June 19, 2010
No Need to Cite to Tamanaha to Prove Law Profs are a Huge Part of the Problem
On ATL, Elie Mystal writes in Law Professors: If You’re Not Part of the Solution Then You’re A Huge Freaking Problem:
Rarely, if ever, does the media turn its gaze towards law professors and their culpability in the epic scam of taking money from kids who don’t know any better and will never be able to pay it off. Most law professors don’t set tuition rates, they don’t determine the scope of loan forgiveness programs. They don’t mislead the world via U.S. News in order to pad employment stats. Hell, most of them aren’t even directly engaged in recruiting the next class of minnows that will keep the scam alive. All they do is teach, research, and take as much money as the market will offer.
Tuition rates are set by costs and one big cost is the desire of law profs to stay out of the classroom. These days the objective is to teach no more than 3 courses per year so more profs have to be hired. While the ABA Accreditation Standard calls for a 20:1 student to faculty ratio, the goal of many law profs is to get to under 10:1 because that's how profs reduce their teaching loads.
Some do brow beat Career Development micro-deans to improve employment stats, even if it means hiring recent law grads for clerical work in the law school because an improved US News ranking improves their marketability to move onward and upwards to a better ranked school.
Then there is the the overload additional payment scam for performing some oh-my-god time-consuming and demeaning quasi-administrative work, the scholarship-research cost scam and the always present time-for-annual-sabbatical-at-full-pay scam because the pressure of intellectual productivity is so great to bear that "my head will explode." All the while, just about every other department and college on campus, shakes their collective head in disbelief at what law prof can get away with and what that costs students.
Most importantly, tenured faculty are the decider-ers on hiring deans and renewing their contracts when they come up for renewal in 4-5 years making deans almost utterly dependant on pleasing them to keep their jobs.
Did I miss the Hitler parody video of a law school faculty meeting? [JH]
June 18, 2010
Amazon Gets A Patent Covering Social NetworkingDid anyone know that social networking is patentable? I imagine a patent inspector at the PTO saying, "sure, why not?" Amazon just received a patent that describes the basics of a computerized social networking platform. It's patent 7,739,139 issued by the United States Patent Office. One commentatordescribed the subject as so abstract that Amazon couldn't even supply a drawing that illustrated the concept. For those who fear for the viability of Facebook, have no fear. They have patent 7,669,123. Let the lawsuits begin. Or not, until the Supreme Court decides Bilski before the end of the current term. While we're on the subject, BP should patent the process for a massive oil spill, just so they can collect royalties in case another oil company has a massive spill like theirs. [MG]
Friday Fun: Making a Responsible Choice for My Future
A big hat tip to Law is Cool for this way too brief little gem. Marshall from How I Met Your Mother sings about law school.
But then the nightmare begins when Marshall gets an offer. [JH]
The "Greatest" Law Review Articles Ever Written
And they are:
"The Jurisprudence of Yogi Berra"
39 Coauthors, 46 EMORY L. J. 697 (1997).
Each author demonstrates the legal acumen of a Yogi quote.
"The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule"
Aside (William S. Stevens), 123 U. PA. L. REV. 1474 (1975).
A classic parody.
"The Top Ten Politically Correct Law Reviews"
Arthur Austin, 1994 UTAH L. REV. 1319 (1994).
An insightful review of the law journal articles that started the current trend.
"My Pizza with Nino"
Alex Kozinski, 12 CARDOZO L. REV. 1583 (1991).
Kozinski at his irrepressible best.
"The Wrong Stuff"
Alex Kozinski, 1992 BYU L. REV. 325 (1992).
Practical tips on how to lose your appeal.
Alex Kozinski and Eugene Volokh, 103 YALE L. J. 463 (1993).
(But I thought of it first. See Uelmen, "Plain Yiddish for Lawyers," ABA JOURNAL, June 1985, at p. 78.)
"Legislative and Judicial Dynamism in Arkansas: Poisson v. D'Avril"
Jasper Bogus McClodd and Pepe Le Peu, 22 ARKANSAS L. REV. 724 (1969).
An April Fool's joke by Justice George Rose Smith.
"Fundamental Principles of American Law"
Patrick McFadden, 85 CAL. L. REV. 1749 (1997).
Finally, a source we can cite for the obvious.
"The Bard and the Bench: An Opinion and Brief-Writer's Guide to Shakespeare"
Robert W. Peterson, 39 SANTA CLARA L. REV. 789 (1998).
A Shakespeare quote for every legal occasion.
"A Critique of Judicial Humor"
George Rose Smith, 43 ARKANSAS L. REV. 1 (1990).
The real master at work. Alex, eat your heart out.
Source: The tongue-in-cheek sidebar to The Wit, Wisdom, and Worthlessness of Law Reviews by Gerald F. Uelmen, law prof and former dean at Santa Clara University School of Law. [JH]
June 17, 2010
SCOTUS Decides Public Sector Electronic Privacy Case
One of the major cases of the current Supreme Court term came out today. The case is City of Ontario v. Quom. The case involved the expectation of privacy in the use of a police department issued pager to one of it's officers. Jeff Quon used his pager to send personal messages to his wife and to another woman with whom he had some involvement. Some of these messages were sexually explicit. Quon had notice of the Department's computer policy which explicitly stated the Department reserved the right to monitor and log all activity on the networks. The policy was issued before the Department distributed pagers, but by implication, the policy extended to these devices. One difference the Court noted on the pager system is that the messages went through a third party server rather than on a city owned system. The pagers were contracted from Arch Wireless as a vendor who retained the transactional information on their servers.
The Department's contract with Arch Wireless called for character limits and any overages would incur additional charges. The Department officer in charge of the contract told Quon about his overages and said the policy applied to text messages as well. He also told Quon that if he paid the overage charges, he would not audit the use of the pager. Other employees were treated similarly. Quon exceeded his limits several times and each time he reimbursed the city with a check. The chief of department became aware of the overages by multiple employees and ordered an audit to see if the messages were related to work. One thing he wanted to determine was whether the limits should be raised and the contract revised. Arch Wireless provided the city with transcripts and the Department discovered the private nature of Quon's messages. His case was referred to Internal Review to determine if the private messages were sent while Quon was on duty.
Two months were selected for an audit. The schedule of messages were aligned with the times Quon was on duty. The results of the examination showed that he vast majority of messages sent or received were not work related. Quon was disciplined for the conduct. He then sued, along with other members of the Department, his then-wife and another woman with whom he exchanged messages. The District Court held that the audit had a reasonable purpose and did not violate Quon's Fourth Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit reversed in part because it felt there may have been more less-intrusive means for the Department to conduct its investigation. Both cases noted that Quon had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The Court addressed the circumstances by looking at the test announced in O'Connor v. v. Ortega, 480 U. S. 709 (1987). That case was not completely dispositive because it was a plurality opinion and because the test was subjective: the expectation of privacy and the reasonableness depended a lot on the circumstances surrounding the search. The Court was sympathetic to the idea of searches for workplace misconduct being reasonable. Subsequent precedent suggested that circumstances of how a department operated had an impact on how reasonableness should be perceived.
The analysis that followed noted that Quon had an expectation of privacy; that the audit was limited to his on-duty conduct and only relied on a sample of months rather than his entire history using the pager; and his understanding of the computer policy in effect. Under these circumstances, and applying precedent, his Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. The remaining petitioners on Quon's side of the dispute had more or less argued an all or nothing position, that if Quon's rights were violated, so were theirs. The Court noted that there was a middle ground, that their rights were potentially violated even if Quon's rights weren't. Since they hadn't made that argument, it was waived. Oh, well.
The case would be simple enough if it stopped there. The one dispute that came up between the Justices dealt with the extent the ruling would apply to other situations. The Court noted in Part III-A of the opinion that expectations of privacy and reasonableness of searches should not be assumed with changes in technology. Justice Scalia did not agree and suggested in his own concurrence that investigations of misconduct should be reasonable. In some respects he is right. The facts took place around 2002. Even then it was late in the game for devices such as pagers. Not even drug dealers use them now. Business and the public sector rely on smart phones and other Internet connected devices. Would the circumstances of those devices today result in a different ruling?
The case was decided 9-0. The opinion is here. [MG]
AALL on the AALL Vendor Liaison Issue: "AALL vendor liaison would provide more legitimacy for CRIV"
How many think CRIV has a legitimacy issue? Please raise your hands. How many think the AALL Executive Board has more of a legitimacy issue? Raise your hands.
Do note that one reason given for needing an "AALL Vendor Liaison" in AALL's recently published statement (reprinted below) about this issue is
Consistency when dealing with vendor issues at a policy level is difficult with annual turnover of Association leadership. The vendor liaison will provide continuity and can assist CRIV in carrying out its charge.
I serious doubt CRIV has any real difficulty carrying out its charge on its own and without any help by way of a gatekeeper appointed by the Executive Board needed, if it is unleashed to do its job. If there is a problem with "annual turnover of Association leadership," perhaps the Association should consider reforming along the lines suggested at Taking the Proverbial Bull by the Horns: AALL as an Agent of Change.
Meanwhile, note well:
- Executive Board appointments are multi-year;
- One hopes the current AALL President talks with the VP-President Elect once in a while; and
- CRIV memberships are multi-year terms so there is plenty of continuity at the Committee level.
What utter nonsense.
If "policy" is the problem, the recently approved 2010-13 AALL Strategic Directions is clearly stated and, if anything, eliminates the need for an AALL Vendor Liaison.
I did have a chuckle over AALL's "chatter" characterization of LLB's post on this issue. It's the same characterization TR Legal's Anne Ellis used in her Message from West on AALL Sponsorship Policy in response to another LLB blog post.
"Chatter" aside, because really that's just chuckle-worthy, it does look like our association's leadership is taking tips from TR Legal's playbook on how to respond to members in the law library community who comment publicly about matters of some import to fill the large gaping information hole. Not a word in the offical response about the association ad revenue-library interests advocacy nexus. AALL's response is exactly the sort of stonewalling reaction I (many, most of us?) expected to hear if we were going to hear anything from our association.
It takes the membership to reform an association. In response to the question, "how many think the AALL Executive Board has more of a legitimacy issue?" I raise my hand. You, too? [JH]
Here's the full text of the message "From the Desk of Catherine Lemann."
There has been some cyber-chatter this week regarding the Executive Board's decision to create an AALL Vendor Liaison position, and I wanted to take this opportunity to address some of the issues raised by interested members.
The Vendor Liaison position was approved by the Executive Board in November 2008. The approval was based on a report and recommendations made by AALL member Penny Hazelton, a past AALL president and director of the University of Washington Law Library and the University of Washington Law Librarianship Program. Hazelton had been retained by AALL as a consultant in June 2008. The Executive Board asked her to study the vendor relations issues facing AALL and advise regarding the creation of a Vendor Liaison position. After conducting her research, Hazelton recommended a Vendor Liaison position be created by the Executive Board.
After a search and interviews, Marian Parker, associate dean for information services, director of the professional center library, and professor of law at Wake Forest University School of Law, was selected as the AALL Vendor Liaison in April 2009. This is a part-time volunteer position with an honorarium. Parker has just completed her first year of service in this capacity. The Executive Board recognized when the position was created that it would be crucial to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the vendor liaison, the Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV), and the Executive Board.
During this transition year, both Parker and CRIV have been active and worked hard, and the committee members should feel proud of their accomplishments. It was regrettable that two valued members resigned from the committee. During this past year, CRIV and the vendor liaison have worked together to clarify ambiguities and establish mutually productive working relationships.
There were concerns voiced by some members of the committee that the new vendor liaison would diminish the role of CRIV. Of course, this was not the intent of the Executive Board in creating this position. The board's view, after months of study and consultation, was that an AALL vendor liaison would provide more legitimacy for CRIV, giving vendor issues more priority, and reinforcing the importance of these issues for the Association. Consistency when dealing with vendor issues at a policy level is difficult with annual turnover of Association leadership. The vendor liaison will provide continuity and can assist CRIV in carrying out its charge.
The new 2010-13 AALL Strategic Directions plan clearly demonstrates the importance AALL places on vendor relations. CRIV will be a critical participant in the conversation. It has been a challenging year for all of us, and as with any change, it has been necessary to make adjustments as we learn how we can most effectively work together. I think we are off to a good start. AALL members can expect that CRIV and the AALL vendor liaison will continue to work cooperatively to represent our members and the law library profession on important matters relating to vendor relations.
Source: AALL June 2010 E-Newsletter.
What PACER Fee Revenue Finances
"EPA (Electronic Public Access) funds are collected solely via PACER fees, and are expended on a variety of programs. One of these expenditures is the PACER program itself, but many other expenditures are not," writes Steve Schultze, Associate Director of the Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy in What Does It Cost to Provide Electronic Public Access to Court Records?
Schultze's working paper, Electronic Public Access Fees and the United States Federal Courts’ Budget: An Overview, provides the following details:
By 2009, the list of programs supported by PACER fees was further expanded, and expenditures on the non‐PACER items increased. “In fiscal year 2009, the Judiciary plans to use $106.8 million in EPA collections and prior‐year carryforward to fund public access initiatives including the following:
- Public Access Services and Applications $17.7 million;
- Telecommunications $8.7 million;
- EPA Equipment $1.3 million;
- CM/ECF Development, Operations and Maintenance $33.4 million;
- Courtroom Technology Allotments for Maintenance/Technology Refreshment $25.8 million;
- Electronic Bankruptcy Noticing $9.7 million;
- CM/ECF Allotments to Courts $7.5 million;
- CM/ECF state feasibility study $1.4 million;
- Violent Crime Control Act Notification $1.0 million; and
- Jury Management System Public Web Page $0.2 million.
In his working paper, he observes that "the only items that clearly relate directly to PACER are the $17.7 million and $1.3 million items, less than 18% of the total income from PACER fees." From the abstract of his highly recommend analysis:
This draft working paper examines the role of user fees for public access to records in the budgeting process of the federal courts. It sketches the policy principles that have traditionally motivated open access, describes the administrative process of court budgeting, and traces the path of user fees to their present-day instantiation. There has been considerable confusion about motivation and justification for the courts charge for access to PACER, the web-based system for “Public Access to Court Electronic Records.” Representatives from the Administrative Office of the Courts describe the policy as mandated by Congress and limited to reimbursing the expenses of operating the system. This paper identifies the sources of these claims and places them in the context of the increasing push to make government data freely accessible.
Schultze participated in an a Law.Gov Workshop Tuesday, June 15. The video will be available here shortly. [JH]
Law Review Articles, Not Worth the Paper Printed on for Addressing Issues Confronting the Judiciary
From the conclusion of The Wit, Wisdom, and Worthlessness of Law Reviews by Gerald F. Uelmen, law prof and former dean at Santa Clara University School of Law:
[T]here are still a few law professors who would rather publish for practicing lawyers and judges than just for other professors. But given the way the academic game is played these days, they do so at their peril—particularly if they are seeking tenure. Still, law reviews are in no danger of disappearing anytime soon. After all, big law firms and elitist judges continue to demand "law review experience" as a prerequisite for hiring. The publication of student notes also provides a vehicle to enhance badly needed writing skills for barely literate law students. But in terms of contributing to the profession, most law reviews are simply a waste of trees.
All the more reason for moving forward with the implementation of the Durham Statement.
Hat tip to Sentencing Law and Policy. [JH]
June 16, 2010
Significant First Sale Doctrine Cases Before the Ninth Circuit
There are two cases pending decision at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that affect consumer rights (and potentially those of libraries) under the first sale doctrine. The two cases are UMG v. Augusto, and Autodesk v. Vernor. Each case involves resale of items the copyright owner attempted to restrict. Augusto involves promotional copies of CDs, and Vernor involves professional graphic and engineering design software. The defendants won in both trials.
Vernor's case arose when he purchases two copies of AutoCAD on eBay. Vernor attempted to resell these copies on eBay, meeting with a DMCA takedown notice from Autodesk. Vernor filed counter declarations and the sales ultimately proceeded. Vernor then sued Autodesk for a declaratory judgment that Autodesk could not restrain the sales. Autodesk's motion to dismiss was denied.
Autodesk claimed that the software could not be resold as it was licensed originally, and the license forbade transfer to third parties. The Court, however, held that the license placed onerous restrictions on the transfer of the software. It applied the first sale doctrine limiting Autodesk's rights to control distribution of the software once it was in the hands of a third party.
The implication in this case is tremendous. It affects the viability of shrink wrap licenses, which is the bedrock of software sales in the United States. In theory, no one owns software. It's merely licensed under terms written by the manufacturer. A user violating the license could be directed to terminate the use of the software or face less severe sanctions. The problem for Autodesk is that the software is embodied in physical disks which can be passed around. Even authorized downloads can be fixed and transferred between parties, essentially selling the rights to use the software. Piracy is not an issue in the case.
The Augusto case raises similar, but not identical issues. Agosto sold promotional CDs on eBay under the name Roast Beef Music. He acquired these CDs by purchasing them at used record stores in Los Angeles. The first sale doctrine without doubt applies to product sold by UMG through standard retail channels. Promotional product, on the other hand, is distributed free to individuals for various reasons and contain prominent notices that the use of the disc and content is licensed for promotional purposes and may not be resold or transfered. The labels say they retain ownership in the copy. The District Court held that the distributions were gifts and as such, the first sale doctrine applies to these discs no matter how they are labeled.
One side note about the music business is worth mentioning. Promo copies have existed since the time the labels began selling product, whether in the form of vinyl albums, compact discs, and DVDs. They were handed to DJs, radio stations, stores, and any number of entities who the label thought could help push an artist. Not all of those who received these copies thought enough of them to keep them. Hence they dumped them in used record stores and resale shops. The labels never took a strong position on the practice until the Internet and online auctions came along. There is anecdotal evidence that members of the music industry used these copies to make a little side money without drawing the ire of their employers.
What's really going on here is a fight to establish a principle that would limit application of the first sale doctrine in circumstances where it would normally apply. These two cases apply to physical items transferred between parties. Calling a sale a license once music and software (and ebooks) become purely creatures of the Internet implies that, absent legislation to the contrary, the right of the purchaser/licensor to redistribute goes away. Copyright holders would love for that to happen.
Both cases were argued last week before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Audio recordings of the arguments presented to the Court for the Vernor case are here, and here for the Augusto case. These are in .wma format, so Microsoft Media player is required. [MG]
120% Increase in Web of Science Leads to New Open Access Project
Sometimes we get tied up in our own world of legal publishing and forget that our colleagues in other types of libraries are fighting similar battles in their negotiations with vendors - and showing a lot more teeth than we are doing. For example, the University of California recently said NO to a 400% rate increase in their Nature Publishing journals subscriptions. They are still waiting for a reply from the publisher, and so am I. I hope they win!
Yesterday, the University of Prince Edward Island released a similar letter to that of UC which advised their faculty and students that, due to a 120% increase in their Web of Science contract, the UPEI Library would be discontinuing that service. The purpose of the UPEI and UC letters was to get the faculty and students to understand what was at stake. Most people outside of the librarians and deans do not really "get" the price thing as it relates to scholarship. Now they do, at least at UC and UPEI.
In addition to educating their clientele, UPEI goes a step further. First, they set up a second page of alternative ways to accomplish similar tasks that researchers had used Web of Science to complete. Second:
"UPEI is also leading an effort to create a free and open index to the world's scholarly literature called "Knowledge For All". This proposal is currently being sent to various Canadian and international library consortia in an effort to gain support for the project. One goal of Knowledge For All is to ensure that scholars and members of the broader public are no longer disenfranchised by a broken system of scholarly communication. We will provide the campus community with updates on this effort.Please also contact me (566‑0460) if you have concerns or comments.
Mark Leggott, University Librarian"
I would like to applaud our counterparts at these schools for having the courage to say enough is enough and, more importantly, take a positive step to try and correct the situation. Hopefully, AALL will be included in their solicitation and will respond, or perhaps it will be the law group at SLA who will be an active voice. We shall see. (VS)
The Book Big Legal Publishers Don't Want You to Read: 2010 Edition of Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual Now Available
As I've said before, Ken Svengalis is every law librarian's best friend because his annual Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual really is "the book that the Big Legal Publishers don’t want you to read." Each annual edition takes well over half a year to grind out to produce the best guide for law library collection development work available because of the detailed information provided for every listed title including historical pricing information for supplementation. It's a task I wouldn't even think of tackling but Ken does it year in and year out. Imagine the vacuum created if Ken didn't continue publishing this work.
In my opinion, The Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual is an excellent reference tool, too. If you can't get the publication out of your director's or acquisition librarian's hands, reference librarians should insist on buying second copies of Ken's work for their reference book collection.
Half of the book is dedicated to substantive reviews of 1,600 legal treatises, CD-ROMs, and other materials in 61 subject specialties, each of which includes historical annual supplementation costs, critical information to help you avoid a stealth drain on your library budget. Another major portion cites the primary law sources for each state and the District of Columbia, Internet sites, legal research guides, and leading sources for state-specific materials. Nineteen chapters list the major categories of legal materials and the most cost-effective means of acquiring them.
Little Legal Publishers. Commenting on this LLB post about the anti-competitive effects of market concentration for practice-oriented state legal publications on Legal Blog Watch, Eric Lipman asked:"Lawyers and librarians: any local, little-known providers of paper state research materials that you swear by?" The answer will be found in the state by state section of Ken's guide. Many of the listed publishers are practitioner-oriented but not state-focused but it may be worth the effort to check out their sales catalogs. Some offer state and/or federal desk books that are at least equal, if not better, in terms of editorial quality and are definitely less expensive that the annual editions our Big Legal publishers produce.
This isn't a matter of supporting smaller legal publishers on some sort of moral grounds. I just think these smaller publishers of practitioner desk books have more at stake so they pay more attention to editorial quality than the faceless editors of Big Legal Publishers do. I, for one, am serious looking into replacing my SOs for TR Legal federal desk books with ones produced by Little Legal Publishers. That's the first item on my agenda when I cruise the exhibit hall in Denver. Well, no, the first item is saying "hi" to everyone at the Hein booth, then shopping for alternatives.
Unfortunately there are no state practitioner desk book alternatives in Ohio, at least not until I launch Joe's Ohio Law Books. And until then, Ohio state practitioner options are limited to two. Banks-Baldwin was gobbled up by West many years ago. Anderson a few years ago by Lexis. I recall visiting Anderson's HQ in Cincinnati after its sale to search through their back-files for anything the University of Cincinnati Law Library might want. Not much, unfortunately. Also unfortunately, I didn't think to ask if the Company wanted to donate its corporate archives to UC to preserve the record of this local legal publishing company. My bad. [JH]
Pew Internet's Findings on the State of Online Video
69% of adult Internet users have watched or downloaded a video according to Pew Internet's The State of Online Video (June 2010) to do at least one of the following:
- Comedy or humorous videos, which have risen in viewership from 31% to 50% of adult internet users since Pew Internet's 2007 survey.
- Educational videos, which have risen in viewership from 22% to 38% of adult internet users.
- Movies or TV show videos, which have risen in viewership from 16% to 32% of adult internet users.
- Political videos, which have risen in viewership from 15% to 30% of adult internet users.
The most notable change involves the popularity of video-sharing sites like YouTube or Google Video. The percent of adult internet users who watch video on these sites has grown from 33% in December 2006 to 61% in the current survey. The spread of broadband, the increased use of social networking and status update sites like Facebook and Twitter have also contributed to the surge in online video watching and uploading. The survey also found that 30-49 year-olds are just as likely as 18-29 adults to upload video and male and female Internet users are equally likely to do so. [JH]
June 15, 2010
Report: Government Unlikely to Bail Out the News Industry
The FTC has held a series of workshops on the fate of journalism and newspapers in the Internet age. The latest hearing, in fact, is today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Despite the hand wringing over consolidation and closure of papers, it appears that the government will not likely intervene in the situation with any kind of subsidies or other types of direct aid.
Business Week reports that FTC officials have decided internally that government aid to newspapers is not viable based on the lack of support in Congress. The will for more government aid is not likely there after propping up banks and the auto industry. More likely will be a call for SBA loans to news gathering start-ups. There will not likely be any calls to change the copyright laws favoring traditional papers, nor any push to tax ISPs for consumption. ISPs have always been cool to surcharges. Customers typically attribute these as price increases. Surcharges also leave open the possibility that other companies negatively affected by the Internet (music, movies) would have a right to the same kinds of subsidies.
Newspapers are in trouble. The news is not. We're awash in it on our televisions, our computers, and our personal devices. That's what happens when communication is both instant and portable. The print format is, stating the obvious, in decline. Portable devices such as the Kindle, iPad and other tablet computers will make casual news reading even less dependant on print. As the industry itself, I'm not sure what model will make money from the news in an environment where it is online and more or less free.
One possibility is for the industry to downsize, meaning fewer news gathering organizations reporting on the same events. Some may lament that possibility as a threat to democracy. That may be how it works in a market economy, though. Another is to remove the overhead of printing plants as the need for print declines. These are a large compared to sending out the same material on an electronic device. Still another may mean relaxed cross-ownership rules allowing media companies to distribute the same news via different outlets. CNN, for example, doesn't have this problem because it doesn't publish in print. In any event, news and newspapers need to reinvent themselves. As with the music industry, there is still money in the game, just not as much as there used to be. Getting used to that idea may be part of the reinvention.
While we're on the subject, James Fallows wrote an interesting article in the June, 2010 issue of the Atlantic on how Google is trying to save newspapers. Yes, given the publishing industry meme that news aggregators such as Google are destroying the industry, Google has a different view. You can read it here, on the web, for free. [MG]
A Blogosphere Handshake: Tom Meet Jason Wilson, Jason Meet Tom Glocer
Jason Wilson and Tom Glocer have a couple of things in common. Both are publishing executives and both are bloggers. Recently Thomson Reuters CEO Glocer wrote:
When I started blogging over five years ago, one of my staff suggested that it could be ghost-written and then run through Legal, Marketing, Communications, etc. With the exception of good ideas which I borrow freely, the text is unfortunately all mine.
Don't you mean fortunately, Tom? Had Glocer taken up his staffer's suggestion, no one would read his blog. There's already enough pablum generated by "Legal, Marketing, Communications, etc." from TR in the blogosphere that's not worth reading.
Unfortunately, Glocer rarely posts on his blog. No doubt he doesn't have much time to think about writing something for his blog. He is, after all, running a global publishing empire. Recently, however, Glocer was on a flight to Singapore and did have a moment to write a post about writing posts for his blog. He mentioned that he typically drafts posts as an email to himself using his iPad. That got me thinking about TR Legal's plans for the iPad. Earlier, you see, Glocer had opined about the iPad in a blog post. Upon its launch, he wrote in iPad and Beyond:
What the iPad represents for me is a trail of breadcrumbs along a path to the future of media. ... what is really exciting to me is the direction that Apple is pointing.
Since then, we've learned that TR Legal "loves the iPad" at least for WestlawNext. But what about for ebooks? Will we be seeing the Company moving into the ebook market by way of iBooks, Kindle, etc.?
Glocer and Wilson have never met face-to-face although Glocer's staff would like to eliminate his Little Capital state practitioner-oriented legal publishing house by buying Jones McClure Pulbishing. Perhaps they will meet in the blogosphere. Glocer could, for example, comment on a recent post Wilson wrote about the prospects for ebooks by Big Capital legal publishers on his rethinc.k blog. In iOS4, folders & the race for an eBook app, Wilson writes:
[G]iven the legal publishing business, it was highly unlikely that publishers were going to put books on Kindle, iBooks, or the upcoming Blio reader or make DRM-free versions available for Stanza or Ibis. Giving up that kind of revenue split [with ebook distributors like Apple and Amazon] and loss of account information just doesn’t sit well with an industry accustomed to selling directly to the consumer (unlike trade). A good case in point would be Thomson Reuters, who has exactly one eBook app for Black’s Law Dictionary, out of a catalog of thousands.
Whatchathink Tom? You can comment to Jason's post here. [JH]
A Blogosphere Handshake
June 14, 2010
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tells us how to make better use of the online encyclopedia for research and teaching
Here's an audio link to an interview Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales recently did with the Chronicle's Tech Therapy columnists about how academics can make better use of Wikipedia. As the Chronicle reports, Wales sat down to "discuss the best—and worst—ways to use the online encyclopedia in teaching and research." In the interview, he also challenges "traditional newspapers to adopt some of Wikipedia's practices."
Five academics weigh-in on e-books
The Chronicle of Higher Ed has asked academics from a variety of backgrounds, including one Harvard law prof, to give their opinions about e-books and e-readers. Most of them feel that e-books are best for non-work related, light reading but not for more serious research where one may have to refer to several open books at once. Another criticism is the tethered nature of e-books such that the seller or licensor can pull the "book" at any time, the lack of academic titles that are available, and the inability to loan, trade or otherwise transfer the book to a friend or colleague.
One techie-prof suggested that e-books really don't offer anything more than p-books except for some convenience. Although this prof loves tech, he's not going to take the plunge until publishers begin to tap into the full potential of the e-format:
For me at least, e-books won't become compelling until writers and publishers begin taking advantage of the native capabilities of e-readers. Imagine a novel whose plot changed based upon your location. Imagine a novel that was infinitely scalable, infinitely malleable. Imagine a novel that incorporated other media—a video clip, a song fragment, a dynamic map. That novel would not be an experimental novel. It would be, at long last, a fully realized realist novel. That's the kind of e-book I want to read.
You can read the rest of the opinions here, including the interesting reader comments.
Two CRIV Member Resignations Prompt One Question: Why Has AALL Appointed a Paid "AALL Vendor Liaison" as Gatekeeper between the Committee and Vendors?
Last month two members of CRIV tendered their resignations effective immediately. Lucy Rieger was in her third year of committee membership while Caren Biberman was still in her first year. Why? Well one may say, well, I am saying and am not speaking for either Lucy or Caren, that our association has eviscerated this Committee's mission.
To be clear, let's remember that CRIV stands for the Committee on Relations with Information Vendors. The CRIV Charge includes:
The Committee shall foster positive, constructive and open communication between information vendors and the membership of AALL in matters relating to provision of information in any format.
The Committee shall serve as a forum and resource to provide constructive suggestions to vendors.
The Committee represents the interests of all AALL members, and neither it nor its members will represent or advocate for the benefit of only one publisher or information vendor when acting in their capacity as committee members.
Under the heading "Vendor Communications," the Committee's responsibilities include:
Serving in an "ombudsman" role, work with librarians and publishers to help solve problems of both an individual or wide-scale nature. By monitoring appropriate discussion lists and through other means, identify actual or potential problems that are appropriate for CRIV intervention. Investigate formal complaints and other informal reports of problems, assist in achieving fair settlements, and expedite communication of findings and solutions to the library and publisher communities by issuing reports... . ... Work with other AALL entities to monitor and participate in the discussion of fair trade practices in the legal publishing industry.
Meet the AALL Vendor Liaison. CRIV members aren't allowed to fulfill the above responsibilities. In a nutshell, the Committee is not allowed to communicate with our vendors directly except for the "most mundane interactions" to quote from Caren Biberman's letter of resignation. That's the job of the "AALL Vendor Liaison" now. The what? Our (need I emphasize “our”) association’s Executive Board last year wedged someone who was not a CRIV member between the Committee and the legal publishing industry. By way of an ex-officio appointment, an official compensated AALL Vendor Liaison position was created and added to the Committee.
No, this isn't the usual Executive Board member serving the usual perfunctory Board-Committee role. Nor is it a HQ staffer assigned to help CRIV out by performing grunt work. We pay a working law librarian, just like all the working volunteer law librarians on CRIV, to do this job. The current position holder, Marian Parker, may be well qualified to volunteer her time and expertise as one among many actively engaged CRIV-ers but it certainly doesn't help the library-side of the library-vendor relationship when CRIV is effectively reduced to a committee of one.
Good Idea? Under our Bylaws, Art. IX. 4, "The President may make committee appointments during the President's term of office" but is an ex officio appointment that undermines the mission of CRIV permissible? Under our bylaws, Art. IX. 3, "When the Executive Board creates a committee, the Board shall designate its purpose, term and structure." However, CRIV is a long-standing committee with a purpose and structure that has been in place for years. One could argue that CRIV would have to be replaced with some new committee, let's call it CRIV-Lite, to make last year's Executive Board action right. But, let’s leave the Bylaws issue to association nerds. That's not what is really important here.
What is important is that our Executive Board's action was wrong, dead wrong. Here we are, we being institutional members spanning all law library market segments, in the midst of substantial change -- budget cutbacks, major product roll-outs, etc. -- when the one committee that can help put out fires under its duly sanctioned intervention mandate is reduced to waiting to hear if the AALL Vendor Liaison is, has, or even will consider taking some sort of action.
What have we heard from AALL about the current state of affairs in the library-vendor relationship this year? Ah ... oh, yeah, well Rob Myers, CRIV vice-chair and incoming chair of the Committee received a blow to the solar plexus by TR Legal when he requested that the Company cease its unsolicited shipments practice. That's all I can think of, you? Even CRIV members as a committee have trouble finding out what, if anything, the AALL Vendor Liaison has been doing this year.
Why? To the best of my knowledge this is the first time our professional association has usurped the mission of one of our own duly appointed committees by this means. Why? Is AALL afraid of losing ad revenue by unleashing CRIV to fulfill its mission? Is consumer advocacy an empty promise to the membership? Are there no serious library-vendor matters requiring attention?
When a BigLaw firm librarian who has served on TR Legal and Lexis advisory councils and whose phone calls to WEXIS power brokers will be answered because they know her name resigns during the first year of serving on the Committee like Caren has, folks need to stand up and take notice. The library-vendor relationship is ablaze with serious issues affecting all types of law libraries in differing ways, many with long-term consequences, and more so than at any time in recent memory. Our Executive Board, however, has decided it does not want willing and able experts from the entire spectrum of our membership base to collectively address them with our vendors directly.
I, for one, but I doubt I am the only one, want qualified professionals like Caren, Lucy and others who offer to volunteer their time and expertise to represent our interests in the library-vendor relationship to be able to do so. This is one of those rare AALL committees whose work benefits all institutional members in one of the most important areas of each institution's mission. I do not want their efforts mediated, stymied really, by a vendor relations gatekeeper appointed by the Executive Board. Do you?
End This "Experiment" Now! In my much younger days, when I perhaps naively thought making some sort of contribution to AALL activities was worthwhile, I joined the “little work” chapter committees like Nominations because I didn't have a lot of time to offer but did think persuading dedicated law librarians to become chapter officers was a "good thing." Looks like the de facto CRIV-Lite has become one of those "little work" committees at the national level; no dedicated law librarians need apply unless the membership puts a stop to this "new world order."
Hopefully Caren’s suggestions, expressed in her resignation letter (below), will lead to much needed and quickly executed reforms in Denver. Incoming AALL President Darcy Kirk, Associate Dean for Library and Technology and Professor of Law, Univ. of Connecticut School of Law and our association's Executive Board ought to make it very clear that they intend to put an end to this, let's call it "experiment," that the AALL Vendor Liasion was a mistake and will be eliminated immediately, that our association funds can be put to much better use in other ways to address the library-vendor relationship, and that CRIV has a clear, unfettered mandate to collectively deal with issues by communicating with vendors directly.
Caren has been kind enough to allow republication of her letter of resignation. The letter was sent to Amy Eaton, Outgoing CRIV Chair, Catherine Lemann, AALL President, Rob Meyers, Incoming CRIV Chair, Christine Graesser, Board Liaison, and Marian Parker, AALL Vendor Liaison, last month. I believe it is required reading by all law librarians who give a damn about our association.
The above commentary is mine and mine alone. It’s up to the membership to bring CRIV back to life. [JH]
Biberman's Letter of Resignation from the Committee on Relations with Information Vendors
I am hereby submitting my resignation as a member of the AALL CRIV Committee effective immediately.
I was very excited and honored to be appointed as a member but unfortunately the reality of the AALL CRIV Committee fell far short of what I expected. I would like to share with you my experiences and my thoughts in the hopes that perhaps you will take what I am saying as constructive thoughts and suggestions:
1. From July 2009 through April 2010 the CRIV Committee met once (at AALL) and had one phone conference (which was not until late April 2010). All other communications were via email. I would have liked to see more interaction among the Committee members especially as there were often issues worth discussing.
2. From July 2009 through March 2010 the CRIV Committee (as a whole) never received one communication from the AALL Vendor Liaison, Marian Parker. I was told that the CRIV chair did have some communications with Marian Parker but those were not shared with the Committee for some reason. It wasn't until April 2010 that Marian Parker spoke to the members of the CRIV Committee (I should point out I missed this call as I was in Dallas, Texas for Lexis Advisory Board and TRIPLL). Even worse though, in my opinion, was that there was little or no communication from Marian Parker to the AALL membership even though there were several major vendor issues during this time period. I strongly believe that many members would have appreciated communication from either Marian Parker or the AALL Board concerning these issues and what was being done by AALL to promote the interests of its librarian members. I understand that Marian Parker is now planning to have regular calls with the Chair with information being passed on to the Committee members so I do feel that at least is a step in the right direction.
3. From July 2009 through April 2010 there were often issues that some members of the CRIV Committee would have liked to take action on and each time it was discussed via email the message came back that the Vendor Liaison, Marian Parker, would handle the issue. In fact, when I first suggested an interview with someone from Thomson Reuters re WestlawNext so we could do an informative piece for our members I was told via email that I could not do that and that the Vendor Liaison, Marian Parker, would handle all “issues" regarding WestlawNext. I later was given the go ahead to do the interview and write the article which by the way got mentioned in several blogs as not going far enough. However, I felt constrained to avoid any questions that might be perceived as an "issue."
The long and the short of this is that I feel (as I believe do others) that CRIV no longer is a viable committee due to the appointment of a vendor liaison that AALL leadership seems to want to handle all but the most mundane interactions with vendors. As a member of AALL, I am not pleased that AALL is spending my membership dollars to hire a vendor liaison who has not communicated with the CRIV Committee and the membership and I am troubled by the thought of the Vendor Liaison being the editor of the proposed blog. I think not acting to help "put out the fires" that have arisen has not served the membership well. I think when AALL has members willing to interact with vendors on behalf of the membership as a whole it is unnecessary to hire someone to do the task. I also think there may be an inherent conflict in accepting sponsorship dollars from vendors when one is trying to represent the interests of the AALL membership which is first and foremost law librarians. I honestly don't know whether AALL should or should not accept sponsorship dollars, I recognize that it is a difficult issue.
Given the above I have decided that I need to expend my energies elsewhere and therefore am resigning as a member of the AALL CRIV Committee. I do thank you for the opportunity to serve on a Committee and feel like I now have a better understanding of AALL as an organization. I know there was some feeling at one point that I was making out AALL to be the "evil empire" but that is not at all the case. I do think change is needed but I also recognize we are volunteers doing our best for the organization representing our profession and I do applaud those efforts heartily. I thought long and hard about this email and revised it several times over the last month and sincerely hope you will take this in the spirit in which it is intended and not as a denunciation of AALL. The opinions expressed in this email are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my (firm).
Caren J. Biberman
June 13, 2010
Round-Up of Practitioner Blogs
San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog
Provides insight on criminal law opinions, cases and news in California. Published by Erik Steven Johnson.
Delaware Non-Compete Law Blog
Examines non-compete law opinions, news and reports in Delaware. Published by Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor, LLP.
New York Employment Lawyer Blog
Provides opinions on employment law reports, opinions and news in New York. Published by Villanueva & Sanchala, Attorneys at Law.