February 25, 2012
Romance in the Workplace: There's a contract for that
See Jenna Goudreau's Would You Sign A Love Contract...With Your Employer? on Forbes. [JH]
February 24, 2012
Lawyer Copyrights Briefs, Sues West And Lexis for Distributing Them
Two lawyers have opened a can of copyright worms by filing a class action suit against West and Lexis for using briefs in the brief banks sold by their respective companies. They allege that these documents are copyrighted by attorneys and seek damages, the amounts depending on whether the works are registered or not registered. I acquired a copy of the complaint via Bloomberg Law, so I’m wondering when they will be joined to the suit. Aside from the allegations, the attached exhibits are copyright registration certificates that show original works called “Plaintiffs' Requested Voir Dire” among others. I don’t plan on seeing this on Amazon any time soon.
I don’t question the authorship, though some questions come immediately to mind. The first is who actually owns the work. I understand the registration, but lawyers being lawyers and the smell of money enticing, will there be clients intervening claiming the document was a work for hire? I mean, who writes a requested voir dire for the fun of it? Clients usually pay for this kind of stuff as part of the representation, and production of the document Is certainly charged against billable hours. I generalize how this process works, but the client has a plausible argument that the document belongs to him or her.
My next question is whether the Administrative Office of the Courts can be a defendant. After all, what’s the price these days to download a document from PACER? Ten cents per page? Isn’t that a sale? And what if another lawyer writes a substantially similar Plaintiffs' Requested Voir Dire? Would that attorney be liable for copyright infringement? Your honor, my esteemed colleague copied my work and merely changed a few names. Where is my money? And how about all the briefs and other filings that populate Scribd and other document sites? Copyright infringement doesn’t require financial gain as an element of suit. Shall we see DMCA takedown notices served to these sites? How would fair use play into this?
The biggest problem I see with this case is not whether the plaintiffs win, but what happens to the legal profession if the plaintiffs win. It would be piranhas to a meal. I’ll be watching this one for the entertainment value if nothing else. Find the case on your own. I don’t want to be liable for illegal distribution of a copyrighted work. The case is Edward White and Kenneth Elan v. West Publishing and Reed Elsevier, Southern District of New York, 12-CV-1340, filed on February 22, 2012. Here is a report on the case from Thompson Reuters News & Insight. [MG]
Bronze is Wonderful and Represents More Than Just a Few Dollars
Yesterday, Joe Hodnicki wrote a post stating Thomson Reuters (TR) was "...doing the AALL Sponsorship thing on the cheap." Yes, it is a fact that TR is listed as a Bronze Sponsor for the AALL Conference which AALL defines as being in the $5,000-$24,999 range. But it is also a fact that AALL does not take into account the following events which TR is also paying for (in whole or in part) at the Conference this year:
1. The annual Thomson Reuters Customer Appreciation Reception to which all librarians at the conference are invited. I had a fantastic time at last year's event at the Reading Terminal Market and I can only imagine how much that event cost. And I also know TR let the event run about an hour past its scheduled end time because everyone was having such a blast and incurred even more costs as a result.
2. PLL SIS Summit Luncheon on Saturday to which all summit attendees will be invited
3. Conference of Law Library Educators Breakfast Roundtable
4. Academics and Government Librarians Luncheon and Speaker
5. ALLUNY/LLAGNY?NJLLA Reception
6. Government Librarians Leadership Breakfast and Meeting
If AALL did count all of these events TR would be well over the Gold Sponsorship level. Why doesn't AALL count these events? For that answer you will have to ask the AALL leadership. But my point is that regardless of whether or not they are counted TR is certainly not doing the conference "on the cheap".
As LLAGNY president this year I have gotten a much better understanding of the sponsorship that many vendors, including TR, provide to librarian organizations so that we can hold events, programs and give out grants, awards and scholarships. So on behalf of myself (and not on behalf of any organizational position that I hold) I want to say THANK YOU to all of the vendors for your sponsorship. (Caren Biberman)
What Will It Take to Shed Sunlight on NALP Reports from Every Law School?
The response rate to Law School Transparency's Dec. 14, 2011 request for Class of 2010 NALP reports from all US law schools, ABA-approved or not, was under 20%. That begs the question, just how bad can the NALP reports be?
The response rate also begs the question, what will it take to acquire access to NALP reports? For public law schools, it may take an expicited cited state-FOIA request to obtain the data. LST reports
Interestingly, the vast majority of schools providing LST with the 2010 NALP reports were public institutions. This may be because these schools interpreted our request as an open records request. Two schools (Wisconsin and UNC) explicitly treated our request in this way.
For private law schools, I'm thinking it may very well take a Congressional hearing subpoena for LST to pursue its mission "to improve consumer information and to usher in consumer-oriented reforms to the current law school model" by way of government intervention. That or more class action lawsuits... .
Regarding rejections from law schools, LST comments:
We received a handful of responses expressly declining to provide LST with the NALP report. Consistent with past communications with law schools, a number of schools indicated that they had meaningful employment information already available on their websites. In almost every case, this was (and remains) false.
LST also notes that six law schools, Columbia, Kentucky, St. Louis, and the three law schools in Puerto Rico do not submit employment data to NALP.
This does not mean that these schools do not have ample employment data, however. Rather, these are the only schools who do not have a prepared form in front of them that can quite easily be disclosed to prospective law students.
Details, including links to each NALP report provided in response to LST's request, are availabe at LST Obtains 33 Class of 2010 NALP Reports. See also Staci Zaretsky's Which Law Schools Are Trying to Be Honest About Their Employment Information? on ATL. [JH]
Friday Fun: The Nocturnal Life of Books
A big hat tip to LLB co-editor Mark Giangrande who spotted this gem in one of The Daily Beast's Mental Health Break posts. [JH]
Tulane Law Students Author Hot Topics in the Legal Profession - 2012
The authors of Hot Topics in the Legal Profession - 2012 (Quid Pro Books) are Tulane Law students who participated in an Advanced Professional Responsibility seminar conducted by Steven Alan Childress, publisher of Quid Pro Books. From the blurb:
The timely topics include: false guilty pleas and candor to the court, ethical considerations in keeping the client's files as a digital record, legal outsourcing and competition, the dilemma of student debt in a slowed legal economy, the practice of law by legal websites like LegalZoom, the capital defense of Jared Lee Loughner, Justice Scalia's constitutional seminar for conservative congressmembers, sensitivity to "cultural competence," prosecutorial relationships with key witnesses, bar discipline for behavior outside the practice of law, negotiation ethics, hybridized MDL settlements, and the advocate-witness rule.
Purchase of this book benefits Tulane's Public Interest Law Foundation, a nonprofit student group that funds public interest placements and indigent client representations throughout the country. [JH]
February 23, 2012
Next Wave of Placement Data Class Action Lawsuits Coming Soon: 20 more law schools targeted
ATL's Staci Zaretsky reports that David Anziska, one of the attorneys who has filed class action lawsuits over reported placement data at 14 law schools, plans to sue another 20 law schools. Zaretsky writes
20 law schools will face his righteous wrath, but he stated that the announcement would be made “in the next few weeks.” Beware the Ides of March, folks. Most law schools can probably breathe easy until the announcement comes, but educational institutions in New England will be sitting on pins and needles until then. (Recall that Anziska mentioned that the law school litigation squad was ready to “lock, load, and sue” schools located in Massachusetts.)
The current list of defendant law schools sued by Anziska's legal team are:
- Albany Law School
- Brooklyn Law School
- California Western School of Law
- Chicago-Kent College of Law
- DePaul University College of Law
- Florida Coastal School of Law
- Golden Gate University School of Law
- Hofstra Law School
- John Marshall School of Law (Chicago)
- New York Law School
- Southwestern Law School
- Thomas M. Cooley Law School
- University of San Francisco School of Law
- Widener University School of Law
For details and commentary about the pending class action suits and the objectives of this law school litigation generally (and with a hat tip for Anziska's recent Bloomberg Law interview (below)), see Twenty Additional Law School Class Action Suits Are in the Works; Is Your School One of Them? on ATL. Credit rating downgrades to follow? See Rankings Gamesmanship Be Damned: Class-action fraud lawsuits can damage schools' credit ratings. [JH]
Bronze, Really? Thomson Reuters nickel-and-dimes AALL Annual Meeting sponsorship again
Not trying to be competitive with our friends up north but apparently we in the US are not responsible for as much buying power as CALL/ACBD members are to earn a Gold sponsorship for AALL's annual meeting from Thomson Reuters. Once again, TR earns the "Cold Enough to Freeze the Balls Off a Brass Monkey" award for doing the AALL sponsorship thing on the cheap.
|CALL/ACBD Toronto, May 6-9, 2012||AALL Boston, July 21-24, 2012|
AALL sponsorship levels aren't exactly expensive for our major vendors considering how much US law library cash flows into vendor coffers each year. For the 2012 Boston Meeting they are:
- Gold Sponsorship Contributors: $65,000 or more;
- Silver Sponsorship Contributors: $25,000 to $64,999; and
- Bronze Sponsorship Contributors: $5,000 to $24,999.
Just how much under the $25,000 threshold was the miserly Thomson Reuters contribution? Don't know but to view each sponsor's contributions, go here.
Is this how "West values its partnership with AALL members"? I'm thinking many Boston attendees who attended Philly last year also may be scoping out TR Legal's Exhibit Hall footprint. Smaller than last year? Damn, I forgot to take a tape measure last year. Maybe this year because TR Legal's square footage in Philly was the smallest any regular AALL partygoer could remember.
Perhaps I'm jumping the gun. See Philly 2011 Sponsorship Update: Welcome Thomson Reuters for Coming to the No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Table with a Chip Count Between "$5,000 to $24,999" (June 8, 2011) which updated Is Thomson Reuters Going to Be a Sponsor for AALL's Annual Meeting in Philly This Year? (Feb. 28, 2011). Maybe West needs to shed some West before anteing up for its AALL sponsorship gamble. See today's earlier post, WEXIS Assets on the Auction Block. [JH]
WEXIS Assets on the Auction Block
Well, clearly not Lexis L & P according to Reed Elsevier CEO Erik Engstrom. But Thomson Reuters has put several assets up for sale.
- Property Tax Services ($100 million revenue)
- Legal Publishing [legal education] unit ($45 million in revenue) of TR Legal
- eXimius ($10 million in revenue) in the wealth management unit of Financial & Risk
The divestitures according to Frank Golden's comment in TRI's 2011 FY earnings call "are expected to close by midyear." After taking down the For Sale sale for Health last year, TRI might be wise to auction off its assets with no reserve on eBay. [JH]
February 22, 2012
Supreme Court Action Today: The Supremacy Clause, Rivers, and Qualified Immunity For Police
Yesterday’s four opinions from the Supreme Court are followed by three today. The first case is Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern Cal., Inc. (09-958). It is initially about whether an action can be brought under the Supremacy Clause to enforce federal Medicaid law over conflicting state statutes. However, the initial certifying agency which denied certification for the state statutes has approved them as consistent with federal law. Before the review was complete, however, Medicaid providers and beneficiaries brought suit against rate reduction provisions of the statute on the grounds that they were pre-empted by federal law. Some of these issues remain despite the certification.
Since the change in circumstances, the Court returned the case to the Ninth Circuit to determine whether the case should proceed as a case for review of a final agency decision under the Administrative Procedure Act, or whether it should continue as a Supremacy Clause case. The Court noted that the Ninth Circuit did not give any deference to the federal government’s interpretation of the federal statutory language, something that standards of review require. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court. Chief Justice Roberts dissented, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.
The second case is PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana (10-218). PPL Montana operates hydroelectric dams on Montana rivers, some on the three tallest waterfalls. Some of these dams have existed for over a century. PPL Montana pays rent to the federal government but not to Montana, though Montana has known about the projects and has not requested rent until recently. Suit was brought to recover rents, and that case was dismissed. PPL Montana brought suit against Montana seeking a declaration that Montana was barred from seeking rents. Montana counterclaimed that it was entitled rents under the equal-footing doctrine. The trial court granted summary judgment to Montana and ordered PPL Montana to pay $41 million in rents. The Montana Supreme Court affirmed.
The Supreme Court held that the United States still holds titles to rivers and riverbeds vested before statehood. The Equal-footing doctrine gives states the rights to truly navigable rivers subject to the federal government’s powers for interstate or foreign commerce. The Montana Supreme Court erred in applying the equal-footing doctrine as expressed in Court precedent by counting portages (land-based transport) against river navigation. The Court held that commerce could not take place on these non-navigable portions of the rivers, even at the time of statehood, and that recreational watercraft could not count in determining the use of the rivers in commerce. The case was returned to Montana to resolve other questions. Justice Kennedy wrote for a unanimous Court.
Today’s final case is Messerschmidt v. Millender (10-794). The case involves a search conducted at the house of the parents of a known gang member who had committed an assault with a sawed-off shotgun against his ex-girlfriend and whether the officers involved were entitled to qualified immunity in a resulting federal civil rights suit. The case revolves around the analysis of facts supporting a warrant being issued for specific items, given the nature of the crime.
One Jerry Ray Bowen attacked his girlfriend, Shelly Kelly, as she was moving out of her apartment. She had feared Bowen because of his violent tendencies and requested police protection. Police arrived and left shortly after to attend to an emergency. Bowen attacked Kelly and yelled “I told you never to call the cops on me bitch!” He tried throwing her over a second story balcony and shot at her with a pistol gripped sawed-off shotgun as she drove away.
Kelly related all of this to Detective Curt Messerschmidt and included details of past assaults, Bowen’s ties to specific gangs, and that he might be staying at the home of his former foster mother, Augusta Millender. Messerschmidt investigated Bowen and using information in a police database, he corroborated Bowen’s gang ties and past arrests for violent activities. This information was submitted in affidavits for a search warrant directed at the Millender residence seeking all firearms, ammunition, and gang related evidence. The affidavits were reviewed by supervisors before presentment to a neutral magistrate who issued the warrant.
Upon the execution of the warrant, police found a shotgun owned by Augusta Millender, some ammunition, and a California Social Services letter addressed to Bowen. Millender later filed a §1983 suit alleging the search violated her Fourth Amendment rights. The District Court granted her summary judgment, holding that the list of items sought via the warrant were overbroad, that this should have been obvious to police. Messerschmidt and his superiors were denied qualified immunity as a result. The Ninth Circuit reversed initially, but upheld the District Court on an en banc rehearing.
The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the warrant was not overly broad. Kelly informed the police about Bowen’s gang affiliation and his past violence against her. His rap sheet was some 17 pages long. The Court reasoned that having one gun makes it reasonable to suggest he might have more, illegal or otherwise. His connection with Millender’s residence came from more than one source. The Court said police deserve qualified immunity when the make reasonable though mistaken judgments.
Other factors that contributed to the result is that, California law supported the breadth of the warrant; it was reviewed by multiple people before the magistrate issued it, and that it is the responsibility of the magistrate to review it for breadth. The Court noted that while none of these factors were dispositive, collectively they enforce the reasonableness of the warrant. The Ninth Circuit is reversed yet again. Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority. Justice Breyer wrote a concurring opinion. Justice Kagan wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Ginsburg. [MG]
Thomson T & A Makes House Calls: "Where's the Money?"
Hello, am I speaking to the BigLaw attorney of the house?
Great, This is a special Thomson T & A out-call for you.
Oh, sorry to be interrupting your dinner. Perhaps you can step away from your sponse and children for a moment.
No. Well, this won't take long. Our records show that you subscribe to one of our T & A services but you haven't paid for it's renewal yet.
Yes, I know I am calling you at home. No, I have no idea how we got your home phone number.
Let me repeat what you just said for the recorded conversation. You say "your firm's library pays for that!"
Well, the invoice was sent to your ship-to address, you know, and that's why we are calling.
Hello ... Hello?
Damn, another hang-up.
End note: Yes, reports are coming in that Thomson Tax & Accounting's accounts receivable staff are calling attorneys at home with "where's the $$$ questions." Why? Because Thomson T & A doesn't appear to understand (or know how to implement) the difference between ship-to and bill-to addresses.
Well, there's a "solution" for this. It's Thomson Reuters' OnePass-YourAss scheme, at least for future sale transactions which may be unauthorized because authorization has not been verified with the institutional buyer who will see the invoice magically appear in one of its TR accounts statement. [JH]
What Business Practice Do You Find Especially Harmful to Law Libraries? AALL Consumer Advocacy Caucus calls for member input
The AALL Consumer Advocacy Caucus has issued a call for member input about significant anti-consumer practices and issues at Tell Us What Business Practice You Find Especially Harmful To Law Libraries. Quoting from the text of the post by Michael Ginsborg:
We formed the AALL Consumer Advocacy Caucus to better protect all law libraries from anti-consumer practices of information providers. We will recommend that AALL’s Executive Board petition appropriate government entities to remedy business practices that illegally restrict competition or otherwise harm law library consumers. We are just starting to consider ideas for our first recommendation, which we would like to propose for Board action at the July 2012 Business Meeting. To prepare our recommendation, we expect to survey AALL members on the nature and scope of a significant anti-consumer problem.
We need your help at this critical moment to target a problem of longstanding concern. What anti-consumer grievance most concerns you as a law librarian?
For additional information including details on ways and means to communicate to the Caucus for this call, see the above linked post.
Do note the Consumer Advocacy Caucus is also soliciting specific examples about the kinds of problems consumers are experiencing with legal publishers by way of its Library Consumer Complaint Form. In the context of fair dealing concerns expressed in the law-lib message trail about West's add-ons/ancillary materials shipments (KeyRules, to be specific) earlier this month, Ginsborg posted the following message to law lib:
[The AALL] Consumer Advocacy Caucus would welcome your complaints about these kinds of problems with legal publishers. We aim to track as many complaints as we can. Doing so will help us reflect your concern as we collect evidence of unfair and anticompetitive business practices. We expect to use this evidence when we prepare our recommendations to the AALL Executive Board for government intervention.
Skalbeck's 2011 Ranking of Law School Website Home Pages
For this year's annual survey of law school home pages, Roger Skalbeck, Associate Law Librarian for Electronic Resources & Services, Georgetown Law Library, applied 24 criteria across three broad categories to evaluate all ABA-accredited law school website home pages for his ranking of the 10 best law school home pages. For criteria, see image right, click to enlarge.
Top 10 Law School Home Pages of 2011
1. University of Washington School of Law
2. Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
3. Florida Coastal School of Law
4. University of New Mexico School of Law
4. Wake Forest University School of Law
4. University of Texas at Austin School of Law
7. S.J.Quinney College of Law, The University of Utah
8. Thomas M. Cooley Law School
8. University of Nebraska College of Law
10. George Mason University School of Law
Details here. [JH]
February 21, 2012
Supreme Court Action Today: Arbitration, Habeas Corpus, Miranda, and Deportation
The United States Supreme Court issued four opinions this morning, including two per curiam decisions. The first of these is Marmet Health Care Center v. Brown (11-391). The Supreme Court applied its recent decisions concerning the application of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) to negligence and wrongful death actions against nursing homes when an arbitration clause is present in the care agreement. The Court concluded that when present, these agreements can be enforced in these circumstances.
The cases were filed in West Virginia with the state courts declaring the clauses void as against public policy. The Court chastised the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for disagreeing with its clear precedent that the FAA applied to these disputes, noting that the Act has no exceptions written into it for personal injury or wrongful death claims. The Court, however, sent the cases back to the West Virginia courts to determine if its declaration was influenced by its rejection of Supreme Court precedent.
In light of this ruling and others, I don’t understand why law schools haven’t included arbitration clauses in their student agreements. It would solve a lot of their problems such as the class action suits against them and possibly be a teaching moment on how to draw up one-sided but enforceable contracts. If I read this case correctly, a law school with an arbitration clause can kill students through negligence and compel arbitration in the aftermath. Alleged misrepresentation of law graduate employment statistics should be a piece of cake. As Yakov Smirnoff would say, “What a country?” University generals counsel, please take note.
The second of the per curiam opinions is Wetzel v Lambert (11-38) where the Court “corrects” the Third Circuit on applying habeas corpus relief under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). Lambert was convicted some 28 years ago for murder during a robbery in Philadelphia. He filed a habeas petition 20 years later, claiming a police activity sheet naming an individual was shown to two witnesses and no identification was made. The individual identified on the sheet was named by one of Lambert’s co-defendants. Lambert claimed the activity sheet was not disclosed at the time. He characterized it as exculpatory evidence and the non-disclosure violated the Brady rule.
The Pennsylvania state courts said the effect on his trial was speculative holding that the activity sheet was ambiguous, not exculpatory or impeaching, and ruled against Lambert. The habeas corpus petition was denied by the District Court which agreed that the Pennsylvania state courts were reasonable in their determination. The Third Circuit reversed holding that the activity sheet would have opened up another line of impeaching evidence for Lambert.
The Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit, holding that the standard under AEDPA is whether the state court rulings were reasonable rather than correct. The state courts met the reasonable standard, and their ruling did not rise to the level of being second-guessed by the federal courts. Justice Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Kagan.
Howes v. Fields (10-680) involves whether statements made while questioning a prisoner about pre-incarceration criminal activity without Miranda warnings should be thrown out in later proceedings. Fields was questioned in a prison conference room between five and seven hours; was told he could return to his cell at any time; the door to the conference room was sometimes open and sometimes closed; he stated several times that he did not want to speak to deputies but did not go back to his cell; he was offered food and water; and after he ultimately confessed, he had to wait about 20 minutes before he was escorted back to his cell where he “retired” about an hour after normal.
The District Court granted the habeas relief and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the circumstances amounted to a custodial interrogation under Miranda. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the mere fact that the interview was conducted in a prison with standard security in place did not make it a per se custodial interview. The Court cited the fact that Fields was advised he could go back to his cell, was not coerced or threatened, and understood his status and behavior in a prison setting made this different than someone questioned or arrested in a public situation. The circumstances control here, and while some work in favor and some against Fields, the totality did not place him in a situation where his statements would be suppressed. Justice Alito wrote for the majority. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part and joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.
The final case is Kawashima v. Holder (10-577). Mr. and Mrs. Kawashima were ordered deported for respectively filing a false tax return and aiding and assisting the preparation of a false tax return. This activity qualifies as crimes involving fraud or deceit under 8 U. S. C. §1101(a)(43)(M)(i) (Clause(i)). The qualification is the basis for the deportation.
The Kawashima’s argued they could not be deported as the crimes defined under the Tax Code do not qualify as fraud or deceit. The Court held that although fraud and deceit are not formal elements of the Tax Code provision, Clause (i) is not limited to fraud and deceit as formal elements. Broadly speaking, Clause (i) refers to fraudulent or deceitful conduct, and knowingly submitting a false tax return. That, and for other technical reasons, the order of deportation is affirmed. Justice Thomas wrote for the majority with Justice Ginsburg dissenting, joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan. [MG]
Got Patience? Nominations for 2012 AALL Election to Fill Board Vacancies Due by March 1st
Quoting from Item 10, Make a Difference — Consider Running for AALL Office, in the Feb. 2012 issue of the AALL eNewsletter [date stamped Feb. 16, 2021]:
AALL is looking for the next leaders of the Association. If you or someone you know has proven leadership experience, commitment to law librarianship, and the demonstrated ability to think strategically, please consider serving on the AALL Executive Board.
Shouldn't being able to persevere in the face of delaying to take action because of how association business is conducted AALL-style also be a criterion? (Or is that taken for granted?)
I know a law librarian or two or three who certainly meet the above AALL listed critera. Unfortunately most of them, as one stated privately, "no longer have patience for bylaws!" Could that be because having a demonstrated track record to execute tactics for a membership-driven set of desired outcomes on time sensitive issues in a timely manner has not yet been institutionalized by and within the AALL Executive Board.
Oh well. Officer slots up for election are vice president/president-elect, treasurer, and two Executive Board members. You can email former AALL president James Duggan, chair of the Nominations Committee, potential candidates ready, willing, able and a glutton for frustration to stand for election to the E-Board. The deadline is March 1st. Then comes the Nominations Committee's screening process.
If you want to resolve what becomes yesterday's issues because the moment has past by, run for E-Board office. Dithering remains our professional association's modus operandi because AALL is too nervously irresolute to execute tactics in a timely manner. Perhaps it is time to reinvent AALL for the 21st century by way of a constitutional convention that allows all institutional buyer representatives to participate. Then the membership, not AALL, will be looking for the next leaders of our industry association of institutional buyers.
"Learn, Connect, Grow" is the theme for the 2012 Boston meeting. But which special interest group needs to learn, connect, grow and with whom? [JH]
|"Designed by law librarians, for law librarians, the AALL Annual Meeting and Conference is the premier educational conference for legal information professionals. Join nearly 2,000 law librarians from across the country for close to 100 educational opportunities, abundant networking functions, and the chance to learn what your colleagues are doing in their law libraries." Source. (Emphasis added.)|
2012 CALI Conference Call for Speakers: Seeking people with strong opinions, great ideas, interesting projects and useful advice
Some Assembly Required is the theme for this year's Conference for Law School Computing (held at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, Thursday – Saturday, June 21-23, 2012). Recently John Mayer issued a call for speakers, observing
For 22 years, the CALI Conference has organized its schedule at nearly the last minute in order to bring the most relevant and up-to-date presentations to attendees. This year is no different and we are looking for people with strong opinions, great ideas, interesting projects and useful advice.
The deadline for session proposals is Friday, April 6, 2012. In his call, John adds
We are going to use community voting to help with selecting sessions again this year. Your votes let us know which sessions you would like to see on the conference agenda. Starting on Monday February 27, 2012, voting will be opened and will remain open until Friday April 27, 2012.
Details, including how to submit a proposal for the 2012 CALI conference, are available in John's CALI Spotlight blog post.
One thing I miss by not working in academic law libraries anymore is not being able to attend CALI's annual meeting. While certainly not a techie, CALI conference sessions are always interesting because the speakers and attendees are actually engaged in the process of experimenting and implementing change. Could that be why CALI is seeking "people with strong opinions, great ideas, interesting projects and useful advice" to offer proposals for its annual meeting? Yup. [JH]
February 20, 2012
The Web Owns You, Continued
As regular readers know, I write about privacy issues related to the Internet and social media. I highlighted some practices that sites use to shape the customized content an individual might see in this recent post. My feelings on this are that some tracking is inevitable, as this is how advertisers and sites on the web make money. The way I approach the problem is not to give out much information via social media and to be aware of the practices of advertisers and other in collecting information. I can at least take some defensive action to minimize the tracking of my habits.
So it is with some interest when I see articles such as this one in the New York Times detailing how and what information Target collects about customers at its brick and mortar stores. Target’s concern is to identify women who are in their second trimester of pregnancy. People have different shopping habits and pick up products at a variety of stores. Target wants to be a one-stop shop for individuals, from groceries to entertainment. People have limited time when babies come into the picture, thus they are more susceptible to changing their shopping habits. Target would like to be the one to benefit from any changes.
If anyone thinks that shopping in a store is safer than wandering the web, then this extract from the article should give some pause:
The desire to collect information on customers is not new for Target or any other large retailer, of course. For decades, Target has collected vast amounts of data on every person who regularly walks into one of its stores. Whenever possible, Target assigns each shopper a unique code — known internally as the Guest ID number — that keeps tabs on everything they buy. “If you use a credit card or a coupon, or ﬁll out a survey, or mail in a refund, or call the customer help line, or open an e-mail we’ve sent you or visit our Web site, we’ll record it and link it to your Guest ID,” Pole said. “We want to know everything we can.”
Also linked to your Guest ID is demographic information like your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit. Target can buy data about your ethnicity, job history, the magazines you read, if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy or got divorced, the year you bought (or lost) your house, where you went to college, what kinds of topics you talk about online, whether you prefer certain brands of coffee, paper towels, cereal or applesauce, your political leanings, reading habits, charitable giving and the number of cars you own. (In a statement, Target declined to identify what demographic information it collects or purchases.)
Target is identified as one of the smarter marketers when it comes to “predictive analytics.” It’s a field that is coming into vogue with universities offering programs into determining how we form our habits. The process goes much deeper than data mining our browsing and web buying habits. Political campaigns these days apparently have scientific advisers on constituency voting patterns using very detailed personal information.
The next time a store cashier asks for your zip code or phone number, keep in mind that declining to offer that information doesn’t necessarily protect against privacy incursions. I usually tell the clerk to ask Andrew Jackson as it is his picture on the bill I’m using to pay for the goods. I have a feeling President Jackson would get a bit worried after reading the article. I’m now waiting for the day when security cameras at stores double as data collection points, what with face recognition software and all. Wouldn’t that help a marketer in their quest for the ultimate dossier? I think I’ve become officially less worried about the government as I learn more about marketer techniques.
There are recent stories in the press about privacy groups slamming Google for changing its privacy policies to combine data from all of its sites and services, and more recently for what the company calls an “inadvertent” compilation of user data leaked from Safari. I’m not defending Google against any outrage these actions might generate. I would ask, though, compared to what? [MG]
Three States Introduce UELMA Legislation
IIT-Chicago Kent Law's Gov Docs Guy blog reports that UELMA adoption bills have been introduced in Tennessee [HB 3656], Colorado, [HB 12-1209], and California [SB-1075] so far this year. The blog post also reports that AALL is targeting Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin in an effort to promote the uniform act nationwide. Details with links to the bills at First steps toward more trustworthy online state legal materials: UELMA is introduced in three states. [JH]
More and More Bad News for Duncan School of Law: Starting with student sues DSOL for admitting her before completing her undergraduate degree because she is ineligible to take state bar exam
With 54 credits hours earned and nearly $80,000 in student loan debt, a Duncan School of Law (DSOL) student has sued the School for breach of contract, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, civil conspiracy and violation of Tennessee consumer protection law because the School allowed her to enroll despite not having completed her undergrad degree. [Complaint] The plaintiff, a DSOL part-time student, is seeking $750,000 in damages.
The plaintiff, short 12 credit hours to graduate from Penn State, aledges that the School informed her that there would be no problem as long as she completed her undergrad degree requirements before her final year in law. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that last month the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (TBLE) has informed the student that she in not eligible to sit for the state bar exam because rules require her to have completed her undergraduate degree before beginning law school.
"They discarded the rules at the very least, and I think that as attorneys and as administrators, they're bound to know what the requirements are when they're attempting to bring students into the law program," said her attorney.
Ya think! Is ATL coming to DSOL's "defense"? In Another Law School Sued, But This Time With Allegations of ‘Negligent Enrollment, Staci Zaretsky writes
To be fair, the school opened its doors in 2009; it’s still fairly new to this game. Maybe the administrators legitimately believed that Crutchfield didn’t need to complete her undergraduate degree before enrolling.
While planning on completing her undergrad degree requirements this summer as well as leaving Duncan, news coverage does not indicate whether the student plans to enroll in law school elsewhere. If she does, would any of her credit hours from a non-ABA accredited law school transfer? Based on TBLE rules, probaby not in Tennessee where Duncan is still accredited.
State accredition may be rescinded. While this lawsuit appears to be an isolated incident, Duncan School of Law has been experencing significant fallout since being denied provisional accreditation by the ABA last December. Still embroiled in quixotic litigation with the ABA (and recently filed administrative appeal within the ABA to dot the i's and cross the t's for due process purposes), the TBLE indicated in January 2012 that it may reconsider its accrediation of DSOL. Quoting from Tennessee panel to wait to take up LMU law school accreditation (Knoxville News Sentinel, Jan. 18, 2012):
Adele Anderson, executive director of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, said ... that the agency is watching the Duncan School of Law's lawsuit against the ABA for its denial of accreditation play out in U.S. District Court before deciding whether to re-examine the board's own approval of the law school.
The language of the TBLE notice is stronger:
Notice Regarding Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law:
On February 24, 2009, the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (TBLE) granted approval to Lincoln Memorial University pursuant to Supreme Court Rules, Rule 7, Section 2.03, based upon its representations that the College of Law (Duncan School of Law) would seek accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA) at the earliest opportunity permitted by the ABA. In the event that the Duncan School of Law (DSOL) fails to obtain provisional accreditation from the ABA prior to December 31, 2012, or if after obtaining ABA provisional accreditation, DSOL fails to obtain ABA accreditation within the timeframe required by the ABA, then upon written notice from the TBLE to DSOL, and after an opportunity for DSOL to be heard on the issues, the TBLE may withdraw and rescind the approval granted. It is our understanding that LMU will work diligently to accomplish the requirements for ABA accreditation.
Applications down and other law schools poaching DSOL students. Earlier this month, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that applications to Duncan have fallen off 26 percent and eight students have left the program.
"Competitor law schools are openly soliciting (Duncan School of Law) students to transfer to their schools," wrote Law School Dean Sydney Beckman. "As a result, a greater number of DSOL students are making preparations to transfer from DSOL by requesting letters of good standing from the law school."
Quoting from LMU law school losing students, applicants (Knoxville News Sentinel, Feb. 9, 2012).
Things are not looking up for the rebel-with-a-cause law school. [JH]
February 19, 2012
Browsing On A Sunday: Letters of the Notable, Library Funding Trouble, and the Piracy Wars
I was browsing through the Lingua Franca blog on the Chronicle of Higher Education when I came across a reference to the site Letters of Note, subtitled “Correspondence deserving of a wider audience.” And that is exactly what it is. It reproduces correspondence from noted individuals throughout history, sometimes with a graphic of the document to go along with the transcription. It’s a random but fascinating collection. The most recent post is a letter from Groucho Marx to the president of the Franklin Corporation. Groucho wrote the letter as an investor after receiving the company’s annual report. An excerpt:
As a brand new member of your family, strategically you made a ghastly mistake in sending me individual pictures of the Board of Directors. Mr Roth, Chairman of the Board, merely looks sinister. You, the President, look like a hard worker with not too much on the ball. No one named Prosswimmer can possibly be a success. As for Samuel A. Goldblith, PhD., head of Food Technology at MIT, he looks as though he had eaten too much of the wrong kind of fodder.
Other examples from the site include a memo from movie score composer, Max Steiner announcing that he will no longer put in evening hours, an emotional letter from Franz Kafka to his father, and a letter from Alex Toth to cartoonist Steve Rude critiquing some of Rude’s drawings. Toth created numerous iconic cartoon characters for Hanna Barbera Studios including Space Ghost and the Sealab 2020 team. Toth’s letter is brutally honest and encouraging at the same time. There are 716 letters in the site archive.
The Franklin public library in Massachusetts started with books donated by Benjamin Franklin. Now the oldest public lending library is in big trouble. The city cut the library’s budget by a third. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners reacted by decertifying the library, meaning it will no longer be eligible for Commission grants or interlibrary loan services from 341 other state certified libraries. The town of Franklin is appealing the decision. Commissioners are visiting the library soon to see for themselves if the cuts impact on services. Some 120 other libraries in the state received waivers. More details are in the Boston Globe.
And finally, here’s an AP article via the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, SC on music and video piracy among the young. The article suggests that downloaders would more likely pay for content if it was inexpensive and easy to use across devices. No kidding.
It’s a running theme in the digital copyright wars that content owners can’t compete with piracy, with the latest tactic to attempt to pass legislation giving industry the power to shut down illegal sites. The problem with this, as demonstrated by the Megaupload case is that plenty of innocent people get caught in the crossfire. There are still legitimate Megaupload users that are still cut off from their legal files stored at the site, not that it matters to industry or the Department of Justice.
I believe that piracy can’t be eliminated, but it can be reduced if the content providers used less controls and more compatibility with devices. It’s not merely the free factor that’s attractive. Illegal downloads usually have no protection, making it possible to copy across devices and formats. The convenience factor is missing from the legal market, at least as demonstrated by some of the quotes in the article. Henry Ford said way back in the early part of the 20th century that his customers could have any color car they wanted as long as it was black. The Ford Motor Company sells plenty of vehicles in multiple colors today. I'll grant that cars are not the equivalent of copyrights, but that industry evolved. The content industry should figure out its market one of these days. [MG]