December 18, 2010
New and Updated Foreign and International Law Research Guides from GlobaLex
New Research Guides
- Introduction to the Norms and Institutions of the African Union by Girmachew Alemu Aneme
- Constitutional Law and Courts’ System in the Syrian Arab Republic by Khalil Mechantaf
- A Basic Guide to International Environmental Legal Research by Heidi Frostestad Kuehl
- A Guide to Online Research Resources for the Australian Federal Legal System with some Reference to the State Level by Petal Kinder
- Guide to Georgian Legal Research by Irma Aladashvili; Update by Anna V. Dolidze
- Guide to Legal Research in Honduras by José Miguel Álvarez and Jessica Ramos; Update by Jessica Ramos
- The Law and Legal Research in Lesotho by Buhle Angelo Dube
- Libya’s Legal System and Legal Research by John L. S. Simpkins
- Guide to Russian Federation Law in English: Selection of Sources by Lucy Cox
More articles on international, comparative, and foreign law research from the best Web resource of its kind on the Internet are available at GlobaLex. [JH]
December 17, 2010
Peeing in Harvard's Lamont Library: 36 Urine-Soaked LGBT Books Result of a Clumsy Library Staffer, Not Evidence of a Hate Crime
That's the nutshell conclusion of Harvard University PD's investigation reported by The Harvard Crimson. "Though Harvard College Queer Students and Allies Co-Chair Marco Chan '11 expressed relief that the damage was the result of an accident and not a targeted act of homophobia, he said that he remained concerned by facts of the incident that remain unexplained."
Facts: (1) reports indicate the LGBT stacks where this incident occurred are located in an isolated section of the library; (2) the men's restroom is so far away that there have been problems with male students using the nearby women's restroom; and (3) two hate crimes were reported on Harvard campus earlier this semister, an assault on an undergraduate by people shouting homophobic slurs and anti-gay graffiti in a graduate dorm.
Questions: (1) why would someone place (hide?) an open container of urine behind a row of books in the LBGT collection where it could be accidentally tipped over by a library staffer instead of putting it in some other section in the stacks; and (2) the container of urine, once spilled, damaged 36 books beyond repair, so that's no small amount of pee, right.
ATL's Elie Mystal says it best at Are Urine-Soaked Harvard Books Evidence of A Hate Crime?:
This whole thing is beyond stupid. Somebody peed on some books and it’s a “hate crime” until we find out that somebody peed in a cup and placed the cup next to some books, and that makes it just a “prank” — the dumbest prank in the history of the world.
You know what would be far more simple? FIND THE GUY WHO PEED IN THE LIBRARY. Can HUPD focus on that, please?
Find the person and, perhaps, the above questions can be answered. [JH]
Friday Fun: Brilliant! The Good Old USA According to Google Autocomplete
Mashable's Lauren Indvik writes, "Ever wonder what a map of the U.S. would look like if all of the states’ names were altered to match the suggestions offered by Google’s autocomplete search algorithm? Wonder no longer." The source of this brilliant idea and graph, below (click to enlarge) is Very Small Array. Hat to LLB co-editor Mark Giangrande. [JH]
Outsourcing the Law Library in the Private Sector
In Outsourcing Legal Information, Karen Sawatzky wrote
I tend to live in the future. I think about what it will be like when I’ve paid off all my debts, how I’m going to celebrate a significant event coming up next year, and what my next job will look like. So last December, when the legal outsourcing firm Integreon announced the first “Shared Information Service”, or outsourced law library services, I was very intrigued.
That post resulted in an interview with Integreon's Vice President, Knowledge and Business Development Services, Eleanor Windsor. The results of the interview are published at Law library outsourcing. Ah ... perhaps required reading for Gen X and Gen Y private sector law librarians.
Well, at least this is one thing we aging and decrepit Boomer law librarians don't have to worry about as we muddle through the closing chapter of our professional careers. Back to the spreadsheets for institutional budgets and vendor annual price increases. [JH]
December 16, 2010
What's Up With Amazon?
I don't get it. Ars Technica reports that one incest-themed fiction book was removed from the Kindle bookstore and from the archives of people who purchased it. Other reports indicated that at least three titles were removed from the store and re-download blocked for people who purchased them. Amazon issued a statement later that said the titles were restored to those who purchased them, and the fact they were removed was a "technical issue." It appears that these three books are no longer for sale.
I can raise all kinds of issues about censorship or how buying books electronically under the control of others is no better than renting them. Many of the comments to stories about this incident make that point. But I don't need to. Amazon is a company that can make its own business decisions. No one should tell it what it what kind of material it can and cannot stock. Amazon is not a public library.
What I don't get is what is so special about these books compared to others it sells. A simple search for the term "incest" on Amazon brings up 3,753 results, many of them for sale on the Kindle as well. A good number of results are erotic fiction designed to appeal to, what are the words, a prurient or morbid interest in incestuous relationships. Some of the covers displayed with the results are reminiscent of the covers of paperbacks that were relegated to certain racks in the back of 1950s drug stores. Lurid isn't quite the word. Something more, I think, but I'm not sure what it would be. Maybe pornographic, at least from a combination of some of the titles and graphics displayed.
Nonetheless, my question remains, what is so special about these three books to qualify for deletion from the catalog in light of the lawsuits over the arbitrary removal of the Orwell book 1984 some time back? That ended in a settlement where Amazon said it would not delete books from the Kindle except when the credit card for purchase fails, judicial orders, malware, or permission of the purchaser? I suppose restoration of old purchases puts the company in compliance with its settlement. If the deletion from sale is based on objection to the content, well, Amazon, you sure have a long, long, way to go if you plan to be consistent with your current actions. I wonder what other topics Amazon arbitrarily doesn't like? [MG]
Justice Scalia Uses an iPad, Justice Kagan a Kindle to Read Briefs
From the description provided for the below YouTube video:
In this excerpt from C-SPAN's interview with Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (airing Sunday, December 19 at 6:30 p.m. ET on C-SPAN), Justice Kagan describes using an Amazon Kindle to read briefs. Included in her comments, "I have a Kindle that my briefs are on. You know I saw Justice Scalia, he said that he had them on an iPad and I thought, huh, maybe I should have them on an iPad. But mine are on a Kindle and I also of course you know sometimes truck them around just on hard copy. So I do both."
Hat tip to OSU Law Prof Douglas Berman's post, Supreme Court Justices are now doing work on iPads and Kindles, when will law students? In his post, Berman writes:
When traveling to speak at various conferences, I have noticed more and more lawyers with iPads and other e-readers. I expect that buzz about the Justices reading briefs on e-readers might add even more juice to the on-going digital revolution in the collection and distribution of legal materials. And if law schools do not get with the program soon, I fear we will be doing even worse than usual in training the next generation of lawyers.
See also Brian Malcom's A Supreme Decision: iPad v. Kindle on Young Lawyers Blog ("Imagine all the trees the federal courts could save if they went entirely paperless.") [JH]
December 15, 2010
Sixth Circuit Rules Email Is Protected By The Fourth Amendment
The Sixth Circuit issued the most extraordinary opinion yesterday, U.S. v. Warshak. It is, apparently, the first case to declare that email, and the people who use it (virtually everybody, except teens) have a reasonable expectation of privacy in its contents. The government, therefore, must obtain a warrant under probable cause to have an ISP turn over the communications to it.
Warshak was the guy in charge of several companies that sold a product called Enzyte. Anyone who watched late night cable television over the last several years should remember a series of commercials featuring a character called Smilin' Bob. Bob was smiling because Enzyte allegedly enhanced his sexual performance. Tawdry and cheap the commercials were, but they sold a ton of the product. The problem was that Enzyte did not live up to its claims. The opinion is replete with incidents that document the fraud. The FTC investigated, and Warshak did everything he could to stonewall the investigation. Warshak and associates were ultimately convicted on a number of charges, including mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to obstruct the FTC's investigation.
Some of the evidence against Warshak included some 27,000 emails sent through an ISP called NuVox. Government agents used the authority of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) to issue an ex parte order to the company to preserve Warshak's email. NuVox complied with the preservation request and about a year's worth of correspondence was duly turned over to investigators via subpoena. Warshak raised several objections to the use of this as evidence on appeal.
The Court gave a lengthy analysis of the history of communications and the Fourth Amendment, starting with Katz (telephone privacy) through Kyllo (technology affecting privacy). The Court's analysis concerned the expectation of privacy to the various forms of communication, both from a societal and legal perspective. Email, it said, is the direct descendant of telephone and letters, for as these means declined, email has ascended as the medium of choice. The same privacy considerations, therefore, apply to email and trigger the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement:
Accordingly, we hold that a subscriber enjoys a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of emails “that are stored with, or sent or received through, a commercial ISP.” Warshak I, 490 F.3d at 473; see Forrester, 512 F.3d at 511 (suggesting that “[t]he contents [of email messages] may deserve Fourth Amendment protection”). The government may not compel a commercial ISP to turn over the contents of a subscriber’s emails without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause. Therefore, because they did not obtain a warrant, the government agents violated the Fourth Amendment when they obtained the contents of Warshak’s emails. Moreover, to the extent that the SCA purports to permit the government to obtain such emails warrantlessly, the SCA is unconstitutional.
The Court, nonetheless, allowed the use of the evidence as federal agents acquired the emails in good faith reliance of the SCA. The Court noted:
“[t]he Stored Communications Act has been in existence since 1986 and to our knowledge has not been the subject of any successful Fourth Amendment challenges, in any context, whether to § 2703(d) or to any other provision.” 532 F.3d at 531. Furthermore, given the complicated thicket of issues that we were required to navigate when passing on the constitutionality of the SCA, it was not plain or obvious that the SCA was unconstitutional, and it was therefore reasonable for the government to rely upon the SCA in seeking to obtain the contents of Warshak’s emails.
Further language turned away specific challenges to the application of Fourth Amendment juriprudence to the SCA.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is ecstatic over the decision, as the Court agreed with the analysis it presented in an amicus brief. The decision will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court by both sides. Warshak will want his Fourth Amendment rights vindicated and the government will seek to preserve the SCA. Let the legal filings go forth. The opinion is available through this link: Download Warshak_opinion_121410. [MG]
Does GPO now = the Google Printing Office?
Google has been quietly capitalizing on its various library and publisher partnerships with its Google ebookstore project. In addition to its more commercial titles offered for sale at the site, it will also be offering over 1800 government publications from the Government Printing Office, according to this Washington Post article. First Google Books, tomorrow the world.
By guest blogger, Yolanda Patrice Jones, Assistant Director, Arthur Neef Law Library, Wayne State University Law School.
Comprehensive Law SaaS (or how the IT Cloud will be coming from the Other Side of the International Date Line)
In a recent guest blog post on 3 Geeks, The End of Corporate IT, Ryan McClead wrote "I have seen the future and there is no IT. Oh, there will be people called IT personnel and there will be external IT corporations, but the corporate IT operations and development departments as we know them today, will cease to exist...and soon." McClead is referring to Software as a Service, or SaaS, which is software made available through the web for corporations or individuals under contract with an outside provider. "The benefits of this," he writes, "are ease of use, ubiquitous access, continual maintenance and backup, and single, budget-able cost of 'ownership.'"
Law firms already use a variety of law practice management applications in the cloud and on demand from contractors. For background, see the ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center's FYI: Software as a Service (SaaS) for Lawyers. So it isn't much of a stretch to see a much more comprehensive Law SaaS package coming from our major vendors in the not too distant future. Imagine integrated law firm SaaS from WEXIS for accounting, billing and invoicing, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning in addition to content management, collaboration, document management software and online legal search capped off by IT service desk management and offsite virtual support.
Think You Will Be Invited into the "New Normal" World of "Thinkable Thoughts"? There is no doubt in my mind that WEXIS is well beyond the imagination stage. This 21st Century "new nomal" world of "thinkable thoughts" has mostly likely advanced to meetings on integrating product development for law firm practice management and client representation matters, one that includes online legal search. Then will come "focus groups." Think you will be invited? Check out Ryan McClead's follow-up post, The CorpTechPocalypse Is Upon Us – The End of Corporate IT, Part II.
I just hope the resulting packaged services are not provided by contract employees busy watching YouTube. I'm thinking the WEXIS Law SaaS cloud will be provided from the other side of the International Date Line.
The comment period for the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20′s issues papers on Lawyers’ Use of Internet Based Client Development Tools and Client Confidentiality and Lawyers’ Use of Technology closes today. See Carolyn Elefant's presentation on the topic and her MyShingle's ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 Portal. [JH]
December 14, 2010
"There Is a Special Place in Hell" for Legal Vendor Price Gouging: What's Your Favorite Example?
Recently a commentator to this LLB post wrote "There is a special place in hell for charging that much money." He was referring to West's $800 charge for three volumes of the ALR Later Case Service for ALR 2d. "There is no way on earth that those three volumes should cost $800 because they are just a compilation of cases!," he added.
In a recent law-lib message, Scott Burgh, Chief Law Librarian, City of Chicago Department of Law Library, brought up the case of West's almost annual re-issuance of CJS Internal Revenue bound volumes, stating that West has reissued bound volumes every year at least back to 1996 when it was two volumes for $112.75, skipping only 2001 and 2003. Burgh observed '"[w]ithout realizing this gouge, we accepted [the CJS Internal Revenue] three new volumes [published in] February 2010 at a cost of $244 each, to a total of $732. If we had caught it at the time of seeing less than 25 pages of new content, we may have considered differently."
About West's practice of reissuing bound CJS Internal Revenue volumes instead of pocket-parts, Burgh cites to Section 2.3(d) of AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publisher, which states:
PRACTICES TO AVOID: A product that is created solely by extracting material from existing publications is billed as a new product.
In that context, I would add, what about West spinning off AMJUR Federal Taxation volumes from the AMJUR standing order and requiring a separate standing order for them? "Thanks but no thanks" was my response (if memory serves the new standing order was going to be in the $1,000 vicinity just for AMJUR Federal Taxation). Anyone see a $1K reduction in its costs for AMJUR sans Fed Tax? There is also a special place in hell for spinning out material from a "comprehensive" legal encyclopedia that apparently includes everything but federal taxation! What next, AMJUR without Contacts? Ah well, I've killed CJS and AMJUR in print anyway.
To be fair so this isn't just a beat-up on the folks in the land of 10,000 invoices post, I'll add, for example, that I see absolutely no justification for LexisNexis charging about $480 for its three volume, three-times per year undated, loose-leat set of Ohio Jury Instructions which are written by a committee of the Ohio Judicial Conference. Does it really cost this much to push supplied content through the print shop? Ah, my bad, you also get a CD. (NB non-Buckeye State researchers: Through Casemaker, OSBA members can access the Ohio Judicial Conference's jury instructions as well as additional instructions prepared by the OSBA Jury Instructions Committee.)
Got a Favorite Example of Price Gouging? If you have a favorite example of legal vendor price gouging, feel free to post it as a comment to this post. More importantly, do continue publishing all of them on the law-lib list. Notify CRIV too but not just CRIV. Our vendors routinely monitor AALL lists so this is one very good way to communicate with them. At least you won't have to go through an AALL gatekeeper. What the heck, it's the holiday season -- it's a time for gift-giving.
One of the benefits of vendor reps being AALL members is being able to monitor AALL lists. I doubt they will respond to the publicity of AALL list messages but, perhaps in a case or two, one of them may contact you. And if they don't, well, at least the postings will produce an archives of questionable publishing practices for all to read. [JH]
Another Sign of the Times in the Shed West Era: Need Used Shelving?
If you do, contact Laurie Miller, Pierce County Law Library, Tacoma, WA or me ... I've got 100s a couple of thousand linear feet. [JH]
December 13, 2010
Supreme Court Action Today
There are two cases out of the Supreme Court today. The more interesting of the two is the case they didn't actually decide, which is Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A. (08-1423). That case involved the sale of gray market goods. Costco received Omega watches through a middleman and sold them in its warehouse stores. Omega objected to this and sued for copyright infringement and said the first sale doctrine doesn't apply because the watches were manufactured outside the United States. The Ninth Circuit agreed on the basis that U.S. copyright law does not apply to foreign made goods. The non-decision by the Supreme Court came in a 4-4 split with Justice Kagan abstaining. The Ninth Circuit decision stands and affects states only in the Ninth Circuit. An article in Ars Technica suggests the issue is bigger than the sale of imported watches. Consider the implication on the sale of books and media from foreign sources as well.
The second case involves suits under §1983. The Court held in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services that civil rights plaintiffs suing a municipal entity under 42 U.S.C. §1983 needed to show that their injury was caused by a municipal policy or custom. Monell involved monetary damages. The case before the Court involved prospective relief. The Ninth Circuit had held that the respondents to the Supreme Court case were entitled to attorneys fees from Los Angeles County because they had prevailed in their case against the County. This was based on the fact that the law of the Circuit was that Monell did not apply to prospective relief claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the policy or custom requirement applies irrespective of whether the relief is monetary or prospective. The Case is Los Angeles County, California v. Humphries (09-350). [MG]
Judge Holds Health Care Purchase Mandate Unconsitutional
The federal judge in Richmond overseeing Virginia's challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act declared the individual mandate provision unconstitutional. The provision, he says, exceeds the powers of Congress under The commerce Clause and implicates the Tenth Amendment reserving unenumerated powers to the state. As the judge states, the final word on all of this will come from higher courts. The opinion is here, via the report in the New York Times. CNN also has a copy of the opinion, here. More coverage is in the Washington Post. [MG]
Lobbying to Reform ABA's Placement Data Reporting Requirements
Today and tomorrow the ABA Questionnaire Committee will be conducting meetings on the timely and controversial topic of the collection and reporting of placement data. Thanks to Brian Leiter's Law School Reports blog post last week, USD Law Dean Kevin Cole's written testimony caught my attention. Dean Cole suggests substantial changes in the reporting requirements for placement data. Specifically Dean Cole makes the case that the ABA should require a more detailed system of reporting salary data on a school-by-school basis. Excerpts from his written testimony via SSRN [also available on the Committee's website as are all written submissions here]:
[T]he ABA should consider requiring each law school to disclose starting salary information in the same way that entering class grade-point average and LSAT scores are reported: with the figure for the graduate whose annual salary is at the median, 75th percentile, and 25th percentile of the graduating class.
Second, the ABA should require that any publicity by a school about salaries in any category of employment must include the number of graduates who provided salary information on which the figure was calculated and the total number of graduates in the category.
Dean Cole's recommendations sound like two steps in the right direction but his most significant recommendation is the following:
The ABA should consider announcing and undertaking a program to audit the salary information schools disclose. At least in the beginning, this program should not be limited to audits during sabbatical inspections. Moreover, the ABA should identify in advance what kinds of evidence will be required to document claims that schools make about graduate salaries.
Auditing All Reported Placement Data by the ABA. While Dean Cole's recommendations are specific to salary data, the well-known gaming of all placement data by law schools must be countered somehow by the ABA on a regular, institutionalized basis, meaning not just reverting back to audits during on-site accreditation inspections at some point in the future. The ABA should actively audit the legal academy's self-reported placement data annually, even if only by randomly sampling a specific number of law schools each year.
If an ABA audit reveal something more than minor clerical data reporting errors, the audited law school should be publicly sanctioned by the ABA. Placed on probation? No. But placed on a public watch list and audited each and every year for the following five years just might provide the incentive needed to end placement data gaming in the legal academy while providing prospective students with some measure of assurance that the data is accurate.
U.S. News Agrees to Disclose Additional Placement Data When It Publishes Annual Law School Rankings. Law School Transparency, an advocacy group calling for accurate placement data and its publication for prospective law school students, has persuaded U.S. News to provide more detailed information. From LST's announcement:
Thanks to around five months of correspondence between LST and U.S. News, we are happy to report that the organization behind the notorious law school rankings has agreed to make additional information available on its website. While the additional information will not change how U.S. News computes their rankings, it will help make things much clearer for prospectives trying to take apart the employment statistics that U.S. News currently collects. This information is far more detailed than the information required by the ABA, and making it more visible will help prospectives while we continue lobbying the ABA to reform their practices.
A summary of LST's annotated suggestions is available at U.S. News to reform its disclosure of surveyed employment information.
Law School Transparency's ABA Lobbying Campaign. As for LST's ABA lobbying efforts, see Nova Southeastern Law Prof Jim Levy's Legal Skills Prof Blog post, ABA law school "Questionnaire Committee" will meet with reps from the Law School Tranparency project on Monday. See also:
- LST's submission to the ABA Questionnaire Committee, Revising the ABA Questionnaire to Restore Confidence in the Legal Profession ("Caveat emptor may be an attractive quip when consumers choose to buy inherently dangerous goods, but it is not applicable when even the most informed prospectives really have no idea what kind of return follows from investing in a particular J.D."); and
- LST's submission to the Committee, Law School Transparency Official Request to Schools (July 12, 2010)
December 12, 2010
Tackling the App Publishing Question
Quoting from the lead paragraph from Publishers Weekly's How Publishers Are Tackling the App Question:
Are apps marketing devices for authors and books, or a new revenue stream? This is just one of many questions publishers are asking as they develop apps from their content. When PW approached large and midsize publishers to find out about their app programs, we discovered that many houses don't have "programs" per se.