October 16, 2010
Profiting Off of Volunteer Free Labor
The effinglibrarian caught a little flack from Facebook fans for his facetious LISNews post by characterizing Facebook as the time-wasting destination for the unemployed. "You probably see people using Facebook at your library and wonder why they aren't out looking for jobs. The answer is, unfortunately, that Facebook is their job." The secret to Facebook's success is unpaid labor. "Our free time is what makes Facebook worth any money at all. The company produces nothing. We see ads and that is what generates the most revenue. But the users produce 99.9% the content," writes the effinglibrarian in Why Facebook's success is bad for us. Of course, it is volunteer labor and that is the wildily successful profit-making formula for many social media service business plans.
Note to readers. Buy some "effing crap", like the effinglibrarian's book, Perfunctorily Me. See comment to RIP the effinglibrarian blog, 2007-2010. Check out LISNews because the effinglibrarian is not resting in peace.[JH]
October 15, 2010
Friday Fun: Saving the World One Typo Correction at a Time
Being a well-known typo creator, I love this idea. Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson are on a mission. See their The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time (Crown, Aug. 3, 2010) and book companion website. “This pair of kooks, with their high standards and principled civil disobedience, give me hope for the future of humanity.” -- Steven Pinker, Harvard College professor and author of The Language Instinct and The Stuff of Thought. [JH]
It's Time for "Plain Language:" Obama signs H.R. 946, the Plain Writing Act of 2010
H.R. 946, the Plain Writing Act of 2010, was sent to the President on Oct. 1, 2010 and signed into law on Oct. 13, 2010. No Public Law number on THOMAS as of yesterday evening because, well I don't know why. Perhaps the hard working staff who keep THOMAS up to date are also taking a much needed break during the Congressional recess. EPA, FDA, SEC and tax attorneys, and invoice paying law librarians can breathe a sight of relief because the Plan Writing Act does not cover regulations.
The Act requires each agency, by one year after enactment, to use plain writing in every covered document of the agency that the agency issues or substantially revises. It defines "covered document" to: (1) mean any document that is relevant to obtaining any federal benefit or service or filing taxes, that provides information about any federal benefit or service, or that explains to the public how to comply with a requirement the federal government administers or enforces; (2) include (whether in paper or electronic form) a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction; and (3) exclude a regulation.
By plain writing, the Act calls for "writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience." TaxProf Blog offers illustrations of before and after Plain Writing Act of 2010 taxpayer notices of IRS proposed changes to a filed 1040. Certainly a writing style change moving in the right direction.
However, I for one, received an IRS notice last year that in no uncertained terms clearly stated I owed the federal governent cold hard cash because I failed to include one 1099 in my filing. Opening the letter was an "OMG I'm getting audited moment", but the notice amounted to a ""you owe the IRS $XXX.xx" statement. Yup, I missed a 1099 and it was a "my bad." Needless to say, I mailed off the payment immediately. No "plain writing act" needed... . [JH]
A Sweetest Day Moment: The Internet Addiction Test (Or why I have dinner plans for this Saturday)
The Internet Addiction Test is the first validated and reliable measure of addictive use of the Internet according to the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery which hosts the online test. The Center's director, Dr. Kimberly Young, certainly has the credentials. She developed the test which is a 20-item questionnaire that measures mild, moderate, and severe levels of Internet Addiction.
So I took the text. My score was 28. For scores between 20-49 points, "You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage." My score would have been much higher if the test asked the following: "how do you react to connection outages that last under an hour, more than an hour, more than three hours." Anything longer than an hour and I'm climbing the walls like the man with the golden arm.
But wait, the Center also offers the Partners of Internet Addicts Test, "a test for spouses or partners of potential Internet addicts." According to the Blog Widow, her score for me is more than twice my score. She scored me at 59. For scores between 50-79 points, "You are experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of the Internet. You should consider their full impact on your life." "You" meaning me.
The Blog Widow read the test instructions -- I didn't because, well, I don't RTFM. The instructions stated "Remember when answering, only consider time your partner uses the Internet for non-academic or non-job related tasks." The Blog Widow emailed me saying "Joe’s score includes blogging." And that is work related. Should I mention that all this emailing took place within 20 feet of each other?
So if you take the Internet Addiction Test and your spouse, partner, whatever, takes The Partner's Addiction Test, you might want to be prepared to be going out to dinner this Saturday. I am now. Ouch, "thank you boss" (think NCIS Gibbs back of the head slap). I've just been informed that Saturday is Sweetest Day. [JH]
October 14, 2010
MetaLib: Introducing GPO's Federated Search Tool
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) released MetaLib (http://metalib.gpo.gov), a federated search tool for retrieving U.S. Government Publications (reports, articles, and citations) by simultaneously searching across approximately 53 Federal Government databases. Basic, Advanced, and Expert searching is available including the ability to restrict by very broad topic areas. Additional databases will be added over time. The public can suggest databases to be added to MetaLib. MetaLib shows promise as a potentially abundant resource for locating government documents. [BA]
Getting to Five: New Biography of Justice Brennan (NB the $2.05 price differential on Amazon for pBook-Kindle eBook editons)
Some, well really who wouldn't say, as Chuck Leddy does that "William Brennan was probably the most liberal US Supreme Court justice in the post-World War II era." See Leddy's Christian Science Monitor review of Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel's long in the making and likely to be viewed for now as the definitive biography of this very influential jurist: Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct. 4, 2010). [Link to book's website]
In Getting to Five, (New York Times Sunday Book Review, Oct 8, 2010), Dahlia Litwick writes:
The burning question has always been whether Brennan’s influence on the Warren court — which engendered a revolution that has yet to be fully reversed all these years later — was as dramatic and outsized as we’ve been led to believe. In “The Brethren,” Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong described Brennan glad-handing and horse-trading his way to one victory after another, a depiction Brennan resented for portraying him as the archetypal “Irish ward boss.”
In the decades since, Brennan has come to be seen as an epic strategist and deal-maker who coordinated many of the Warren court’s major decisions behind the scenes. Where this book truly soars is in its account of Brennan’s skills at — as he always described it to his clerks — getting to five: finding a way to string together five fractious votes for some new principle or doctrine, or seeding some future principle or doctrine between the lines. It’s clear from this biography that what Brennan did wasn’t alchemy, even when it wasn’t always perfectly principled. He emerges as so carefully attuned to the concerns and passions of his colleagues that he was able, time after time, to draft opinions, or help them draft opinions, in ways that could achieve five votes.
Stern and Wermiel's work focuses on Justice Brennan's thirty-four-year tenure on the Supreme Court (1956-90), meaning very little attention is paid to his life before SCOTUS. The biography may be hampered by the fact that Wermeil, who had unprecedented access starting in 1986 by way of interviews with Brennan and his papers, put aside his unfinished notes in the late 1990s, meaning Justice Brennan, who died in 1997, never saw even a draft of the biography. Finally in 2006, Wermiel recruited HLS grad and CQ reporter Seth Stern to "rescue the project" as Adam Liptak writes in Brennan Book, Many Years in Making. The biography was mostly written by Stern based on Wermeil's notes and is being well received by book reviewers in the media.
pBook-Kindle eBook Pricing: If you check Amazon volunteer reviews, negative reviews appear for this title because some folks are upset with the pricing for the Kindle edition. Print list price is $35.00, pBook Amazon price is $20.47. Kindle price is $18.42. For more on this emerging development, see Julie Brosman's recent New York Times article, 2 E-Books Cost More Than Amazon Hardcovers. [JH]
Protecting Speech Interests of the Fair User from the Imbalanced Legal Landscape that Favors Copyright Holders
By way of following up on Mark Giangrande's When Is eReserves Like Illegal File Sharing? about the on-going litigation in the Northern District of Georgia, Civil Action No. 1:OB-CV-1425-0DE, where three academic publishers (Cambridge, Oxford, and Sage) are suing Georgia State University for copyright infringement because the University places excerpts of their publications on electronic reserve without paying a fee, Arkansas law prof Ned Snow's Untangling Fair Use as a Matter of Law, [SSRN] may be of interest. Snow writes:
Fair use once existed as an issue of fact for the jury, rarely appropriate for courts to decide as a matter of law. During the 1980s, however, courts started to change this classification. Appellate courts started to review fair-use decisions de novo; trial courts started to decide the issue as a pure matter of law on summary judgment. By the 1990s, this treatment was commonplace.
Snow provides a critical case law analysis of the situation and offers the following conclusion:
As an issue of fact, fair use may be decided as a matter of law—but only where doing so serves its speech-protective function. On appeal, courts should defer to a jury finding that favors the fair user. Everything else courts should review de novo. This double standard of review is necessary to protect speech interests of the fair user from the already imbalanced landscape of the law that favors copyright holders. Adequate speech protection requires that both judge and jury have an opportunity to recognize the fairness of a use. For this reason, trial courts should decide fair use on summary judgment only if the ruling would favor the fair user. The proposed double standard of review and one-sided application of summary judgment are necessary to ensure that fair use protects speech.
Hat tip to Media Law Prof Blog. [JH}
Opening: Associate Law Librarian for Research and Electronic Services, Emory Univ. School of Law
The Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library at Emory University School of Law is seeking an experienced, energetic, and creative professional to join our team as Associate Law Librarian for Research and Electronic Services. This is a new position that will be instrumental in enhancing and expanding the range and quality of research services offered to library users. Anticipated start date is June 2011. A detailed position description is posted at http://library.law.emory.edu/assocposition.html .
Responsibilities: Under the general supervision of the Director of Library Services, the Associate Law Librarian is responsible for planning, implementing, and reviewing all policies and programs related to research and related services for all library user groups, and participates directly in these programs and teaches advanced classes related to legal research. The Associate Law Librarian is also responsible for the development and implementation of the library’s web presence and electronic resources. The Associate Law Librarian will supervise the work of three professional staff members. In addition, as part of the Law Library senior management team, the incumbent will work closely with the Director of Library Services and the Associate Law Librarians for Collection Services and Student Services to develop policies and plans that guide overall library operations.
Required: ABA-accredited J.D.; ALA-accredited M.L.I.S. (or equivalent); six years of successful experience as a law library reference librarian; significant supervisory experience; experience in teaching legal research.
Salary and Benefits: Salary based on education, qualifications and experience. Excellent benefits package, including an array of retirement plans, courtesy scholarships, and support for professional development.
To Apply: Please submit a resume, 3 references with contact information, and a cover letter to our search committee at libsearch(at)law.emory.edu, using the subject line “Associate Law Librarian for Research and Electronic Services, #18626BR.” Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.
Emory University is an EEO/AA employer.
October 13, 2010
Welcome to the Blogosphere, Legal Skills Prof Blog
Teaching legal skills to produce law school graduates prepared for practicing law is a very important matter these days. Nova Southeastern Law prof Jim Levy and I have been talking about the need for a blog on this topic for months and now Jim has started one for our Law Professor Blogs Network. In announcing the launch of Legal Skills Prof Blog earlier this week, Jim wrote:
What we hope to accomplish with this blog is to fill a niche that we think is currently missing in the legal blogosphere; creating a forum for news and discussion between and among law professors who teach legal skills (including legal writing professors, clinicians and "doctrinal" professors who incorporate practical skills into their courses), practitioners who hire the students we teach, and student themselves who are interested in keeping abreast of trends in legal skills training.
Recent posts include law firm and law school sponsored "apprenticeship" programs, the impact of Google-like search engines on legal research, and using Google Documents for in-class drafting exercises. That's just a sample of posts published this week. No doubt many more just as interesting posts to come. Contributors to Legal Skills Prof Blog include Dennis Kennedy, Tom Mighell, Louis J. Sirico, Jr. (Villanova) and Edward H. Telfeyan (McGeorge School of Law).
Jim is a prolific blogger, contributing to Legal Writing Prof Blog, Adjunct Law Prof Blog and LLB over the years. I can think of no one better suited to fill this niche in the legal blogosphere by addressing the topic of legal skills comprehensively with the help of his team of contributing and guest bloggers -- law profs, clinicians, practitioners, applied technology experts and others. If you are interested in legal skills education, I believe you will find that Legal Skills Prof Blog will be a must-read. Hope you check it out and take its RSS feed. [JH]
Time to Rally the Troops for Passage of the Electronic Message Preservation Act, H.R. 1387
Before rushing to the airport, meaning adjourning a week earlier than scheduled and until after the November elections, Congress passed a continuing resolution which will keep the federal government open until COB Dec. 3. But the Senate did not take action on the Electronic Message Preservation Act, H.R. 1387 [THOMAS | OpenCongress]. On September 16, 2010, 23 groups (listed below), including AALL, urged Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) "to take up the bill before the end of the year." [Text of Letter]
After the elections, Congress will return for a lame duck session that will have to address the federal budget, the expiring Bush tax cuts, and other unfinished business. Even though H.R. 1387 received bipartisan support in the House, one has to wonder if the bill will even appear on the radar during the final days of the 111th Congress. Time to rally the troops. [JH]
|Open Government Groups Supporting the
Electronic Message Preservation Act, H.R. 1387
American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Defending Dissent Foundation
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Government Accountability Project (GAP)
The Multiracial Activist
National Coalition for History
National Freedom of Information Center
National Whistleblower Center
New Mexico Foundation for Open Government
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of American Archivists
Society of Professional Journalists
Special Libraries Association
US Bill of Rights Foundation
CRS Report on FOIA and Nondisclosure Provisions in Other Federal Laws
A snip from the summary of The Freedom of Information Act and Nondisclosure Provisions in Other Federal Laws (R41406, Sept. 13, 2010):
Congress continues to consider how to balance the federal government’s growing need for sensitive or confidential business information, the public’s right of access to information about government activities, and the private sector’s interest in keeping its sensitive or proprietary information protected from public disclosure. In enacting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, Congress sought to balance the right of the public to know and the need of the government to protect certain information. FOIA’s broad provisions favoring disclosure, coupled with the specific exemptions, represent the balance Congress achieved.
Congress has enacted legislative exemptions from FOIA to provide assurance that private information submitted to government agencies will not be disclosed or will only be disclosed in limited situations. Generally, the legislation has exempted covered information from disclosure under FOIA. Congress has recognized that some situations do not fall within FOIA’s framework. The proliferation of legislative exemptions from FOIA has resulted in widespread concern that information that needs to be shared will be inappropriately withheld. To respond to these concerns, Congress enacted the OPEN FOIA Act of 2009, P.L. 111-83, which requires that when Congress provides for a statutory exemption to FOIA, Congress must state its intention clearly.
During the 111th Congress, two legislative exemptions from FOIA have been particularly controversial. The first, The Protected National Security Documents Act of 2009, Section 565 of P.L. 111-83, was enacted in response to litigation under FOIA to obtain photographs depicting the alleged mistreatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. The second, a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Section 929I of P.L. 111-203, grants an exemption from FOIA to the Securities and Exchange Commission for certain information received from entities it regulates, or information used for other regulatory and oversight activities. ...
This report will examine these issues and will be updated as warranted.
October 12, 2010
Amazon Announces Kindle Singles
Amazon announced "Kindle Singles" today, which will be short form works created outside traditional publishing. Works would be larger than a magazine article but smaller than a novel, or between 10,000 and 30,000 words. They would be published online and purchasable to a Kindle owner's library. Amazon is soliciting works for the project at email@example.com.
This is an interesting concept in self-publishing with a few questions. One is, who is going to supply the imprint? Would that be the writer or Amazon? If it's the latter, it seems Amazon is hedging its bets with the Kindle by creating a content stream for its devices that isn't dependent on third party licensing. Another question is what would it take to get on the platform? The wording of the announcement, "To be considered for Kindle Singles, interested parties should contact..." suggests there some editorial hurdles to overcome beyond a word count range. These are not spelled out beyond "a single killer idea, well researched, well argued and well illustrated--whether it's a business lesson, a political point of view, a scientific argument, or a beautifully crafted essay on a current event." Yes, Amazon wants quality. Which publisher or distributor doesn't? Still, what does it take to get on board? I'm sure we'll find out soon. Pricing is another TBA issue as is, who owns the copyright?
It almost reminds me of the music business in a way. Certainly the name "Singles" is reminiscent of the old vinyl 45s and 12 inch releases. The digital music industry never seemed to get past the idea of selling LPs even as it transitions to digital only releases. Consumers had no problem abandoning albums much to industry dismay. Music companies also never seemed to get to the idea of selling an artist's music informally. The concept of releasing a few songs here and there without waiting a year or more for the formal product seems never to occurred to an industry where the market is in songs. Kindle Singles offers authors and publishers a different mindset when it comes to selling product. A work is ready when it's ready and in a form that has less editorial constraints.
Imagine an well-known author serializing a story and selling it piece by piece. I know Stephen King tried something like this years ago and failed. The distribution model, however, has changed since then. It makes more sense to try something like this when the content goes to a specific, protected device. Sales obviously can be controlled.
I also wonder if magazines could do the same thing. If the music industry could sell songs, why can't magazines sell specific articles from its pages as a single entity? That would be the single in the analogy if the magazine is the album. This idea works as long as the article is reasonably priced. We in the academic world know that a price of $30 for 24 hour access to a single article from a journal isn't always cost effective. However, a single article priced at one or two dollars from popular magazines for permanent (or at least as permanent as the interweb allows) electronic library access may actually be a viable market. It seems anyone who has the rights to lots of content could break compilations into smaller, saleable chunks. Why buy access to Encyclopedia Brittanica (only viable for institutions tehse days) if one can buy a permanent access to a single entry for five dollars? What with the short attention span encouraged by electronics and the Internet, Kindle Singles seem an idea whose time has come. I hope Amazon gets it right. [MG]
It's Settled, Here is the 40 Best Law Schools
On October 6th, Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter wrote "We haven't run a meaningless Internet poll in awhile, and since there's not much real news, here it goes: let's rank the top 40 law schools in the U.S." And now with over 340 votes cast, the "official, scientific results" are in, so here's the 40 best US law school, 2010 edition. [JH]
West of the future, beyond second thoughts, thunder claps images out loud.
OK, the post's title comes from the opening line of a poem I wrote a zillion years ago. The next line goes something like this (can't really remember) "Sound for listening to silence, rebound." Seems an appropriate lead-in to...
"[T]here now appears to be a singular lack of imagination at senior management levels at the major legal publishers," writes long-time House of Butter and now Slaw contributor Sean Hocking in Legal "Publishing" Companies & People: That's What We Need.
Would Henry Butterworth or John B. West and their immediate successors have found a way through the quagmire that is today’s legal information market. Or would their fate also be the constant chase for the next quarter’s figures and a general floundering about hoping that the next big idea in legal publishing will come down from the heavens as a eureka moment lightening strike.
Well, it is a different world now. As Rich Leiter writes in Two Observations About the State of Modern Law Book Publishing:
For the most part, the executives of the big three publishers of materials about American law are not lawyers, nor publishers. Even if they have law degrees, they usually also have MBA's and come from business backgrounds. They are corporate types who see their companies as manufacturing widgets! They don't appreciate the grave responsibility that they have as publishers.
Leiter adds that "there is ... an indication that publishers aren't developing their materials for what people need, but, rather, what they can profit from." If there was any doubt that this is the case, see Vicki Szymczak's LLB post, New Publication Model for West ("[TR Legal] informed me that new products will all have an individual market plan. The market plan will take into consideration how West will make a profit off the title.").
Hocking wonders where "this lack of imagination has its roots in fact that both Lexis and West currently see themselves as “content” database storage and re-distribution organisations rather than employing that remarkably resilient word, Publisher." To start getting back to the business of legal publishing, he suggests that senior management should let book acquisitions editors "fly a little and think laterally about what a legal title could mean over the next decade. ... Allow them to hone skills and make mistakes and maybe just maybe in a few years time one of these individuals will stun their CEO with a concept that could change the fortunes of an industry and in the meantime introduce a whole new purchasing readership."
Commenting on Hocking's post, Gary Rodrigues concurs:
Sean Hocking has hit upon the fatal flaw in the vision the major legal publishers created for themselves when they decided to embrace online technology: in mastering the means of delivering existing legal content online, they consciously or unconsciously abandoned their core mandate as “publishers” of legal information. ... He suggests that a more viable option would be for the publishers to return to their roots as “publishers” and focus on the development of new talent capable of real innovation through content generation. Not a bad idea if the major legal publishers wish to stay in the business of providing access to legal information.
Well, first someone in upper management has to listen. As Leiter observes "decisions about what should be published and what shouldn't, or how they should serve their customers or how they shouldn't are now made by people who are so far removed from their customers, that they can't really hear what's being said."
Commenting on both Hocking's and Leiter's posts from the perspective of being a legal publisher in New Design Please, Jason Wilson affirms that the "business of legal publishing is less about the content these days and more about how to package, market, and maintain profit margins of existing content and public-generated data." Wilson echoes their concerns but with a eye toward future e-law product development in his Upgrading to Elegance post on Slaw:
As legal publishing struggles with the debate to end print and embrace ePub and apps, a type of syncretism will be necessary to reimagine all of this information we are creating. In other words, it shouldn’t just be a matter of taking text, converting it, and republishing it digitally. ... [L]egal publishers have an opportunity to embrace information designers to help us discover new ways of interacting with and understanding the law. We shouldn’t leave the job solely to focus groups (mainly lawyers) and computer programmers.
We'll just have to wait and see. I struggle a bit with Hocking and Leiter still characterizing our major vendors as legal publishers since it is pretty clear that they view themselves more as legal professional services vendors rather than mere legal publishers now. And there is a difference; "manufacturing widgets" as Leiter puts it, database content re-distribution as Hocking calls it, (I would call it re-purposing) play an important role in the legal professional services business model. This business model extends well beyond content to software productivity applications, some of which re-use the content inventory, some of which do not. However, Hocking and Leiter's concerns about our major vendors' traditional legal publishing activities are justified. One may say they originate in "real innovation through content generation," to quote Rodrigues, being overshadowed and neglected by this new business model. Hocking hits the nail of its head: "[a] publishing state of mind may well save a publishing industry."
Real innovation through new content generation, yes, but also by embracing new technology is going to take an entrepreneurial spirit that appears to be lost in the storm clouds that are forming above our major vendors. See The Mindset Divide: Distinguishing Between Traditional and Non-Traditional Legal Information (Professional Services) Vendors. As a legal publisher, meaning not a huge multi-faceted legal professional services vendor, I know Jason Wilson understands and appreciates the difference while he keep tabs on IT developments that can potentially enhance his products. As we move forward, I think his concerns about the potential opportunity costs of lost eureka moments in information design are the more far-reaching:
In the 90s, we were challenged to overcome our bias with media distinctions and become cyberliterate, that is, to understand how to use electronic and nonelectronic technologies to manage information effectively. Fifteen years or so later, we find ourselves thinking again about the future of legal content and media [fn 4], except now we are less concerned about information management than we are about understanding and making sense of everything we’ve found. To accomplish this, we’re going to have to start ignoring some boundaries.
Yes, a footnote to a blog post! It reads "Actually, I think a lot of publishers are just thinking about how to preserve margins, distribution platforms, and DRM. Maybe XML and metadata too, but more on that margins thing."
And now I have a footnote of sorts on "that margins thing." A lot of email buzz was generated by an anonymous comment to Leiter's post. Which major vendor do you think is being referred to here?
You left out the fact that the major U.S. law book publishers are owned by foreign publishers who come from markets where lawyers are used to paying high prices for law books because the markets are small and segmented. My editor told me that when their company was acquired, they were informed that prices were going to increase because European law publishers were used to making 30% profit instead of the 8-10% that American publishers were used to.
Well, if it is Wolters Kluwer or Reed Elsevier, neither have reached that profit margin in US legal markets yet. But Thomson (now Thomson Reuters) has been hitting the number for years. While blissfully ignoring current market conditions, TR Legal is making a valiant effort to remain TRI's cash cow. However, West of the Future may end up performing more like West of the Past. Think 25% or less. [JH]
October 11, 2010
New ACTA Not As Bad As The Old ACTA
The U.S. Trade Representative's Office released an official "near final" text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement last week. The new text shows that some of the more extreme provisions that concerned piracy of intellectual property via the Internet were watered down. The treaty still provides for prohibitions against anti-circumvention of Digital Rights Management features (Article 2.18 Sections 4, 5, 7 and 8).
Gone, however, are the provisions that would have required Service Providers to enforce copyright on behalf of rights holders, and three strikes provisions that would lead to disconnection. In their place is a provision that allows rights holders to work through competent authorities to have ISPs reveal the identities of suspected infringers (Article 2.18 Section 4). These suspects would have a level of due process within their respective countries. It doesn't seem as if anything would change within the United States, even with the recent trend for mass lawsuits filed in single District Courts. In theory, there is some form of due process in these proceedings. Nothing in the agreement, however, stops any signatory from implementing stronger protections for intellectual property.
The treaty has had its share of controversy. The negotiations, long kept secret in their details, has rankled some political institutions. The European Parliament weighed in several times against the secrecy and various provisions as they existed in leaked texts. Mexico's Senate most recently passed a resolution asking the government to hold off on action on the treaty until it can be examined by the legislature with input from the public. India blasted the treaty over the handling of drug shipments. These could be seized at borders and destroyed because they could be illegal (or infringing) in other countries. Many of these generic drugs are manufactured in India. It's also noteworthy that India, as well as China and Russia, are not now parties to the treaty. These countries represent both large markets and jurisdictions with less urgency for enforcing intellectual property rights. As such, almost a third of the world population would not be covered.
In one sense, I wonder what all the secrecy was about. If the fear was that making the negotiation process open would water down the content, it seems that this latest iteration got to that same point anyway. Reports indicate that the near final version of the text is just that, with merely technical details to work out. Note that the agreement is negotiated as an executive agreement which will not require the Senate to approve it. The current text is here. [MG]
TRI CEO Tom Glocer of the Imminent Threat of Cyber Attack
As I've mentioned before I like Tom Glocer's personal blog and I am not repeating it now just because I'm in the midst of Westlaw negotiations that may go badly as in "good-bye Westlaw" badly. Meaning, I was promised a response that is now overdue.
Tom's a busy CEO of a publishing empire but I wish he would write more thought pieces. "[T]his medium seems best suited to reflections – on my work, on the future of media and technology, or on the joys of sport and family life," writes Tom in probably the most serious and atypical post I have read on his blog. In Cyber Defense -- A Call to Action, he writes "I want to convince you that all peace-loving people, regardless of country, face an imminent threat: the threat of cyber attack on the technological infrastructure upon which we and the societies in which we live increasingly rely." A snip:
Ultimately, I believe that the answer lies in creating a “super net” or overlay internet among trusted and authenticated institutions, akin to the role mil.net served for the US Department of Defense. We are slowly evolving from an unpoliced network of anonymous nodes to a multi-layered network of authenticated institutions and individuals. Just as individuals must be approved to receive a security clearance from their government, so can their machines be identified and approved. What emerges, need not be an Orwellian nightmare of government control. Rather, I can imagine a layered internet in which the nuclear arsenal is controlled by the highest and most secure level, the power grid, air traffic control and ATM networks are secured by a sufficiently robust next layer, but an open cyber frontier -- a wild west -- remains for individuals to roam free of government control and authentication, but also open to attack and abuse.
No system will ever be perfectly secure, but I would like to think that we can find the collective will to act before a harmful attack calls us to action.
While securing the Net is pretty damn important to TRI, I don't believe it motivates Tom's post one iota. And in an effort to not eliminate my one chance in a million to share a pitcher of beer with him someday, I want to emphasize that what follows is more farcical than not; more like the Japanese tradition of Kyōgen being performed as comic relief during a long, serious Noh play.
- What, OnePass is not living up to expectations! Enough said.
- Software solutions for UN/PW authentication better replace the sales force insistence that Westlaw accounts be created for everyone, including those who don't and won't use Westlaw.
- The folks in the bunker are probably thinking the "wild west" analogy better not be applicable to the wild Westlaw, Classic or Next. Hey, they do a damn good job at keeping things up and running, even if Westlaw Patron Access is a tab problematic at times and no one thinks to issue an email alert when it crashes. Bunker folks, contact marketing folks. They've got an email distribution list you can use!
Hopefully, the above remains unlikely, extravagant, and improbable. [JH]
The Law Zombie, Great as a Faculty Member, Less So as a Law School Applicant: Advice from YLS Admissions Dean
It's good to know some law schools read the personal statements of applicants. Of course when it is Yale Law School, the high GPA and LSAT scores of applicants makes reviewing applications a necessary screening process. On (203) Admissions Blog, Associate Dean of Admissions Asha Rangappa writes about some common errors on personal statements. My favorite is the Law Zombie post:
This is a person who really loves THE LAW. He is passionate about THE LAW, loves debating THE LAW, and can spend hours reading about -- yes, you guessed it -- THE LAW. And he's not afraid to say so in his application.
while the Law Zombie might make a great addition to our faculty, there are a few things I find troubling about him as an applicant. First, I'm a little wary about someone who glamorizes THE LAW too much, especially before going to law school. I mean, legal cases are interesting and all, but the real study (and practice) of law isn't just about reading sexy Supreme Court cases and camping out all night to get into an oral argument like it's some kind of rock concert. Some of it is tedious and mundane, and an applicant who is a little too excited about THE LAW strikes me as potentially unprepared for or naive about what law school -- and being a lawyer -- is really going to be like.
Which brings me to the second point. It's not enough to just love THE LAW. That's like saying you love books -- yeah, so what? Law encompasses many different subjects: torts, contracts, constitutional law, property, law and economics, criminal law, etc. It also has different aspects: procedural, substantive, jurisdictional, etc. When someone simply says they are "fascinated," "excited," "passionate," etc. about THE LAW, I have no idea what that means. What, exactly, are you excited about? Why are you fascinated by a particular issue? How is your interest related to anything else that's happened in your life? It's unlikely that you just spontaneously developed a rabid interest in the subject, so you need to dig a little deeper if you're going to translate your passion into something that makes you compelling as an applicant.
Rangappa offers some advice for law school applicants: (1) tone it down a bit; (2) don't go overboard in expressions of love for the law; and (3) get out more as in "[i]t's OK to have other interests. Maybe you can watch some reality television. I recommend Project Runway."
Perhaps there are other law school admissions blogs "out there," but (203) Admissions Blog looks like one folks thinking about applying to law school should check out.
Hat tip to Do You Love to Argue? Are You a ‘Law Zombie’? Yale Law School Is Not Impressed by Debra Cassens Weiss (ABAJ) which reviews additional posts by Rangappa. [JH]
Opening: Director of the Law Library and Information Technology, Ave Maria School of Law, Naples Florida
The Director of the Law Library and Information Technology is responsible for overseeing all aspects of library and information systems operations, including budgetary creation and control, personnel management (3 professional librarians, 5 IT professionals, 3 library paraprofessionals and 1 part-time employee), hardcopy and digital resource collection development, promoting library services, and long-term strategic planning. The Director of the Law Library reports directly to the Dean of the Law School, and will be a tenured or tenure-track member of the faculty.
Applicants should have a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school and an M.L.S. degree from an ALA-accredited library school; substantial experience in an academic law library, with progressive responsibility in administration; ability to assume a leadership role, and to work effectively with all Law School constituencies. Candidates should have an excellent understanding of existing and emerging information technologies, and should present a record of active involvement in professional organizations, both law and library related. It is desirable that candidates have experience teaching in a law school environment, and have a record of or be interested in establishing a record in law/library related publishing.
For consideration, interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume and contact information for three references by October 21, 2010 to the chair of the search committee, Associate Professor Mitch Counts, at mcounts(at)avemarialaw.edu. The expected start date for this position is the fall of 2011.
Statement of Non-Discrimination: Ave Maria School of Law is an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION employer that values diversity, including diversity in religious affiliation, and strongly encourages applications from persons of diverse backgrounds willing to support the institutional mission; it requires compliance with all state and federal laws governing employment discrimination.
October 10, 2010
On Palm Readers, Fortune Tellers, Blackbirds, Crows and Odd Marriage Laws
In New Orleans it is illegal for palm readers and fortune tellers to officiate a wedding according to Alexandra Gekas' Woman's Day article, 10 Obscure Marriage Laws in the U.S. Perhaps, Kentucky should require couples to see a palm reader or fortune teller before getting hitched because in that state it is illegal to remarry the same man four times. Now, how did that law get on the books?
Two more unusual matrimonial laws from the article: In South Carolina it is illegal for a man over 16 years old to propose marriage and not mean it. Not even if drunk? No word on what the penalty for violating that law is. And in Truro, Massachusetts, a groom-to-be must "prove himself manly'" prior to marriage by hunting and killing either six blackbirds or three crows. No word on whether blackbirds and crows have adapted their behavior patterns to avoid being proof of manliness.
Oh yes, I read Woman's Day regularly ... hat tip to Family Law Prof Blog. [JH]