Tuesday 27 September 2011

NLRB Report on social media

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a report (24 page pdf) detailing how the NLRB has been addressing cases involving employees' use of social media and .employers' policies about the use of social media. The report uses 14 cases to illustrate how the NLRB General Counsel’s office determines that use of social media qualifies as protected activity, and when the contents of an employer’s social media policy can give rise to liability under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), even if the employees are not represented by a union. In 4 cases involving employees’ Facebook use,  the employees were engaged in "protected concerted activity" because they were discussing terms and conditions of employment with fellow employees. In five other cases involving Facebook or Twitter posts, the NLRB found that the activity was not protected.
In one case, it was determined that a union engaged in unlawful coercive conduct when it videotaped interviews with employees at a nonunion jobsite about their immigration status and then posted an edited version on YouTube and the Local Union’s Facebook page. In five cases, some provisions of employers’ social media policies were found to be unlawfully overly-broad; in one case the employer policy lawfully restricted use of social media.     

Monday 26 September 2011

Bloomberg Law to sponsor SCOTUSblog

Bloomberg Law and SCOTUSblog have announced that they have entered into an exclusive sponsorship agreement. SCOTUSblog was established in 2002 by Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe (who remain as the blog’s Publisher and Editor, respectively) is devoted to comprehensive information about the Supreme Court of the U.S. It provides coverage of individual cases, a daily aggregation of Supreme Court writings, archives, and analytic features to a readership of attorneys, law students, academics, business leaders and the general public. 

Palsgraf cited in 9/11 case

A federal judge in the Southern District of New York has dismissed negligence claims by electric utility Con Edison over the destruction of 7 World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.  A Con Edison substation was destroyed when 7 World Trade Center collapsed, and Con Edison claimed that the builder and developer of the building had been negligent.  In his opinion in the case In re September 11 Litigation, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein cites the famous ruling of Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co., 248 N.Y. 339 (N.Y. 1928), where the New York Court of Appeals dismissed a negligence claim based on a sequence of event in which train guards allegedly pushed a man carrying a package of fireworks onto a train, he dropped the package, and the fireworks exploded, causing a set of scales at the other end of the platform to fall over, strike and allegedly injure a passenger. The Palsgraf Court said the "risk reasonably to be perceived defines the duty to be obeyed, and risk imports relation; it is risk to another or to others within the range of apprehension."
Judge Hellerstein said, "It was not within 7WTCo.'s, or Citigroup's, 'range of apprehension' that terrorists would slip through airport security, hijack an airplane, crash it suicidally into one of the two tallest skyscrapers in New York City, set off falling debris that would ignite a building several hundred feet away, cause structural damage to it, destroy water mains causing an internal sprinkler system to become inoperable, kill 343 firemen and paralyze the rest so that a fire within a building would not be put out and the building would be allowed to burn an entire day before it consumed itself and collapsed." He said that said the chain of events that led to the destruction of 7 World Trade Center was "much too improbable to be consistent with any duty" toward Con Edison by builder and developer Larry Silverstein and Citigroup, the successor-in-interest to the building's primary tenant, Salomon Brothers.

Sunday 25 September 2011

PACER training site

The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts has announced the availability of a training site for the federal judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). The site is free of charge and has been populated with real case data from New York Western District Court from cases filed between 1/1/2007 and 7/1/2007. You can use your PACER account or the following credentials to login:
Login: tr1234    Password: pass123
Once you have logged in, you will see a page that walks you through some simple searches on PACER and provides tips on constructing a search.

Bluebook videos

The law library at Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, N.C. has created a series of online YouTube videos that show how to construct citations in accordance with the 19th edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.  The project is still underway; currently there are 18 videos available.  

Friday 23 September 2011

GPO publications touching on the paranormal

The Government Book Talk blog has a post today about a couple of government publications with a hint of SciFi..  The first is a diplomatic memo instructing yeti-hunters in Nepal.  The memo says that "there are, at present, three regulations applicable only to expeditions searching for the YETI in Nepal", and goes on to list the regulations, including the adjuration that "In case 'Yeti' is traced it can be photographed or caught alive but it must not be killed or shot at except in an emergency arising out of self defense".
The second publication is the 231 page book "The Roswell Report: Case Closed", a well-documented study that "was to determine if the U.S. Air Force, or any otherU.S. government agency, possessed information on the alleged crash and recovery of an extraterrestrial vehicle and its alien occupants near Roswell,N.M. in July 1947.” There are pictures. 

New BNA features

A few bits of news from BNA that might be useful to Barco users:
- The new "My Folders" tool allows you to create  folders in BNA where you can store and annotate BNA articles, analysis, and source documents. "My folders" is on the upper menu of BNA pages, and there is a "Quick Tour" available where you can learn more.
- BNA has a new  page called "Fast answers: Federal Tax", with answers to 3,000 common tax questions.
- BNA has developed some Mobile Apps for Blackberry and iPhone; they include 'Mobile Highlights" and the "Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges and Clerks, 2011". 

Consolidating library & IT

Inside Higher Education has an article today about plans at Southwestern University to integrate information technology and the library into one administrative unit in order to improve information services while saving money.  The article discusses how such integration has been tried and accomplished at a variety of colleges and universities, and closes by saying that "In the long run there has got to be close collaboration" between the library and the information technology office. 

Thursday 22 September 2011

HeinOnline One Box Search

Hein online has released a new One Box Search in BETA. This new enhancement is found at the top of the subscribed libraries page once you get into HeinOnline.  It will allow you to search all collections you are subscribed to. This search box will function as an advanced search, so that you can use Boolean operators, quotes, wildcard, and proximity searching. You will also be able to narrow your search results by facets, such as collection/library, date, section type, and etc. They are looking for feedback; you can email your feedback to marketing@wshein.com

Monday 19 September 2011

Carolina library school provides lifetime data storage for students

The Wired Campus blog reports that the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina has provided this year's new library students with a special new perq: the LifeTime Library, with free data storage for their lifetimes. The idea is to create a personal digital archive maintained by the university that will last as long as the student does: a collection of coursework, transcripts, photos, music, videos, medical records and anything else people might want to preserve. The Dean of the School, Prof. Gary Marchionini, says "We're really developing digital lives that are paralleling our real, or analog, lives. What if we actually helped students when they're here at UNC think about this more seriously by giving them more storage space where they could manage their own digital lives and keep that available to them after they graduate?" Server space is a precious resource at universities, and most universities delete the data files of students once they graduate or leave to make room for their successors. Many students preserve their college experience, from class notes to photos, on laptops or social networking sites, but hard-drive crashes are routine, and data backup habits are not widespread. Ultimately, Prof. Marchionini hopes the LifeTime Library will be available to all UNC students, but a number of logistical hurdles, cost foremost among them, stand in the way. "The issue is, how do we support it?" he said. "If you think of it over 20 or 30 years, it's an enormous undertaking."

Lexis sites Martindale, Lawyers.com have new editor in chief

Law Technology News, an American Lawyers Media website, reports that Larry Bodine, a former law firm marketing consultant known for his LawMarketing Blog, has been named the new editor-in-chief of the LexisNexis websites Lawyers.com and Martindale.com. Mr. Bodine has 15 years of experience as a journalist, serving as editor and publisher of the American Bar Association Journal, associate editor at The National Law Journal and as a reporter for the New York Daily News and New Jersey's Star Ledger. Bodine also practiced law in Madison, Wisconsin. He said that he will first work on improving the Lawyers.com site, which currently aggregates news from other websites; he wants the site to generate its own material. He then hopes to work on the Martindale site, which is a resource that provides information about lawyers and law firms. He is quoted as saying "We need to weave in and reach out to the legal marketing community ... We need to do it in a way so it's their sandbox to play in."

Website for foreign students from Dept. of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security has launched a new website called Study in the States designed to provide information for international students who are interested in studying in the United States. The site is intended to be a "one-stop shop" for questions about visas, visa renewals and qualification requirements for foreign students and for academic officials. According to the site, "The Study in the States Initiative will examine the existing student visa and exchange visitor programs, as well as related programs for students after they have completed their course of study, to identify problem areas, and to consider possible improvements."
The site is attractive and user-friendly. Each page of the site has a background photo of a US university, and clicking on the upper right of the photo "What's this background?" link reveals the entire photo and information about the subject of the photo as well as the university where the photo was taken.

Friday 16 September 2011

Bing Maps improved imagery

Bing Maps (from Microsoft) has updated its aerial imagery for many locations, resulting in higher quality and more recent images. Their aim is to have coverage of (initially) the continental U.S. and Western Europe completed by June 2012. Bing Maps has added new user interface and text labels. For browsers with geolocation, a Locate Me button takes searchers directly to their current locations in Bing Maps. The new street-side view enables easier panning along streets.
Compare the Bing Maps improved aerial view of the Barco Law Building with the Google Maps satellite image version.

Thursday 15 September 2011

report on the migration of the Congressional database to ProQuest

ProQuest has sent out an email update on the progress of moving the Congressional database from Lexis to ProQuest.They tell us that "For the last 8 months, engineers and content matter experts have been busy planning for the migration of the Congressional suite of products to the ProQuest platform. This is a gargantuan task, encompassing a myriad of entitlements, separate products, and different "flavors" of many different document types, from the US Code to Hearings, to the publications and maps published within the U.S. Congressional Serial Set... As of now, ProQuest has loaded roughly 9 million (out of approximately 12 million) documents."
The email goes on to announce that they are planning to launch the new ProQuest Congressional in June 2012, to give librarians a chance to look it over before the next academic year. And they say that "there will be great improvements!", including faceted searching. 

Tuesday 13 September 2011

US Courts announce changes

The Judicial Conference of the United States has announced some changes:
 First, they have adopted a national policy to encourage federal courts to limit the sealing of civil case documents and files.  The policy emphasizes that a case should only be sealed in "extraordinary circumstances and the absence of narrower feasible and effective alternatives".  An order sealing an entire case should contain findings justifying the sealing.
Secondly, they approved raising the fees for federal courts, including raising the electronic public access fee for PACER document views from $.08 to $.10 per page. PACER users who do not accrue more than $15 a quarter will not be charged (the current exemption is $10).

Monday 12 September 2011

Adobe Flash support for iPad, iPhone from Adobe

CNet reports that Adobe has announced the introduction of Flash Media Server 4.5, a platform that allows publishers to deliver Flash content to Apple i Operating System (iOS) devices, including the iPod, iPad and iPhone. However, this only enables Flash video streaming to iPhones and iPads. Flash-based games, animations and advertisements still won't work on such devices.

International look at antitrust issues: Competition Law Institute

The Competition Institute is an international think tank, based in Paris and New York, that cultivates scholarship and discussion about antitrust issues through publications and conferences. According to the webiste, "The Institute focuses government, business and academic attention on a broad range of subjects which concern competition laws, regulations and related economics. This dedication to the antitrust field allows the Institute to match legal expertise with political acumen."
Some information on the site is free, with registration; other is through subscription. Free access includes the Glossary of Competition Terms with some links to caselaw; a list of antitrust law websites by country; and the Antitrust Encyclopedia, which compare the national competition policies in European countries, with an interactive map. The Encyclopedia also has a list of questions about competition law, with answers for each country in Europe. For example, one important question it asks and answers (for each of 32 European countries) is “What is the relevant legislation dealing with anticompetitive practices? What is the main wording?”

hat tip: Jean Pajerek, Cornell Law Library

Friday 9 September 2011

Amazon sales tax deal in CA

Amazon seems to be changing tactics in its battle against collecting sales tax on purchases by Californians. Amazon  has been supporting a ballot initiative in California to reverse a new state law requiring online retailers to collect taxes on Amazon sales. But the Los Angeles Times reports that there is a tentative deal between Amazon and the California legislature in which Amazon will back down from the initiative to repeal an online sales tax in exchange for a one-year moratorium on collecting the tax.

Let me Google that for you.

There's a website called "let me Google that for you" (lmgtfy.com), which explains "This is for all those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than google it for themselves." When someone asks you a question you type it into the lmgtfy box and it creates a link that you can send - the link goes  to the lmgtfy website, types in the question, and gets the Google results of the question, if that makes sense.  It might be easier to see it work; for example check out the lmgtfy for:  What does res ipsa loquitur mean? 

Thursday 8 September 2011

Google buys Zagat

Surprising news today: Google has purchased Zagat, the restaurant guide company. The price has not been disclosed

Wednesday 7 September 2011

UK will allow cameras in courts

British Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has announced that bills will be introduced in Parliament to overturn prohibitions on cameras in UK courtroom in order to to improve transparency and public understanding of the courts. The media will only be allowed to film judges’ summary remarks; victims, witnesses, offenders and jurors cannot be filmed.  In addition to allowing broadcasting,  more information about the performance of courts will be published in future to allow everyone to see how their local courts are working.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

CALI & LII make Federal Rules books available for free

CALI and the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School have partnered to publish three widely-used Federal Rules collections as eLangdell ebooks online: the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Evidence. The books are in .epub format, compatible with iPads and other devices that accept .epub files (a Kindle version is in the works).
You can find more details and download the books for free on the CALI eLangdell website.
These federal rules ebooks include:
The complete rules as of December 1, 2010.
All notes of the Advisory Committee immediately following each rule.
Internal links to rules referenced within the rules.
External links to the LII website's version of the US Code.