September 10, 2008
Court Bans Publication of Librarian's Harry Potter Lexicon
On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge ruled against publication of the book The Harry Potter Lexicon, written by school librarian Steven Vander Ark because it borrowed "too much of Rowling's creative work for its purposes as a reference guide." [LLB's earlier post on the lawsuit] "Plaintiffs have shown that the lexicon copies a sufficient quantity of the Harry Potter series to support a finding of substantial similarity between the Lexicon and Rowling's novels," Judge Robert Patterson Jr. wrote in his 68-page ruling. Quoted in Rowling wins lawsuit against Potter lexicon. The court awarded the plaintiffs, J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers Entertainment, $6,750 in damages.
Fred Von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, discusses the nuances of copyright infringement and the intellectual property rights involved in the Harry Potter case in this NPR podcast. [JH]
Foreign Law Schools Follow U.S. Legal Education Practices
The National Law Journal takes a look at foreign institutions around the world that are emulating the law schools program and the admissions processes here in the United States. In Foreign law schools follow the U.S. playbook, the "trend not only is an endorsement of American legal education, but it also is creating a consistency of training that many observers say is critical in a global legal market." [RJ]
State Attorneys General Unresponsive to Online Fraud and Abuse Complaints
A new report from the Center for American Progress and Center for Democracy and Technology finds that state attorneys general receive thousands of complaints of online fraud and abuse but have launched relatively few cases in response. In Online Consumers at Risk and the Role of State Attorneys General, "Attorneys general have not given high priority to online fraud and abuse. Rather, most investigations and prosecutions involving the Internet appear to be focused on sexual enticement of minors and child pornography." The report recommends that state attorneys general take a number of steps to protect online consumers including:
- assessing the applicability and adequacy of state laws,
- develop computer forensic capabilities,
- train investigators and prosecutors to identify Internet fraud and abuse, and
- devote greater resources to enforcement efforts
New Documentary Focuses on U.S. Classified Secrets
In a single recent year the U.S. government classified about five times the number of pages added to the Library of Congress. Secrecy, by Peter Galison and Robb Moss, focuses on classified secrets and explores the tensions between national security and democracy. The film was the winner of the Special Jury Award for Documentary Features, Independent Film Festival Boston. View the trailer. Hat tip to AALL Washington Blawg. [JH]
Bankruptcy Filings Rise 28.9 Percent
Bankruptcy filings in federal courts rose by 28.9 percent according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. There were 967,831 bankruptcy cases filed during the 12-month period that ended June 30, 2008, compared to 751,056 cases the previous 12 months. Historic data on bankruptcy filings is available on the Judiciary's website under Bankruptcy Statistics. [RJ]
September 9, 2008
Moscow Prosecutors Find South Park Offensive
The Times of London is reporting that Moscow prosecutors want to kill South Park because the show “bore signs of extremist activity.” The one-time officially atheist government found South Park's "Mr Hankey’s Christmas Classics" episode featuring Satan, Adolf Hitler and the infamous Mr. Hankey offensive. Ah, wasn't that the point. What next, SpongeBob?
My favorite part of the episode is the Dreidel Song. Here's the German language version. [JH]
Google to Digitize Newspaper Archives
Partnering with microfilming giants ProQuest and Heritage, Google News Archive is digitizing millions of pages of news archives to make full scans of newspapers available online. Not much online yet but to search what's available, go to the Google News Archive, or search Google News and switch to the Timeline view. When a story is viewable in its original format, the search result will list "Google News Archive" next to the name of the source. Details on The Official Google Blog. [JH]
First Security Vulnerabilities in Google's Chrome Identified
According to Google Analytics, Chrome is showing a browser share of 6% or higher on some websites. Impressive but BetaNews is reporting on proof-of-concept security holes found in the new browser at How dangerous are the first Google Chrome vulnerabilities? More on the new browser at LLB's earlier post, Do You Want to Use Chrome? [JH]
NCLIS's Final Report Recaps 37 Years of Meeting the Information Needs of the American People
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, H.R.2764, provided funds for the Commission on Libraries and Information Sciences (NCLIS) to be consolidated with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In its final report “Meeting the information needs of the American people: past actions and future initiatives” the NCLIS provides a historical overview of the accomplishments of a small and modestly funded Commission. The report also summarizes the results of a survey of opinion leaders in the fields of library and information science, who offered their advice on the most important issues that should be addressed in the next twelve to eighteen months. These topics included:
- Public Libraries, Their Changing Role in U.S. Society and Measuring Their Societal Value
- Digital Libraries
- Building and Sharing Collections
- Disaster Planning and Relief Efforts
UNICEF Newsmap to Promote Rights of Children
From the press release: UNICEF’s Division of Communication is introducing an interactive tool to engage an even wider audience in the global conversation on child survival and child rights. UNICEF Newsmap, is a Google Maps interface that provides users with an alternative navigation method to find multimedia news stories about UNICEF’s programs. Within UNICEF Newsmap, an interactive Google map visually displays news stories, videos and audio pieces produced by UNICEF communication teams in more than 150 developing countries. Video and audio reports can be played directly from the map, which also contains links to web pages with the complete news stories. To enhance the experience, UNICEF Newsmap has the full range of Google Maps features – including zooming, panning and satellite mode." [RJ]
Cornell Law Library's InSITE Website Reviews
Reviews published in the August 25th, 2008 issue of InSITE:
- African International Courts and Tribunals
- CanLII: Canadian Legal Information Institute
- CIMIP: Center for Identity Management & Information Protection
- CRISE: Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity
African International Courts and Tribunals
The website for African International Courts and Tribunals was created by the Project on International Courts and Tribunals (PICT, annotated in v. 4, no. 20 of InSITE). PICT’s mission is to "address the legal, political, financial and organizational challenges arising out of the multiplication of international courts and tribunals that took place as of the end of the Cold War." The site subdivides the African international courts into the following categories: Continental Courts, Subregional Courts, International Criminal Courts for African Conflicts, and Other Courts Handling African Cases. There is extensive information on each court including when it was established, when it became operational, where the seat is, who is subject to their jurisdiction and the number of cases it has received. In addition to this quick summary, there is also a thorough explanation of its establishment, what the court looks like and what it does. Additionally there are links to news stories regarding the court, basic documents, cases, related jurisprudence from member states, judges' biographies and a bibliography for each court. While there is no search engine, a site map facilitates navigation of the site. [Author: S. Allen]
CanLII: Canadian Legal Information Institute
The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) is a free website launched in 2000 by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada that admirably fulfills its stated mission of making Canadian law accessible to the public in both English and French. CanLII covers all 14 jurisdictions (federal, provincial, and territorial) and offers legislation, regulations, court opinions, and selected board and tribunal decisions as well as court rules, news, and RSS feeds. The Basic (default) search from the home page covers all CanLII databases. The search box template allows searching using full text, statute name, case name, citation, or docket number. Basic Searches can be date restricted or limited in scope to one or more sources: legislation, courts, or boards and tribunals. The Advanced Search template is similar but allows refinement by combination of jurisdictions and specific types of material (e.g., decisions from specific boards, or regulations but not statutes.) There is also a Database Search option which allows researchers to choose a jurisdiction, see the number of available sources, and search all or some sources. The easiest way to approach CanLII is to select a jurisdiction to find links to all available resources under the headings Legislation, Courts, Boards and Tribunals, Frequently consulted documents, and External links. The scope of each resource varies widely. Some have coverage from 1994, others begin in 2008. Efforts are underway to expand the scopes; Supreme Court of Canada cases dating back to 1967 were recently added. Legislative resources can be accessed alphabetically and by year. A selected statute brings up the title only with an arrow labeled TOC that leads the table of contents and one labeled â€œnextâ€ which brings up the full text. Court resources allow access by year and post links to recent decisions and court rules. External links are to government-related pages, such as gazettes, bills, and debates. Finally, the plethora of information is rounded out by a list of14 Legal Information Institutes around the world. CanLII is easy to navigate and will continue to be an outstanding resource as it adds to the scope of its databases. [Author: J.M. Callihan]
CIMIP: Center for Identity Management & Information Protection
The Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP) is a project of the department of Economic Crime Management at Utica (NY) College and receives sponsorship from several federal law enforcement agencies. Established in 2006, CIMIP seeks to foster "a national research agenda on identity management, information sharing, and data protection." The Center's research and reports are available in the "Publications" section of their website -- though access requires submission of an email address -- with executive summaries in the form of press releases in the "Media" section. The CIMIP website's content is somewhat sparse and is the product of a limited number of scholars, but is nevertheless interesting and includes surveys like "Identity Fraud Trends and Patterns" which offers extensive statistical information on both identity theft victims and perpetrators. Overall, CIMIP's website offers unique information (though still a limited amount of it) on an emerging form of economic crime and would be of value to legal and social scholars and to law enforcement officials.
[Author: J. P. Cusker]
CRISE: Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity
CRISE, the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, strives to "investigate relationships between ethnicity, inequality and conflict, with the aim of identifying economic, political, social and cultural policies which promote stable and inclusive multiethnic societies." Through a collaborative research program, staff and associated partners develop publications that examine the role of ethnicity in conflict, impoverishment, security, and sustainable development. CRISE’s working papers, policy briefings, and policy work and policy context papers are freely searchable and available on the website. Working papers, along with other online resources, can also be browsed through the CRISE Networks such as Latin America and West Africa. The newsletter, Research News, provides updates on current research, events, and developments at CRISE. A development research center within Oxford University, supported by the UK Department for International Development, CRISE should serve as a strong source for policy-based analysis of global ethnic issues for interested researchers. [Author: J. Jones]
PolicyArchive is a project of the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), in conjunction with the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Library. CGS is a non-profit "that creates innovative political and media solutions to help individuals participate more effectively in their communities and governments." PolicyArchive is intended to be an innovative solution to the problem of accessing policy research. The site provides a digital archive for public interest organizations that is free, open, and easy to use. The collection of documents may be browsed or searched. Users may browse by topic, author, funder, or publisher. Topics range from agriculture to transportation and include government, law and ethics, and politics. Each topic is then divided into specific sub-topics. For each item there is a detailed record that provides author, funder, publisher, publication type, and an abstract. Each publication is provided in full-text PDF. The advanced search feature supports keyword searching that can be limited by topic or publication type. For users that register, the site offers an e-mail notification of newly-added research. [Author: M. Morrison]
InSITE contributors: S. Allen, J. Callihan, J.P. Cusker, J. Jones, M. Morrison, J. Pajerek (editor)
InSITE highlights selected law-related Web sites in two ways: as an annotated publication issued electronically and in print; and, as a keyword-searchable database. The law librarians at Cornell evaluate potentially useful Web sites, select the most valuable ones, and provide commentary and subject access to them. This information can be accessed via the channels below, in addition to this mailing list:
- Searchable database or by browsing current and archived issues on the web: InSITE home page
- RSS feed
- Print format for the Cornell Law School community.
Opening: Legal Research/Reference Librarian, Law Library of Congress
The Law Library of Congress seeks a legal research/reference librarian with education and experience (1) providing legal and legislative information services to diverse and demanding clients in a large law library or similar legal information organization; (2) creating and organizing web content; and (3) developing and managing legal and legislative electronic resources.
Qualified candidates with both Juris Doctor and Masters in Library/Information Science degrees from accredited universities with appropriate training and experience are strongly encouraged to apply.
Librarian (Law) (Vacancy #: 080252)
GS-1410-11 - $58,206.00 - $75,669.00
Promotion potential to GS-1410-13 -- $82,961 - $107,854.00
Law Library (Directorate of Law Library Services, Public Services Division) Opening Date: Sep 3, 2008 Closing Date: Oct 3, 2008
Questions should be addressed to the Library of Congress Employment Office at (202) 707-5627.
September 8, 2008
VP Palin Plans to Drill for Oil Under the Library of Congress
A flash forward to January 21, 2009 if the McCain-Palin ticket wins the election from the editors of Shelf Awareness:
In her first official act, Vice President Sarah Palin has asked for the resignation of Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. [...]
"We can begin with test bores that will quickly show whether there are natural resources beneath the Library that could be extracted for the benefit of all Americans. If that doesn't pan out, I believe that with some outside-the-Washington-box thinking we can come up with some cool adaptations for what's left of the [Library of Congress} building.
"That big room with the dome would make an ideal ice rink, and there's plenty of space elsewhere for a shooting range. Part of the building ought to be converted to a hotel, which would be a much more convenient place for my successors as mayor and governor to stay when they come to Washington to seek even more federal earmarks for Alaska. I know from experience that it can be like an Ironman race going from the hotel to K Street to the Capitol to fancy restaurants and back--and not a mooseburger in sight!"
If there's black gold underneath LC, let's find it but turn LC into a multi-purpose ice rink-shooting range-hotel! This makes me want to get a Librarians Against Palin bumper sticker. BTW, if you see a list of books Palin wanted to ban it's a fake.
And Now for Something Completely Different. Ed Oswald (BetaNews) takes a look at Palin's record on technology issues. For example, Palin's record as governor included the Alaska Health Care Transparency Act, which helped state residents access affordable health care. The Act included tele-medicine and tele-health initiatives for providing care to the state's most remote municipalities.
Are Librarians Training Lawyers and Law Students in the Use of Alternatives to LexisNexis and Westlaw
According to the ABA’s 2008 Legal Technology Survey Report, 96% of private sector lawyers perform legal research online, up from 79% in 2003. More interesting, much more interesting, is that the number of lawyers performing free online legal research has overtaken the number using fee-based services for the first time. In 2008, 89% used free online legal research while 87% used fee-based research services. [Click on image; Source: ABA Journal]
This probably is not the response the survey's sponsors, LexisNexis and Thomson West, wanted to hear. While free online legal research covers all sorts of Internet-based legal materials, the trend is clear, lawyers are seeking alternatives to pricey online legal research services. With the trend now very well-established, the outlook for free or "open access" legal research service providers PreCYdent, PLoL and AltLaw, to challenge LexisNexis and Westlaw is good and can improve if law librarians are using and training their patrons to use these free services.
Do law librarians regularly use PreCYdent, PLoL and/or AltLaw? Do law librarians train their patrons in the use of PreCYdent, PLoL and/or AltLaw in a manner similar to Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw training? I've split the questions into two spheres: academic law librarians (and legal research and writing profs) and all other law librarians because the former are responsible for training the latter's future patrons.
Back in 1872, John West had a good idea: publish and sell court decisions. PreCYdent, PLoL and AltLaw have a better idea: provide these materials free of charge. Of course, their coverage of court decisions, statutes, and citation indexes isn't as comprehensive as LexisNexis and Westlaw but this situation is improving. Plus some of these services are providing search engines that may be better than the for-profit alternatives. [JH]
Unfinished Business: September Legislative Agenda for Congress
Congress gets back to business today, aiming to finish up this year's legislative work in less than 30 days unless a lame-duck session is convened after the elections. The House’s targeted adjournment date is September 26. This date remains the goal in the Senate but finishing the Senate Democrats' legislative agenda by then will be difficult at best.
One must-do item is appropriating funds to keep the government running. The new fiscal year begins October 1, and none of the major fiscal 2009 appropriations bills have been enacted. In Top on the Agenda: CR for 2009, CQ Politics expects Congress to pass a continuing resolution (CR). "The timing of the CR, however, could be affected by who wins the presidential election and whether there is a lame-duck session after the election."
Paul Blumenthal, writing in the Sunlight Foundation Blog, thinks three non-appropriations bills will also come up for a vote this month:
- S. 3268, Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008, a bill to restrain energy speculation markets;
- S. 3186, Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act, a bill to provide low income heating assistance; and
- H.R. 1338, Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill to end gender discrimination in workplace pay.
Using MAPLight.org’s listing of supporting and opposing interest groups and Open Secrets’ campaign contribution and lobbying data, Blumenthal created graphs showing the level of money groups are pumping into these two influence channels, and which side is spending more for each of the above-mentioned bills.
Senate Democrats' September Legislative Agenda. H.R. 1338, Paycheck Fairness Act, passed the House on July 31, 2008 along party lines. 232 Democrats and 14 Republicans voted in favor of the bill. 178 Republicans opposed the measure. The Senate Democrats want to remind voters that Johyn McCain has opposed "equal pay for equal work" this month. See the party leadership's recently released e-mail describing their September legislative agenda and Donny Shaw's analysis in Equal Pay, Oil Speculation and Alternative Energy on the Senate Calendar on Congress Gossip Blog. See also Shaw's 8 Controversial Bills That Congress Still May Pass. [JH]
Federal Government Takes Over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
While most Americans, including US equity traders, were watching football yesterday, the Treasury Department announced the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a move to bail out and recapitalize the troubled mortgage giants. The U.S. Treasury has taken a $1 billion equity stake in each company in the form of senior preferred stock and if needed could inject up to $100 billion into each firm. However, merely taking equity interests would not be in the "best interests" of American taxpayers according to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson [Video | Text of statement released by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson].
In what will be one of the largest, if not the largest, government-backed rescues in U.S. financial history, both companies were placed into a conservatorship to be overseen by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Herb Allison, former chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF, was named CEO of Fannie Mae, and David Moffett, former vice chairman and chief financial officer of U.S. Bancorp, will be Freddie Mac's new CEO. [JH]
Minimal Interaction Between American Public and University Libraries Found in Website Link Analysis
Rong Tang and Mike Thelwall's A Hyperlink Analysis of U.S. Public and Academic Libraries' Web Sites, 78 Library Quarterly 419, (October 2008) [PDF,subscription required] reports on patterns of links from and to the websites of 100 U.S. academic and public libraries. Public libraries link largely to and attract links mainly from the .com and .org domains. Academic libraries link to a variety of domains, including .edu, .com, .org, and some overseas sites, and draw inlinks mainly from .edu and .com sites. The authors conclude that there is little interaction between US public libraries and U.S. universities, and this calls attention to the need for more collaboration between the two types of organizations. [JH]
Just Say "No" to the Socratic Method
The academic year is underway. That means it time for law profs to reflect on teaching methods (and time for LLB's annual anti-Socratic Method post). Using the so-called Socratic Method in small seminar classes in law school is fine but not in 1L classes where students has no prior knowledge of the doctrines being covered. What's the point? Ignorance is not bliss if "the purpose of the Socratic Method is to ask students the legally relevant questions." Quoting The Volokh Conspirarcy's Orin Kerr, What Does It Mean to "Think Like a Lawyer"? And How Does The Socratic Method Help? who offers his cheat-sheet for Socratic Method exchanges in Advice for 1Ls: What If You Don't Know the Answer?
The better approach, lectures (but perhaps not 100% lectures, see Hi, My Name Is Bruce, and I Use the Socratic Method.) Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) explains why he doesn't use the Socratic method. See also Brian Leiter's (Chicago) classic argument: The "Socratic Method": The Scandal of American Legal Education. But see also, Phillip E. Areeda, The Socratic Method, 109 Harv. L. Rev. 911 (1996) [Westlaw]. [JH]
September 7, 2008
Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy
"The next president of the United States must forge a new national security strategy in a world marked by enormous tumult and change and at a time when America’s international standing and strategic position are at an historic nadir" according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. In Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy, prominent scholars and policy analysts outline recommendations for a new national security strategy for the next U.S. president. [RJ]