Tuesday 30 October 2018

GPO statute compilations

The FDLP has announced that the "Government Publishing Office (GPO) has released an initial set of 40 Statute Compilations as a pilot on govinfo, GPO’s website that offers public access to Federal Government information."
These are compilations of public laws that either do not appear in the U.S. Code or that have been classified to a title of the U.S. Code that has not been enacted into positive law. Each Statute Compilation incorporates the amendments made to the underlying statute since it was originally enacted.
When legislation cites or amends a statutory provision that is not part of a positive law title of the U.S. Code, the citation or amendment must be to the underlying statute, not to the U.S. Code. Statute Compilations are a useful drafting aid in these circumstances; however, they are not official documents and should not be cited as evidence of the law. The official version of Federal law is found in the United States Statutes at Large and in the U.S. Code, the legal effect of which is established in sections 112 and 204, respectively, of title 1, United States Code.
 Some public laws have more than one “short title” by which the law may be cited. In such a case, it may be necessary to scroll through a Statute Compilation to locate the portion that corresponds to the short title by which the Statute Compilation is listed in this collection.

Caselaw Access Project launched

From Adam Ziegler: "Thrilled today to announce the launch of https://case.law , a free public access point for 6.4M+ state and federal court decisions spanning our nation's entire history! The Caselaw Access Project (“CAP”) expands public access to U.S. law." 
The goal is to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online, in a consistent format, digitized from the collection of the Harvard Law Library, with the help of Ravellaw.
At https://api.case.law you'll find a browsable API that offers open access to descriptive metadata for the entire corpus. API documentation is at https://case.law/api/ -- written to be friendly to experts and beginners alike.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Webinar on Presidential Research Resources

The librarians at "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" are offering a new webinar on Presidential resources.  The webinar will discuss digital and archival resources for Presidential Research with librarians and archivists from the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington and Seton Hall University. The presenters will include Rebecca Baird, Archivist, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (MVLA), Sheila Blackford, Librarian, Scripps Library, Miller Center, University of Virginia, Lisa DeLuca, Social Sciences Librarian, Seton Hall University, and Katherine Hoarn, Special Collections Librarian, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. The webinar is on Weds. Nov. 7th from noon to 1:00 pm. Registration is free; register here.

Friday 26 October 2018

A win for the open law movement

The ABA Journal reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has unanimously ruled that Georgia’s official annotated state code is not copyrightable and belongs in the public domain. The case was an appeal by well-known open law advocate Carl Malamud and his foundation Public.Resource.org. In 2017 an Atlanta federal judge in the Northern District of Georgia had ruled that the state of Georgia can copyright annotations to its official state code and that Public.Resource.org cannot print those annotations on its website without a license (244 F. Supp. 3d 1350). The 11th Circuit court overturned that ruling. From the opinion:
Today, we are presented with the question of whether the annotations contained in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), authored by the Georgia General Assembly and made an inextricable part of the official codification of Georgia’s laws, may be copyrighted by the State of Georgia. Answering this question means confronting profound and difficult issues about the nature of law in our society and the rights of citizens to have unfettered access to the legal edicts that govern their lives. After a thorough review of the law, and an examination of the annotations, we conclude that no valid copyright interest can be asserted in any part of the OCGA.
we conclude that the annotations in the OCGA are sufficiently law-like so as to be properly regarded as a sovereign work. Like the statutory text itself, the annotations are created by the Case: 17-11589 Date Filed: 10/19/2018 Page: 4 of 58 5 duly constituted legislative authority of the State of Georgia. Moreover, the annotations clearly have authoritative weight in explicating and establishing the meaning and effect of Georgia’s laws. Furthermore, the procedures by which the annotations were incorporated bear the hallmarks of legislative process, namely bicameralism and presentment.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Open Access Week

To celebrate "Open Access Week," several events are scheduled at Pitt this week and next. Open Access @ Pitt will be hosting a number of events, beginning tomorrow with a program on “Preprints and the Future of Scholarship” at 4 pm. . On Tuesday of next week, another open access event, “Human Rights and Info Access in a Digital World,” will feature Mike Madison and two other distinguished panelists.
What is it? From the Open Access Week website:
"Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review. OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered."
The website also has resources and materials of anyone interested in Open Access available in useful handouts:
What Faculty can do to support Open Access
What Librarians can do to promote Open Access
What Research Funders can do to promote Open Access
What Universities and Administrators can do to promote Open Access.

New Pitt Print Station in the law school!

Pitt Law's IT Department has announced that a new Pitt Print Station is coming to the Lobby of the Barco Law Building. Good news for students - especially since it will be able to do both B&W and COLOR printing!

Saturday 20 October 2018

IPUMS webinar

There will be a live webinar on Friday, October 26 at 10 am titled "An Introduction to IPUMS." Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) provides census and survey data from around the world integrated across time and space. IPUMS makes it easy to study change, conduct comparative research, merge information across data types, and analyze individuals within family and community context. The webinar was organized by the Organized by the Government Publications Librarians of New England government information group in partnership with IPUMS and the Government Publishing Office (GPO). No registration is required; you can just log in here.

Friday 19 October 2018

Students in CA draft legislation to tackle textbook costs

Inside Higher Education has a recent article about a class project by political science students at California Polytechnic State University. "They drafted legislation to see if they could get it passed by the state Legislature. The bill became law this past summer. In the process, the students learned how lawmaking works and got invaluable experience on using the political process to push for change -- even if it's only incremental change -- on a higher ed issue close to their hearts."
The issue they tackled was the high cost of textbooks. Initially, the students wanted to write legislation that would prevent publishers from publishing new editions of textbooks unless they genuinely contained new material. The class decided instead to draft a bill urging publishers to specify the differences between textbook editions and to do so prominently on their websites. Their proposal was an update to an existing bill urging publishers to take steps to reduce costs for students.
The result was California Assembly Bill 2385, which was unanimously approved by the state legislature and signed into law at the end of August.
The professor who taught the class acknowledges that the impact of the bill may be small because there aren't legal consequences for publishers who don't comply. On the other hand the bill lays out best practices for publishers and nudges them towards greater transparency.

FDLP : the Patent Office and Its Publications

The FDLP Academy recently held a webinar, “The Patent Office and Its Publications.” The webinar discussed the modern utility patent document and its architecture, as well as USPTO historical publications and open source patent search tools. The PowerPoint slides and a helpful visual "Patent and Trademark Documents Timeline: A visual History of Major United States Patent and Trademark Office Documents" handout are both available from the FDLP.

Thursday 18 October 2018

Congress.gov Browser Extension

New from the Law Library of Congress: an experimental, open source Google Chrome browser extension that will provide you with enhanced access to Congress.gov from third-party webpages, such as news sites. The extension was created by Syed Tanveer, an intern at the Library of Congress, and it does two things:
and it does two things.spacer 1. If you highlight a bill citation on a webpage (ex. H.R.5515), it links the citation to the bill summary landing page in the current legislation collection of Congress.gov.
2. The extension also allows you to highlight text and export it to search against a Congress.gov collection of your choice. For example, you could highlight “John McCain” in a news story, click the “c” in the top, right-hand corner of your browser, and then search that text in the member’s profile page collection in Congress.gov.
You can add the extension to Chrome Browser by following the simple instructions on the LOC Labs page.
And the Law Library of Congress is soliciting feedback on this project; they would like to know whether this makes accessing primary source legislative data more convenient for you, and which features you would like to see added to the extension in the future.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Serial Set on HeinOnline

HeinOnline has announced the release of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set in HeinOnline (Phase I). The Serial Set is a bound series of over 14,000 volumes containing nearly all of the hundreds of thousands of numbered congressional reports and documents published since 1817. The numbered documents and reports include many executive branch and legislative branch publications and until 1953, the Serial Set also included the official House and Senate journals. HeinOnline is releasing the Serial Set in phases because it is such a massive collection. The content in Phase 1 includes part of the serial set that is in the HathiTrust digital library. Specifically, the content of Phase 1 includes:
• Complete indexing of the more than 17,000 volumes of the Serial Set;
• Forty years (1978-2018) of content archive in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format;
• Complete coverage of the American State Papers;
• 86% of the Serial Set in HeinOnline or via HathiTrust Digital Library;
• 27% of the volumes in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format.
Pitt users also have online access to the Congressional Serial Set  from Readex, which covers the time period from 1817 through 1994. 

Paper: Adding transactional law to the 1L curriculum

Tax Prof Blog has a link to an article on SSRN titled "Transactional Skills Education: Mandated by the ABA Standards." The author, Tina L. Stark, who is a Professor of Practice at Emory Law School, discusses the ABA Standards requirement that law schools provide every student a foundation to practice transactional law. She recommends that law schools add a credit or credits to the 1L Contracts course:
"I suggest that if a school were to add a credit or credits to the Contracts course, professors not use the time to teach interpretation, negotiation, and drafting. Instead, I propose that we allocate that time to teaching foundational knowledge that builds the infrastructure for additional transactional education...
1. students should learn about contract structure and the commonality among contracts.
2. Students should learn the translation skill, the ability to determine which contract concept or concepts should be used to memorialize a business term. This core analytical skill undergirds all deal work."

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Big changes at Bloomberg BNA

Jean O'Grady at Dewey B Strategic has the scoop on happenings at Bloomberg BNA. There have been noticeable changes in the past year as Bloomberg began to incorporate BNA into Bloomberg Law and the old BNA platform for the many BNA Reporters is phasing out. Now it seems that they are completely reorganizing the BNA news business resulting in layoffs of 46 staff. A link to a news article that reprints the email sent out by the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg BNA describing the reorganization. The email says that they are "creating an exciting team focused on redefining how we tackle case summaries, court opinions and the daily decisions that our customers need most, across all our legal beats" and "entralizing our Insights commentary for BLAW." With the 46 layoffs, the email says that "Those teams will be lean and mean and focused on creating new ways to do what we do." There will be five teams of reporters and editors focused on the 4 areas of labor & employment, healthcare & benefits, securities, bankruptcy & trade, IP & privacy, and one "first move" team that will "masterfully produce all the newsletters and highlights for BLAW in one umbrella group." A few years ago BNA was publishing up to 100 different legal news reports online; these are all being streamlined into just a few major areas.
Editor-in-chief Cesca Antonelli concludes the email by saying "Our journalism – whether it is scoops or case-law analysis or investigative work – has to be indispensable. I am excited that we are moving the newsroom to the next level after a long and storied history."

Friday 5 October 2018

2018 Faculty Services Handbook is online

The Barco Law Library 2018 Faculty Services Handbook is now available online through the Pitt Law website. Users will need to authenticate through the Pitt authentication system; the Handbook is a pdf that is stored in Box.

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Women much less likely to ask questions in academic seminars

Inside Higher Education has an article titled "Women Ask Fewer Questions Than Men." It discusses a new study that reveals a stark disparity between male and female participation in asking questions during academic seminars, and offers recommendations to ensure all voices are heard. The study, by a researcher at Cambridge University, observed 250 talks at 35 institutions in 10 countries. The study also reported significant differences in self-reported feelings towards speaking up in seminars. Women rated ‘internal’ factors such as ‘not feeling clever enough’, ‘couldn’t work up the nerve’, ‘worried that I had misunderstood the content’ and ‘the speaker was too eminent/intimidating’, as being more important than men did, which may help explain the difference. Alyssa Croft, one of the co-authors of the study, said “While calling on people in the order that they raise their hands may seem fair, it may inadvertently result in fewer women asking questions because they might need more time to formulate questions and work up the nerve.”
The study concludes by making a number of recommendations for "r creating an environment that makes everyone feel more comfortable to ask questions, thus promoting equal visibility for women and members of other less visible groups."