May 26, 2007
Wikipedia co-founder wants open-source search engine
"The folks behind the public encyclopedia have launched Wikia, a project to develop a search engine, crawlers and other indexing tools through a collaborative, open-source process.
Contributors will likely include graduate students as well large companies that want to include search functionality in their products but don't want to pay royalties to a search company, according to Wikia CEO Gil Penchina. Another constituency will likely be smaller search companies that don't have the time or money to do everything required for a complete search service themselves." [RJ]
US Pays for Increased Domestic Spying in Mexico
According to the Los Angeles Times, Mexico will use U.S. aid funds to expand its ability to tap telephone calls and email in an effort to boost security operations.
The expansion comes as President Felipe Calderon is pushing to amend the Mexican Constitution to allow officials to tap phones without a judge's approval in some cases. Calderon argues that the government needs the authority to combat drug gangs, which have killed hundreds of people this year.
May 25, 2007
AALS Executive Director Resigns After 15 Years of Service
Carl Monk has decided to step down as AALS Executive Director at the end of August, 2008. Here's the text of the Association President's announcement. [JH]
The Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools reluctantly accepted Carl Monk's decision to step down as Executive Director at the end of August, 2008. We tried to persuade Carl to stay longer, but to no avail. Carl has served legal education with distinction during his 15 years as Executive Director. Among his many qualities, we note Carl's dedication to high quality in legal education, his sound judgment, his visionary leadership (most recently evident in his key role in developing the International Association of Law Schools), his inclusive approach, his thorough and careful consideration of the issues facing legal education, his integrity, his kindness to and light touch with his colleagues in legal education, and his wise counsel. With characteristic thoughtfulness, Carl has provided this notice 15 months ahead of stepping down. I have attached Carl's letter to the Executive Committee.
Nancy H. Rogers
Association of American Law Schools
Dean, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Congress Approves Iraq War Funding Bill Without Withdrawal Deadlines
Congress passed H.R. 2206 [Thomas Legislative Resources] yesterday. As reported by CQ Today, the "Democrats made modest inroads by including benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet. And the White House will get a bill that includes spending for a variety of Democratic domestic priorities, as well as an increase in the minimum wage. ... [But] the exclusion of a withdrawal timetable, as well as a lack of troop readiness standards or binding consequences for failing to meet the benchmarks, were sore points for many Democrats who voted against the war funding." See also CNN's coverage.
The White House has stated that President Bush will sign the bill into law "without ceremony." Apparently even the White House is sensitive to the tragic irony of signing a bill that will result in more combat deaths during the Memoral Day weekend. [JH]
Americans are using Frequent Flyer Miles to Support Our Injured Service Members and their Families
|This weekend, the participating airlines will match your donation mile-for-mile, from 6 AM, Friday, May 25th through 11:59 pm, Monday, May 28th. Now is the time to donate those unused miles in your frequent flyer accounts!|
Operation Hero Miles was created by Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in cooperation with close to a dozen United States Airlines in October, 2003. When started, the program allowed troops stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan to fly home on leave for free. It now gives family members of wounded servicemen and women free plane tickets to visit their loved ones recovering at military hospitals across the country. Operation Hero Miles gives ordinary citizens an opportunity to help our troops in a very direct way that makes a real difference in their lives.
The program is brilliant in its simplicity. Travelers donate their unused frequent flyer miles to the Fisher House Foundation.
Donations are currently being accepted from the following ten airlines: Airtran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Air Lines and US Airways.
I cannot think of a better use of frequent flyer miles. Act now by going to Hero Miles. Hat tip to Lynette. [JH]
Friday Fun: Mr. Bean: The Library
The producers want to make clear that no real librarians were hurt in the filming of this skit.
Google Books: What’s Not to Like?
"The Google Books project promises to open up a vast amount of older literature, but a closer look at the material on the site raises real worries about how well it can fulfill that promise and what its real objectives might be." [RJ]
Microsoft & Google: Who Has the Edge in the War for the Web?
Microsoft and Google, with their vast financial and technological resources, are locked in an unrelenting competition to determine which company will have the greatest influence over the development of the Web as an applications platform. eWEEK editors examine the strategic factors that could enable either company to win. Check it out. [JH]
Opening the Door to the American Dream: Increasing Higher Education Access and Success for Immigrants
"Opening the Door to the American Dream: Increasing Higher Education Access and Success for Immigrants, a groundbreaking study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, exposes the systemic barriers that prevent immigrants from entering college and/or completing bachelor's degrees education, and whose needs are not met when they do enter the university system. It also anticipates that failure to address these deficiencies will significantly threaten the nation's ability to remain globally competitive in less than 10 years." [RJ]
National Academies 2006 Report to Congress Now Online
The 2006 Report to Congress is now available online. The National Academies examined many and diverse issues in 2006, and in all, issued more than 330 different reports. This annual report features summaries of selected reports from the institution, as well includes a full list of studies completed during 2006, a listing of current congressionally mandated projects, and a section on revenue. [JH]
It's a steal: who owns what in the digital age.
"Many of us take it for granted that we can download films or music without paying. Now, new projects such as Google Book Search will make millions of books available too. What will this mean for authors and the publishing industry? John Lanchester asks who owns what in the digital age." [RJ]
Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Issue Report on Antitrust and Intellectual Property
"The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a joint report, “Antitrust Enforcement and Intellectual Property Rights: Promoting Innovation and Competition,” to inform consumers, businesses, and intellectual property rights holders about the agencies’ competition views with respect to a wide range of activities involving intellectual property.
The report discusses issues including: refusals to license patents, collaborative standard setting, patent pooling, intellectual property licensing, the tying and bundling of intellectual property rights, and methods of extending market power conferred by a patent beyond the patent’s expiration."
May 24, 2007
Professional Reading: Sorting Out Information Technology Users
"Fully 85% of American adults use the internet or cell phones – and most use both. Many also have broadband connections, digital cameras and video game systems. Yet the proportion of adults who exploit the connectivity, the capacity for self expression, and the interactivity of modern information technology is a modest 8%."
Fully half of adults have a more distant or non-existent relationship to modern information technology. Some of this diffidence is driven by people’s concerns about information overload; some is related to people’s sense that their gadgets have more capacity than users can master; some is connected to people’s sense that things like blogging and creating home-brew videos for YouTube is not for them; and some is rooted in people’s inability to afford or their unwillingness to buy the gear that would bring them into the digital age." [RJ]
WorldCat Gadget Now Available on Google Gadgets
For those who use a personalized Google page, check out WorldCat's new gadget, a downloadable search box that you can add to your page. [RJ]
2007 Amendments to the National Academies' Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
List Price: $12.00
PAPERBACK | 46 pages | 2007
In 2005, the National Academies released the report Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which offered a common set of ethical standards for a field that, due to the absence of comprehensive federal funding, was lacking national standards for research. In order to keep the Guidelines up to date, given the rapid pace of scientific developments in the field of stem cell research, the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee was established in 2006 with support from The Ellison Medical Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This letter report is the committee's first set of amendments to the Guidelines and clarifies earlier recommendations and conclusions, including the criteria for determining which stem cell lines it is acceptable to use. Future deliberations of the committee will address items for which additional information gathering and more extensive debate and discussion will be necessary.
Related publications: Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (2005)
RSS from the National Archives
U.S.-China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, A Responsible Course
Chairs: Carla A. Hills, Vice Chairman; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Hills & Company, and Dennis C. Blair, Former Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command
Director: Frank Sampson Jannuzi, Hitachi International Affairs Fellow, CFR
144 pages | $15.00
ISBN 978-0-87609-403-7 (0-87609-403-5)
Council on Foreign Relations Press, April 2007
Task Force Report No. 59
Description: No relationship will be as important to the twenty-first century as the one between the United States, the world’s great power, and China, the world’s rising power. This report takes stock of the changes under way in China and what they mean for China and for U.S.-China relations.
The overall message is that while the United States should not turn a blind eye to the economic, political, and security challenges posed by China’s rise and should be clear that any aggressive behavior on China’s part would be met with strong opposition, U.S. strategy toward China must focus on creating and taking advantage of opportunities to build on common interests in the region and as regards a number of global concerns.
Journalist at Center of YouTube case
"Because the chopper-piloting journalist was the first to sue YouTube for copyright infringement, he is at the center of legal wrangling among behemoth corporate powers Viacom, NBC Universal and Google. The outcome of Tur's case could affect large media conglomerates that have filed their own claims against YouTube. Sources have said that NBC Universal and Viacom are worried." [RJ]
Opening: Research Librarian, University of Maryland School of Law
The Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland School of Law seeks a dedicated, flexible, and dynamic individual as a Research Librarian. The Research Services Department consists of five professional librarians and two Research Fellows, who assist faculty with research and publication preparation. Research librarians provide extensive support to faculty and students in a library offering innovative services.
Responsibilities: Work closely with faculty and students to provide reference and research assistance. Teach sections in the first-year research program as well as a required Advanced Legal Research course
focusing on business law research. Shared responsibility for
collection development, development of web pages to support course-related research, staffing of the User Services Desk. Assist with other Research Services and Law Library functions and projects as needed.
Required: M.L.S. and J.D. from accredited schools. Working knowledge of legal materials and strategies needed by law faculty and students; ability to teach basic and advanced legal research. Ability to work independently and collegially in a rapidly changing environment; excellent interpersonal and organizational skills; ability to multitask, take responsibility, and set priorities; excellent oral and written communication skills.
Preferred: Law library experience, teaching experience, experience with or interest in business law and intellectual property resources.
Salary and Benefits: Competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Excellent benefits.
Equal Opportunity: In employment, the University of Maryland, Baltimore does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, ancestry or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, marital status, or veteran status. Exceptions are as allowed by law, for example, due to bona fide occupational qualifications or lack of reasonable accommodations for disabilities.
To Apply: Send letter of interest, resume and contact information for three references to Barbara Gontrum, Assistant Dean for Library and Technology, Thurgood Marshall Law Library, 501 W. Fayette St., Baltimore, MD; or email email@example.com.
Position available August 1. Preference will be given to resumes received by June 1.
May 23, 2007
Professional Reading: From Legal Reasoning to Close Reading: The Textualization of Precedent
Check out Peter M. Tiersma, The Textualization of Precedent, 82 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1187 (2007) [Westlaw]. Here are some excerpts from the introduction of this very interesting article:
In the United States ... the common law is embarking on a path towards becoming increasingly textual, just as statutes have been for hundreds of years. It is no exaggeration to say that in this country, the common law consists of what judges write in their opinions. What they think or what they say during the proceedings before them is almost entirely irrelevant. As a result, it is less and less necessary to search for the holding or ratio decidendi of a case; the judge writing for the majority will often specify exactly what the holding is in carefully crafted text that is meant to fetter the discretion of lower courts in the same way that a statute does. As a consequence, legal reasoning is gradually being supplanted by close reading.
[American Courts are beginning to treat the common law as legislation.] Minds will differ on whether this transformation is good or bad. There are many consequences that flow from writing down the law in an authoritative way, something that I call textualization. One of the most significant consequences is that the law becomes more transparent and less susceptible to subtle manipulation. The other side of the coin, of course, is that it becomes more rigid. Rules that reside in memory tend to be more conceptual. They can evolve--consciously or not--as circumstances change. Textualized law, on the other hand, places greater interpretive constraints on those who apply it, and it can usually be changed only by formal amendment or overruling, which can be a slow and cumbersome process.
Complicating the picture is that as the common law becomes ever more textual, the very notion of written text is undergoing dramatic and largely unpredictable changes. Paper is being replaced by pixels. Even though a computer display can mimic a text on paper, there are significant differences between them. Accessing a large corpus of written or printed information traditionally requires an index or digest of some sort, which means that a human being must categorize the content in some way. Accessing electronic text, on the other hand, typically involves requesting a machine to locate sequences of text that exactly match a search term. Moreover, publication, once an important emblem of the authority of a judicial opinion, is undergoing profound transformations in a culture where anyone can publish whatever he wants on the Internet. It seems likely that these developments, especially the massive increase in available cases and the ease with which they can be accessed online, will only intensify the shift from legal reasoning to close reading.
There is no doubt that the common law and the nature of precedent have undergone dramatic changes during the past century or two, especially in the United States. What will ultimately result from these developments remains to be seen. It is clear, however, that American judicial opinions are far more textual than opinions or judgments made in the past. It seems inevitable that this trend will have important implications for the concept of precedent and the nature of common law adjudication.