Wednesday 22 February 2012

Consumer Advocacy Caucus on vendor business practices

The blog of the newly formed Consumer Advocacy Caucus of the AALL is asking  law librarians for thoughts on significant anti-consumer problems with legal information vendors in law libraries. Once they identify a problem they expect to survey AALL members to discern the nature and scope of how the problem is affecting law libraries. As an example, they say "according to Principle 3.2(a) of AALL’s Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers, “[p]ublishers should not bind their customers to a non-disclose clause as a non-negotiable requirement of doing business.” But many information service providers appear to have routinely violated this principle, severely compromising our ability to make informed purchasing decisions on behalf of our employers. Does this problem deserve our attention for a survey and first recommendation, or does some other problem concern you even more?"

Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act

AALL reports that the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has been introduced in California (SB 1075), Colorado (HB 1209) and Tennessee (SB 2894 and HB 3656). AALL members in those states are working closely with AALL's Government Relations Office, state legislators, the Uniform Law Commission and allies to ensure passage. The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act would make specified legislative materials, bills, codes, and statutes available to the public in electronic form and provides  for the official designation, authentication, and preservation of certain legal material in electronic records by an official publisher.

Vote for your favorite legal movie line

Bloomberg Law has put together a collection of video clips titled the "10 funniest, most moving, or most inspiring legal movie lines." After you watch the clips, you can vote for the one that you think is the best of the best.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

New version of Word Perfect

Law Technology News reports that an upgraded version of Corel's WordPerfect is available this spring. The article is subtitled "Does It Matter?" and goes on to discuss the history of WordPerfect and its decline, saying that "the only fiercely loyal users are older attorneys at very small firms."

WestlawNext Enhancements

WestlawNext recently prepared a document titled "Westlaw Next Enhancements: 2011 Year in Review", with a month-by-month listing of the additions and improvements to WestlawNext. The list is too lengthy to reproduce here, but it is pretty impressive and seems to indicate a commitment to enhancing Next with additional features and improvements.  One of the new  features is that you can use Next on an iPad to move documents you are using offline so that you can review and annotate your research even when you don’t have an internet connection.

Monday 13 February 2012

Love Fonts

It's probably too late to send a Valentine in the mail but you can still design and make a beeeautiful card for someone you love using these 99 Valentine fonts from Designorati. Note that these fonts are for PCs, but he includes a link to a site where you can convert them to Mac.

Friday 10 February 2012

Legislative Data and Transparency Conference

The Committee on House Administration held a Legislative Data and Transparency Conference in Washington D.C. on February 2, 2012 and their website now has video of the conference. There is more information about what went on during the conference, as well as links to blogposts and ppt presentations, available on Rob Richards' Legal Informatics Blog.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

ABA supports Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act

The ABA Journal reports that the ABA House of Delegates has approved Resolution 102B  in support of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act, governing the authentication and preservation of laws, court decisions and other legal materials published online. According to the article, the resolution was approved by a voice vote, though a significant number of delegates voted against the resolution. The accompanying Report on the Uniform Law states that "TUELMA addresses the critical need to manage electronic legal information in a manner that guarantees the trustworthiness of and continuing access to important state legal material. The goals of the authentication and preservation standards contained in the act are to enable end-users to verify the trustworthiness of the legal material they are using and to provide a framework for states to preserve legal material in perpetuity in a manner that allows for permanent access."

Do students own copyright in the notes they take in class?

MindShift is a blog that covers current topics in technology and education, and it recently featured an interesting post titled "Do Students Have Copryight to Their Own Notes?".  The post looks at how universities, especially in California, are restricting how students can share notes, and how these policies raise questions about whether teachers or students have copyrights to the notes taken in class. 

Monday 6 February 2012

Pittsburgh Data and Map resource

Pittsburgh's  Department of City Planning has created a new website called PGHSNAP, providing city neighborhood data and interactive maps.  According to the website, they've done this "because we believe that public information should not only be easily accessible, but easily understood". All of the 90 datasets presented in PGHSNAP are already available to the public, but are housed in many different locations, with varying degrees of difficulty in accessing them. Many are organized at differing levels of analysis, and aren't available by Pittsburgh neighborhood. PGHSNAP has taken those datasets and organized them by neighborhood and put them into an easy to understand format.  The interactive map is particularly useful, allowing you to zoom in and out on areas of Pittsburgh and providing layers that can be added to the map, including "Public Amenity",  "Planning and Development", "Political", and "Environmental" layers.

hat tip: Nate Traurig

PA Supreme Court redistricting opinion online

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday struck down the recent legislative redrawing of state House and Senate district maps.   In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Ron Castille said the proposal developed by the state Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which drew the new districts, overstepped the law by unnecessarily dividing counties and municipalities across the state. In the official decision handed down Friday afternoon, the justices explained the 4-3 decision against the newly proposed state House and Senate maps last week and detailed what changes should be made for the maps to meet constitutional muster.
The majority opinion, 2 concurring opinions and 1 dissenting opinion are all available on the PA Supreme Court website.

hat tip: Joel Fischman

Friday 3 February 2012

Free CALI webinar, Topics in Digital Law Practice

CALI is offering a free nine-week, online web-based course on Topics in Digital Law Practice to help address these issues beginning on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 at 2pm ET. The course is designed to provide an overview of the changes that are occurring in the practice of law today, especially with respect to technology. It will introduce law students for real-world situations that they will encounter in the job market and point law professors to new avenues to cover in their courses. The course will run for one hour a week for nine weeks and will feature a different guest speaker each week. Each class will be delivered via webcast and will have a 30 minute lecture presentation followed by a question & answer period and an online, interactive homework assignment for all course students to complete. There will be no formal assessment like a final exam. The detailed schedule, with topics and speakers,  is available on the CALI website  Attendees need to register for the course . This offer is open to faculty, students, and librarians.