May 5, 2012
Govenment-Funded Scientific Research Moving to Open Access Publication Model in the UK
"The UK government has told academic journal publishers it will make freely available online the publicly-funded research they currently charge for, labelling 'paywalls' 'deeply unhealthy'", writes PaidContent's Robert Andrews. For details, see Science research may be freed from journals’ ‘unhealthy’ paywalls. [JH]
May 4, 2012
Should Law Schools Keep or Dump the LSAT: The ABA Isn't Sure Either
The American Bar Association’s Standards Review Committee of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is weighing whether to keep the LSAT as a requirement for law school admission. The Committee voted on April 27th for two alternatives: keeping some version of the requirement and/or eliminating it all together. At least that is what the ABA Journal is reporting. The story notes the “deep division” by committee members on the utility of the LSAT as a predictor of success in the first year f law school. Even if the test is a good predictor, the ABA has issued variances to schools allowing for students to be admitted without it.
Those seeking to eliminate the test as a requirement say that the variances undermine the need for the test in the first place. All true, I suppose, but eliminating the test simply puts greater emphasis on a prospective law student’s GPA, the quality of their undergraduate program, the essay on what motivated the application, and of course their ability to write checks. Is this enough to determine who qualifies for financial aid?
A lot of the commentary out there suggests that schools with an interest in promoting their rankings would keep the test even if the ABA rules do not require it. That makes sense as a high average LSAT for an incoming class gives a school bragging rights. Other schools that simply want to fill their available seats may want to dump the LSAT. This discussion has been ongoing for several years now. I’m not sure myself which is the best approach. As with anything with the image of individual law schools, keep if it enhances, discard or downplay if it doesn’t. I suppose that is why there will never be consensus on the issue.
More discussion on this is available at the LSAT Blog (not from the Law School Admission Council). There is an LSAC Statement of Good Admission and Financial Aid Practices which Council says should guide law school admissions and financial aid programs using the LSAT. We know where the LSAC likely stands on this proposal. [MG]
"Almost everyone I know from law school is unemployed or seeking alternative employment."
Quoting former Chicago-Kent College of Law student Richard Komaiko in Melanie Hicken's 10 Faces Behind The Incredible Law School Underemployment Crisis (Business Insider). She adds 'We wanted to hear the truth behind the crisis, so we interviewed several recent graduates, including those who have gone into entirely different fields, and one who is living just above the poverty line." The article profiles include:
- Four years after graduating from law school, Erin Gilmer is on food stamps (Colorado, Class of 2008)
- Jordan Harbinger was laid off from his Wall Street law firm job and launched a business advising men on dating skills (Michigan, Class of 2006)
- Ryan Fandetti works two jobs so he can save money on the side while paying his law school loans (Villanova, Class of 2006)
- Abby-Gail Chaffatt turned down several "Big 4" accounting jobs to go to law school, and now she's relying on contract work (Boston, Class of 2011)
- Andrew Legrand moved in with his parents so he could afford to start his own practice (Loyola-New Orleans, Class of 2011)
- Larry Hardcastle discovered that even graduating from a highly-ranked law school didn't guarantee a spot at a major firm (George Washington, Class of 2010)
- Facing limited job prospects, Richard Komaiko became an entrepreneur (Michigan, Class of 2006)
Friday Fun: Time for the legal academy to party like it's 1999 now that this academic year is over
Don't forget to turn in final exam grades on time law profs, at least for the 3Ls! It's actually the one real deadline law school administrators expect you to meet. [JH]
Shed West Era Photo Wins AALL's Day in the Life Contest (and a call for more empty stacks photos)
The winner in the Best Overall Photo category is "I Wonder What it was Like to 'Shelve a Book.'" Taken by Rita Kaiser, the caption reads "Yumi Blackwell, associate research librarian, evaluates the library's choices to use the shelves now that we access the reporters electronically." Congratulations to all award winners in this year's AALL Day in the Life Photo Contest.
3 Geekster Greg Lambert recently issued a call on AALL lists for empty stacks photos.
I'm thinking of writing on the topic of "never have our shelves been so empty, yet our collections so large" and wanted to build a collage of empty shelving.
Sounds interesting Gregster.
I would need an uber wide-angle lens for my camera to contribute a photo showing over 4,000 linear feet of empty shelving in our little county law library. That's 113,000 pounds of print sent to the recycling center, folks. Law reviews plus West reporters, annotated codes from the more expensive of the two publishers (I think you know which one that is) as well as antiquated West reference works and tools that once provided dependable recurring revenue generating high profits from print for Thomson Reuter's cash cow are history. Legal encyclopedias, digests, and massive form sets that were being priced out of existence anyway at least provided our County with some recycling credit because that's all they were worth in the free-to-a-good-home market.
Some 50% of US law libraries expect that the space allocated to their library will decrease in three years time according to Law Library Benchmarks, 2012-13 Ed. Clearly that means more empty shelving and more print sent to recycling centers. It also means substituting electronic resources for print ones but as law librarians continue to evaluate their collections, my hunch is many will find in their circulation and database usage statiscial analysis that the "infrequently used" resource will be eliminated. Low usage simply does not the justify the expense. Being able to provide resources to answer every research question is being replaced in those few law libraries that still attempt to do that with being able to answer the usual sorts of questions asked.
Watch for the trend to eliminate out-of-plan licensing without adding lightly used out-of-plan resources to in-plan only licenses to escalate. In addition to the Shed West Era in print, private and public sector institutional buyers are well into the Flat Rate Online Legal Search Era; it's not like BLaw is really offering anything new.
Alas, under the next gen current gen search platforms, screen captures of online database menu options won't be submitted for some future AALL Day in the Life photo contest with a "This is all my users need" caption. [JH]
May 3, 2012
Westlaw To End Free Printing For Law Schools
News is bubbling through law school and library forums that West will discontinue free law school printing effective June 30, 2013. I assume that includes faculty printing. Law schools can keep the printers and fund them if they wanted to, but Westlaw IDs would be tied to them only through June 30, 2014. When I wrote about Bloomberg Law's push into law schools, I said Bloomberg had no plans to include free printing as part of the deal. I didn't think it made any difference to the acceptance of Bloomberg in law schools given that it was essentially going to be free. See that post for more details.
Free Westlaw printing, as with Lexis, had been part of the law school package since the early days of their law school presence. I don't know if Bloomberg's plan had triggered any soul searching in the Eagan executive offices, but it might have in the accounting offices. I expect the folks in Dayton will be thinking about this as well. My impression developed at the various schools in which I worked is that students print a lot and use a little of that printing. We often say we want students to develop good research habits. Printing is part of that, I think, and students will be a bit more careful of what they commit to paper if they have to pay for it. The alternative, of course, is storing that research on the system or another device.
I haven't heard if there are further cuts planned. I would think there would be less need to have Westlaw student reps since there wouldn't be a need to monitor dedicated printers. It's the end of an era, I guess. [MG]
Start of a Trend? Hastings Law Cuts Admissions by 20 Percent and Payroll by 10 Percent
Read more about it at Inside Higher Ed's The Shrinking Law School. Payroll cuts by way of staff, not law profs, yet. Will "right-sizing" the faculty ranks in the legal academy be on the horizon or will law schools hold on to their faculties until life jackets have to be handed out as some law schools start sinking to the bottom of the seas? [JH]
Building a Bridge to Nowhere
"Since the Great Recession began, we’ve heard here and there (and more recently here) about a few law schools helping out a few graduates with employment subsidies of one kind or another. But US News’s reports of school after school boasting over 90% postgraduate employment got us thinking—how many of those are really permanent paying law jobs?', wrote UNC law prof Bernie Burk in his March 19, 2012 Faculty Lounge post, A Stunning But Largely Unnoticed Anomaly In Recent Employment Outcomes Data Suggests That Things May Be Even Worse Out There Than We Imagined. Since then Burk has published additional posts in his Employment Outcomes series on The Faculty Lounge.
Also since Burk's post, the ABA released substantial placement data for each accredited law school's Class of 2010 graduates. See the Placement Summary Report (released April 16, 2012). "For the first time, the ABA has provided information about the number of graduates in jobs paid for by their law schools; the number of graduates in both short-term and long-term jobs; and the number of graduates working in a variety of different-sized firms and whether those jobs were permanent or temporary," wrote NLJ's Karen Sloan.
Even though the data are somewhat now out of date — information about the class of 2011 was due at the ABA in February — they nevertheless offer insights into the legal job market and how law schools are adjusting to market forces. Law schools have never previously been required to reveal how many graduates they employ, but the new data show that the practice is fairly common:
27 percent of ABA-accredited law schools reported that they had not hired any of their 2010 graduates.
48 percent of schools reported hiring between 1 percent and 5 percent of the class of 2010.
11 percent of schools hired between 6 percent and 10 percent of their 2010 graduates.
9 percent of schools hired between 11 percent and 15 percent of the class of 2010.
Three schools hired more than 15 percent of their classes: The City University of New York School of Law hired the most, at 19 percent, followed by the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law at 18 percent and the University of San Francisco School of Law at 17 percent.
For the most part, lower-tiered schools were not employing their graduates in large numbers, according to the ABA data. Among the top 50 schools as ranked by U.S. News, Georgetown University Law Center employed 11 percent of the class of 2010, the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law employed 12 percent; Boston University School of Law employed 13 percent; the University of Minnesota Law School employed 14 percent; and the University of Notre Dame Law School and Fordham University School of Law employed 15 percent.
For much more, including additional data from the ABA, see Sloan's Data trove reveals scope of law schools' hiring of their own graduates. See also Burk's Employment Outcomes IV: What The ABA Employment Outcomes Data Tell Us About The Prevalence and Distribution Of School-Funded “Bridge” Positions, Employment Outcomes V: Some Speculation On Who Gets School-Funded Bridge Positions, And Whether They’re A Good Idea and Employment Outcomes VI: How Should Bridge Positions Be Paid For? Also check The Faculty Lounge for previous and forthcoming posts in Burk's Employment Outcomes series. All highly recommended.
Producing oversupply in the legal labor market, a whooping 73% of accredited law schools created their own "demand." Many probably have been for sometime now but ABA's data dump only covers the Class of 2010 and we ought not expect additional retrospective data unless someone serves about 200 subpoenas for that.
BLS employment projections for the 2010–20 decade in the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook "provide more evidence that the legal job market for graduates will be extremely difficult for the next several years," wrote Indiana-Bloomington law prof Bill Henderson. While not discussing what has come to be called "bridging" employment by the legal academy, Henderson commented on and added three mutually compatible suggestions to reduce the legal academy's short and long-term construction of a bridge to nowhere.
The public debate often talks about the surplus of lawyers as if the hand of a regulator could or should turn down the spigot on entry level lawyers. Yet, no such spigot exists. Overproduction is primarily a function of optimism and the availability of federal loans. Over the medium to longer term, I see three possible ways -- all mutually compatible -- to unwind lawyer overproduction:
The Dept of Education looks at the proportion of law students on Income-Based Repayment, reads the BLS projections, and in turn curtails federal funding for law student loans;
Law schools focus on making their degrees more versatile and valuable so graduates become more competitive for professional jobs outside traditional legal services (traditional legal services has its own structural issues at the moment).
#3 is the only factor in the control of law faculty, albeit it calls for something radical -- change in what we do and how we do it. Call me crazy, but I think #3 is actually a huge opportunity for a law school with the right leadership and the right mix of faculty.
If it is "crazy" to think that "a" as in one law school might take up Henderson's opportunistic challenge expressed in No. 3, think about how insane it would be imagine that great than one law school might do so. That's an even bigger if then getting the right leadership and right mix of faculty to produce "practice-ready" law school graduates.
If law schools take up Henderson's challenge to make JDs more versatile for non-legal professional careers, isn't that really an admission against interest? Why go to law school for a non-legal career? Any professional department or degree offering an undergrad or grad degree program -- business school, med school, IT, social services, education, LIS, etc. -- can hire qualified JDs to teach a set of law courses for their professional degree programs. Of course, if hired for the full-time faculty, tenure requirements and teaching loads would be substantially higher, while earnings potential would be substantial lower than they are in the legal academy. [JH]
ABA's Consultant on Legal Education is Stepping Down
According to this press release, Bucky Askew, the ABA's consultant on legal education since Sept. 1, 2006, is calling it quits effective this August. On his watch the gaming of law school stats reached the level of mass media exposure where it was no longer the ditty litle secret only known within the irovy towers of the legal academy. [JH]
May 2, 2012
NY Court of Appeals To Require 50 Hours of Pro Bono Service For Bar Takers
The New York Courts are about to do something that will affect how law schools prepare their students for practice. Starting with next year’s graduating class, bar takers in New York will have to provide 50 hours of pro bono services before getting a license to practice. The news came in New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s Law Day 2012 address. The goal is to provide legal services to the poor and near-poor:
By assisting a family facing eviction or foreclosure, by working with an attorney to draft a contract for a fledgling not-for-profit, by helping a victim of domestic violence obtain a divorce, or by using their legal talents to help state and local government entities in a time of economic stress, law students can access the real-world lessons that are so important to succeeding in legal practice and hopefully also experience the intrinsic reward that comes from helping others through pro bono service.
The new rules place the burden on the bar-taker to seek pro bono opportunities and not the law school to provide them, though I think there will be competitive pressure on law schools to provide some form of help for compliance. That may shift the balance between teaching scholarship and teaching practice skills for some schools. I’ll wait for the law schools to react. I’m sure the new rules will generate a lot of faculty discussion. There might even be some need for academic law libraries to add practitioner materials to the collection. I'll add that the American Bar Association has never placed anything remotely like this on a law school’s curriculum content or graduation requirements. I wonder if the Association knew this was coming.
I would think an alternative to incorporating this new requirement into the curriculum likely would be for New York firms to allow their new hires to perform pro bono work under firm supervision. It’s all a bit unclear how this will work in practice. Judge Lippman explains:
How will this new admission requirement work in New York? First, it will not be solely the responsibility of law schools to provide pro bono opportunities, although there are law schools that already require some pro bono service to graduate, and most law schools today have an impressive array of clinical programs to offer their students. These students also may want to look outside the campus walls to legal service providers in their area and explore internships, or work with local bar associations to find pro bono possibilities. And while most applicants to the bar will want to complete their pro bono service during the law school years or over the summers, they will also have the option to do so after graduation, or even after taking the bar exam or after beginning a paid legal position in a law firm or elsewhere.
Still, the devil will be in the details as to what qualifies as pro bono service. Could someone volunteer for, say, Wells Fargo to prosecute a mortgage foreclosure? I don’t think that is what the Court has in mind, but who knows at this point. There might even be a backlash in that some students are not attracted to clinical work or public service. Some might even feel this is another burden that affects the speed of paying off student loans.
Judge Lippman indicated that aside from being the first Court to put this requirement in place, he hoped others would join. I don’t know if this will be a trend. I suspect other states will jump on this bandwagon but it’s too early to say how popular this idea will be. [MG]
Heads-Up to Unemployed Law Librarians Because AALL is Looking to Hire Some Help Again
Two volunteers that receive "stipends, honorariums," whatever, as AALL likes to euphemistically call what the world outside AALL-land would view as part-time employment are being sought to edit AALL Spectrum and LLJ. The current editors are calling it quits at the end of their terms in the summer of 2013. "To help with the transition, the candidate selected as AALL Spectrum editorial director will begin in early 2013, working with [Mark} Estes until July 2013, and the candidate selected as Law Library Journal editor will begin in September 2012, working with [Janet] Sinder until July 2013."
The AALL Spectrum gig has a three-year term with a stipend. See AALL Spectrum Editorial Director Job Description. The LLJ job has a five-year term with an honorarium. See Law Library Journal Editor Job Description. Note well, the use of "job description" on both of those AALLNET web pages. Both gigs, by the way may be renewed time and time and time again.
To qualify, "candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and MLS and/or JD; demonstrated ability as a writer and/or editor; excellent communication and negotiation skills; substantial experience in the law library profession; and membership in AALL with a record of involvement and active participation."
Will AALL do the right thing this time? Can we hope that AALL will hire law librarians who find themselves "in reduced circumstances" this time due to no fault of their own? That certainly has not been the case in past hirings. I'm OK with hiring a Price Index Editor from the ranks of qualified retired law librarians. Not really all that OK with hiring a vendor liaision who is employed, albeit part-time, when finding a qualifed but unemployed law librarian for that part-time gig could have spread some AALL cash around in a manner that was sensitive to the hard times being faced by so many AALL members. As for handing out "stipends, honorariums" whatever to "volunteer" law librarians who have full-time jobs under current labor market conditions, well that's an entirely different matter.
I hope folks in AALL-land will doing the right thing by actively soliciting unemployed law librarians to fill the part-time editorial jobs. Those who no longer belong to AALL may not even know that they exist. Toward that end... .
I find nothing wrong with the stipulated job qualifications as long as "a record of involvement and active participation" and AALL membership implies "when you were employed." As long as "substantial experience in the law library profession" does not disqualify Gen X-Y-ers who are more likely to be unemployed than we old farts, I'm OK with that, too. Hell, getting some creative and energetic unemployed Gen X and Y law librarians who have substantial experience in 21st mediums of communications hired as editors could be the best damn thing for AALL Specturm and LLJ!
More generally, access to the necessary resources for both gigs should be provided by AALL so as not to disqualify unemployed law librarians because they do not have the opportunity to piggyback what they need for the task-at-hand because they are not holding down jobs an employer might provide them.
I do, however, have a serious problem that may place unemployed librarians at a serious disadvantage if interviews are only going to be conducted in person. According to announcment posted in the April 2012 AALL E-newsletter:
[I]nterviews will be conducted at the Annual Meeting in Boston.
Clearly getting all AALL decider-ers in one place in Boston is a convenience not necessarily shared by law librarians who find themselves "in reduced circumstances." Hopefully, folks in AALL-land will conduct interviews by conference calls during the annual meeting with job candidates that cannot be conducted at "Learn, Connect, Grow."
Applications will be accepted until June 1.To apply, email your cover letter and resume to AALL Executive Director Kate Hagan at email@example.com mail them to AALL, 105 W. Adams Street, Suite 3300, Chicago, IL 60603. If you have any questions, Kate Hagan can be contacted at 312/205-8016. [JH]
May 1, 2012
Such a Deal, This Law Day
The ABAJ News site is asking "Would you ever offer your legal services on a daily deal website?" Click on the image right, for the current results of the readers poll by way of a screen capture taken this morning.
Now what about all those "Deals of the Day" and other "buy this now, now, now!" discount sales promotions offered on WestMart? Don't you just love being rewarded for being a loyal standing order buyer when you see discounts for new editions? For example, yesterday I was checking on pricing for West's 2012 Fed Crim and Fed Civ Rules pamphlets. Both were released on March 12, 2012. For one, the sale price was exactly my standing order price and for the other, the sale price was a whopping $1 higher than my SO price. (Wanna bet WestMart won't have them on sale 90-days before the 2013 editions come out.)
Oh well, TR Legal's marketing gurus can do whatever they want to do to because I seriously doubt they think about how their "Deals of the Day" and other sales pricing rotations b-slaps the Company's loyal standing order customers. Note well, even at yesterday's discount prices (or our standing order costs), Jones McClure's annual crim and civil federal rules titles still cost less on a subscription basis. Plus there is the whole value added thing -- by buying the Jones McClure's titles you know that the editioral analysis has been written by staff attorneys who actually give a damn about the content. You also can sleep well that they were sent off to manufacturing only after being thoroughly checked.
BTW, have you received your corrected copy of Federal Sentencing Guidelines Handbook, 2011-2012 edition, from the Land of 10,000 WestMart Sales Promos yet? Just in case anyone thinks the below screen capture from WestMart included "Corrected April 2012," it did not. Call that addition "editorial commentary from a consumer" on my part. [JH]
Without Identifying Likely Ones, This Former Law School Dean Expects Some Law School Closures
Quoting the YouTube caption:
April 25 (Bloomberg Law) -- Former University of Nebraska and University of Houston Law School Dean Nancy Rapoport tells Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia that she expects some law schools to close their doors because of the student debt crisis. She also handicaps whether Congress will amend the bankruptcy code to let students discharge their student loan debt if they file for bankruptcy. Rapoport is currently a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada.
Hat tip to Rachel M. Zahorsky's Law School Closings and Changes To Student Loan Bankruptcy Laws May Be Ahead, Says Former Dean (ABAJ News). [JH]
Opening: Research and Faculty Services Librarian, SMU Law
Southern Methodist University’s Underwood Law Library is seeking candidates for its Research and Faculty Services Librarian position.
Responsibilities: The specific responsibilities of this position will depend on the experience and talents of the candidate selected. In general, the Research and Faculty Services Librarian will provide research assistance to the law library’s patrons, including serving as library liaison to approximately 9 members of the law school’s faculty; delivering lectures on legal research and possibly teaching law school courses for credit; developing research guides and other instructional materials; staffing the reference office 8-12 hours per week; and serving on university and professional organization committees.
Required Qualifications: Candidates must possess a graduate library degree and a J.D. (law) degree; a strong commitment to supporting faculty and student research; excellent legal research skills; an ability to develop and provide innovative services to library patrons; an understanding of technological trends affecting libraries and research, including web publishing; and publication-quality writing skills and excellent oral communication skills.
Environment: The Underwood Law Library houses 650,000 volumes and is the largest private law library in the Southwest. SMU is located in the heart of Dallas, Texas, which offers a dynamic economy and reasonable cost of living. Texas has no state income tax.
Compensation: The salary of not less than $60,000 per year will be determined by the successful candidate’s qualifications and will include a comprehensive benefits package.
Application: Apply online at www.smu.edu/hr/recruit/ . Submit a resume, cover letter, and names and contact information of at least two references. Priority will be given to applications received by May 15, 2012. The position is available beginning August 1, 2012.
Contact: Please contact Tom Kimbrough, Associate Director for Public Services, thomask(at)smu.edu, concerning questions about this position. Candidates may send an additional copy of their application materials to thomask(at)smu.edu, but they must also submit such materials online at www.smu.edu/hr/recruit/ .
April 30, 2012
Microsoft Buys Into The Nook
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced this morning that Microsoft is investing $300 million in the Nook. The companies will form a joint venture, now unimaginatively referred to as Newco, with Microsoft owning 17.6% and B&N owning 82.4% of the equity. That values the company at $1.7 billion. The statement released this morning indicated that one of the first things to come out of the partnership is a Nook application for Windows 8. Then there is this:
The inclusion of Barnes & Noble’s College business is an important component of Newco’s strategic vision. Through the newly formed Newco, Barnes & Noble’s industry leading NOOK Study software will provide students and educators the preeminent technology platform for the distribution and management of digital education materials in the market.
I see two things going on here. Microsoft sees B&N’s expertise in the educational book market as way to tap that content to make Windows 8 more compelling for students, particularly on mobile devices. The second is to have a substantial and cooperative bookstore platform ready to go when the operating system ships this fall. Windows 8 represents a change for Microsoft, not merely in design with the Metro interface, but in mentality. Apple, Google, and Amazon tend to make money off items distributed through their operating systems. Microsoft needs to play catch-up with Metro and buying into the Nook is better than developing e-book distribution from the ground up.
The one caveat I have about distributing text books via the Nook is the paranoia of publishers about the security of their content. Microsoft as a partner may alleviate some of that concern as the company tends to buy into heavy digital rights management for protected content when asked. This may please publishers, though consumers tend to see these limitations as onerous. One of Microsoft’s early ventures in music distribution was replaced by another incompatible DRM system. Many consumers lost access to their purchased music on the earlier system. B&N may give Microsoft some credibility as Windows 8 becomes an e-book distribution platform.
The joint statement had this as well:
The partnership will accelerate the transition to e-reading, which is revolutionizing the way people consume, create, share and enjoy digital content.
I would read the word “share” with a grain of salt if the sharing is through a library. This story from the Tulsa World called Library e-Book Lending Hurt by Publisher Restrictions is another example of the negativity which publishers express for e-book lending. Publisher antipathy is the one thing that is platform agnostic.
The joint statement from Microsoft and Barnes & Noble is here. [MG]
Libraries Are Obsolete
In an age of rapid digitalization Harvard Library Strategic Conversations hosted "Libraries Are Obsolete: An Oxford-Style Debate” on April 18, 2012. Here's the much anticipated video of the event which featured Dr. James Tracy, Headmaster, Cushing Academy, and R. David Lankes, Professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship, University of Syracuse iSchool and Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse speaking in favor of the libraries are obsolute proposition. They were opposed in the debate by Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and John Palfrey, soon to be former Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources and Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.
Steve Matthews offers a summary and critique of the debate on 21st Century Library Blog.
Folks interested in this issue also may want to read two recent articles: Nicholas Carr's Techonlogy Review article, The Library of Utopia, and Steve Coffman's Searcher article, The Decline and Fall of the Library Empire. [JH]
CISPA, Son of SOPA the Patriot Act, Passed by House a Day Ahead of Schedule
And now moves to the Senate's calendar to join two bills, S. 2105 (Lieberman) and S. 2151 (McCain) that have been sitting in the committee review stage (read no action). The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), H.R. 3523, passed last Thursday, April 26, 2012, by a vote of 248 to 168, with 206 Republicans voting in favor of the bill and 140 Democrats voting against it. The vote was originally secheduled for April 27, 2012. According to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence press release:
Economic cyber spies will have a harder time stealing American business plans and research and development as the House took the first step today by passing a cybersecurity bill that will help US companies better protect themselves from dangerous economic predators.
In a show of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives passed the Cyber Information Sharing & Protection Act by a vote of 248 to 168. The bill gives the federal government new authority to share classified cyber threat information with approved American companies and knocks down barriers to cyber threat information sharing. With strong provisions built in to keep individual American’s private information private, the bill allows U.S. businesses to better protect their own networks and their corporate customers from hackers looking to steal intellectual property.
The day prior to CISPA's reschedule House vote, the Obama Administration threatened to veto the bill. From the statement:
H.R. 3523 fails to provide authorities to ensure that the Nation's core critical infrastructure is protected while repealing important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards. For example, the bill would allow broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the Government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information. Moreover, such sharing should be accomplished in a way that permits appropriate sharing within the Government without undue restrictions imposed by private sector companies that share information.
The bill also lacks sufficient limitations on the sharing of personally identifiable information between private entities and does not contain adequate oversight or accountability measures necessary to ensure that the data is used only for appropriate purposes. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held legally accountable for failing to safeguard personal information adequately. The Government, rather than establishing a new antitrust exemption under this bill, should ensure that information is not shared for anti-competitive purposes.
In addition, H.R. 3523 would inappropriately shield companies from any suits where a company's actions are based on cyber threat information identified, obtained, or shared under this bill, regardless of whether that action otherwise violated Federal criminal law or results in damage or loss of life. This broad liability protection not only removes a strong incentive to improving cybersecurity, it also potentially undermines our Nation's economic, national security, and public safety interests.
H.R. 3523 effectively treats domestic cybersecurity as an intelligence activity and thus, significantly departs from longstanding efforts to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres.
For more, see Center for Democracy & Technology's CISPA Resource Page. [JH]
April 29, 2012
Browsing On A Sunday: Liking on Facebook and Political Views Can Get Someone Fired, and Technology in the Legislature
There is a bit of a buzz in the press over the last few days about a First Amendment case out of the Eastern District of Virginia. The case is Bland v. Roberts and it involves, among other questions, whether liking someone on Facebook constitutes an expression covered by the First Amendment. The case involves six plaintiffs who were fired by Sheriff B.J. Roberts after he had won reelection. The six had supported in various ways Roberts’ opponent, Jim Adams. Two of the plaintiffs had liked Adams’ page on Facebook. Roberts explained the firings based on reductions in personnel and other reasons.
The Court considered the retaliation claims raised by Daniel Ray Carter, Jr. and Robert McCoy. They claimed the engaged in constitutionally protected speech when they “made statements” on Adams’ Facebook page. McCoy’s statement was posted to Adams’ page but was later taken down. McCoy did not submit the statement to the Court, so it is not part of the record. Carter’s statement consisted of liking Adams’ page. Evidence showed that Roberts was aware of these activities:
However, the Sheriff’s knowledge of the posts only becomes relevant if the Court finds the activity of liking a Facebook page to be constitutionally protected. It is the Court’s conclusion that merely “liking” a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.
Reviewing precedent, the Court said that the difference between this case and others where a First Amendment interest applied to Facebook posts is that actual statements were in the record. As the Court states:
These illustrative cases differ markedly from the case at hand in one crucial way: Both Gresham and Mattingly involved actual statements. No such statements exist in this case. Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection. The Court will not attempt to infer the actual content of Carter’s posts from one click of a button on Adams’ Facebook page. For the Court to assume that the Plaintiffs made some specific statement without evidence of such statements is improper. Facebook posts can be considered matters of public concern; however, the Court does not believe Plaintiffs Carter and McCoy have alleged sufficient speech to garner First Amendment protection.
Venkat Balasubramani and Eric Goldman rip into the Court’s logic in Ars Technica. In a very simplified version of their view, liking someone or something expresses a preference which should be taken as a statement worthy of First Amendment protection. I don’t know who has the better of this as the Court’s analysis of Fourth Circuit precedent does not seem to be out of context. I have no doubt the case will be appealed.
There is another story of an individual being fired, ostensibly for political views, out of Canada. The Times Colonist (“Victoria and Vancouver Island news since 1858”) recounts the story of librarian John Maitland Marshall of the Victoria Public Library. Marshall was hired in 1954 to dispense books from Victoria’s new bookmobile and was fired two months later after “a group of public spirited citizens” investigated Marshall and presented their findings to the Victoria library board.
Marshall, it seems, had affinities for social justice, which in those days was tantamount to being affiliated with Communism. It seems Canada wasn’t immune to blacklisting individuals because of their political views. The Victoria community was so alarmed that there was talk of book burning for subversive texts, though that never happened.
Marshall protested his dismissal to no avail. Many of the librarians who worked with him resigned because of the Board’s actions. The publicity was great enough that library services were at a standstill as no one would apply for the vacant positions. It took three replacements for Marshall before a book was finally delivered to a patron through the bookmobile.
There is a happy ending. Marshall became a librarian in Saskatchewan and later in Toronto, without incident. He spent 17 years teaching in the faculty of library science at the University of Toronto. The Victoria Board apologized to him in 1998, flying him to Victoria so he could receive the apology in person. The account in the Times Colonist is an excerpt from The Library Book: A History of Service to British Columbia by Dave Obee.
The final story comes from the Associated Press via NBC-17 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The report concerns the move by the North Carolina legislature to distribute bills electronically to its members rather than in paper form. Much of the material now published gets thrown into the trash or recycling bins. The legislature is embarking on a pilot project that gives members Internet accessible laptops to read and file bills. The use will become mandatory if the project is successful.
Not everyone is thrilled at the idea. 31 year veteran legislator Senator Austin Allran says he’s noticed that lawmakers get distracted by laptops in committee meetings. Really? You mean to say that lawmakers in committee act no differently than law students in class? I think legislators have it better as they don’t have to pass an end of term exam. In any event, what will law review cite checkers do when the electronic copy is the only record of the bill? [MG]
Thanks for the Spam: "Mary Dudziak Joins Emory Law Faculty This Fall"
And how do I know this? From the first three paragraphs with a "read more" link [intentionally omitted] of a press release that appeared in my email in-box time stamped 8:46 PM, Friday, April 27th from the Senior Director, Marketing & Communications, Emory University School of Law. I'm not saying that this is a new form of law porn being unsolicitedly pushed to my in-box yet but I sure as hell hope it is not the start of a new trend in law school marketing. Can you say "spam"?
Shred this Spam. Perhaps Emory Law could spend it time better by using its marketing and communications gurus to help its law school grads find jobs instead of pitching the hiring of a well-known and respected law prof. That news will get out on its own quickly enough without smelling spammy. For example, the news appeared last Friday on Dudziak's own blog (post authored by Dan Ernst), IntLawGrrls' Go, 'Grrl! Mary Dudziak to Emory Law Leiter's Law School Reports, and Dudziak's own post on Balkinization! [JH]
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
California Probate Lawyer Blog
Discusses probate cases, news, and related estate planning topics in California. Published by Mitchell A. Port.
South Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Blog
Examines injury cases, news, and opinions in Florida. Published by Thomas & Pearl.
Fort Worth Injury Lawyer Blog
Discusses injury cases, news, and related litigation topics in Texas . Published by The Law Office of Stephen O'Rear.
Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer Blog
Discusses criminal cases, news, and related criminal defense topics in Massachusetts. Published by Cappetta Law Offices
Alabama Injury Lawyers Blog
Examines injury cases, news, and related legal topics in Alabama. Published by Cusimano, Keener, Roberts, Knowles & Raley
San Francisco Immigration Lawyer Blog
Discusses immigration cases, news, and related topics in California. Published by Schwartz and Brown, LLP