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June 30, 2008

Oregon Decides Not to Enforce Copyright Claims on Statutes

Justia reports that Oregon's Legislative Counsel Committee has unanimously voted to not to enforce any copyright claims on the Oregon Revised Statutes.

See more about the decision, including video, from PublicResource.org.

For more on the ORS copyright claims, see my earlier posts from April and May .

June 27, 2008

WI Court of Appeals Seek Mandatory Electronic Filing of Briefs & No-Merit Reports

Last week, the WI Court of Appeals filed a petition with the Supreme Court for rules changes seeking mandatory electronic filing of all appellate briefs and no-merit reports.

The proposed rule changes would also also permit, but do not require, the filing of an electronic copy of the appendix.

Source: Milwaukee Federalists

RepairPal Offers Auto Repair Estimates and Reviews

The next time you need to take your car in for repair, check out RepairPal, a new site offering "independent and unbiased repair estimates and user ratings and reviews" of auto repair shops.

For example, I learned that an AC recharge for our minivan should cost between $223 and $269. Go to know so that I can make sure that I'm not getting ripped off.

The user reviews of repair shops also look promising, but since the site is new, there weren't many listed yet. Time will tell if this takes off.

Source: MakeUseOf.com

June 26, 2008

Wisconsin Diploma Privilege Suit Granted Class Action Status

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb granted class action status to a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's policy of allowing in-state law graduates to become lawyers without passing the bar exam.

Anyone who applies to practice law in Wisconsin within 30 days of graduating from a law school outside the state can join the lawsuit.

Wisconsin allows graduates from its two law schools to become lawyers immediately if they meet certain requirements. It's the last state in the nation with the so-called diploma privilege.

Source: Madison.com

June 24, 2008

Law Librarianship as an Alternative Career for Attorneys

In a new career alternatives feature, Above the Law examines law librarianship. A bit snarky, but pretty much on the money. Worth a look if you're thinking about a career change.

Selections from the AALL Salary Survey are reprinted to answer "the $64,000 question: what's the pay like?"

NYT Examines SSRN & Scholarly Rankings

Earlier this month, the New York Times ran an interesting article about how SSRN rankings have affected legal academia.

Social Science Research Network [is] an increasingly influential site that now offers nearly 150,000 full-text documents for downloading... the texts include pensées, abstracts, informal arguments, outlines, rough drafts and working papers, up to the finished products you might find in academic journals. So far, more than 550,000 users have registered to download documents.

And with a precision common to the digital age, its rankings of downloads can be sliced and diced in many ways with only a click: most downloads over all or most downloads in the last 12 months, either by article, by author or by institution.

The network was not created to be a Top 40 list for academics, said Michael C. Jensen, its chairman and one of its founders, but it has turned out that way.

June 13, 2008

Registration for Web 2.0 Challenge Opens Today

Law Librarians: Are you interested in learning about applications like blogs, wikis, and Second Life, but don't have a lot of time?
Take the AALL Computing Services-SIS Web 2.0 Challenge!

The Web 2.0 Challenge -- a free, comprehensive, and interactive online course -- will use hands-on exercises to introduce law librarians to many kinds of social technologies in just five weeks. The course will take only 1-3 hours per week.

The Web 2.0 Challenge will take place between July 21 and August 18, immediately following the AALL Annual Meeting. The course will focus on:

  • Week 1: Blogs & RSS
  • Week 2: Wikis
  • Week 3: Social Networking and Second Life
  • Week 4: Flickr & Social Bookmarking
  • Week 5: Next Steps: Web 2.0 @ Your Library

For more information, visit the CS-SIS Web site or see the brochure (PDF).

Registration opens today, so don't wait. We expect that the course will fill quickly. Any law librarian or employee of a law library may apply for enrollment in the Web 2.0 Challenge.

If you have any questions, you can contact me at bjshucha@wisc.edu. I'm one of the co-chairs for the course.

June 12, 2008

Madison Chosen for Electronic Medical Record Demonstration Project

According to Wisconsin Technology News, Health and Human Services has named named Madison as one of 12 areas that will take part in five-year national Medicare demonstration project to evaluate whether electronic medical records really do improve the quality of health care. Read more from WTN.

CyberCemetery Offers Defunct Government Web Sites

From Bev Butula's Wisconsin Law Journal blog:

Looking for documents from a defunct government agency? You might dig it up at the CyberCemetery. This website is a collaboration of the University of North Texas and the GPO. The site is described as "an archive of government websites that have ceased operation (usually websites of defunct government agencies and commissions that have issued a final report)."

June 6, 2008

No Call List Now Accepts Cell Phone Numbers

The Capital Times reports that Wisconsin residents can now add their cell phone numbers to the state's No Call List. The next list will go into effect in October.

To sign up or for more information, call 1-866-9NO-CALL (1-866-966-2255) or visit https://nocall.wisconsin.gov/web/home.asp.

June 5, 2008

Article: Madison Public Libraries Embrace Technology to Attract Users

77 Square, off shoot of The Capital Times, has a great article on how the public libraries in Madison have embraced technology to attract users and stay relevant in the digital age.

Libraries were once feared to be headed for obsolescence as the digital age made massive amounts of information accessible from a home computer. But now, in addition to helping patrons find the latest Michael Chabon novel, libraries have adapted -- and prospered -- by offering perks like free wireless access, gaming, computer skills classes and assistance in navigating the flood of resources on the Internet....

"The trend is increasing library use," said Loriene Roy, president of the American Library Association. "Looking for a book to read is still the top reason why people use libraries. But it's also the new services that are providing a lot of the excitement that we're seeing."...

For many, it's all about the Internet, which has turned out to be a boon for libraries. While most people surf online at home, others don't have Internet access or have clunky dial-up access. Serving that population is part of a library's critical public mission, library officials said. Even those with broadband at home visit libraries for access to databases that individuals either can't get, or would have to pay for to access from home.

WLR Article Examines Wisconsin's Public Records Law in the Digital Age

The latest issue of the Wisconsin Law Review features a thought-provoking examination of state public records law in the digital age.

"Wisconsin's Public-Records Law: Preserving the Presumption of Complete Public Access in the Age of Electronic Records," by Leanne Holcomb and James Isaac, 2008 Wisconsin Law Review 515 (2008).
[The article does not yet appear to be accessible on LexisNexis or Westlaw, but it is available in print here at the Law Library]

The authors write:

[Under Wisconsin's public-records law,] the public is permitted access to the actions of government officials in order to act as an effective check on government power and give force to the democratic system. This policy translates into the legal right of inspection by any person of any public record, . . . Over the last three decades, however, statutes have not kept pace with technological advancements that have dramatically transformed public records, threatening the presumption of complete public access.

The authors explore how the emergence of electronic documents as the preeminent record of government activity has clouded the application of existing public-records law, records-retention practice and the disclosure of public records.

Faced with this problem, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided to wait until technology is better understood before requesting that the legislature update the statutes. [citing a 2004 webcast] While it waits, the absence of adequate public-records statutes allows electronic storage to easily conceal records from the public view and, even worse, to destroy them through obsolescence.

Email, logs, and metadata are specifically considered - what kind of information is available and whether they should be considered a part of the public record (authors argue yes)

The article wraps up with recommendations on how to update Wisconsin's public records statutes to adequately address retention and access to these electronic records.

Source: Legal Research Plus

June 4, 2008

Law Librarians LinkedIn Group

Abbie Mulvihill (AbsTracked) has set up a Law Librarians group at LinkedIn.

If you are a law librarian with a LinkedIn profile, all you have to do is click on this link to join. You'll also get this nifty logo on your profile. It's just another chance to network with your peers.

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site mainly used for professional networking. Like Facebook or MySpace, individuals set up profiles (see my profile for example) through which they connect to others.

Legal Services Ad Promises Pettifogging - Provided "They Are Roundly Paid for It"

The Legal Antiquarian gave me a good laugh today with this legal services ad from 1822:
Talk about truth in advertising!

What's pettifogging you may ask? Merriam Webster defines it as "a lawyer whose methods are petty, underhanded, or disreputable."

Ad appeared in the Indianapolis Gazette from March 22 to May 17, 1822.

June 3, 2008

Keep Track of Library Books with Library Elf

I was reminded again yesterday of how much I love Library Elf, a handy little service which tracks your account at the public library. Just enter your library card number and pin number, and Elf will send you an alert via email or RSS* before your books are due. And if you place holds on library materials, Elf alert you when those are available, too.

My kids love going to our local public library. While I encourage reading, a part of me used to cringe every time they'd take a stack of books up to the circulation desk. How on earth am I going to keep track of all these books?, I wondered.

But now it's easy with Library Elf. You can monitor more than one library card, including family members' if you know their library card number (and pin if required) - presuming you have their permission, of course.

Several Wisconsin public libraries participate in the Library Elf service, including Madison and Milwaukee public libraries.

*Due to some privacy concerns, the Library Elf RSS feed may not work with Bloglines.

June 2, 2008

Google Introduces Health Care Tracking Service

Google has introduced a free health care tracking service called Google Health.

From the site:

Google Health puts you in charge of your health information. It's safe, secure, and free.

* Organize your health information all in one place
* Gather your medical records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies
* Keep your doctors up to date about your health
* Be more informed about important health issues

Read more at the New York Times.