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April 30, 2008

Create Own RSS Feed or Email Alert to Monitor Web Site Changes

Monitoring changes to Web sites can be an important part of legal practice, whether for litigation, competitive intelligence, current awareness, or any number of other reasons. RSS feeds and email alerts make potentially laborious process much easier. Instead of going out to the web site every day, you can automatically receive notification of any changes.

But what do you do when the site doesn't offer a RSS feed or email alert? Build your own. I put together this short handout for a class I taught last week. In it, I describe two tools - PonyFish (RSS) & Watch That Page (email) - which allow to you create your own monitoring service.

Read this doc on Scribd: Build Your Own RSS Feed or Alert

CityDictionary Defines Local Customs/Phrases

CityDictionary is a fun new online dictionary with a local flavor. From the creator:

It's for regional words/phrases/things/places, etc. that you think someone should know about a city. But it's more than just a city guide -- it's really a place to share insider information like nicknames for things, regional slang, etc. that you wouldn't know until someone explained it to you. You can also upload photos of things (whether or not you wrote a definition for it). Also, if you have a better definition for a word that already exists on there (or just think there is some key information missing), just add your own definition. You can vote on definitions, too, and the number of votes they have determines the order in which they appear under the word.

Although it's heavily Madison focused, CityDictionary is open to any city/town in the United States.

Thanks to my colleague, Vicky Coulter for the tip.

April 23, 2008

WisconsinEye Progress Report

There's a lot going on with WisconsinEye these days. Last night, Christopher Long, President & CEO was the guest speaker at the joint meeting of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Chapter of the Special Libraries Association.

It's More Than You Thought
Many of us probably think of WisconsinEye as CSPAN for Wisconsin, and, yes, while it does serve that role, it also does much more. In addition to its coverage of state government, WisconsinEye captures other aspects of Wisconsin public life, "from the Capitol to Main Street and city halls, community centers and neighborhoods."

Christopher explained that WisconsinEye is available on the digital tiers of both Time Warner and Charter Cable. It is also available online. DVDs are also available for purchase from WisconsinEye for those wishing to have a permanent copy of a particular broadcast for their collection.

Coming Soon
Christopher gave us a sneak peek of some planned upgrades. A email alert service for upcoming programming and video archive search engine are currently in the works. An RSS feed for newly archived programming is also planned. There will also be new types of programming, such as expanded areas of coverage within the capital (committee rooms, rotunda, etc). Several new series are also planned, including a legal affairs series.

For Legislative History Research
There were several questions from the audience about using WisconsinEye coverage for legislative history research. Christopher indicated that this type of use was welcomed. Note that their user agreement indicates that:

Users who are schools, higher education institutions, State of Wisconsin agencies, libraries and municipalities are authorized to record, reproduce, internally transmit, publicly display and perform our Content to their respective students, employees, or patrons for educational, training, research and other non-commercial and non-political purposes.

Although thousands of hours are already available in WisconsinEye's archive, accessing them at this point is difficult since one would have to browse by date to view the content. I look forward to the addition of the video search engine. Presumably, this will make content much more accessible and, therefore, useful for conducting legislative history research.

Ads to Appear in Meebo IM Service

From ReadWriteWeb:

Starting next month, Meebo will be rolling out ads in the IM service that invite users to access quizzes, polls, long-form video and other resources. Users will be able to opt-in to sponsored experiences that are targeted to them specifically, based on their demographics and behavior.

It's unclear if the ads will carry over to the MeeboMe widgets, which lots of libraries are using to place reference chat boxes on their web sites.

For more on Meebo and other reference IM services, see my article, IM a Librarian: Establishing a Virtual Reference Service with Little Cost or Technical Skill.

Source: LibrarianInBlack

Midwest Law and Society Retreat Scheduled for Sept. 19-20

From Law School News:

The University of Wisconsin Law School's Institute for Legal Studies will host its fourth Midwest Law and Society Retreat on September 19 and 20, 2008, at the Pyle Center on the UW-Madison campus.

The interdisciplinary symposium draws faculty, independent scholars, and graduate students from diverse social science and law programs in the Midwest for a weekend of intellectual exchange and community building.

For more information about the retreat, see the Institute for Legal Studies web site. I'm scheduled to give a research methods presentation on Saturday.

April 22, 2008

Recommended Amendments to the Copyright Act for Libraries

Last Friday, Marquette Law Library hosted a very interesting presentation on "Amending the Copyright Act for Libraries" by Laura Gasaway (UNC Chapel Hill School of Law).

Ms. Gasaway shared her experiences as co-chair of The Section 108 Study Group,* the independent committee (comprised of both librarians and publishers) charged with updating the Copyright Act for the digital era. It's no surprise that balancing the rights of creators and copyright owners and the needs of libraries and archives proved to be particularly challenging.

Ultimately, the group recommended a series of legislative changes in the following areas:

  • Eligibility
    • Museum Eligibility Under Section 108
    • Additional Eligibility Requirements
    • Outsourcing of Section 108 Activities

  • Preservation and Replacement Exceptions
    • Replacement Copying
    • Preservation of Unpublished Works
    • Preservation of Publicly Disseminated Works
    • Preservation of Publicly Available Online Content
    • Television News Exception
  • Miscellaneous Issues
    • Unsupervised Reproducing Equipment
    • Reorganization of the Section 108 Exceptions

For more information on these recommendations, see the Executive Summary and full report of the Section 108 Study Group.

For a summary of the Study Group's recommendations, see Library Journal and Information Week.

* Section 108 refers to the section of the Copyright Act of 1976 which provides libraries and archives with specific exceptions to the exclusive rights of copyright owners. The act was enacted in the pre-digital era when works were created and distributed primarily in analog format.

Patent Searching Workshop at Milwaukee Public Library

Each month, the Milwaukee Public Library holds a free workshop on Patents 101: How to do a Patent Search. The next workshop is scheduled for Monday, April 28th from 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Central Library. For more information call (414) 286-3000.

Source: Now @ MPL

April 21, 2008

SEC Adds RSS Feeds

The SEC has begun offering RSS feeds of new filings. You can receive all filings received by the SEC or do a search by company, CIK or form type and subscribe to the results.

Source: Slaw

PreCYdent Tops Search Results

It seems that David Hobbie over at Caselines is very impressed with PreCYdent. He ran a sample search in several databases, both free and commercial, and was surprised with the results:

I was stunned by the results of my search for IPJ on PreCYdent. The top six cases were the leading U.S. Supreme Court cases I studied in Prof. Reimann's jurisdiction class. Each of them is fundamental to an understanding of the application of personal jurisdiction in federal courts. I have never seen a such a highly relevant set of search results on any electronic case search engine. Not in Westlaw. Not in Lexis. Not anywhere....

A look on the PreCYdent team list and firm description site has a clue."PreCYdent search technology is able to mine the information latent in the "Web of Law", the network of citations among legal authorities. This means it is also able to retrieve legally relevant authorities, even if the search terms do not actually occur or occur frequently in the retrieved document."

Source: Et Seq

April 17, 2008

Publishers Sue Georgia State University for Copyright Infringement

Inside Higher Ed has a good analysis of the copyright infringement suit against Georgia State University. Three major academic presses, backed by the Association of American Publishers, allege "systematic, widespread, and unauthorized copying and distribution" at the university through the library electronic course reserve system, Blackboard, departmental Web sites and individual course syllabi posted online.

See also the NYT story and the press release from the AAP.

Google Shines Light on the Invisible Web

Information Week reports that Google has started testing ways to index data from the invisible Web, including "Web pages generated dynamically from a database, based on input such as might be provided through a Web submission form." (For more on the invisible Web, see my Wisconsin Lawyer article, Searching Smarter)

Given that the invisible Web, also know as the deep Web or hidden Web, is approximately 400 to 550 times larger than the visible Web, that could amount to a lot more data accessible via Google.

Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan points out that "Google's not the first to do something like this. Companies like Quigo, BrightPlanet, and WhizBang Labs were doing this type of work years ago. But it never translated over to the major search engines. Now chapter two of surfacing deep web material is opening, this time with a major search player -- in that, Google is being a pioneer."

April 16, 2008

Oregon Declares Statutes Copyrighted Material

The State of Oregon has declared that the Oregon Revised Statutes are copyrighted material and has sent cease and desist letters to sites like Justia and Public.Resource.Org that have been posting copies of the laws.

Carl Malamud has issued a response which he has posted on Scribd, along with related documents.

Source: BoingBoing

Availability of 2006 U.S. Code

According to the Law Revision Counsel, by way of the GovDocs-l listserv, titles 1-9 of the 2006 edition of the official U.S. Code are now available on the House of Representatives U.S. Code Search site. See the about page for more information.

The first four volumes (titles 1 to 10, 101-1805) have also been released to GPO for printing. LRC will continue to add updated titles on the Code website and to release additional volumes to GPO as fast as they can complete the editorial work.

April 15, 2008

National Library Week Freebies - Databases

The following databases are available free this week (some longer):

Source: AbsTracked and my colleague, Nancy Paul

April 14, 2008

Happy National Library Week 2008!

Stop by the UW Law Library this week and help us celebrate National Library Week!

For our celebration this year, we have put together a number of activities including, of course, our faculty READ posters. This year's posters feature, Anuj Desai and Keith Findley & John Pray.


Want to star in your very own READ poster? Then head over to the CIMC this week with your favorite book. They'll take your photo and create a poster for you.

April 11, 2008

Video Contest Wants Law Schools to Tell Their Worries

From Law Librarian Blog:

Student lender Access Group has announced a contest entitled "One Less Worry." The contest will award $10,000 to the most deserving video posted on YouTube describing "what law students worry about."

Access Group will select the ten finalists based on "creativity, humor, quality, realism and overall appeal" and and then open up public voting on July 1. Whoever gets the most votes by July 31 will win a $10,000 scholarship for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Recent Scholarship from UW Law School Faculty

New faculty scholarship from the UW Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series from the Legal Scholarship Network (SSRN).

April 10, 2008

YouMail Offers Advanced Voicemail Features - Customized Greetings, Transcription, Email Delivery

"Wouldn't it be great if you could have your voice mail e-mailed or texted to you instead of having to call back in to your number?"

"What if you could leave customized greetings for people in your address book?"

These are the questions asked - and answered - by YouMail, a free external voicemail service with some pretty powerful features including:

  • Customized voicemail greetings for people in your address book - complete with "ditch" feature
  • Voicemail notification via e-mail, web, and text message
  • Voicemail to text transcription sent to your phone

Right now it is only available in the US and works on AT&T, Nextel, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and more. See MakeUseOf.com for a full explanation of the features.

Search 19th Century Newspapers

New from the Milwaukee Public Library: 19th Century U. S. Newspapers

Consisting of just under 17 million articles, 19th Century U. S. Newspapers from the Thomson Gale Company is a genealogy or history buff's dream come true. Fully searchable by keyword, this database includes papers from across the U.S., and is particularly strong on the Midwest. Newspapers with significant runs include the Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel, Wisconsin State Register, Chicago Evening Journal, Hartford Courant, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, and Frederick Douglass' Paper, to name just a few.

This database can be accessed at the Milwaukee Public Library or from home/office by City of Milwaukee library cardholders. It is also available on at the UW Madison campus libraries or remotely with a campus id.

Source: Now @ MPL

April 9, 2008

Governor Vetoes Bill to Expand Access to Juvenile Court Records

From Channel 3000:

[Gov. Jim Doyle] vetoed a bill that would expand access to juvenile court records for police, judges and social workers.

Current state law considers juvenile court records confidential. Law enforcement officers, judges and prosecutors must request permission from a judge to access them.

The bill would have deemed the records open to any law enforcement officer, judge or district attorney. It also would have opened the records to the state Department of Health and Family Services, county human services departments and licensed child welfare agencies.

Doyle said that the bill is too broad and makes the records available to too many people. He said that juvenile information is sensitive and should be closely guarded.

April 8, 2008

2005/2006 WI Legislative Drafting Records Now Available from UW Law Library

I'm pleased to report that the 2005/2006 Wisconsin Legislative Drafting Records are now available on the UW Law Library Web site. Records from previous sessions back to 1999/2000 are also available.

The 2005/2006 records have actually been up for a few weeks, but Google has only just indexed them, thus enabling our search engine.

You may know that drafting records from the 1999-2005 sessions are also available from the Wisconsin Legislature. In doing some comparative searching, however, I found some significant differences. Terms which produced results in our search engine did not produce results in the Legislature's search engine. So I asked them why.

Here's what Lauren Jackson, Legislative Analyst at the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau told me:

I have been working with LTSB (Legislative Technology Services Bureau) in creating the online instructions to finding information on that site. We understand your concerns about the site not being "word searchable", and we hope the following explanation helps.

The drafting file site is meant to be used in conjunction with the NXT Searchable Infobases provided on the main legislative Web page. The public can use this site to search legislative bills, resolutions, acts, statutes, etc. back to the 1995 legislative session. This site is word searchable and has several subject indexes, as well as an author index to legislation.

Once you have determined on the NXT site what act or bill you want to research further, you would then go to the drafting file web site, and using the search instructions we have provided, find and examine the drafting file. For example, if you have determined that you are seeking the drafting file for 2005 Wisconsin Act 100, you would click on "2005-06" folder, and once there, you can use the search bar to search for "Act 100" or you can follow the steps of opening the "Wisconsin Acts" folder, then scrolling down to 2005 Act 100 and opening that file.

While we understand that this may not be the most user-friendly configuration of the site, there are reasons for this... One of the LRB's main concerns is to make sure that the public is finding the right documents when searching for legislative history. This involves first finding the statute you are concerned about, the specific language in that statute you are interested in, then finding the correct session law (act) which created that language, and finally examining the drafting file for that act. Making the drafting file site word searchable is not necessarily helpful to this methodic process, and can, in fact, make things more confusing at times...

When we host the Drafting Records on our site, they are being organized based on their attributes (special field indexes), mainly the actual bill number, or amendment etc. and displayed right from our Document management system. Unfortunately that system has never supported word searching internally, and the licensure costs to add that utility for web browsing was extremely prohibitive.

April 2, 2008

CM/ECF Pacer Access Available for 7th Circuit

CM/ECF Pacer Access is now available for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals according to Legal Dockets Online. Along with the D.C. and Veteran Claims courts, it joins the 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th circuit courts which already use the CM/ECF system.

What does this mean? CM/ECF makes available online court case docket sheets and filings, allows attorneys to file electronically, court clerks to enter docket entries, and enables electronic noticing.

From the US Courts Press Release:

Nationwide implementation of the federal judiciary's Case Management and Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system is nearly completed in the district and bankruptcy courts and is advancing in the appellate courts. CM/ECF not only replaces the courts' old electronic docketing and case management systems, but also provides courts the option to have case file documents in electronic format, and to accept filings over the Internet.

Free Ink Refill at Walgreens Today

Today only, Wednesday, April 2, over 3,000 Walgreens locations nationwide are offering a free printer cartridge refill for the following printer brands: Dell, HP, Lexmark, Okidata, Primera, Sharp and Xerox.

Just bring your empty cartridge and this coupon.

Source: OnMilwaukee

April 1, 2008

NYT's Pulitzer Prize Wining Journalist, Eric Lichtblau to Speak at UW Madison

Pulitzer Prize wining journalist, Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times will be speaking at UW Madison next week.

"How Much Does the Public Really Need to Know?
A Reporter's Perspective on the Post-9/11 Age"

Tuesday, April 8 at 2:30 p.m.

The Pyle Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
702 Langdon Street