and a few posters available for viewing at the U. Va. library website.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Religious vanity plates OK

The WSJ Law Blog reports that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has reversed a lower court ruling in favor of the state of Vermont in a case where the state had rejected a Vermonter's request for a vanity license plate containing a Biblical reference. The appeals court ruled Friday that the First Amendment leaves room for religion on vanity plates. Shawn Byrne, the Vermonter who brought the case, had applied to the state for a vanity plate reading "JN36TN", which he says is a reference to the Bible verse John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world..."). The AP said of the ruling ""THE REV" and "PSALM48" can now join "ARMYMOM" and "DARE2BU" on the license plates of cars in Vermont."
In its opinion the court writes, ""The state rejected Byrne's message only because it addressed ... areas of otherwise permissible expression from a religious perspective.  This the state cannot do." The court also emphasized that its ruling was limited to the state's ban on religious messages;  the state can keep its ban on vanity plates that refer to scatological subjects, genitalia, illicit drugs, racial epithets and other objectionable material.

More on social networks and politics

Just after Malcolm Gladwell's article was published in The New Yorker, Frank Rich had an op-ed in the Sunday New York Times called "Facebook Politicians ARe Not Your Friends". The op-ed brings together Gladwell's article and the new movie about the Facebook founder called The Social Network and takes  a generally cynical view of social networking and its effect on democracy. Mr. Rich writes "the democratic utopia breathlessly promised by Facebook and its Web brethren is already gone with the wind.  Nowhere, perhaps, is the gap between the romance and the reality of the Internet more evident than in our politics. In the idealized narrative of digital democracy, greater connectivity has bequeathed more governmental transparency, more grass-roots participation and even a more efficient rendering of political justice... But you can also construct a less salutary counternarrative....The more recent miracle of Twitter theoretically encourages real-time interconnection between elected officials and the citizenry. But it too has been easily corrupted by politicians whose 140-character effusions are often ghost-written by hired 20-somethings...When South Carolina governor Mark Sanford was pretending to hike on the Appalachian Trail during his hook-up with his mistress in Argentina last June, his staff gave him cover by feeding his Twitter account with musings about such uncarnal passions as 'Washington D.C. financial recklessness.'"

Friday 8 October 2010

Malcolm Gladwell : Why the revolution will not be tweeted

Malcolm Gladwell had a thought-provoking article in the New Yorker last week, titled "Small Change
Why the revolution will not be tweeted", in which he looks at social media like Facebook and Twitter.  He compares social activism in the 1960's and social (media) activism today: the civil rights protests that engulfed the South in the '60's, he points out, happened without e-mail, texting, Facebook or Twitter. He goes on to discuss how low-risk online social activism is.  He says " Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires. The Facebook page of the Save Darfur Coalition has 1,282,339 members, who have donated an average of nine cents apiece. The next biggest Darfur charity on Facebook has 22,073 members, who have donated an average of thirty-five cents. In other words, Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro."

Thursday 7 October 2010

law prof posts free, downloadable Torts casebook

North Dakota law prof Eric Johnson has posted a free, downloadable casebook for torts. He says that after using three different casebooks over the past three years he decided to create his own casebook and make it available as a pdf through SSRN.
He advises: "Not only should all instructors and students feel free to download this casebook and use it for free, but if any instructor out there would like to customize it, add to it, delete from it, etc., let me know, and I will be happy to give you the original document to work from... This casebook is extremely basic. There are no notes, no questions, no problems, and no exercises. Volume One only has cases, plus one statute. The value of the work is solely in terms of the editing. With no bells and whistles, it's not for everyone. But if you tend to use a casebook only for the cases, then mine might be worth checking out."
Since Torts is a 2 semester course at ND, he has posted the first volume, for the first semester, which covers negligence and liability relating to health care. For the spring semester he will post a second volume, which will include intentional torts, strict liability, economic torts, dignitary torts and a few other subjects.
Prof. Johnson says he was inspired by Prof. Thomas Field Jr. of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, who had already posted his own IP law casebook, Fundamentals of Intellectual Property: Cases & Materials, on SSRN.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Post-Gazette, Legal Intelligencer partnership

American Lawyer Media has announced that he Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Legal Intelligencer (the nation’s oldest daily legal newspaper) have formed a new content partnership that will expand coverage of legal news for the region’s business community. The Post-Gazette  launched a new print and online weekly legal news section on Monday October 4, which will be published in the newspaper every Monday and feature bylined news and analysis from both publications. The first section, published yesterday, featured a Legal Intelligencer column titled "After a Summer of Discontent, All Eyes on Pennsylvania Supreme Court"  and an article about pro bono work by Pittsburgh law firms.  The weekly section will run in the Post-Gazette’s business section with a “Legal Intelligencer” column, local legal news, as well as other news content from the LI selected by the editors of the Post-Gazette.
Coverage will focus on state and regional legal, court, legislative and law firm news of interest to business readers.


The Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law has started a Law Research Paper Series within the Legal Scholarship Network (LSN). Series publishes research papers authored exclusively by scholars of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law (editors: Prof. Juergen Basedow, Prof. Holger Fleischer, Prof. Reinhard Zimmermann). Papers cover topics on foreign, European and international private law including commercial law, business law and procedural law as well as comparative legal history and the foundations for comparative law and legal harmonization. You can subscribe to the eJournal at the SSRN website.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

IBISWorld: new ULS database

Pitt's University Library System has notified us that we now have access to a new database called IBISWorld.  It is a business database containing research reports on over 700 U.S. industries. These industry reports are searchable by the 5 digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS code), keyword or company name. There is also a browse feature organized by industry name and NAICS code.  For example, this page has a report on the search engine industry and includes information on the current state of the industry, the future outlook for the next five years, the major search engine companies and their market share, key industry statistics and a helpful "Jargon and Glossary" section.  The report also has some hyperlinks to "Additional Resources For additional information on this industry".

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Library liaisons for students?

Inside Higher Education today reports that some academic libraries are setting up programs in which students are assigned their own personal librarians. According to the story, Drexel and Wesleyan universities are starting "personal librarian" programs for undergraduates, following the lead of the University of Chicago and Yale University, which began a program for undeclared majors aafter providing a similar service to medical and law students. 

Heavy hitters file amicus briefs in Wal-Mart class-action case

Bloomberg news reports that 19 companies have filed amicus briefs supporting Wal-Mart's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to limit class-action lawsuits by workers by blocking female Wal-Mart employees from suing on behalf of 1.5 million women.  The companies filing amicus briefs include Microsoft, GE, Intel and Bank of America; they argue that judicial approval of a class action puts too much pressure on defendants to settle even frivolous claims. One brief argues that “Because the specter of potentially enormous class-wide liability compels defendants to settle even meritless claims, class certification decisions are often tantamount to a decision on the merits.”

Crime in the United States 2009

The FBI has released a web-only publication titled Crime in the United States, 2009.  It countains 81 tables, as well as charts and graphics, based on information privded by nearly 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies from all 50 states and Washington D.C., as well as from law enforcement in Puerto Rico and other outlying areas.  You can download excel spreadsheets of the data.

Google Transparency report

Google has added a "transparency report" page to the Google website, which links to an interactive map of government requests for Google to take down or censor content.  Google says that transparency is an important value for the company, and their goal is to maximize transparency around the flow of information through their web products. They say that "We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests."

Monday 27 September 2010

Optimize your cellphone photos

Digital Inspiration blog has a useful post today with tips for taking good photos with your cellphone's camera. As the author says, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”  A couple of the tips are:  if possible, turn off the flash if you don't absolutely need it; and avoid using the zoom feature because The built-in zoom in most phone cameras are not optical but digital and you aren't really zooming - you're better off moving closer to the subject or cropping after the fact.

Sunday 26 September 2010


A fascinating article in today's New York Times magazine section describes the bizarre legal battle surrounding the papers of Franz Kafka - giving new dimension to the term "kafkaesque".  The second most troubling piece of information contained in the article (after the fact that "during his lifetime, Franz Kafka burned an estimated 90 percent of his work") is that an unknown amount of the Kafka papers reside in an apartment in Tel Aviv with Eva Hoffe (secretary of the friend Kafka entrusted his papers to) and "between 40 and 100 cats. ...members of the scholarly community have expressed concern regarding the effects of these cats on their surroundings."

Saturday 25 September 2010

Ithaka and GPO project will develop model for the FDLP

The Government Printing Office is working with Ithaka (Ithaka is the not-for-profit organization that manages the Portico electronic archiving project) to lead a project that will develop a model for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to more efficiently accomplish its mission in a rapidly changing digital environment. According to the project website, "GPO has defined the objectives and structure of this project. There will be no reassessment of the fundamental mission of the FDLP, which is to ensure that the American public receives no-fee ready and permanent public access to federal government information. In this project, Ithaka S+R will conduct an environmental scan, examine other library networks, identify a practical and sustainable model (or models) for the FDLP going forward, analyze the value proposition for the FDLP in the 21st Century, and provide regulatory and legislative recommendations to guide possible implementation."

Public Resource awarded Google prize

Google has announced the winners of their Project 10^100, awardomg 10 million dollars in total to ideas, chosen by the public, that will help change the world. One of the $1 million winners is Carl Malamud's Public Resource dot Org.  From the Google announcement:
Idea: Make government more transparent
Project funded: Public.Resource.Org is a non-profit organization focused on enabling online access to public government documents in the United States. We are providing $2 million to Public.Resource.Org to support the Law.Gov initiative, which aims to make all primary legal materials in the United States available to all.
Google also has a pretty fabulous one minute video that shows all the winning ideas. It's on YouTube.
Carl also has posted on O'Reilly Radar about the prize and what a difference it will make to his organization. This is great news as well for those of us working on the AALL's National Inventory of Primary Legal Materials.

Thursday 23 September 2010

FERC pamphlet about natural gas lines for property owners

This may be a bit of timely information for property owners concerned about Marcellus shale underlying their land. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has created an online booklet (24 page pdf) called An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? What Do I Need to Know? that explains property owners' rights, now the FERC procedures work, what safety and environmental issues might be involved, etc.  The booklet discusses addresses such issues as the legal rights and responsibilities of all parties, archaeological sites, safety issues, pipeline installation procedures, how long a pipeline might stay in place and many other questions.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

PA county reports

It seems that LLMC Digital, one of the consortiums to which we belong, has recently digitized many state legal materials including many PA county reporters that go back to the nineteenth century.

Monday 20 September 2010

Streaming Video of films or clips to enhance course content

NELLCO (New England Law Library Consortium) recently offered a web-based demo of Digital Campus, the Swank Streaming Video solution for the curriculum.You can see the Swank Streaming Video demo online at your convenience.  This service will allow faculty to legally stream video content from more than 17,000 movies and tv shows to students, along with annotations and questions, via course websites.

BEPress offers free webinar on Institutional Repositories

BEPress (Berkeley Electronic Press) is offering a free webinar called "Kick-Starting IR Success at Any Stage" which will discuss how to create the foundation for successful institutional repositories.
Courtney Smith, Manager of Outreach and Scholarly Communications at bepress, will be the presenter on October 12th, 2010 at 1:00 PM EDT.
According to the blurb, "Drawing from the knowledge and best practices across the Digital Commons community, Courtney will look at how libraries are developing strong repository teams and expansive repository collections, and are using these to create strategic and sustainable connections on campus."

You can register for the free webinar at: register/674051714.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Children's Privacy Online

The Wall Street Journal has conducted an investigation into  online privacy in which they found that sites popular with children and teenagers install more "tracking technologies" (like cookies) than websites popular with adults. They examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what tracking tools they installed on a computer and found that as a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons" and other pieces of tracking technology- 30% more than were found in an analysis of the 50 most popular U.S. sites overall, which are generally aimed at adults.  The WSJ Digits Blog has a new post about "How to Protect Your Child's Privacy Online" that lists some steps parents can take to protect their children's computers.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Loislaw news...

FYI I was having difficulty getting online with Loislaw yesterday and had to contact their tech support.  It turns out that Loislaw only works well if you are using either Firefox or InternetExplorer as your browser.  It doesn't work with Google Chrome and it also doesn't work with Safari, so Mac users are out of luck.  Tech support said they are working to make it compatible with more browsers.  So if you want to use Loislaw remember to use Firefox or Internet Explorer!

Thursday 9 September 2010

e-personation may become a crime in California

Business Week reports that if Gov. Schwarzenegger signs a new "e-personation" bill anyone who poses as another person online with malicious intent may be hit with fines of up to $1,000 and a year in jail. The law would also allow victims to file civil suits.

When books go digital

Emily Williams, who blogs over at Digital Book World, made an interesting observation in a recent post: she says "Stripping away the paper form has revealed the true nature of books: they are complicated bundles of copyrights.  It is this fact even more than the centuries-old maturity of the print book market or the robust codex form (look ma, no plugs! no compatibility issues!) that has slowed the transition from print to ebooks." 
She goes on to talk about how the images associated with a book, like the cover art, must be licensed both for digital use and international distribution.  And for nonfiction books that have photos and illustrations it's a headache for the publishers who have to deal with not just author copyrights but the rights to all the images.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Pirate law

The Law Library of Congress recently announced that it has digitized its collection of pre-1923 piracy trials. According to their website, "this historical collection of piracy trials is critical for understanding how the various nations of the world handled piracy issues before the year 1900". Full text of the collection is available on the Law Library of Congress website.

Monday 6 September 2010

Comparing eBook stores

Digital Inspiration blogger Amit Agarwal has posted the results of his look at how many titles are available at the various eBookstores for the various eBook readers. The Kindle store at offers around 700,000 electronic titles which also includes public domain works that are free. Sony's  eBook store has  around 60,000 titles.  Barnes & Noble’s eBook store  claims to have more than a million books for the Nook but the number of titles available in the store is around 26,000 – the rest are public domain  works that you may download through Google Books.  Apple’s promotional material says that “tens of thousands” of book titles are available on their iBookstore but the exact numbers are unknown. However, a simple Google query reveals that iBookstore is the smallest of them all with a collection of around 22,400 titles.

Google Beat video channel

Google has launched a separate YouTube channel called The Google Beat, which presents the latest search trends on Google like a news broadcast. The channel reports on the week's hottest Google Search trends from around the US, with a map (a Google map, of course). For example, searches featured last week: glenn beck rally, hurricane earl, ufc 118, paris hilton, and the emmy awards. It's weirdly interesting.

Federal court sides with Eminem

The Wall Street Journal's law blog has a post today with the title "Federal Court Sides with Eminem in royalty dispute; Record Business does not Implode." In reviewing a decision in a suit brought against Universal Music Group by producers affiliated with rapper Eminem, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that iTunes downloads (even the DRM-free variety) are encumbered by enough restrictions that they can’t be considered sales at all; the songs are instead being licensed by the "purchaser".  The opinion is available here.

Blawnox woman posts videos of borough council meetings

There is an article in today's paper about Melina Brajovic, a Blawnox woman who is annoying some Blawnox Borough elected officials with her videos of borough council posted on YouTube. In her video, "Obama and Ron Paul Told Me I Can Record Public Meetings of Local Government…," resident Melina Brajovic argues with council President Sam McNaughton. The debate was sparked over council's requirements of people videotaping to sign in before council meetings.McNaughton blurts out: "You weren't even born in this country. You can't even speak English."To which Brajovic, a native of Serbia, responds, "You're saying I'm not as American as you are? I am as or better." McNaughton replies, "I don't think so."
According to the article, "the video, filmed and produced by Brajovic, has been viewed more than 200 times on the website YouTube since it was posted last week. Another video featuring Blawnox Borough Council disagreements with residents entitled "Constitution Versus Tyranny, Give Me Liberty or Give me Death, Patrick Henry 1776" has racked up more than 11,500 views since it was posted in early June."

Wednesday 1 September 2010

NEW ULS database trial during September

Through September 24 the University Library System is trying out the database "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online." Of course the "national" refers to Britain, not the US, but still. It features "the people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to the end of the year 2000." The database contains, according to its website, 57,348 biographies and 10,671 illustration. Also 65 million words.
State-of-the-art search options, extensive internal cross-referencing, access to articles from the original DNB, and navigation by "themes" combine with rigorous research and scholarship to make the Oxford DNB one of the most innovative and important reference sites available online.

Monday 30 August 2010

THOMAS Updated, now mobile-friendly

This just in from the Library of Congress:
"Just in time for the return of Congress from August recess, THOMAS has undergone its third major enhancement of 2010. Building upon the enhancements made in January  and June , the latest enhancements add a mobile friendly homepage, integrate features from the Library of Congress and Law Library of Congress websites into THOMAS, and add a new portal to state legislature websites.

THOMAS now has a mobile-friendly homepage that will display on devices with lower screen resolutions like BlackBerrys. The homepage has also been optimized for iPhones and Droids, leveraging their larger screens to provide complete access to the full version of the THOMAS homepage.

The global footer now available on most Library of Congress websites, including the Law Library of Congress website, appears throughout THOMAS. The global footer includes ways to stay connected with the Library including an "All ways to connect" link.

In addition to easier access to the Library's social media, there is a new box to highlight ways to connect with THOMAS and the Law Library of Congress through the In Custodia Legis Blog , Facebook, Twitter , YouTube  and iTunes U.

A link to State Legislature Websites  has been added to the THOMAS homepage. This new page displays a map with links to the legislative bodies for all fifty states, Washington, DC, and U.S. territories. It provides quick access to state legislative websites that are similar to what THOMAS provides on a federal level.

THOMAS was launched on January 5, 1995 in response to the bipartisan leadership of the 104th Congress that directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Named for the third president, the system represents Thomas Jefferson's ideals of an informed electorate. THOMAS is publicly accessible at"

OED not dead, just digital

There have been a number of reports and blogposts (for example on NPR, the Washington Post, Fast Company) about the imminent demise of the print version of the Oxford English Dictionary.  Some of the headlines paint this as a sad loss. Librarians on the whole, however, don't mind.  The behemoth print OED in all its volumes is massively heavy, takes up a lot of shelf space, and is daunting to the average reader. Some libraries - and people who want the OED but don't have the room - decided to get the wacky 2-volume "Compact Edition", which shrinks the size of the OED by the simple method of making the font so tiny you need a magnifying glass to read it (the magnifying glass is included). 
The electronic version, by comparison, takes up no room.  The first electronic version had a clunky cumbersome interface that was no joy to use, but several years ago was completely revamped and the electronic version is now very user-friendly with a supple, intuitive interface. 
Let's face it, reference books are just plain better when they're digital.
But you don't have to take my word for it: Pitt's subscription to the OED is here.

Sunday 29 August 2010

New York Times branches out into higher education?

Is this something new? In today's Sunday New York Times (the print edition) there is a section dedicated to the "New York Times Knowledge Network". This Network seems to be a partnership between the Times and a number of higher education institutions, offering courses both for-credit and not, certificate programs, and something called "NYT Programs of Study". These last are, according to the NYT Knowledge Network website, "Programs of Study courses, on various topics,... developed and are taught by Times journalists. Students can select any number of these courses: to stand alone, or be taken as a sequence. Each course is a four-week module, taught by New York Times journalists and delivered online."
The website lists courses of study in a whole variety of subject areas including Law: 2 courses in legal writing (in conjunction with Thomas Edison State College) called "Effective Advocacy through Legal Writing" and "The Tao of Legal Writing";  a course in Health Care Law.   A certificate program in Immigration Law is offered in a partnership with City University of New York and includes several immigration law courses for which you apparently pay the standard CUNY per-credit cost.  There's a course in "Journalism Law for Bloggers" (costs $175.00) which " will teach you the fundamentals of media law, including special concerns that apply to online journalists and bloggers. One of the most experienced lawyers at The New York Times will guide you through the standard definition of libel law (plus specific exceptions), the standards of proof and how they are applied, as well as various libel defenses. "
All the courses are online, though some offer a "face to face" version.  This is all very interesting; by offering reasonably priced educational programs the New York Times is tapping into the expertise of its journalists and perhaps seeing a new way forward for the declining newspaper business.

Friday 27 August 2010

DRAGNET federated search of free legal databases

The Mendik Law Library at New York Law School has recently developed DRAGNET, a search tool that allows the user to run a Google search simultaneously in more than 80 legal web sites and databases. DRAGNET stands for "Database retrieval access using Google’s new electronic technology".  A list of the active sites is included on the page, with hyperlinks. DRAGNET was developed  by librarians at the Mendik Library using Google’s free custom search option. The sites were chosen by Library staff for their reliability and utility to legal researchers; they include sites related to international law, tax law and cyber law, as well as a significant number of state and local government sites.  Search results are limited to the top 100 hits, so users are encouraged to be very specific.

Facebook files trademark infringement lawsuit against Teachbook

The Chicago Tribune reports that Facebook has sued a tiny start-up called over the use of 'book' in its name. The start-up, which has two employees and fewer than 20 users signed up for its free web community, aims to provide tools for teachers to manage their classrooms and share lesson plans and other resources. In a trademark infringement lawsuit filed in California district court in San Jose, Facebook said its use of 'book' in its name is 'highly distinctive in the context of online communities and networking websites.' Facebook, based in Palo Alto, accuses Teachbook of federal trademark dilution, trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Free iPads in the news

Two stories this week about free iPad programs:  first, Monterey College of Law in California is providing free Apple iPads to all students enrolled in a supplemental curriculum program that helps them prepare for the state's bar exam. According to a report by Campus Technology, all entering first-year students signed up for the program within the first week, as did 70 percent of the remainder of the student body. 
The second story comes from the UK's Telegraph, which reports that the Japan Sumo Association is distributing about 60 iPads among  51 sumo training centers to help improve communication: apparently sumo wrestlers' fingers are too fat to use cellphones, but the size of the keys on the iPad are just right.

SPEECH Act may be tested soon

Earlier this month, the US approved a new law against so-called 'libel tourism,' the practice of suing US companies in foreign jurisdictions (quite frequently, the UK) which do not have the same level of free speech protections. This new law, the SPEECH Act (Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage), may now get put to the test. Techdirt reports that UK lawyers, acting for a client named Jeffery Morris, have demanded the entire Techdirt site shut down due to unidentified comments on a 2004 Techdirt blogpost that upset Mr. Morris.
Techdirt says "As such, given the newsworthy nature of an example of where the brand new law (thankfully) protects us, as well as the fact that we do not feel it is decent or right for anyone to demand we shut down our entire site or be sued halfway around the world because he does not appreciate a comment someone made about him, we are publishing the letter that was sent to us. Thanks in part to the new law, we have no obligation to respond to Mr. Morris, his friend or the lawyers at Addlestone Keane, who (one would hope) will better advise their clients not to pursue such fruitless legal threats in the future. Should Mr. Morris and his solicitors decide that they wish to proceed with such a pointless and wasteful lawsuit against us, which will only serve to cost Mr. Morris significant legal sums with no hope of recovery, we will continue to report on it, safe in the knowledge that it has no bearing on us."

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Online OCR Tools for Converting Images to Text

The Digital Inspiration blog has a post today that evaluates and ranks online OCR tools. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software can be used to convert images such as scanned pages that are in jpg or pdf format into text.  Once you have used OCR on an image you can search the text for words like any other digital document.

Monday 23 August 2010

National Archives treasure hunters

The Los Angeles Times recently featured a story about a small but interesting band of treasure hunters, called the Archival Recovery Team, working for the National Archives in Washington D.C. The story reports that when Paul Brachfeld took over as inspector general of the National Archives he discovered the American people were being robbed blind. Many important (and valuable) documents that should be in the Archives have gone missing. Examples: "The Wright Brothers 1903 Flying Machine patent application? Gone.
A copy of the Dec. 8, 1941 "Day of Infamy" speech autographed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and tied with a purple ribbon? Gone.
Target maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, war telegrams written by Abraham Lincoln and a scabbard and belt given to Harry S. Truman? Gone, gone and gone."
The small but dedicated team hopes to track down and reclaim missing items. They now have a Facebook page where you can keep up with their activities.

Almanac of Higher Education 2010

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education has an article and other information about the 2010-2011 Almanac of Higher Education. There are many interesting statistics about the demographics and finances of the higher education industry.

Saturday 21 August 2010

McAfee lists most dangerous celebrities for malware

McAfee, the big anti-virus software company, has named the "Most Dangerous Celebrities" in cyberspace for the year. Cameron Diaz has replaced Jessica Biel for the dubious top spot, as internet searches for her name result in the most links to websites loaded with malware. Cybercriminals often use the names of popular celebrities to lure people to sites that are contain malicious software. Fans searching for “Cameron Diaz” or “Cameron Diaz and downloads,” “Cameron Diaz and screen savers,” “Cameron Diaz and wallpaper,” “Cameron Diaz and photos” and “Cameron Diaz and videos” are at risk of running into online threats designed to steal personal information. Clicking on these risky sites and downloading files like photos, videos or screensavers exposes surfers or consumers to the risk of downloading the viruses and malware. The top ten celebrities:
1. Cameron Diaz
2. Julia Roberts
3. Jessica Biel
4. Gisele Bündchen
5. Brad Pitt
6. Adriana Lima
7. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Nicole Kidman
8. Tom Cruise
9. Heidi Klum, Penelope Cruz
10. Anna Paquin
Among athletes, tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick came in at (#13) and (#14) respectively. Most of the risky sites were uncovered when searching for screensavers featuring these sexy athletes. David Beckham ranked (#29) and Tiger Woods ranked (#33) this year.

Friday 20 August 2010

Google's online prediction API

Many "smart" web services rely on algorithms that can learn and respond to new information; examples are Amazon's personalized recommendations for books you might enjoy, or iTunes music recommendations that are based on the music you buy. Now Google labs offers the online Google Prediction API (API stands for "application programming interface") service for software developers, providing an easy way to help create smart software that learns to sort incoming data. MIT Technology Review article on the new service explains that "Google's service provides a kind of machine-learning black box-- ata goes in one end, and predictions come out the other...For example, the Google-hosted algorithms could be trained to sort e-mails into categories for "complaints" and "praise" using a dataset that provides many examples of both kinds. Future e-mails could then be screened by software using that API, and handled accordingly."
Currently there is a waiting list for invitations to have access to the Prediction API.

Thursday 19 August 2010

College boosts student retention by providing smart phones to faculty

Inside Higher Education today has a story about a small college in Georgia - Georgia Gwinnett College - that has decided to provide all its full and part-time faculty with smartphones and pay for the service plans. The college then encourages faculty to respond to any calls or texts from students within 24 hours. This is part of an effort to increase the number of students who stay the course for 4 years. The story says that the plan is working: the retention rate for returning sophomores at Georgia Gwinnett is 75 percent, about double the average rate for similar colleges in Georgia.

Facebook Places

Walt Mossberg's most recent All Things Digital blogpost he talks about the new Facebook service called "Places". The service, which is optional for members, allows you to check in to the places you go and share that info with your Facebook friends. It is similar to Twitter's Foursquare network. According to the blogpost, you initially can check in to Places only if you have Apple’s iPhone, though you can use a site at via your browser on other phones and laptops that can track your location and support HTML 5 technology.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

LexisNexis Congressional Topics: Gory, Gruesome and Grisly

LexisNexis is offering a Webinar on Friday Aug. 20 at 11 am EDT called "Congressional topics: Gory, Gruesome and Grisly. "
Their description: Are you responsible for teaching the incoming students about the reference databases? Are you working on handouts for using government documents? Looking to add some spice to your examples?
As we all know, sometimes it’s the off-the-wall topics that interest students the most. Join us on August 20th as LexisNexis presents “Gory, Gruesome and Grisly”. We will show you some of the quirkier content included in LexisNexis Congressional that could pique the interest of your students as you start of the school year. We look forward to having you join us!
This webinar lasts approximately 1 hour.
You can reserve a Webinar seat now at:

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Justia Forms Beta

Justia has a new Forms site (still in beta) containing links to "Free Legal Forms - US Federal & State Court Forms & Government Forms." You can browse the forms by State or Category. Included are 2,276 official federal forms - listed by category and/or federal agency - and 1,103 Pennsylvania state forms listed by category and alphabeticall by title.

AALL offers "Law Library Management" online course

The AALL is offering six-week online course, to be held from September 28 to November 2, 2010, designed to "help you achieve higher management performance and advance your career potential." The course will be taught by Maureen Sullivan, owner of Maureen Sullivan Associates and Professor of Practice in the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science Ph.D. Program in Managerial Leadership. The course will consist of a combination of live interactive GoToWebinar sessions and course work conducted through RCampus, an education management system and collaborative learning environment. There will also be assignments and readings between sessions.
You can register for the course on the AALL website by Sept. 17; the cost is $275 for AALL members, $375 for non-members.

Online sources for stock video

Connie Crosby has a post on the slaw blog where she links to five prominent sources for stock video that can be used in presentations or websites. Note that some require fees or copyright clearance.

Survey of Electronic Research Alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw

Laura K. Justiss of the SMU Dedman School of Law has posted an interesting article on SSRN titled A Survey of Electronic Research Alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw in Law Firms (including a link to the downloadable 33 page pdf). The User Education in Law Librarianship blog has posted more information about the article, pointing out several useful tables in which she compares alternative resources and their usage in law firms.
From the abstract: "Justiss conducted a survey of law firm librarians in 2010 that identified electronic research database alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw and ranked them by subscription frequency. The survey included research databases for primary source alternatives; court docket and case information services; secondary sources for topical legal research and legal periodicals; financial, business and news sources; public records; and non-legal and legal-related sources, including intellectual property databases. The survey also generated information regarding suggested or mandated legal research policies in law firms for the use of alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw and examined their applicability to billable and non-billable research. Lastly, it examined the prevalence in firms of flat rate pricing agreements with Lexis, Westlaw or both. "

Wednesday 28 July 2010

A copyright version of

Brandon Butler of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has an interesting article called "Urban Copyright Legends". He says that as a copyright lawyer, he sometimes wishes there were a copyright law version of Snopes dot com, the Urban Legend dispeller. He goes on to discuss some "urban legends" about copyright law that are not correct, and that are misunderstood by librarians and educators as well as copyright holders.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Barco at the American Assn. of Law Libraries annual conference.

Many of the Barco librarians recently returned from the annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries, which was held in Denver this year. We have all returned with a lot of enthusiasm, knowledge and ideas that we hope to use to make the Barco Law Library even better.

Barco librarians presented two programs at the conference this year. Library Director George Pike, who among other things is the noted Legal Issues columnist for Information Today, presented a program called "Ten Things Every Librarian Should Know About Copyright". This lively program was presented in the format of a radio talk show called "Copyright Corner". Attendees acted as a "studio audience" for the broadcast, as radio talk show host George Pike (who clearly enjoyed playing the role of an irascible and argumentative conservative!) interviewed special guest James Heller, author of The Librarian's Copyright Companion. Heller shared ten things every law librarian needs to know about copyright, while the Copyright Players (played by other law librarians) illustrated some important do's and don'ts regarding copyright issues that might arise in a law library. Members of the audience had an opportunity to ask Heller about their real-life copyright dilemmas. Video of the program is available on the AALL Learning Center website.

Librarians Sallie Smith, Pat Roncevich and Susanna Leers presented a program called "Database Ownership: Myth or Reality?". The program description: For some databases, vendors advertise the option to purchase data outright so libraries "own" the content if the vendor goes out of business or the library cancels its subscription; this option is expensive but promises perpetual access to the data. Join Barco Law Librarians as they explain the hidden costs of "owning" a database and the difficulties of storage and access when a subscription was cancelled and the vendor provided content as promised.. Video of their presentation is embedded below.


WaPo's new investigative report & website: Top Secret America

The Washington Post published a large interactive website today called Top Secret America. This impressive site is a result a two year investigation by more than a dozen journalists at the Post. It details the companies and government agencies currently doing top secret work in the United States.
The Post divided top-secret work into 23 different categories, from border patrol to psychological operations to weapons technology. The Top Secret database was put together by compiling hundreds of thousands of public records of government organizations and private-sector companies. The Post has identified 45 government organizations (e.g. the FBI) engaged in top-secret work and determined that those 45 organizations could be broken down into 1,271 sub-units (e.g. the Terrorist Screening Center of the FBI). There is a catchall category called "unknown” that contains companies doing work for a government organization that could not be determined. At the private-sector level, The Post identified 1,931 companies engaged in top-secret work for the government. Private-sector companies were grouped together and listed by a parent company's name
To tell the story of top secret America, the Post has "created an immersive online reading experience that combines all of the elements of our two-year investigation together into a single frame. Page horizontally through our stories and view photos, video and graphics without leaving the package."