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December 29, 2009

CRS Report on the Google Library Project

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has recently compiled a report on The Google Library Project: Is Digitization for Purposes of Online Indexing Fair Use Under Copyright Law?

The report offers some background of the project and discusses the legal implications:

"First, does an entity conducting an unauthorized digitization and indexing project avoid committing copyright infringement by offering rights holders the opportunity to "opt out," or request removal or exclusion of their content?... Second, can unauthorized digitization, indexing, and display of "snippets" of print works constitute a fair use?"

It concludes with a discussion of the ongoing litigation and possible outcomes.

Thanks to my law librarian colleague, Bev Butula, for the link.

December 15, 2009

WI Sup Court to Consider Proposed Rules for E-Discovery

Next month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed amendments to the state's discovery rules that specifically pertain to electronic discovery.

According to the Wisconsin Lawyer

The amendments are adapted from the Uniform Rules on the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information and the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The new rules are "intended to provide consistency and predictability in the discovery of electronically stored information." In addition, the rules "are intended to reduce the economic burden that can result from the discovery involving the enormous volume of electronically stored information."...

In summary form, the amendments to the Wisconsin Rules of Civil Procedure are designed to:

1. encourage courts to be more active in managing electronic discovery and production;
2. allow for the production of business records in electronic form;
3. place the burden on the requesting party to specify the form in which electronic discovery is to be produced;
4. impose a safe harbor for a party who has lost electronically stored information as a result of the routine, good-faith operation of an electronic information system; and
5. protect third parties from unreasonable burdens of responding to subpoenas that request electronically stored information.

Read the full article for more.

December 8, 2009

Google Scholar Legal - What It Is and Isn't

Greg Lambert over at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog reports on his conversation with Google Scholar Chief Engineer Anurag Acharya.

First of all, let me address the questions that I'm sure a lot of you have been asking:

"Can Google Scholar Legal and Online Journal replace my Westlaw or Lexis content?"
My answer: "Absolutely Not!"

In fact, the people at Google would tell you the same thing. It is just not what they are planning to do with this product. Now that I got that out of the way, let me explain what I learned in the interview and you'll see why I'm not confident in SLOJ competing with Westlaw, Lexis, or even the upcoming Bloomberg Law (which I'll call "Wexisberg").

Read the full post for more detail.

December 7, 2009

Latest UW Law School Faculty Scholarship

Here is the latest faculty scholarship from the UW Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series via SSRN.

Value Line Investment Service Online Now Available to Madison Public Library Card Holders

Madison Public Library has acquired an online subscription to the Value Line Investment Survey. The service is available at all nine Madison public libraries or remotely to city of Madison residents with valid library cards.

From Check It Out:

Value Line is best known for the Investment Survey, one of the most widely read investment services in the world. Value Line online offers the same one-sheet summary as the Investment Summary, but also includes more up to date information on the stocks covered, as well as stock screening, custom reports, industry information, historical data, and email alerts. Madison Public Library's subscription also includes the Value Line Special Situations Service.

For more info, see this tutorial from the Madison Public Library

December 3, 2009

The New Federal Time Computation Amendments of 2009*

On December 1, 2009, new time computation amendments to the federal rules and statutes will become effective. The Time Computation Project, as it is called, proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Appellate Procedure, and Bankruptcy Rules. According to the Standing Rules Committee, "The principal simplifying change in these rules is the adoption of a "days are days" approach to computing all time periods." The Supreme Court approved these amendments on March 26, 2009.

The rules affected include the following:

  • Appellate Rules 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28.1, 30, 31, 39, and 41;
  • Bankruptcy Rules 1007, 1011, 1019, 1020, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2007.2, 2008, 2015, 2015.1, 2015.2, 2015.3, 2016, 3001, 3015, 3017, 3019, 3020, 4001, 4002, 4004, 6003, 6004, 6006, 6007, 7004, 7012, 8001, 8002, 8003, 8006, 8009, 8015, 8017, 9006, 9027, and 9033;
  • Civil Rules 6, 12, 14, 15, 23, 27, 32, 38, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 62, 65, 68, 71.1, 72, 81; Supplemental Rules B, C, and G; and Illustrative Civil Forms 3, 4, and 60; and
  • Criminal Rules 5.1, 7, 12.1, 12.3, 29, 33, 34, 35, 41, 45, 47, 58, 59, and Rules 8 of the Rules Governing 2254 and 2255 Cases.

The amendments and a number of reports the Court considered regarding the proposed changes may be accessed at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/supct0309.html.

As required by the Rules Enabling Act, the amendments have been transmitted to Congress. Should Congress take no action regarding the proposed amendments they will become effective December 1, 2009. The new rules may be viewed online at Cornell's Legal Information Institute website. Pending an update, they should also be available at the Federal Judiciary's website.

Several rules committees worked closely with the Department of Justice to identify statutory provisions in the U.S. Code containing short deadlines that should be extended so they calibrate with the time computation changes proposed for the Federal Rules. In all, 29 statutory provisions were identified. The result was the "Statutory Time-Periods Technical Amendments Act of 2009," Public Law 111-16 which was signed into law on May 7, 2009. Like the new Federal Rules, the Act has an effective date of December 1, 2009.

New among the library's print resources is the Federal Civil Rules Handbook (2010 edition). Part III-A of this title covers the "Time Computation" Project. Location: Reserve Collection KF8816 A193. Additional print and online resources will be available shortly.

* This post was written by my UW Law Library colleague, Eric Taylor.

Bill Would Raise Small Claims Limit

The Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics heard testimony Tuesday on a bill raising the dollar limit in small claims court. (Assembly Bill 524)

The current dollar limit in small claims court is $5,000. The bill would raise it to $10,000 if the person bringing the action has commenced 20 or fewer actions in small claims. The filing fee would be increased to $33 (a 50% increase) to compensate the counties for the increased caseload.

However, the limit would remain $5,000 If the person bringing the action has commenced more than 20 such actions in small claims within the previous 365 days. The filing fee for these users would be raised to $44 (a 100% increase) so that frequent users pay a higher share of the court costs.

According to Committee Chairman Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) who put forth the bill, the first tier ($10,000 limit) is designed for small business people and others who use small claims court only occasionally. The second tier ($5,000 limit) is designed for credit card companies, utility companies and other frequent users, such as large property management firms who use small claims court on a nearly constant basis.

Now on Badgerlink - HeritageQuest Online Offers Genealogy Resources including Serial Set and Census

There is a new database available on BadgerLink* called HeritageQuest Online. It offers a treasury of American genealogical sources, including some legal material.


HeritageQuest Online contains the following:

  • U.S. Federal Censuses feature the original images of every extant federal census in the United States, from 1790 through 1930, with name indexes for many decades. In total the collection covers more than 140 million names.

  • Genealogy and local history books deliver more than 7 million digitized page images from over 26,000 family histories, local histories, and other books. Titles have been digitized from our own renowned microform collections, as well from the American Antiquarian Society via an exclusive partnership.

  • Periodical Source Index (PERSI), published by the Allen County Public Library, is recognized as the most comprehensive index genealogy and local history periodicals. It contains more than 2 million records covering titles published around the world since 1800.

  • Revolutionary War records contains original images from pension and bounty land warrant application files help to identify more than 80,000 American Army, Navy, and Marine officers and enlisted men from the Revolutionary War era.

  • Freedman's Bank Records, with more than 480,000 names of bank applicants, their dependents, and heirs from 1865-1874, offers valuable data that can provide important clues to tracing African American ancestors prior to and immediately after the Civil War.

  • LexisNexis U.S. Serial Set records the memorials, petitions, private relief actions made to the U.S. Congress back to 1789, with a total of more than 480,000 pages of information. Note that this isn't the full Serial Set - just contains those documents deemed to be of interest to genealogists. Note that the Serial Set may not available to academic libraries according to the ProQuest contract with LexisNexis.

*Remember that Badgerlink is a database containing full-text magazines, journals, newspapers, reference materials and other specialized information sources. It is available remotely to all Wisconsinites free of charge with a public library card.

December 2, 2009

Google Closes Loophole Allowing Users to Access Large Amount of Subscription News Content for Free

The New York Times reports that Google is closing a loophole which allowed users to access large numbers of articles on subscription-based sites without paying for them.

The company's "First Click Free" program, which publishers of pay sites can choose to participate in, is designed to allow readers to get a taste of a site's content. For example, a person who finds a Wall Street Journal article through Google News can read it free, but if they try to reach other articles from that page they are asked to buy a subscription.

A well-known loophole has allowed readers to return to Google News and get access to more Journal articles. In many cases, a search for the article's headline on Google News produces a link to a free version.

In a change that Google announced in a blog post Tuesday, the company will allow publishers to limit non-subscribers to five free articles a day.

Thanks to my UW Law Library colleague, Howard Nash, for the tip.

WisBlawg Available on Kindle

I learned yesterday that WisBlawg subscriptions are available for the Kindle.
To view blogs on the Kindle, apparently you have to pay for the convenience. WisBlawg is listed at $1.99 / month. Personally, I'd rather get my blogs for free on the web - with as many as I subscribe to, I'd go broke if I had to pay $1.99 per month for each. But, hey, if someone wants to pay for the convenience of accessing WisBlawg on their Kindle, more power to 'em.

Seminar on Lawyers, Lobbyists and Legislators

The State Bar is offering an interesting seminar/webinar next Friday entitled Lawyers, Lobbyists and Legislators.

The morning is devoted to Legislative Resources for Lawyers. The program kicks off with a session on "Researching the Legislative History of a Bill" with Jason Anderson and Steve Miller of the LRB. The remainder of the morning is on useful resources from the various Legislative agencies plus a primer on the Administrative Rule Making Process.

The afternoon will cover When a Lawyer Runs for Elected Office. Participants will explore the conflict of law between Supreme Court Rule 20 and the Government Accountability Board rules. This seminar will help you gain a better understanding of the choices and dilemmas a lawyer faces while holding a public office.

See the full program schedule for more details.

Thanks to my law librarian colleague, Mary Koshollek, for the notice.