Monday, December 19, 2011

Law Library Technology and the Librarian in the Holiday Season

Anne Ellis reports at the ABA Journal


What Technology Is Your Law Librarian Thinking About This Season?.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Library Closings in London Lead to Demonstrations and Raise Questions About Society Priorities: Sports vs. Libraries?

You can tell a lot about a society by its choices about where to "save money", especially in the current economic situation, where government cuts are seen as necessary by many governments, also in the United Kingdom.

A High Court decision affirming the right of the Brent Council -- Brent is where Wembley is located in London -- to make library closures in Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Preston Road, Neasden, Cricklewood and Tokyngton has led to a wave of protests and demonstrations -- as reported by Benedict Moore-Bridge and Miranda Bryant in Families form human shields to stop libraries being shut down.

See also the Brent Council page and the DailyMail.

The legal argument raised against the library closures was that they discriminate against minorities, the disabled and the elderly, who have difficulty getting to more distantly located city libraries, such as the one at Wembley, which is to be turned into a "mega-library", in part with the savings made by smaller library closures.

The High Court found to the contrary, however, that the Brent Council had the right to close libraries if it so decided and that its decision did not contradict the Equality Act 2010.

Public Libraries News discusses all of the possible challenges in the UK to library closings, including provisions of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act which requires authorities to run a "comprehensive and efficient" public library service.

Presumably, one reason the libraries in Brent are coming under the axe is because of the Wembley Regeneration that includes the recently constructed 90,000 capacity Wembley National Stadium, which will host the upcoming 2012 Olympic football matches and the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final.

Life is a matter of priorities.

We are great sports fans ourselves, but city councils should not construct, maintain and/or modernize athletic facilities at the cost of libraries. That sends the wrong message to the people of any country, especially the youth.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The American Legal Scene: The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Torts and Property: Forthcoming: Intellectual Property and Income Tax Law

The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law is a series of books on specific fields of law. They are currently available in paperback in four subject areas: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Torts and Property. Our review of this series is based on the information value of these volumes and let us say this -- this is a lot of knowledge at a bargain price.

Each volume is written by one or more legal experts in the respective legal field: Constitutional Law by Michael C. Dorf with Trevor W. Morrison, Contracts by Randy E. Barnett, Torts by John C.P. Goldberg and Benjamin C. Zipursky and Property by Thomas W. Merrill and Henry E. Smith.

Scheduled for publication in December 2011 are two additional volumes under editor Dennis Patterson: Intellectual Property by Daniel Hunter and Income Tax Law by Edward McCaffery.

For those interested, Oxford Law at Oxford University Press also maintains a Law Librarian Newsletter and E-Alerts on these and selected other areas of legal interest which can be subscribed to here. Currently available E-Alerts are: 1) Arbitration & Litigation, 2) Banking, Insurance, and Securities, 3) Commercial, 4) Communications & Internet, 5) Competition, 6) Constitution Law, 7) Corporate Finance, 8) Customs, 9) Environmental, 10) Ethics, 11) European Union, 12) Human Rights, 13) Intellectual Property, 14) International Criminal Law, 15) International Trade, 16) Legal Reference, 17) Maritime/Shipping, and 18) Public International Law.

We have obtained complimentary review copies of the four available books in the series, each of which can be viewed as a primer in the respective legal field and each of which is thus intended for students, but is in fact also suitable for reading by just about anyone who wants to get a good grasp of the legal fundamentals in a chosen area of American law.
  1. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Constitutional Law, by Michael C. Dorf and Trevor W. Morrison in paperback covers 268 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780195370034, ISBN10: 0195370031, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy.
    The Authors in this case (in the editorial version by the publisher of the Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law) are:
    "Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School....
    Trevor W. Morrison is Professor of Law at Columbia Law School....
    Dorf is more the Constitutional Law theoretician and Morrison more the legal pragmatist, and that is how they have have divided up the chapters. Although the two authors use what is described as "the plural authorial voice", i.e. "we", Dorf is considered the principal author, having penned chapters 1-4 (Who Decides?, Judicial Review, Constitutional Interpretation, Federalism) and 6-8 (Equal Protection, Enumerated Rights: The First Amendment, Unenumerated Rights), while Morrison penned chapter 5 (Separation of Powers) and chapters 9-10 (Congressional Enforcement of Constitutional Rights, Beyond the Courts).

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
    "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Constitutional Law  presents an accessible introduction to the enduring topics of American constitutional law, including judicial review, methods of interpretation, federalism, separation of powers, equal protection, and individual liberties....

    This introduction to American constitutional law critically examines the work of the Supreme Court of the United States, which has resolved thousands of constitutional controversies based on the shortest national constitution on the planet. The authors also look beyond the Supreme Court, exploring the arguments for and against judicial review and various versions of popular constitutionalism."
  2. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts, by Randy E. Barnett in paperback covers 284 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780199740185, ISBN10: 0199740186, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy:
    "Randy E. Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center."
    Randy Barnett presents us with the "big picture" of contracts, synthesizing key doctrines and cases and presenting a clear and concise view of the evolution and rationale of contacts law.

    Individual consent is at the basis of civilization and democracy in our modern world and in the book "consent" is the basic philosophical rationale that serves as the governing principle for modern contract law.

    Barnett has an author's posting on this book at The Volokh Conspiracy.

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
    "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts provides students with ready access to the basic doctrines of contract law, the story behind their evolution, and the rationales for their continued existence. An engaging book that allows students to grasp the “big picture” of contract law, it is organized around the principle that lies at the heart of contracts: consent. Beginning with the premise of “consent,” the book provides a cohesive framework in which to understand the various aspects of contract law."
  3. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Torts, by John C.P. Goldberg and Benjamin C. Zipursky in paperback covers 436 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780195373974, ISBN10: 0195373979, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy.

    Torts is a word taking its origin from a meaning of "injury" and applies to a "wrong" inflicted on a person by another via breach of a civil -- rather than a contractual -- duty. For example, if someone is injured in an auto accident due to negligence, that is a tort. Libel and defamation are torts. Copyright infringement is a tort. It is different than a criminal violation against the State, which is a breach of a specific duty to society in general.

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
     "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Torts provides a clear and comprehensive account of what tort law is, how it works, what it stands to accomplish, and why it is now much-disputed. Goldberg and Zipursky--two of the world's most prominent tort scholars--carefully analyze leading judicial decisions and prominent tort-related legislation, and place each event into its proper context. Topics covered include products liability, negligence, medical malpractice, intentional torts, defamation and privacy torts, punitive damages, and tort reform."
    Torts and tort reform are a controversial field in modern law. In their handling of "Damages and Apportionment", for example, Goldberg and Zipursky devote quite a number of pages to a discussion of punitive damages in torts, writing at the outset that:
    "Punitive damages -- also known as "exemplary" or "vindictive" damages -- are at the center of contemporary battles over tort law and tort reform."
    Goldberg and Zipursky give a fair and balanced presentation of this controversial topic about which the LawPundit has blogged extensively. See Punitive Damages: A Completey Failed Tort Doctrine Without Sensible Foundation in Legal Theory or Deterrent Fact.

    Just as an aside, it is interesting that law books can now also be touted via Twitter and this is one example -- see @law_book.
  4. The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Property, by Thomas W. Merrill and Henry E. Smith in paperback covers 284 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches (close to DIN A5 in size), Index, ISBN13: 9780195314762, ISBN10: 019531476X, and is priced very affordably at $19.95 a copy.

    The editorial abstract to this volume reads:
    "The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Property provides both a bird's eye overview of property law and an introduction to how property law affects larger concerns with individual autonomy, personhood, and economic organization. Written by two authorities on property law, this book gives students of property a coherent account of how property law works, with an emphasis on describing the central issues and policy debates. It is designed for law students who want a short and theoretically integrated treatment of the subject, as well as for lawyers who are interested in the conceptual foundations of the law of property."
    Merrill and Smith discuss for example the question of what "property" actually means in the real world, viewing "Owners as Gatekeepers":
    "Once an owner has acquired property, either by original acquisition or by transfer from a previous owners, the question becomes what exactly does such an owner have? ... The owner, as gatekeeper, has broad discretion to decide who has access to the property and and what terms...."
It is much like owning one or more volumes of this series of books on U.S. law.  Once you have them, YOU decide what to do with them and their value rests on your decisions. A law student, for example, who has these books at his or her disposal, and reads them, should better understand the legal issues under discussion. My view as a student always was, to better understand what the professors are speaking, read what they are writing.

We can, in any case, heartily recommend these books as useful tools and as great deals offering a lot of knowledge at a bargain price.

crossposted from LawPundit

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Authors Guild Sues Five Universities and a Library Partnership Organization for Copyright Infringement via Google Books Library Project

At Computerworld, Juan Carlos Perez writes that Authors Guild sues universities over Google book scanning.
Really, where would the world be without the Authors Guild? and their greedy publishers?
Think about it.
They are battling -- out of commercial greed -- for the public's right to know -- nothing.
The march of progress is always being held back by people who are totally out of line with the modern world.

Crossposted from LawPundit.

Monday, May 9, 2011

E-Book Readers, Tablet PCs, and the Law: Attorneys, Courts, Legal Research, Law Libraries

Print, print, print? Not so much in the not so distant future of law.

John Edwards has a piece investigating tablet PCs and e-book readers for attorneys at LawTechnology News (LTN) in Tablet or E-Book Reader? It Depends.

LexisNexis introduced e-books last year and has a website presence at LexisNexis eBooks.

WestLaw introduced 30 of their titles as e-books in 2009 and David Holt at Law Library Technology informs us on Using WestLaw Next with your e-book reader.

Blackwell's Law Ebooks in the UK, for example, already has e-books devoted to the law as a fixed category.

It will not be surprising down the road, we think, to find Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court or judges of lower courts at oral argument or in other circumstances where quick reference to legal codes, case law, academic commentary or other document information is required, to consult their law, fact and case-filled Tablet PC or E-Book Reader (or a similar electronic research and book and document reading technology).

E-book readers are becoming more widespread and the EBook Readers Review in the UK has a nice comparison table of popular models: Amazon, Sony, BeBook, Barnes and Noble, Bookeen, and more. See the Wikipedia Comparison of e-book readers for a comprehensive table.

Of course, all such e-book readers are subject to the copyright laws.

Ken LaMance, Attorney at Law, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, examines E-Book Readers and Copyright Laws.

Jay Rivera, also at LegalMatch, goes into Digital Storytelling: Copyright Law and E-book Audio Readers.

Peter Hirtle at the LibraryLaw Blog discusses the legality of library lending of e-book readers.

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