September 2, 2009
Google's Gmail goes down big-time - millions of users left in the lurch
The Washington Post reports that Google's Gmail service was out of commission on Tuesday for several hours leaving tens of million users (including many businesses) without email service. It's yet another reminder of how dependent we've all become on Google services. As the Post reports:
Though occasional disruptions are common, widespread outages involving Google's services are rare. They are becoming a bigger threat to Google as it tries to sell more of its services to businesses.
Businesses are increasingly leaning on Google's services because they are delivered over the Internet instead of being managed in-house. That can save companies money and buy them more storage than they could otherwise afford. But many corporations are skeptical about outsourcing such critical tasks.
You can read the full article here.
Hat tip to BNA Internet Law News.
Is Justice Stevens Retiring After the Upcoming Term?
News reports are speculating that Justice Stevens may retire because he has hired only one law clerk for 2010. A similar move apparently signaled Justice Souter's retirement. Retired justices usually have one clerk rather than three or four. Reports are in the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. [MG]
Kudos to Catherine Best
Courthouse Libraries BC reports that The Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research has been redesigned with new features added. "Research lawyer Catherine Best has updated the site content, including information about newer tools such as RSS feeds, blogs, and Google custom search pages. The site continues to emphasize the importance of secondary sources, while also comparing features of the leading electronic research." Slaw's Steven Matthews observes that Catherine Best was one of the first lawyers to self-publish her own site in Canada. The site been around since 1998, a very long time indeed for legal research guide websites authored by one person. Congratulations Catherine. [JH]
Google Mobile App: What Might It Mean for Legal Research? Part 2
In part one of this post, I described Google Mobile Application (“GMA”), its effectiveness for certain kinds of legal research, the history of voice recognition for legal research in the U.S., and some factors suggesting that GMA may become a popular legal research tool in the not-too-distant future.
In this second part of my post, I’ll discuss how the leading U.S. CALR vendors are coping with the potential challenge posed by GMA.
As I discussed in part one, commercial CALR vendors might respond to GMA by pursuing either, or both, of two paths. First, CALR vendors could choose to expose to Google the metadata describing the content of their databases, so that those vendors’ content would appear in Google results lists stemming from GMA legal research searches. (Given that Microsoft might eventually develop a voice search feature to compete with GMA, CALR vendors might also choose to expose their metadata to Yahoo! and Bing.) Alternatively (or additionally), CALR vendors might decide to compete with GMA head on, by offering a voice search tool customized to work with the vendors’ CALR services, as Westlaw and LexisNexis did at the end of the last century.
To sound out CALR vendors on these issues, in August 2009 I sent to the leading U.S. commercial general CALR providers (namely Bloomberg Law, Casemaker, Fastcase, Lexis.com, Loislaw, VersusLaw, and Westlaw) an informal survey asking about the providers’ exposure of their descriptive metadata to Internet search engines, and their current offerings and future plans respecting voice search. (The latter six are mentioned by name in the ABA Survey. I included Bloomberg Law because it is offering access to a number of U.S. law schools.) Neither Bloomberg Law nor Casemaker responded to the survey. Here are the survey results:
Currently Exposes to Internet Search Engines Metadata Describing Its Paid Service:
- Yes: 2 (Lexis.com, selected metadata [see notes below]; VersusLaw, selected metadata [see note below])
- No: 3 (Fastcase, Loislaw, Westlaw)
- No Response: 2 (Bloomberg Law, Casemaker)
In the Future, Plans to Expose to Internet Search Engines Metadata Describing Its Paid Service:
- Yes: 0
- No: 0
- No Response: 7 (Bloomberg Law, Casemaker, Fastcase, Lexis.com, Loislaw, VersusLaw, Westlaw)
Currently Exposes to Internet Search Engines Metadata Describing Its Free Service:
- Yes: 4 (Fastcase [see note below], Lexis.com [see note below], VersusLaw [see note below], Westlaw)
- No: 0
- No Response: 2 (Bloomberg Law, Casemaker)
- Not Applicable: 1 (Loislaw)
In the Future, Plans to Expose to Internet Search Engines Metadata Describing Its Free Service:
- Yes: 1 (VersusLaw [see note below])
- No: 0
- No Response: 6 (Bloomberg Law, Casemaker, Fastcase, Lexis.com, Loislaw, Westlaw)
Currently Offers a Voice Search Feature as Part of the User Interface for Its Paid or Free Service:
- Yes: 0
- No: 5 (Fastcase, Lexis.com, Loislaw, VersusLaw, Westlaw)
- No Response: 2 (Bloomberg Law, Casemaker)
Plans in the Future to Develop a Voice Search Feature as Part of the User Interface for Its Paid or Free Service:
- Yes: 0
- No: 2 (Fastcase, Loislaw)
- No Response: 5 (Bloomberg Law, Casemaker, Lexis.com, VersusLaw, Westlaw)
Fastcase: Fastcase responded: “Data from our free legal offering, Public Library of Law http://www.plol.org/, is optimized for all major search engines and we do expose some metadata for the most recent opinions by jurisdictions so it’s easy for our users to reference the latest case law.”
Lexis.com: LexisNexis responded that descriptive metadata for Lexis.com treatises are exposed to Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com. I found that this Google Scholar metadata is in turn indexed by the main Google search engine, and that in Google and Google Scholar results lists, these treatise metadata do not display hotlinks to the resources in Lexis.com.
I found that the Lexis.com “Searchable Directory of Online Sources” is exposed to Google and Yahoo! (but apparently not to Bing), and that on each page of the directory, a link appears enabling sign-on to Lexis.com; see, e.g., the entry for Collier on Bankruptcy retrieved using a Google search for: “collier on bankruptcy” bender
I found that descriptive metadata for the resources in LexisNexis® Matthew Bender® Online are exposed to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, and that those metadata, when they appear in those search engines’ results lists, link to the Matthew Bender® Online sign-on page.
I found that descriptive metadata for the free service, LexisOne are exposed to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, and that those metadata, when they appear in those search engines’ results lists, link to the LexisOne results page.
VersusLaw: VersusLaw responded: “VersusLaw exposes metadata to the major search engines using terms designed to identify the content we carry for our subscribers. . . . [W]e do not expose metadata for individual documents.”
VersusLaw also responded that it currently exposes to Internet search engines data from its free database, the FindACase™ Network and that in the future VersusLaw plans to expose to Internet search engines metadata for particular documents from FindACase.
Westlaw: A link to the Westlaw sign-on page often appears in a results list generated by a Google search for a U.S. legal citation. See, e.g., the results of a Google search for: 42 USC 2000e. Yet when a user clicks on such a Westlaw link in a Google results list and then signs on to Westlaw, the user is not taken directly to a Westlaw document related to the searched citation. (Thanks to Simon Canick for pointing this out.) In my informal survey, I asked Westlaw: “If . . . Westlaw is not currently exposing its metadata to search engines, would you please tell me what is causing Westlaw’s signon page to appear in Google results lists (e.g., a paid placement, or an algorithm that causes the Westlaw signon page to appear in results lists in response to search statements that take the form of a legal citation, etc.)?” Westlaw did not respond to this question. (Thanks to Vicki Szymczak and Simon Canick for prompting this question.)
Respecting exposing metadata to Internet search engines, only two of the five respondents (Lexis.com and VersusLaw) reported allowing search engine indexing of the descriptive metadata for their paid services, and then only selectively. Lexis.com appears to expose some title-level metadata, and both Lexis.com and VersusLaw appear to expose metadata describing entire databases or collections of resources. VersusLaw does not seem currently to offer any secondary resources in its paid service. Why would Lexis.com and VersusLaw choose to expose to search engines some of the metadata describing their paid services, while Westlaw, Fastcase, and Loislaw do not?
Competition may supply an answer. According to the ABA Survey, Westlaw is the most popular U.S. commercial CALR service, with just over 60% of responding lawyers reporting that they used Westlaw “most often overall for legal research,” while only 28% reported this respecting Lexis.com. Among the low-cost CALR providers, Loislaw and Casemaker held the top two places, with just over 2% of responding lawyers reporting that they used the former “most often overall for legal research,” and 1.6% reporting this respecting the latter. In the low-cost market segment, VersusLaw held third place, at 0.5%. Thus one possible explanation for Lexis.com’s and VersusLaw’s decisions to expose selective metadata to Internet search engines is that these vendors seek to attract more customers and increase their market share. A complementary explanation for Westlaw’s and Loislaw’s choices not to allow Internet search engines to index their metadata would be a desire to retain market share. Then why would Fastcase, which 0.3% of lawyers responding in the ABA Survey reported using “most often overall for legal research,” decide not to expose its paid service’s metadata to Internet search engines, given the apparent proximity of its market position to that of VersusLaw? Possible explanations include that the ABA Survey results don’t accurately reflect market share in the low-cost CALR segment (i.e., Fastcase’s market share might actually be greater than is suggested by the ABA Survey, and thus Fastcase might have little incentive to use metadata exposure to gain market share), or that Fastcase prefers other strategies for gaining market share, such as by marketing through bar associations. Another interesting finding is that none of the vendors disclosed whether they harbored future plans to expose metadata describing their paid services to Internet search engines. This may reflect a strategy of preserving flexibility respecting future action, in order to enable adaptation to market conditions that may change rapidly due such factors as technological innovation, alterations in the amount or quality of legal content available on the free Web, or new market entrants.
Respecting free-of-charge CALR services, all four of the respondents having such services reported exposing their data or metadata to Internet search engines. This is unsurprising, given the ABA Survey’s finding that more than 30% of responding lawyers named Google as the one free Web resource they used “most often overall for legal research.” In addition, these vendors likely view their free services as means of marketing their paid services. To the extent that these free services are marketed directly through indexing in Internet search engines, for Fastcase and Westlaw, which do not expose their paid services’ metadata directly to Internet search engines, their free CALR services may be considered as resources for marketing their paid services via Internet search engines at one remove.
Respecting voice search, none of the responding vendors reported currently offering a “search by voice” feature specifically tailored to their CALR services, whether paid or free. As noted in the first part of this post, however, several currently available speech recognition systems enable voice search of commercial CALR services through their Web-based user interfaces, as Westlaw observed in its response. Of the five responding CALR vendors, three declined to disclose their future plans respecting voice search. As in the case of future metadata exposure noted above, CALR vendors’ decisions not to tip their hands respecting future plans for voice search may reflect a deliberate strategy of maintaining flexibility in the light of rapidly changing market conditions. Why then would Loislaw and Fastcase disavow any future plans to develop voice search features? Expectations respecting continuing market segmentation might furnish an explanation. Loislaw and Fastcase, who now operate in the low-cost sector of the market, may foresee a CALR market divided well into the future into a two tiers: a low-cost segment offering mostly primary resources with minimal added value, and a higher-cost segment, offering a wealth of secondary sources and many substantial value-added services, such as sophisticated searching, artificial intelligence features, customizable user interfaces, rich descriptive metadata, social networks, and elaborate combinations of primary and secondary resources tailored to the needs of the individual user. Loislaw and Fastcase might view voice search as characteristic of the higher-cost segment, and not worth consideration by participants in the low-cost segment.
The “search by voice” feature of Google Mobile App (GMA) is already a useful, albeit limited, legal research tool. Operating on the large and growing body of legal resources available on the free Web, GMA appears to offer a convenient, accurate, and effective application for known-item voice-search retrieval of certain kinds of legal resources, and its usefulness for legal research is likely to grow. U.S. legal researchers are likely to favor GMA for legal research. Due to U.S. lawyers’ widespread use of smartphones, willingness to use free legal resources for some kinds of legal research, and preference for Google as legal research tool – traits that may be shared by law professors and law students – GMA could become a popular legal research tool in legal practice settings and in law schools. GMA could, therefore, pose a challenge to U.S. commercial computer-assisted legal research (CALR) vendors. Of the many ways in which CALR vendors might respond to this challenge, two seem most likely to be pursued: exposing metadata describing the vendors’ paid content to Google and other Internet search engines (and thereby coopting GMA to market the vendors’ for-fee services), and competing directly with GMA by offering voice search features tailored to the vendors’ paid CALR services. An informal survey of leading U.S. CALR vendors respecting these two possible responses to competition from GMA found the following: two of five respondents currently let Internet search engines index metadata describing some aspects of their paid CALR services, but none of the five would disclose their future plans respecting such indexing; all four respondents having free-of-charge CALR services exposed data or metadata for those services to Internet search engines; none of the five respondents currently offered voice search; and three of the five respondents declined to reveal their future plans respecting voice search. The desire to gain market share, expectations respecting market segmentation, and a strategy of keeping future options for action open in light of rapidly changing market conditions, are seen as possible explanations for the survey results. These findings suggest that voice search may well become a popular way to conduct legal research in the U.S. in the near future, but which voice search tools will ultimately be favored, and which collections of legal resources those tools will mine, remain highly uncertain.
The author wishes to thank, in addition to those mentioned above: Tonya L. Johnson and Stephen Stine of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center; Christina Steinbrecker and Fauzia Sharmeen of Fastcase; Elan Kleis, Dianne L. Chambers, and Marc Osborn of LexisNexis; Joe Acton of VersusLaw; Lori Hedstrom and Margie Cunningham of West, a Thomson Reuters business; and Cody Chanthaseny of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.
Robert C. Richards
Federal Contracts with Social Media Providers Released
The Government Services Administration released several contracts and amendments to contracts between the federal government and Web 2.0 companies in response to an Electronic Privacy Information Center FOIA request. Here's links to the contracts:
Amendments to Agreements
See EPIC's Privacy and Government Contracts with Social Media Companies for details. Hat tip to Mary Minow's How to negotiate with web 2.0 services for better terms of service - yes we can on LibraryLaw Blog. [JH]
Who Benefits? Unionization and Academic Libraries and Librarians
Assistant Professor, Indiana University School of Library and Information Science, Rachel Applegate's article, Who Benefits? Unionization and Academic Libraries and Librarians has been published at 79 The Library Quarterly 443 (October 2009) (subscription required). Applegate's study analyzes data on 1,904 academic libraries, 334 unionized, to explore whether there is a relationship between a librarian‐union presence and several quantitative values: student‐librarian ratios, percentage of institutional budget devoted to libraries, average spending on salaries per librarian, percentage of library budget devoted to librarians, percentage of library staff who are librarians, and percentage of library budget devoted to staff salaries. From the abstract:
Across institution degree levels (associates, baccalaureate, masters, doctoral, and Association of Research Libraries members), results show that compared to librarians at either private or nonunionized public colleges and universities, librarians at unionized public institutions are somewhat better off. Librarians at public institutions are generally better paid but have worse working conditions—higher student‐to‐librarian ratios and fewer resources for collections. All institutions except associates‐level institutions receive roughly the same percentage of institutional budgets.
September 1, 2009
Germany Says Nein to Google Book Settlement and More
Google Mobile App: What Might It Mean for Legal Research?
Voice search may soon become a popular tool for legal research in the U.S. The reason? The Google search engine’s smartphone application, called Google Mobile Application or Google Mobile App (“GMA,” currently available for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android phones), includes a “search by voice” feature that executes voice searches with surprising accuracy, at least for known legal resources. (Try it on a search for: Mapp v. Ohio; or for: 42 USC section 2000e.) Not only is GMA’s voice search feature quite good already; it is likely to improve over time, because, as Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle note GMA, which is cloud-based, utilizes machine-learning on a very large scale. The legal materials that GMA searches consist of a large (and growing) share of U.S. primary legal resources that are freely available on the Web and are indexed by Google. These include much U.S. federal case, statutory, and administrative law, as well as some recent state primary law, and certain well-known older U.S. state cases. Google also indexes a great deal of metadata describing primary and secondary legal resources, not freely available on the Web, from the U.S. and other jurisdictions. The result: GMA makes a substantial body of legal information accessible via voice search on smartphones.
How might GMA affect legal research in law firms and law schools? To explore answers to this question, this post discusses several types of information. First, this post examines the history of voice recognition in connection with commercial computer-assisted legal research (CALR) services. The post next considers factors suggesting the willingness of practicing lawyers, law professors, and law students to use GMA for legal research, including data from the 2009 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report (the “ABA Survey”). Finally, this post discusses how U.S. commercial CALR services might deal with a potential challenge from GMA. The post presents results from an informal survey of major CALR providers respecting whether they expose their metadata to Internet search engines, and whether those providers offer, or plan to offer, voice search.
In the U.S., the major CALR vendors appear to have first offered voice search in the mid-1990s. At the August 1994 ABA Annual Meeting, Westlaw premiered a voice search feature, using Kolvox Communications, Inc.’s speech recognition software, LawTALK. See James Milles, “Law Library Hi-Tech,” 25 AALL Newsl. 296, 297 (1994); “Southern Exposure, Annual Meeting Exhibition in New Orleans Will Showcase Latest in Legal Technology and Services,” ABA J., July 1994, at 66; David P. Vandigriff, “Talking Heads: Voice-Activated Legal Research Turns the Keyboard-Shy into Bold Pros,” ABA J., Sept. 1994, at 76. Shortly afterwards, Lexis/Nexis introduced a similar speech recognition feature for its CALR system, though I haven’t been able to identify the developer. See “Of First Impressions: New Products for Attorneys,” ABA J., Mar. 1995, at 89, 90; “Lexis Offers Voice Recognition Interface,” Law Prac. Mgmt., Jan./Feb. 1995, at 9, 56. By 1996, LawTALK and a competing speech recognition application, Dragon Systems, Inc.’s DragonLaw for Windows, were configurable for use with both Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw. See Virginia C. Thomas, “Digital Information Access for Law Library Patrons with Disabilities: Opportunities and Challenges,” AALL Spectrum, Oct. 1996, at 14, 15.
According to spokespersons for Nuance, Inc. (now the owner of the Dragon software, today called Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Legal, as well as the vendor for the number 3 U.S. legal speech recognition system [according to the ABA Survey], IBM ViaVoice , and MacSpeech (the developer of MacSpeech Dictate Legal the number 2 legal voice recognition system in the U.S. market), today none of the most popular legal speech recognition applications is specifically configurable for use with Westlaw, Lexis.com, or any other CALR system.
Nonetheless, the Dragon, MacSpeech, and ViaVoice legal programs can be used to interact by voice with most Web browsers; spoken key-control commands move the cursor, execute clicks, and perform other actions. (Dragon works with Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox, and AOL; MacSpeech works with any browser that can process the Apple key commands; and ViaVoice works with IE and AOL.) Moreover, some computer operating systems, such as Windows Vista have built in speech recognition programs that enable voice search of Web browsers. In addition certain assistive software tools for visually-impaired persons, such as Code Factory S.L.’s Mobile Speak Pocket for Windows Mobile also enable voice search of Web browsers. (See, e.g., Bradley Hodges’s 2007 AccessWorld review.) Therefore, a number of speech recognition systems can currently be used for legal research by voice, in connection with the Web-based user interfaces of the leading U.S. CALR services.
Yet we don’t seem to know the extent to which these voice recognition tools are actually being used for legal research, whether in legal practice or law schools. For example, the ABA Survey doesn’t appear to report on the specific uses to which lawyers put voice recognition programs, and a recent search of the legal and library scholarly literature did not turn up any empirical studies of voice search use in the firm or law school environments. Empirical data on the use of voice recognition for legal research seems highly desirable.
Factors Suggesting the Potential of GMA for Legal Research Use
Several factors suggest that lawyers, law professors, law students, paralegals, and law librarians might be inclined to use GMA for legal research:
GMA appears to be extremely easy to use; quite accurate in interpreting spoken search statements, and likely to improve; and surprisingly effective for legal research, at least for known item searches respecting jurisdictions with substantial portions of their primary materials available on the open Web. The usefulness of GMA will likely increase as the amount of primary law available on the open Web grows. Further, the open access movement and the engagement of lawyers with social media will likely result in the availability on the free Web of more quality, free-of-charge secondary legal resources, such as the Cornell Legal Information Institute’s Wex legal encyclopedia, and legal articles freely available through scholarly repositories.
Smartphone use by U.S. lawyers is widespread. In the latest ABA Survey, 64% of responding lawyers reported using a smartphone or BlackBerry for legal work. Of these lawyers, almost two thirds reported using a BlackBerry, and 14% an iPhone. These lawyers seem likely to use GMA. Further, in the ABA Survey almost one fifth of lawyers reported regularly using smartphones to conduct legal research outside the office. (However, in another portion of the ABA Survey, only 2% of lawyers reported using PDAs, smartphones, or BlackBerrys for legal research outside of the office; the reason for this discrepancy, which ABA Legal Technology Resource Center is reviewing, is unclear.) Although I haven’t found current data on law professors’ or law students’ use of smartphones, recent statistics on mobile device use on U.S. university networks indicate very high rates of iPhone use, which may suggest similarly high rates of use among U.S. law students and faculty. Though the ABA Survey did not appear to measure smartphone use by paralegals or law librarians, anecdotal evidence suggests that such use is common.
In the ABA Survey more than 90% of lawyers reported using free-of-charge Internet resources in their legal research. Although problems with the accuracy and authenticity of free online legal information are well known (as discussed, for example, in the 2009 AALL Annual Meeting program on “Advocating for Authentication”; in the 2009 ABA Annual Meeting program “When Is a Law the Law?”; by John Joergensen in his recent VoxPopuLII post; and in the 2007 AALL summit and report on authentication of online legal information), for certain kinds of legal research, many U.S. lawyers appear to consider at least some legal resources available on the free Web “good enough” for the task at hand. Similarly, in many law school teaching and learning contexts, where the authenticity of legal information is often less important than in legal practice, one might expect substantial use of legal resources available on the free Web.
In the ABA Survey almost one quarter of lawyers reported beginning their research with an Internet search engine, and almost one third identified Google search as the free website they used most often for legal research. Although I was unable to locate current empirical data on U.S. law professors’ or law students’ use of Internet search engines for legal research, Dr. Stephann Makri and colleagues’ 2007 paper on UK law teachers’ and law students’ use of Google for legal research and OCLC research reporting very large percentages of all persons, and especially of college students, beginning their research with Internet search engines, lead one to expect quite high rates of Internet search engine use for legal research among U.S. law professors and law students.
- U.S. lawyers are already familiar with voice recognition software. In the ABA Survey, more than one fifth of lawyers reported that their firms had such software, and about 10% of lawyers reported using such software, though usage was higher among solo practitioners (almost 15%) and lawyers in firms of 2 to 9 members (12%). (See, e.g., JoAnn L. Hathaway’s new review of dictation programs; Mark Tamminga’s recent review of voice software for managing e-mail; Tonya L. Johnson’s recent article “Dictation Made Easy”; and Stephen Stine’s recent article on voice transcription services [scroll down to “Tech Corner”]).
Other factors suggest infrequent use of voice search for legal research in the law firm, however. For example, in response to one question on the ABA Survey, lawyers reported little use of their smartphones for legal research (though this figure appears to be contradicted by other ABA Survey findings, as noted above). In addition, although paralegals’ and law librarians’ smartphone use may be common, the ABA Survey reported infrequent assignment of legal research to paralegals or law librarians, with only about 6% of lawyers reporting that they regularly asked either paralegals or law librarians to perform legal research.
While no one can predict with certainty whether legal research via voice search using GMA will catch on with practicing lawyers, law professors, law students, law librarians, or law firm support staff, the factors identified above suggest that adoption of voice search via GMA for legal research is a substantial possibility. If GMA voice search takes hold as a popular legal research method, GMA’s success is likely to stem primarily from two factors: high quality voice recognition, and the exposure to Google’s search engine crawlers of very large amounts of metadata describing legal resources.
How are U.S. commercial CALR vendors likely to respond to the GMA challenge? Of many possible responses, two seem most probable. First, CALR vendors could allow Google to index the metadata describing the content of their databases, enabling that metadata to appear in Google results lists stemming from GMA searches for legal resources. (Since Microsoft might eventually offer a mobile voice search feature to compete with GMA, CALR vendors might also choose to expose their metadata to Yahoo! and Bing.) In this way, the CALR vendors could turn GMA to their advantage, as means of attracting new customers for legal information available for a fee. Another approach for CALR vendors would be to compete with GMA directly, by offering a voice search tool customized to work with the vendors’ CALR services, as Westlaw and LexisNexis did in the mid-1990s.
In part two of this post, we’ll explore the extent to which the major U.S. CALR vendors are pursuing these approaches.
Robert C. Richards
Is Peer Pressure Stimulating Increase in Web 2.0 Usage Among Adults 35 and Older?
The New York Times reports some Web 2.0 usage stats from a recent Forrester Research report. 80% on online adults of all ages use social media in some form at least monthly. Nearly 25% of adults are content creators by writing blogs, uploading original audio or video, or posting content on social networks. Half of online adults now belong to social networks with growth occurring among adults 35 and older in part because of friends' encouragement. See An Online Outlet for Creating and Socializing for additional stats from the Forrester Research report. [JH]
New Edition of Wojcik's Illinois Legal Research Just Released
I imagine John Marshall Law School (Chicago) prof Mark Wojcik's day is pretty full with teaching and blogging at International Law Prof Blog and Legal Writing Prof Blog but somehow he found the time write the second edition of his excellent Illinois Legal Research. It's now available and is an essential book for every Illinois law library. Also highly recommended for all academic law libraries that strive to provide state research guides. The book costs only $25.00 and Carolina Academic Press is currently offering a 10 percent Internet discount. [JH]
August 31, 2009
Be Sad When Your Kindle Goes Away
What if you lose your Kindle or it's stolen? Amazon may not be much help when that happens, except to sell you another. Read one person's (bad) experience in Ars Technica. [MG]
Houston Public Library Offers Book Curb Service
Does your library have a parking problem? That's apparently the case for the Houston Public Library. Their solution is to provide curb service where staff will take your book order out to your waiting car. Library Executive Director Rhea Brown is challenging the staff to remain relevant in the iPhone era, and this is one of the responses to that challenge. Other responses are to send vans filled with computers to under served areas, kind of like wandering Internet cafes, and another program called Info 24/7 which is live chat with a librarian. The name implies around the clock service, but I can't tell from the web site whether that is the case.
I do remember helping a DePaul Law faculty member at 2 AM when I decided to check email before going to bed. He happened to be in Australia, and with the time difference, it made more sense to pull the electronic version of the text and email it on the spot rather than wait until I returned to the office. I can also remember dropping off books to a faculty member waiting at curb side. DePaul is in the heart (or is it the liver) of downtown Chicago and parking is a premium commodity here. These are typically exceptions to how we operate, courtesies when circumstances arise. Will these types of service become more standard?
The details are in an article in the Houston Chronicle. [MG]
From Messenger Pigeons to the Web: Thomson Reuters Spends $1 Billion to Make Its Financial Information Services User Friendly
Reuters, "never really been known for its cutting-edge advances," will unveil Project Utah, the final leg of a $1 billion technology investment to upgrade its systems reports James Ashton in the Sunday Times, Thomson Reuters explodes into web age. Some of the changes mirror Reuters’ rivals, Dow Jones and Bloomberg, which have been making IT investments during the current recession. “People who grew up with Google have totally different expectations of how to interact with information and media. We can’t ignore that, "said Devin Wenig who runs Thompson Reuters market division.
Almost two years in the planning, and arriving early next spring reports Ashton, Project Utah aims to create a common platform for all of Thomson Reuters’ 200 financial products for the first time, making Reuters’ systems simpler to use. “We are not going to be the greatest technology company in the world and nor should we be,” said Devin Wenig who runs Thompson Reuters market division. “But technology is an enabler. We have to put money into it. We can’t just talk about it.” [JH]
No One Likes Heller (Or Why I'm Having the Citator Blues Again)
Like so many (or perhaps so few), on June 26, 2008, I anxiously awaited for the United States Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008) to be handed down. The Court held that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms. The decision itself affects me in no way, but it was about time for the Court to decide the issue. Within days of the decision being handed down, I spent some time testing Precydent (the free legal research database with a citator). Heller did not show up, though Kennedy v. Louisiana, 128 S.Ct. 2641 (2008), which was decided the day before Heller came down, showed up on Precydent. And to this day, Heller does not appear on Precydent. So toss Precydent from your vocabulary.
Recently I spent time looking for examples of cases to illustrate how Keycite (Westlaw), Shepard’s (Lexis) and Authority Check (Fastcase) work for my Lawyering Skills 1 class. On Westlaw, I first ran a search for the “Second Amendment” and the “right to bear arms” in the Westlaw’s Sixth Circuit database. I stumbled on a case, United States v. Napier, 233 F.3d 394 (6th Cir. 2000) which held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does not grant an individual right to bear arms, but rather the right pertains only to militias. And at the time Napier was decided, the issue was for the Sixth Circuit to decide in any way it saw fit. Well, as of today [ed. note - submitted to LLB on Aug. 26th] Keycite indicates that Napier was mentioned in the Heller dissent. However, Napier was clearly overruled, not just mentioned. By looking at Keycite’s status flag (a green C, indicating that the case has been cited but there is not neccessarily negative authority) one who was not aware of Heller’s existence may reasonably believe that there is no individual right to bear arms under the United States Constitution. And that in itself is fine. I would like more from Westlaw editors, i.e. to follow up on cases that are cited in concurring and dissenting opinions, but I’ll accept that green flag as being consistent with Keycite policy, i.e. paying little if no attention to concurring and dissenting opinions and only paying attention to cases cited in majority opinions. What I believe to be disturbing, however, is how Westlaw markets Keycite.
On page six of Westlaw’s Using Keycite on Westlaw’s Using Keycite on Westlaw User Guide, it states ”When you begin your research, use KeyCite to check the status of your case, statute, administrative decision, or regulation. You’ll see at a glance whether it’s good law on which to base your legal argument.” And while that is sometimes true, one is led to believe that Keycite always will inform a researcher whether a case is still “good law” at a glance, but this is obviously untrue. It will sometimes inform a researcher whether a case is still “good law” at a glance; other times it will avoid the issue altogether. So while I can understand the policy of Westlaw editors as to when and why they will display status flags in the manner they do, I take great issue with the way that Keycite is marketed to consumers, especially law students. We at Duncan School of Law have the luxury of spending an entire 90 minutes (or more) talking about citators with everyone in the first year class, and to make these precious distinctions as to what citators actually do as opposed to what we are led to believe they do, but I know that such time to educate and illuminate law students does not exist for many (if not most) institutions – and heaven forbid students’ only (or majority of) instruction on electronic legal research tools comes from the vendors themselves.
At least Shepard’s identifies that there is “possible negative treatment” when it comes to Napier. While, in reality, there is severe negative treatment by Heller in the case of Napier, one can at least get an indication that Napier might be problematic for the researcher with a mere glance.
And then there is Fastcase’s Authority Check (which provides no indication of courts’ treatment of cases, but nor does it claim to do so). However, what I expect from Fastcase is that when I look to see if a case has ever been cited (at least by a published United States Court of Appeals case) it will tell me so. And Fastcase too has failed me with regard to Heller. Since Heller, there have been quite a number of published, as well as unpublished, cases citing Heller. See, for example, State v. Turnbull, 766 N.W.2d 78 (Minn.App. 2009); Bruley v. Village Green Management Co., 592 F.Supp.2d 1381 (M.D.Fla.2008); United States v. Marzzarella, 595 F.Supp.2d 596 (W.D.P.A. 2009); Maloney v. Cuomo, 554 F.3d 56, 58+ (2d Cir. 2009). But Fastcase indicates, through its Authority Check, that there are no cases within its database which cite to Heller. And that is true. I did a check, and contained within their database were no cases which cite to Heller. The problem, however, is that such case do exist; and some of those cases were decided as early as September 2008. See, United States. v. Knight, 574 F.Supp.2d 224 (D.Me. 2008).
So in the end, Shepard’s truly helps the legal researcher when it comes to District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008) even though it is certain that after the Heller decision, Napier is no longer good law. And so for warning us to be cautious when using United States v. Napier, I thank you, Lexis; but I’ll be keeping my eye on you too.
But watch out legal researchers, and be forever fastidious in your endeavors because what a product promises and what a product delivers are not the same thing. Perhaps Westlaw and Fastcase ought to be held to the same ethical obligations as lawyers often are. See Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1.
David C. Walker, Information Services Librarian, Lincoln Memorial University, Duncan School of Law Library
Editor's Note: Unfortunately this isn't the first time David Walker has had an episode of citator blues. Back on June 12, 2009, he reported that he had been waiting some two weeks for Keycite to reflect that Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625 (1986) had been overruled by the US Supreme Court's May 26, 2009 decision in Montejo v. Louisiana. See his LLB post Maybe Westlaw thinks Scalia was wrong, but… which caught the attention of both Keycite and Shepard's editors, obviously for different reasons.
BTW, I'm delighted to announce that David is joining LLB as a contributing editor. I, for one, can't wait to read his future posts. [JH]
Open Book Alliance Kicks Off Campaign Against the Google Book Settlement
|Countdown to Court Review of Proposed Google Book Settlement|
|September 4: Deadline for submissions to US District Court|
September 4: Deadline for authors/rightsholders to opt-out of settlement
September 7: European Commission Hearing
September 18: Deadline for Dept. of Justice to submit findings to US District Court
October 7: Fairness Hearing in US District Court on proposed settlement
"Many startling challenges to copyright and competition policy lie buried in the [Google Book] settlement’s 300+ pages," writes Peter Brantley and Gary Reback in Opening the Book as their Open Book Alliance launches it's PR campaign. Challenges include the following:
The settlement is bad for consumers and book-lovers – It deliberately thwarts competition in the emerging e-books market, creating a digital book monopoly that will inevitably lead to fewer choices and higher prices for consumers of digital books. It would allow a group of erstwhile competitors to collectively set prices and leave Google as the only company with a the right to copy, display or sell digital versions of orphan works (books for which authors or rights holders cannot be identified or located). Consumers would be better served by a competitive market for digital books that is available to everyone on non-discriminatory terms. The settlement also contains no privacy commitments to ensure that Google doesn’t use its awareness of what books people are reading to make unfair profit, or doesn’t share its intimate knowledge with commercial interests or governments. Finally, the settlement is carefully structured to ensure that all of the digital content will be available to Google and Google’s search engine. This will enhance and reinforce Google’s already dominant market power in the internet search market while making the digital books less available and less findable by users of other search engines.
The settlement is bad for libraries and schools: While a handful of large and well-funded university libraries participated in the Google book-scanning effort, many other educational institutions and libraries will be forced to pay monopoly prices for access to a wide swath of knowledge, straining already-stretched budgets and creating a system of haves and have-nots in our nation’s education system. Community libraries would get at a single terminal to Google’s private book database, and libraries serving our nation’s children in K-12 schools would get absolutely nothing. The settlement widens the digital divide by limiting access to digital books in financially hard-hit communities that have budget-constrained libraries.
The settlement is bad for authors and small publishers: Unless they act to opt out of the proposed settlement by Google’s deadline, authors and other writers lose rights to the fruits of their labor—a future in which they have no negotiating rights for the value of their work. Moreover, the proposed settlement would line the pockets of a handful of lawyers, who collectively would receive more than $45 million, at the expense of millions of authors and small publishers upon whose creativity and hard work the private book monopoly would be built.
The settlement sets a dangerous and unprecedented process precedent. The proposed settlement far exceeds the bounds of a typical legal settlement. It privatizes important copyright and public policy decisions. It abuses class action procedure to create an exclusive joint venture between Google, AAP and the Authors’ Guild, strengthening Google’s dominance in search and search advertising and creating a private monopoly for the sale of digitized books.
The official launch of the Open Book Alliance was August 26th. See Diverse Coalition Unites To Counter Google Book Settlement. Members of the "Sour Grapes Alliance" are expected to file individual objections to the Court by September 4. See the above sidebar for the schedule leading up to the Court's "fairness hearing" and LLB's earlier coverage of the Open Book Alliance: Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon to Oppose Google Book Settlement and Axis of Hatred to Join Open Book Alliance in Effort to Derail Google's Book Rights Registry.
Opposition to the Book Rights Registry. The anticompetitive consequences of the Book Rights Registry are bad for libraries and schools but only 21.5% of librarians oppose the Settlement according to a recent Publishers Weekly survey. See LLB's post, Are Rank-and-File Librarians Sitting on the Fence Over the Google Book Settlement? Librarians who are still sitting on the fence might want to read UC Berkeley law prof Pamela Samuelson's very accessible series of posts on The Huffington Press. For more, see
Beware the Armed Law Prof
As reported on LLB here and here, a Louisville Law School library staffer called university police when he saw Thomas H. Irwin, who was banned from campus for harassing an employee, walk into the law library. Irwin was charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon and criminal trespass for having two handguns and 53 rounds of ammunition. Thanks to the alert staffer a potential tragedy was avoided as noted in Jim Levy's LLB post. Early reports identified Irwin as a former university student and contract employee. Now it appears that he had been adjunct faculty member at the the University of Louisville's Law School. See Louisville Courier Journal's Part-time U of L faculty member arrested for taking guns into law library. Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.
Something like this can happen anywhere. The Louisville story remands me of weapons a Cincinnati law prof found stored above the drop ceiling in his office after it had been vacated by another law prof who disappeared mysteriously, as in dropped off the face of the planet. At the University of Miami School of Law, most law library staffers knew one prof was "packing" a weapon "for protection." There weren't many thugs roaming the Coral Gables campus but that senior citizen was ready for them. It's one thing to be worried about faceless public patrons, quite another to have to be worried about armed law profs "going postal." [JH]
August 30, 2009
Ferrari and Smart Fail to Score Cash for Clunkers Sales
With the close of the Cash for Clunkers Programs, the Department of Transportation is reporting some stats about the program: 690,114 car sales were transacted with rebate applications totaling $2.877 billion. 84% of trade-ins were trucks, and 59% of new vehicles purchased were cars. Cars purchased under the program were, on average, 19% above the average fuel economy of all new cars currently available, and 59% above the average fuel economy of cars that were traded in.
Average Fuel Economy
New vehicles Mileage: 24.9 MPG
Trade-in Mileage: 15.8 MPG
Overall increase: 9.2 MPG
Top 10 Trade-ins and New Vehicles Purchased
|Rank||Top 10 Trade-in Vehicles||Top 10 New Vehicles Purchased|
|1||Ford Explorer 4WD||Toyota Corolla|
|2||Ford F150 Pickup 2WD||Honda Civic|
|3||Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD||Toyota Camry|
|4||Ford Explorer 2WD||Ford Focus FWD|
|5||Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan 2WD||Hyundai Elantra|
|6||Jeep Cherokee 4WD||Nissan Versa|
|7||Chevrolet Blazer 4WD||Toyota Prius|
|8||Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD||Honda Accord|
|9||Ford F150 Pickup 4WD||Honda Fit|
|10||Ford Windstar FWD Van||Ford Escape FWD|
Detroit's Big Three grabbed 38.6% of new car sales while Ferrari missed out on the Cash for Clunkers buying spree because the Company's go-green plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in half won't hit that mark until 2012. Already green Smart cars weren't high on buyers' shopping list either.
New Vehicles Manufacturers Cash for Clunkers Sales
- Toyota - 19.4%
- General Motors - 17.6%
- Ford - 14.4%
- Honda - 13.0%
- Nissan - 8.7%
- Hyundai - 7.2%
- Chrysler - 6.6%
- Kia - 4.3%
- Subaru - 2.5%
- Mazda - 2.4%
- Volkswagen - 2.0%
- Suzuki - 0.6%
- Mitsubishi - 0.5%
- MINI - 0.4%
- Smart - 0.2%
- Volvo - 0.1%
- All Other - less than 0.1%
If someone offered you two set of keys, which would you take?