September 25, 2013

An Update: Changes for CCAP?

Late last week, a Wisconsin Law Journal article (Subscription required) discussed how the focus of recent bills proposing changes to Wisconsin's Court Access Website (CCAP) may be changing. The senators who sponsored the bill have received feedback and are re-evaluating what the best step may be to improve CCAP.

The original bill proposed splitting CCAP into two databases: one for the public (which could allow some records to be removed) and one for law enforcement, loan officers and other interested parties that would maintain a complete record of all court cases. After receiving negative feedback on the bill from a wide variety of groups ranging from landlords to broadcasters, the bill is now facing a make-over from original authors Rep. Evan Goyke and Sen. Lena Taylor.

With a shift away from the two database proposal (which would have cost $500,000 to set up and $125,000 a year to maintain according to John Voelker, the Wisconsin State Courts Director), the bill may now focus on expunction.

Expunction has been debated before, most notably in 2007 and 2010. If the change is made, certain records may be removed by judges from CCAP. While the debate is far from over, Voelker has introduced a bill that would allow judges to expunge records of cases that did not lead to conviction. That bill is still looking for a sponsor.

For now, CCAP remains unchanged, but it remains to be seen how long it will stay that way.

August 5, 2013

Changes for CCAP? New Legislation is Introduced

CCAP, Wisconsin's online access to Circuit Court Records, may be altered if pending legislation passes. Introduced by Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) in the Senate and Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) in the Assembly, the bill is designed to give persons who were wrongfully arrested a chance to clear their records. Currently, the records that can be accessed by the public include wrongful arrests and any charges, even if they are dropped. The legislation that was introduced wants to give the wrongfully arrested a chance to have that information removed from the CCAP website.

According to Rep. Goyke, "Too many people stop at the initial screen that says [a person is] charged with a crime, and that's it. And that's not an accurate picture." Similar legislation has been debated in the past, and failed. Notably, committees studied the possibility of removing wrongful arrests from CCAP most recently in 2010, but no recommendations were made.

The information would still be available, but not on CCAP. The legislation proposes a separate database that would be accessible for certain groups, such as landlords, court employees, journalists, attorneys, real-estate workers and others that may need to see the information. The County Clerk's office would also retain records of all arrests and charges that would be available to the public.

Some are concerned that the elimination of information from CCAP may fly in the face of first amendment 'freedom of information' rights, while others are leery that private companies could begin charging the public for the information that was once found for free on CCAP.

In addition to the proposed changes to CCAP, the legislation would also require landlords and employers to disclose that they used CCAP information when deciding to deny employment or housing or face a $1,000 fine.

It remains to be seen if this most recent iteration of the CCAP revamp will pass the Senate and Assembly. If so, it will alter how arrest information is made available to the public.

For more information, read the full text of the legislation that was introduced into the Senate.

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.

June 2, 2009

How To Read The WSJ For Free Online

If you read the Wall Street Journal online, you've surely noticed that many of the articles are available in preview only. A subscription is required to view the full content.

But, as The Business Insider explains, these same articles are available at no cost when searched via Google.

The WSJ wants to be indexed in and accessible via Google. This is great for Google traffic. But it also means you don't really need a WSJ subscription to read any of its content online.
Read the article for instructions on how to view the full text articles without a WSJ subscription.

Source: Twitter

March 17, 2009

Legal Times to Merge With The National Law Journal

From the Blog of the Legal Times:

Legal Times, which has reported on the D.C. legal and lobbying communities since 1978, is merging with one of its sibling publications, The National Law Journal.

The combined publication will focus on national legal news, with a special emphasis on Washington, and it will carry the name The National Law Journal.

Source: Lex Scripta

February 9, 2008

Capital Times Suspends Print Publication and Goes Online

From Channel 3000:

The Capital Times, Madison's 90-year-old newspaper announced Thursday it will stop printing a daily newspaper, reduce staff and focus on Internet operations.

For more, read the full article. Dane 101 also posts their reaction.

November 16, 2007

Murdoch Confirms Intention to Make Wall Street Journal Content Free Online

From the New York Times:

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of the News Corporation, said today that he intended to make access to The Wall Street Journal's Web site free, trading subscription fees for anticipated ad revenue.

Source: Moritz Legal Information Blog

October 17, 2007

NYT's Tobin Harshaw to Lecture at UW on Thursday

From UW-Madison Libraries:

Tobin Harshaw, senior staff editor for the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times, comes to campus Thursday, Oct. 18, to give a 4:30 p.m. lecture for the Friends of the Libraries and the School of Journalism. Harshaw's talk, "The Pundits and the Power: Behind the Rise of Opinion Journalism," will cover the origins and evolution of opinion journalism. The lecture is in 976 Memorial Library on campus.

October 16, 2007

Tenant Resource Center May Close Due to Lack of Funds

Channel 3000 reports that the Tenant Resource Center is in danger of shutting down.

For 30 years, the Tenant Resource Center has offered free rental housing counseling and legal advice to thousands of people across the state.

In April, the center lost $55,000 of its funding from the University of Wisconsin student government. A phone message at the TRC revealed that the group has again lost funds, but this time from the federal government, WISC-TV reported.

A recorded message on the TRC phone line said, "Due to a cut in funding from the Housing and Urban Development of $40,000, we are forced to temporarily shut down this line."

That line is the toll free phone line for people living outside of Dane County. TRC officials said that up to 50 calls a day were received on the toll free line, which counselors will no longer answer. Officials said the significant cuts could force the center to shut down completely.

Thanks to my colleague, Vicky Coulter for the tip.

September 19, 2007

Will Wall Street Journal Be Next to Offer Content Free Online?

Yesterday the New York Times began offering its content free online. Now, according to a Reuters article, it looks like the Wall Street Journal may follow suit.

Thanks to Library Laws for the tip.

September 18, 2007

New York Times Content Now Free on Web

Beginning this week, The New York Times will stop charging for access to TimesSelect content. InfoWorld reports that, in addition to opening up its content to all visitors, The New York Times will also offer free access to its archives dating back to 1987, as well as access to stories published by the paper between 1851 and 1922. The site will still charge for access to stories published between 1923 and 1986. Print subscribers will get free access to the complete archives, however, the paper said.

Why? According to the NYT article,

...Many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.

TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators. Those who have paid in advance for access to TimesSelect will be reimbursed on a prorated basis.

July 3, 2007

Odd Wisconsin: The Book

If you're an Odd Wisconsin fan like me, you'll be interested to know that the Wisconsin Historical Society has recently published a book entitled, Odd Wisconsin: Amusing, Perplexing, and Unlikely Stories from Wisconsin's Past.

From the Web site:

This unique book unearths the stories that got lost to history even though they may have made local headlines at the time. No mythical hodags or eight-legged horses here! Odd Wisconsin features strange but true stories from Wisconsin's past, every one of which was documented (albeit by the standards of the day). These brief glimpses into Wisconsin's past will surprise, perplex, astonish, and otherwise connect readers with the state's fascinating history. From "the voyageur with a hole in his side" to "pigs beneath the legislature," Odd Wisconsin gathers 300 years of curiosities, all under the radar of traditional stories.

The 200 page book sells for $16.95. Author Erika Janik will be discussing her new book at the Barnes & Noble West in Madison on Thursday, August 9th at 7:00 p.m.

June 19, 2007

2006 Wisconsin Distinguished Document Award

Each year, the Wisconsin Library Association Government Information Round Table presents the Wisconsin Distinguished Document Award. It is presented each spring to a Wisconsin state or local government document published during the preceding year that, among other criteria, contributes significantly to the expansion of knowledge; provides inspiration and pleasure to an identifiable readership; contributes to public understanding of government agencies; and is distinguished by the clarity of its presentation, its typography and design, and its overall appeal.

This year it was a tie:

Honorable mentions:

  • The Forest Where We Live: Growing a Legacy. Produced by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; written by Natasha Kassulke. [Madison, Wis.?]: Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, 2006. 24 p.
    WiDocs number: FOR.6/2:U 72/2/2006
    Also in the August/September 2006 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources, WiDocs number NAT.4:1977-

  • Building Safer Communities. Madison, Wis.: Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, [2006]. 20 p.
    WiDocs number: CRI 2.6/2:C 66/2006

  • Wisconsin Ethics Board website. [Madison, Wis.: Wisconsin Ethics Board.]

April 4, 2007

NYT Rethinks Free Access to Colleges Based on Librarian Complaints

The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that the New York Times has altered its offer to make Times Select, which includes columnists and archives going back to the 1800s, available to college students for free.

After librarians complained that they already pay tens of thousands of dollars for access to premium New York Times content through database companies like ProQuest and Lexis-Nexis, TimesSelect will now be available only to students of colleges that subscribe to database companies that carry Times content. Currently non of the pre-1980s archives is available to students for free while is working on a patch that will recognize colleges that are subscribers to databases.

Boy, this is a tough one. I can certainly identify with the librarians who are upset that they shelled out big bucks for a resource that was later offered for free. BUT, for the Times to restrict access because of it is just a Lose-Lose situation. It's all so painfully ironic since librarians are all about the free sharing of information.

The comment of Barbara Fister, one of the librarians quoted in the article, is illustrative:

This is not the outcome I'd hoped for, and I certainly was not lobbying against information being free. I simply felt taken for a ride when the publisher who had made a deal with a third party to sell content at a large price tag to libraries turned around and marketed the same content to our students as "complementary". (It wasn't free to everyone, just students and faculty with .edu e-mail addresses. The people we spend many thousands to provide it to.) I'm sorry they turned off the access and I'd be much happier if they made it available to everyone.

Frankly, I raised the question because it seemed underhanded of the Times to do business this way.

Librarians are in favor of open access. We've fought hard for it. Don't let the Times's response to a question asked in good faith make you think librarians are against information being widely and freely available. It's what we do, after all. I just don' t like getting soaked.

August 3, 2006

Justice Talking, A Law-Related NPR Program

Justice Talking is a NPR program which specifically covers law-related stories. Although the program is broadcast on a number of NPR stations around the country, it is not, unfortunately, available in Wisconsin.

But, you can still listen to it via the Justice Talking Web site. The show is available via a weekly podcast or you can listen right from your computer with Windows Media Player. Past shows are archived.

Source: CALIopolis