Saturday 30 January 2016

Harvard Law announces a new tool for preserving online info

Jonathan Zittrain, chair of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law has announced the release of Amber, a free software tool that can be used with WordPress and Drupal to preserve content and prevent broken hyperlinks. Zittrain said "Amber harnesses the distributed resources of the Web to safeguard it. By allowing a form of mutual assistance among Web sites, we can together ensure that information placed online can remain there, even amidst denial of service attacks or broad-based attempts at censorship.”

Friday 29 January 2016

Supreme Court Justices' favorite words

An article in the Stanford Technology Law Review called USING ALGORITHMIC ATTRIBUTION TECHNIQUES TO DETERMINE AUTHORSHIP IN UNSIGNED JUDICIAL OPINIONS by William Li, Pablo Azar, David Larochelle, Phil Hill, James Cox, Robert C. Berwick, & Andrew W. Lo was recently discussed in the Atlantic Monthly. These computer scientists developed a program that analyzes signed opinions to spot words, phrases and sentence structure characterizing each justice’s writing style, then uses its findings to determine the author of unsigned opinions. Examples: Chief Justice John J. Roberts Jr. uses the words “pertinent” and “accordingly” a lot. He tends to start sentences with “here” and end them with “the first place.” He also likes the phrases “without regard to,” “given that” and “a general matter.”  Justice  Scalia favors the words “utterly,” “thinks” and “finally.” He also likes to start sentences with “of course” and “that is not.” Justice  Breyer likes to use the phrase “in respect to” and to start sentences with “for one thing,” “that is because” and “hence.” He likes to use the words “consequently” and “thing.”  Justice  Ginsburg often uses the words “observed” and “stated,” and likes to start sentences with “notably.” She likes the phrases “reasons stated” and “case concerns.” Justice Sotomayor often uses the words “observes,” “heightened” and “lawsuits.” Justice Clarence Thomas likes the phrases “the foregoing reasons” and “address whether.” He likes to begin sentences with “therefore” and “however.” Justice Alito favors the words “fundamentally,” “widely” and “regarded.” He also uses the phrases “set out,” “noted above,” “is generally” and “the decision of.” Justice Kagan tends to use the words “enables,” “earlier” and “matters,” and the phrases “result is” “after all” and “the theory.” Justice Kennedy likes to begin sentences with “though” and “the question is.” He favors ending sentences with “however.” He also uses the phrase “he or she.”

Monday 25 January 2016

Title IX Investigation Tracker for sexual violence

The Chronicle of Higher Education has created an online project called the Title IX Investigation Tracker. The project tracks federal investigations of colleges for possible violations of the gender-equity law Title IX involving alleged sexual violence. It includes all investigations "in this wave of enforcement": those either open now or resolved since April 4, 2011, when the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague” letter exhorting colleges to resolve students’ reports of sexual assault — and to protect them throughout the process.
You can search federal investigations by institution or keyword, see which ones are open and which are resolved, and learn the context. You can also sign up for alerts about specific campuses or federal enforcement in general.  As more information is gathered by the Chronicle  — such as the federal investigations’ case files, which they have requested through the Freedom of Information Act — it  will be added to the site.
Note that this project is focused on federal enforcement. It does not document each step in state or federal legislation on campus sexual assault, colleges’ internal investigations of students’ reports, or related lawsuits.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Data and Fastcase

The LLSDC's newsletter, Lights, has a fascinating interview with Ed Walters, the CEO of Fastcase. Since the Barco Law Library is in the process of subscribing to Fastcase, the article is especially relevant.
Walters explains that Fastcase is really built on data, he says, "Even in 1999 when we got started, we did things like integrate citation analysis into search results, so Big Data is baked into our company’s DNA. We were ahead of our time then, but it seems like the legal market is really catching on to the idea of legal analytics." He goes on to say that "Right now, law is trying to collect data. It’s early times. In the next stage, our profession will deploy the data that we’ve collected and structure it to understand the past. Then, in the third stage, we can use history and predictive analytics to predict the future, at least probabilistically." (Shades of Isaac Asimov!).
The interview is well worth reading and kudos to law librarian and editor Amy Taylor, of American University's law school, for conducting the interview.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Pitt News launches interactive crime map

The Pitt News has announced the introduction of an interactive crime map, which they will use to show Pitt Police activity every week. The map will be updated every Sunday with information from the previous week. Here is the map for Jan. 8-15, 2016. The map includes pins showing each reported crime, and a text version appears below each new map.

Friday 15 January 2016

Radio stations and webcasting

If you're wondering why radio stations aren't devoting large blocks of time this week to playing David Bowie's music in honor of his memory... the Washington Post has the answer. In a blogpost called "All-day Bowie and the Copyright Act" author David Post explains that it's because of " the complicated webcasting provisions buried deep, deep in the Copyright Act."

Above the Law on fixing the US News rankings

The Above the Law blog has a new post titled "How To Fix The U.S. News Law School Rankings", written by Kyle McEntee, the executive director of nonprofit Law School Transparency. The post focuses on the finances of law schools and how the rankings incentivise excessive spending by law schools.

Thursday 14 January 2016

New PLI online books Dec. 2015

Now available online, PLI Course Handbooks published in December 2015:
 • Coping with U.S. Export Controls and Sanctions 2015
 • New Developments in Securitization 2015
 • Nuts and Bolts of Corporate Bankruptcy 2015 CORPORATE LAW
 • 48th Annual Immigration and Naturalization Institute
 • Advanced Venture Capital 2015
 • Annual Disclosure Documents 2015
 • Banking Law Institute 2015
 • Understanding the Securities Law Fall 2015
 • 33rd Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation
 • Open Source and Free Software 2015
• Understanding the Intellectual Property License 2015
 • 17th Annual Commercial Real Estate Institute
 • Building Better Construction Contracts 2015

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey

A group of local organizations including the University of Pittsburgh University Center for Social and Urban Research, Pittsburgh Today, Vibrant Pittsburgh, the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance have just released The Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey (also available as a 32 page pdf), a new report showcasing the results of a survey that asked more than 3,500 southwestern Pennsylvania residents for their views on diversity in the workplace, region and their neighborhood. Results from the survey indicate that, while most respondents of all races see value in racial and ethnic diversity, significant differences exist along racial lines in answers to many of the 54 questions which focus on diversity in the workplace and community.