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November 27, 2013

An Update: new CCAP legislation introduced in the Assembly

Earlier this week, a new chapter in the ongoing debate about how to update or change CCAP was written. A bill was introduced that would limit access to civil case information after money judgments have been satisfied and eight years have passed to the Assembly. Two Republican representatives introduced the bill, and it has bipartisan support in the Senate. It would seem seem that the bill may have a better chance of passing than many CCAP legislation predecessors.

CCAP legislation is often introduced, but changes to the database are rare. Democratic Senator Lena Taylor and Representative Evan Goyke introduced a bill in late July of this year that would allow persons to wipe away their records if they were wrongfully convicted. A second CCAP database was proposed for attorneys and others that would have kept all the information intact, but was not viewable by the public. That bill was strongly opposed by a variety of people, ranging from journalists to landlord unions.

The newest bill may finally change CCAP after a year of attempts. For further information, read the full text of the bill from November 22.

November 14, 2013

Google wins digitalization case

Today, Judge Denny Chin ruled in favor of Google in what may be a landmark case that would enhance Fair Use for digital items. Google argued that scanning in books and publishing 'snippets' of the books online (over 20 million and counting) was within the realm of Fair Use, an argument accepted by the Court. Judge Chin explicitly mentioned that the benefit of having the books digitized, stating that "Indeed, all society benefits".

The case, which began in New York in 2004 (found here) has been a veritable rollercoaster. The ruling, which the Author's Guild said it would appeal, is a victory for not only Google, but for libraries and researchers that would use these scanned books as research aids. Google only puts certain portions of each scanned book online, and has so far scanned in over 20 million books. With that number of books already scanned, Google estimated it could owe the Author's Guild over three billion dollars, at roughly $750 dollars per book, if they had lost.

Judge Chin drew on a previous case that that also saw the Author's Guild claims dismissed. In October 2012, Judge Harold Baer dismissed a case against HathiTrust, a partnership between five research-heavy universities (of which University of Wisconsin is a member), on very similar Fair Use grounds.

The Author's Guild will appeal the decision in both the HathiTrust and Google cases, arguing that both institutions have violated copyright and far exceeded the bounds of a Fair Use defense by instituting mass scanning. Judge Chin's ruling found that the scanning not only was beneficial to the public as a whole, but also a transformative work, meaning that copyright was not violated, but rather would likely boost sales instead of impede them.

To read more about this decision, check out the write-ups from Reuters, BBC News or the New York Times.

November 13, 2013

The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections preserves slices of history

Want to jump in a time machine? The UW Digital Collections (UWDC) is the place to do it. Over the past twelve years, the UWDC has digitized thousands of images and other media from Wisconsin and around the world. One element of librarianship is preservation and it is always exciting to see such wonderful and unique images find a home in an increasingly digital world.

Check out the UW Law School Cane Toss from 1955, or perhaps view German propaganda about Nazi ambitions with a 1938 poster about the Anschluss. These are only a few of the images that I found by browsing various collections. Warning, it is highly addictive finding out what images are on the next page!

The UWDC is not unlike walking through a gigantic museum or archive. History buffs, either casual or serious, will enjoy spending time in these digital 'halls'. It is a fascinating (and free) way to discover the past. Are there any eras of history or specific events that you feel haven't been preserved as well as they should be?

November 7, 2013

New ways to search and browse the US Code

A recent blog entry from the Law Librarians of Congress has detailed some news ways that the US Code can be searched, viewed and downloaded from the Office of Law Revision Council website.

Users can now download section of the code or the entire code in four different formats: XML, XHTML, PCC or PDF. You can also do a bulk download using zip files. For searching and browsing, users can choose to search the entire code or one specific chapter or heading. You can also narrow your search to just one specific kind of entry, such as amendment notes. Possibly best of all for legislative history researchers, you can search either the current code or previous editions of the code.

OLRC's website can be found here. For more information from the Law Librarians of Congress Blog, read more here.

November 1, 2013

Wisconsin Administrative Code and Register to go Electronic Only in January 2015

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau has issued a notice indicating that printing and distribution of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and Register will end January 1, 2015 and the Code and Register will become electronic−only publications.

According to the notice, code chapters will be published in the Register as PDF files in the exact format as they are currently printed, including page numbers. Users can continue loose−leaf notebook use by printing chapters to 3−hole punch paper from any printer or by making arrangements with commercial printers. (Notebooks will no longer be available from the state and the notebook volume for insertion will no longer be designated for published chapters.)

For more information, see the notice.