January 5, 2013
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
It's been awhile since we've published a round-up, so let's get started catching up. [JH]
Atlanta Injury Lawyers Blog
Discusses injury and accident cases, news, and related subjects in Georgia. Published by Nelson O. Tyrone III
Virginia Employment Attorney Blog
Examines employment law cases, news, and related subjects in Virginia. Published by The Spiggle Law Firm
Securities Law Blog
Discusses securities fraud cases, news, and related topics nationwide. Published by Burke Harvey & Frankowski
Alabama Bankruptcy Lawyer Blog
Examines bankruptcy cases, news, and related subjects in Alabama. Published by Steven D. Eversole
Indiana Family Lawyer Blog
Discusses family law cases, news, and related topics in Indiana. Published by Harden Jackson
Alpharetta Personal Injury Attorney Blog
Examines personal injury cases, news, and related subjects in Georgia. Published by The Teiger Law Center
San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog
Examines personal injury cases, news, and related topics in California. Published by Law Office of Scott Righthand
Boston Criminal Attorney Blog
Examines criminal cases, news, and related topics in Massachusetts. Published by The Law Office of Dakota D. Martin
Coon Law Jackson Attorney Blog
Examines a variety of legal cases in the criminal and family law arena as well as general litigation in Mississippi. Published by The Coon Law Firm
Marketing Attorney Blog
Discusses topics such as marketing for law firms and lawyers on the internet as well as nationwide trends in the industry. Published by Micah Buchdahl
Wagners Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog
Examines medical malpractice cases, news and related injury topics in Halifax NS, Canada. Published by Wagners
Philadelphia Injury Lawyers Blog
Discusses injury cases, news, and related topics in Pennsylvania. Published by Shaffer & Gaier
Chicago Injury Law Blog
Examines injury cases, news, and related subjects such as medical malpractice in Illinois. Published by Pintas & Mullins.
January 4, 2013
Friday Fun: Info Antics, Not Metrics; When Counting Mickey Mouse Clicks Trump Content Analysis
Recently, fatally flawed number crunching antics that appears to be unique to tax profs when they venture outside of their realm of expertise have been in the law prof blogosphere spotlight. For example, Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter comments on the latest release in Paul Caron's ritual of publishing law prof blog traffic rankings :
Breaking Development: Actual Law Blog Makes the "Top 5" in Traffic Rankings... ...of blogs by law professors. The honor goes to a blog on patent law, no less! Meanwhile, the key to having a popular blog remains simple: be a right-wing crazy or blog about philosophy.
In other words, only one of the so-called "Top 5" ranked blogs based on Caron's info antics has anything to do with publishing legal content and analysis by law profs. Just being a "law prof" is good enough. Let's add that studies have shown that about 50% of web traffic, including blogs, can be attributed to robots, etc. Meaning only about one-half of logged traffic can be attributed to humans.
Then there is Caron's latest mouse click counts for his SSRN download ranking for tax profs. Paul Campos spots the problem when raw data trumps content analysis:
[Being a tax prof] Seto's high ranking is solely a product of the fact that three quarters of his SSRN downloads come from three papers that have nothing to do with tax law (this fact is significant in this context because tax papers are written for a highly specialized audience).
Law professorial ego being what it is, Mickey Mouse info antics such as the above examples do drive traffic to TaxProf Blog for hot diggity dog faculty lounge fodder. No doubt there will be more in 2013.
I didn’t make this list of the 25 most influential people in legal education. That pisses me off. I’m going to start writing about how people shouldn’t trust legal educators because law schools are only interested in profits and not the employment outcomes of their students. That’ll show ‘em!
Yup, One has to take the risk of ego-brusing by stating an original opinion about something to be influential in any way, shape or form. Good luck trying to find that in TaxProf Blog posts or SSRN "scholarship" in either tax or legal education authored by the "Blog Emperor".[JH]
January 3, 2013
FTC More Or Less Gives Google A Pass On Search, Mostly Cares About Patents
The FTC announced a proposed settlement with Google today over various antitrust allegations made over licensing of patent standards that are essential to the mobile phone hardware industry. Google purchase Motorola earlier to acquire a substantial patent portfolio as legal capital in the patent cases surrounding its Android operating system. Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Oracle, and others have initiated lawsuits globally claiming patent violations over features in their various systems. Some of it is motivated over money but more of seems to be designed to limit competition in various markets what with demands to exclude products from sale over violations.
The FTC’s proposed consent decree would require Google to license its essential standards patent portfolio on fair and reasonable terms, which is how the industry would normally work. The statement from the Commission, however, seems to put all companies on notice that the Commission is willing to step into the “patent wars” if competition is at stake:
We previously explained in the Commission’s unanimous filings before the United States International Trade Commission in June 2012 that the threat of injunctive relief “in matters involving RAND-encumbered SEPs, where infringement is based on implementation of standardized technology, has the potential to cause substantial harm to U.S. competition, consumers and innovation.” The threat of an injunction allows a SEP holder to demand and realize royalty payments reflecting the investments firms make to develop and implement the standard, rather than the economic value of the technology itself. In addition to harming incentives for the development of standard-compliant products, the threat of an injunction can also lead to excessive royalties that may be passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices. Alternatively, an injunction or exclusion order could ban the sale of important consumer products entirely. This type of “patent ambush” harms competition and consumers and is rightly condemned by the Commission.
We take this action pursuant to the Commission’s authority under Section 5 to prohibit unfair methods of competition, which both Congress and the Supreme Court have expressly deemed to extend beyond the Sherman Act. A stand-alone Section 5 unfair methods of competition claim allows the Commission to protect consumers and the standard-setting process while minimizing the often burdensome combination of class actions and treble damages associated with private antitrust enforcement. In a society that all of us recognize is overly litigious, the judicious use of Section 5 is a sensible and practical way for the Commission to bring problematic conduct to a halt. [footnotes omitted.]
I’m particularly interested in seeing how the Commission may investigate other claims of patent abuse by other companies in ways that it may harm competition. If Google is litigious in this area, it is far from the only company to go that route.
The two other areas where the Commission had investigated Google are how it treated advertisers conducting ad campaigns over multiple ad platforms and the claim of how it used content from other web sites in displaying search results. Google’s contracts with advertisers made it difficult for advertisers to evaluate the effectiveness of its ads. Google agreed to give advertisers more freedom in managing campaigns over multiple platforms without impacting their ranking in search results.
Other companies have complained that Google appropriates their web content such as reviews and rankings as part of their own search results. The Commission noted that this practice could conceivably “chill” a web site from creating product innovations. Another claim was that Google favored its own properties when producing search results. The FTC said this in the press release:
According to the Commission statement, however, the FTC concluded that the introduction of Universal Search, as well as additional changes made to Google’s search algorithms – even those that may have had the effect of harming individual competitors – could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google’s product and the experience of its users. It therefore has chosen to close the investigation.
I have not seen that language in the Commission statement, but I’ll take the press release at face value. Closing the investigation with that conclusion should frost more than a few Google competitors. Microsoft recently and bitterly complained that Google refuses to license code to allow Windows 8 phone users to watch YouTube videos via an app. Google provided such an app for Android and iPhone users. Windows 8 phone users are limited to YouTube access via a browser which is substandard compared to native apps. This conceivably makes the Windows phone platform less desireable.
Fairsearch.org, which is an industry consortium of Google competitors, would like to see Commission action to diminish Google’s search dominance. They will be highly disappointed with this end to the investigation. Not only was there a “nothing to see here response,” there wasn’t even a fine. Beyond that, only the patent issues and conclusions are binding on Google. [MG]
Thomson Reuters to Acquire UK-Based Practical Law CompanyHat tip to Caroline Walters, now Collection Development Librarian, U.S. & Materials Budget, at Harvard Law Library for the heads-up about today's announcement that Thomson Reuters is acquiring UK-based Practical Law Company. Financial terms were not disclosed but the deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013. Text of Thomson Reuters Press Release and Practical Law Company's FAQ. [JH]
Reminder: Lexis eBook Follow-Up Questions Due to CRIV by Jan. 4
Later this month, CRIV will be conducting a conference call with LexisNexis representatives concerning the Company's plans to replace CDs with eBooks as companions to their pBooks. Details and contact info on the CRIV Blog. For a little background, see Becoming Mini Me to Doctor Evil (Nov. 28, 2012) and Lexis to Migrate pBooks with Companion CDs to pBooks with Companion eBooks "Over the Next 18 Months" (Dec. 17, 2012) on LLB.
Based on the number and specificity of questions law librarians are or intend to submit to CRIV, this could be one very long conference call. My hunch is there will be some questions, LN representatives may not be prepared to answer immediately, even if they are all submitted in advance of the conference call. However, I hope CRIV submits all the questions to the Company for a final follow-up to this forthcoming follow-up. And hopefully, Lexis will provide detailed responses to all questions unlike the sort of responses we typically receive from the folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices.
Let's not receive the sort of responses which tend to remind many law librarians of Coneheads trying to live amongst the Blunt Skulls until they are rescued. [JH]
And Now Here's "AALL's Three-Year Goals and Objectives" for Our Association's Strategic Plan for 2013-20162013 = 1, 2014 = 2, 2015 = 3, 2016 = 4 years. Three years, really? Yes, really. See the latest revised edition of AALL's Strategic Plan for 2013-2016 (or 2015?). Just a quick follow-up to AALL's Audacious Goals: What tactics will AALL execute to achieve its strategic objectives? (Proofreading official statements might be a good start) (Dec. 24, 2012). [JH]
January 2, 2013
MOOCs And The Future Of Education
One of my regular topics includes MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. These are available online either for free or for a nominal charge. The potential for MOOCs to change how education is delivered in the United States is pretty open at this point. One article, The End of Universities by Nathan Harden presented a few predictions, some of which are interesting and others I’m not so sure about.
One idea is that what we call a college degree earned over four years of on site will morph into certified knowledge specializations by picking and choosing online course content from name brand institutions:
MIT is the first elite university to offer a credential for students who complete its free, open-source online courses. (The certificate of completion requires a small fee.) For the first time, students can do more than simply watch free lectures; they can gain a marketable credential—something that could help secure a raise or a better job. While edX won’t offer traditional academic credits, Harvard and MIT have announced that “certificates of mastery” will be available for those who complete the online courses and can demonstrate knowledge of course material. The arrival of credentials, backed by respected universities, eliminates one of the last remaining obstacles to the widespread adoption of low-cost online education. Since edX is open source, Harvard and MIT expect other universities to adopt the same platform and contribute their own courses. And the two universities have put $60 million of their own money behind the project, making edX the most promising MOOC venture out there right now.
Parts of the article discuss classes with 100,000 students. This isn’t a projection. It’s happened apparently with Professor Andrew Ng’s Stanford class in machine learning in the fall of 2011. Obviously not everyone in Professor Ng’s class was graded in the traditional sense. But that got me thinking about the mechanics for a more institutionalized version of a MOOC. Harden made these points:
Students can intermingle with faculty and with each other over a kind of higher-ed social network. Streaming lectures may be accompanied by short auto-graded quizzes. Students can post questions about course material to discuss with other students. These discussions unfold across time zones, 24 hours a day. In extremely large courses, students can vote questions up or down, so that the best questions rise to the top. It’s like an educational amalgam of YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook.
While I don’t think much of something described as an amalgam of YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook as an alternative to a traditional college experience, I agree that undergraduate programs are as likely to leave a student in enormous debt as much as graduate school. There has to be a better, cheaper alternative. MOOCs with a credential at the end may be that alternative. Formal alternatives will require standards for those credentials and standards have associated costs. Conceptual subjects are not necessarily amenable to auto-graded quizzes. I can imagine some courses with thousands of students requiring multiple graduate teaching assistants, perhaps hundreds of them, to work with groups of students answering questions and grading papers and exams. I can’t imagine a higher-ed social network filling all of that need. I’m interested in how schools might plan for this kind of eventuality.College, graduate school, law school and the like are becoming out of reach to many due to cost and capacity issues. MOOCs may be able to replace that structure ultimately but it’s going to take an awful lot of thoughtful planning. [MG]
Public Domain Day, Jan. 1, 2013
"This Public Domain Day (each year's January 1st) website is an initiative of COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain, with the special support of the Open Knowledge Foundation. Our aim is to raise worldwide awareness about the role of the public domain in our societies and to provide resources and information." See the site's list of featured authors entering the public domain on Jan. 1, 2013.
For Public Domain Day, Duke Law's Center for the Study of the Public Domain identified works published in 1956 which would have entered the public domain on Jan. 1, 2013 under U.S. copyright law that existed until 1978.
Hat tip to Free Government Information. [JH]
Starting Off 2013 Thomson Reuters-Style
Those law libraries that still have West's Federal Practice Digest on standing order received an early Christmas gift from the Land of 10,000 invoices last month. They were informed that the 5th Edition is coming to their stacks starting this month. [Download the letter] Oh boy.
Since I killed off Federal Practice Digest 4th in 2010 as part of the still ongoing Shed West Era, I don't know how thick the 4th edition's pocket parts are right now or how many volumes are supplemented by pamphlets. But I doubt both updating formats are as thick as a brick to require producing a new edition and all the, you know, costs associated with that.
My hunch is news of the new edition may lead some law library current recipients to decide that the time is now ripe to cancel West's Federal Practice Digest -- one less relic of West's obsolete 20th century offerings of print-based research tools. This isn't even a case of substituting electronic access for print digests. [JH]
January 1, 2013
LLB Turns Eight Years Old Today
Or in blog-dog years, 56 years since LLB joined the blogosphere on Jan. 1, 2005. LLB’s two senior citizen co-editors extend our best wishes for the New Year to all, young and old-timers.
2012 was an interesting year. There were some positive as well as some less than positive developments. Time and energy permitting –- hey, Mark and I are getting pretty damn old for doing this blogging thing –- we will be publishing some "year in review" LLB posts based on our admittedly idiosyncratic perspectives on a few selected topics in the coming days and weeks. [JH]
December 31, 2012
A Very Vintage Happy New Year to All
From two very vintage LLB bloggers, Mark Giangrande and yours truly. [JH]
December 30, 2012
"What do you see as a significant trend for the legal marketplace in 2013?"
On December 20th, Susan Martin launched into a series (or at least two posts) with a lead-in that through the end of 2012 Legal Current would feature predictions from leaders across the legal business of Thomson Reuters by asking them to provide a short answer to one question:
What do you see as a significant trend for the legal marketplace in 2013?