Friday 29 May 2015

Open-access academics denounce Elsevier's new policy

Both The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed have articles this week discussing how academic, library and technology organizations are denouncing a new academic sharing policy announced by Elsevier. Critics say it undermines open-access policies at colleges and universities and prevents authors from sharing their work. 23 organizations, among them Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and library and open-access associations in countries such as the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, Brazil and the U.K., have issued a joint statement calling on Elsevier to reconsider the policy.

The Bluebook!

The 20th Edition of The Bluebook is now available. For this edition, when you purchase a printed copy of The Bluebook, you will get a FREE 30 day trial to the Bluebook Online; look for your free trial key on the back of the title page. The Bluebook for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch are available via the Rulebook app in the App Store. is pleased to see that this Bluebook now recognizes as a reliable tool for preserving internet sources. The Bluebook includes a new rule: 18.2.1(d), which states:
“Archiving of Internet sources is encouraged, but only when a reliable archival tool is available. For citations to Internet sources, append the archive URL to the full citation in brackets” – the rule includes the following example: Letter from Rose M. Oswald Poels, President/CEO, Wis. Bankers Ass’n, to Elizabeth M. Murphy, Sec’y, SEC (Sept. 17, 2013), []. is also the example used to demonstrate the archived sources rule in the Rule 18.1 Basic Citation Forms for Internet Sources table on page 178: Rocio Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s Status Debate Continues as Island Marks 61 Years as a Commonwealth, HUFFINGTON POST (July 25, 2013, 9:00 AM), [].

Thursday 28 May 2015

Dejure Design: where law & justice go to be seen

An interesting legal-related firm in San Francisco,  Dejure Design provides interactive and visual design services to social justice organizations seeking to make their legal work more accessible and engaging. Dejure Design was founded in 2014 by an experienced human rights lawyer and acts as a bridge between the legal and visual design communities. You can see some of their infographics work on the main page of their website.

Sundowning Westlaw "classic"

Law Sites blog has a post titled "Westlaw's Days are Numbered" which points out that the end date of Westlaw Classic will be August 10.  The post also gives a nice history of Westlaw, Westlaw Classic, and Westlaw Next, from dial-up terminals to internet access to plain-language searching. As author Bob Ambrogi says, "Of course, with Westlaw gone, there will be no need to call its successor WestlawNext. In just a few months, that means, there will be just one Thomson Reuters legal-research service, WestlawOnly."

Friday 22 May 2015

Bloomberg BNA launches new tool for corporate transactions

Bloomberg BNA today announced the launch of Bloomberg Law: Corporate Transactions, a  web-based product that includes a technology-driven drafting workflow tool with its analytics powered by Bloomberg's financial databases, primary resources, secondary materials and practical guidance. This new offering allows corporate lawyers to know what deal terms are "market standard." Putting "big data" to practical use, the new tool searches over one million documents, comparing agreements and clauses to yield "market standard" language. According to the press release, "Just as searchable databases of case law revolutionized the way litigators approached their work 30 years ago, Bloomberg Law: Corporate Transactions is set to dramatically change the workflow for transactional lawyers".
"We've developed an all-in-one solution that allows transactional lawyers to quickly draft, negotiate, and finalize a wide variety of agreements," said Carl Sussman, Commercial Product Director for Bloomberg Law. "The product's real power is the way it synthesizes over a million documents and returns results that are easily incorporated into a deal document. This is what leveraging big data is all about and where we clearly differentiate ourselves from the competition."

Thursday 21 May 2015

resources for learning to code

Knowing how to write code (various types) is a skill that is always useful, and especially useful for librarians and others in the information biz.  The Digital Inspiration blog has a post titled The Best Websites to Learn Coding Online that provides links to websites where you can a variety of programming languages like Java, SQL, PHP, Ruby, Python etc. The post also has links to free programming books and online sites and apps for children that can help them learn programming basics. 

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Federal Agencies aren't making docs available online...

The National Security Archive reports that an FOIA Audit has found that 19 years after the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments (E-FOIA) were passed by Congress, only 40 percent of agencies have followed the law’s instruction for systematic posting of records released through FOIA in their electronic reading rooms. The Archive team audited all federal agencies with Chief FOIA Officers as well as agency components that handle more than 500 FOIA requests a year — 165 federal offices in all — and found only 67 with online libraries populated with significant numbers of released FOIA documents and regularly updated. More details on the findings are available in an article on NetworkWorld.
hat tip: Sabrina Pacifici on beSpacific

Monday 18 May 2015

Fair Use Index from the US Copyright Office

Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante recently announced the launch of the U.S. Copyright Office's Fair Use Index, which is designed to provide the public with searchable summaries of major fair use decisions. The Index was undertaken in support of the 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement prepared by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator within the Executive Office of the President. Although not a substitute for legal advice, the Index is searchable by court (all federal courts) and subject matter (16 Subject categories, including "Other") and provides a helpful starting point for those wishing to better understand how the federal courts have applied the fair use doctrine to particular categories of works or types of use, for example, music, internet/digitization, or parody. For each decision, the index provides a brief summary of the facts, the relevant question(s) presented, and the court’s determination as to whether the contested use was fair. Users can browse all of the cases, search for cases involving specific subject matter or categories of work, or review cases from specific courts. The Index ordinarily will reflect only the highest court decision issued in a case. It does not include the court opinions themselves, but it does include the full legal citation so you can look it up easily.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

New BloombergLaw enhancements

Bloomberg BNA has announced new enhancements to transactional resources in the Bloomberg Law database. To find them, look under the Transactional Law tab/menu bar, where you will now see  links for the new "Draft Analyzer" and "Deal Analytics" tools.
The "Draft Analyzer" allows you to take your draft provisions/language and build out market based standardized versions of that language. It shows you the developing consensus among drafters based on Bloomberg's analysis of each paragraph from virtually every agreement and organizational document filed as an EDGAR exhibit. After running the analyzer, the results page shows you up to 10 matching consensus templates (market based standards) as well as analytical information so that you can determine the consensus template’s strength and relevance to your transaction. For example, for each market based standard you will see information telling you the number of documents making up that standard, the law firms that used that language, when they used it, etc.
The "Deal Analytics" tool contains information on 500,000 public and private M&A deals and allows you to search through all these deals using a plethora of search filters/options. For example, you can search by party, advisor, industry sector, deal type, deal size, exchange, date, etc.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Updated Federal Courts website launched

The federal Judiciary website,, has undergone a major facelift.  The newly launched site has a fresh look, improved functionality, and webpages that adjust automatically for optimal use on all sizes and types of devices. Features include:
-  An improved Court Locator that helps users find their local court more easily. Search by city and state or ZIP code, and choose a court type on any page of the website.
- Maps display with search results.
- Individual district court information pages include direct links to the court’s website, e-filing, juror information page, and eJuror log-in.
- All court forms are now grouped in a central location, so users can search by keyword or filter by topic. Download forms directly from the main forms page, or click on the form name for more information. Relevant form instructions or committee notes are found on the specific form’s page.
-  Federal Rules:  Records and Archives of the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules and Practice and Procedure and its advisory committees can be filtered and searched by committee and year for meeting Minutes, Committee Reports, Agenda, Books, Rules Suggestions, and Rules Comments.
- Statistics:  An enhanced search for Judiciary data tables allows users to search by publication, specific type of data, and date range, and includes related analysis of the data tables.

Monday 11 May 2015

.....and more apps

Legaltech News reviews a few new apps that lawyers can use. One that is especially timely is 
Moble Justice CA, a mobile app from the California ACLU that lets users who witness public interactions with law enforcement automatically upload their cellphone videos to ACLU servers for review by ACLU lawyers.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

60 minutes, 60 apps for lawyers

The iPhone JD blog has posted information from a presentation, titled "60 apps in 60 minutes",  given at the ABA Techshow recently.  They aren't necessarily free but they won't break the bank either.  For example, Wolfram (the giant math database) has an app for lawyers called Wolfram Lawyer's Professional Assistant ($4.99) that will provide all sorts of calculations that a lawyer might need to do, such as historical value of money, statutes of limitations, or family relationships.  

Saturday 2 May 2015

Pitt apps

And speaking of apps, Pitt's Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) recently  announced the Pitt App Store, designed to serve as a one-stop shop for University-related apps. It includes apps for the University’s web-based course management system, training videos, Box cloud storage and collaboration, Microsoft Office, campus news, etc.  The Pitt App Store can be downloaded for iOS or Android smartphones and tablets, and it also has a list of apps currently available. 

Mobile Apps for Law site updated

The Informed Librarian Online has announced that the Mobile Apps for Law database was recently updated with the addition of a number of new entries; the entire database was also updated. The database is a comprehensive directory of mobile applications for law and lawyers includes both legal research and utility apps for all mobile devices. Whether you use an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Blackberry, Android, etc. you can use the database to find out which law apps are available for your device. The advanced search screen lets you search for apps using a number of different critiera including mobile device, date added, and subject. 

Friday 1 May 2015

Westlaw: new KeyCite flag

Westlaw has added a new flag to KeyCite. In addition to the red flag, warning that a case is no longer good law for at least one of the points of law it contains and the yellow flag, warning that the case has some negative history but has not been reversed, there will now be a blue-striped flag.  This flag will be used to indicate that a case has been appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.  The new blue-striped flag appears in the results list and at the top of a case. The flag will be added to any case appealed to the U.S. Courts of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court, including those appealed from state supreme courts. Appeals from agencies like U.S. Military Boards, U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices, Veterans Claims, etc., will not receive the flag on the lower court opinion.