Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Faculty Publication: Winn on Better Security Breach Notification Laws

Jane K. Winn, Are "Better" Security Breach Notification Laws Possible?, 24 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 1133-65 (2009).

Modeled after laws providing communities with the right to know about toxic or hazardous substances in their area, security breach notification laws have been quickly adopted by most states.

Professor Winn questions the effectiveness of these laws. Affected consumers have no right to compensation and the laws "impose high compliance costs on relatively few businesses while providing only weak incentives to most businesses to make major changes in the security of their information systems."

Viewed through a lens of "smart" or "better" regulation--embodied by President Clinton's National Performance Review--these laws fail on several key points. Winn suggests two features of a more successful regime:
  • Congressional recognition of consumers' expectation that sensitive information will be handled responsibly and impose legal duties on database owners
  • Federal Trade Commission issuance of regulations establishing essential elements of the duty
She points to the Identity Theft Red Flag Guidelines as an example of "smart" regulation.
A "better" approach to security breach regulation would begin with a better understanding of the challenges facing database owners, look for opportunities to promote voluntary collaboration and self-regulation, and minimize confrontation and the taking of defensive measures in order to minimize litigation risks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Laptop Use in Classrooms

A recent Washington Post article describes the trend towards banning laptops in classrooms across the country. At Georgetown Law, Professor Cole prohibits laptop use in his classes and describes them as "little more than an attractive nuisance." However, this self-described Internet addict admits that the "Internet can be a useful pedagogical tool in some settings and for some subjects."

For a more dramatic take on the use of laptops in the classroom, check out this video:

Most professors still find the benefits of laptop use in the classroom outweigh the risks, particularly in classes where professors have incorporated and rely upon the use of technology to teach or are referring to online resources and asking students to follow along. See Professor Caron's article supporting the use of technology in classrooms to foster active student learning.
-- Kristina Alayan

Library Hosts Faculty Scholarship Reception

On Wednesday, April 28, the Law Library will host a reception celebrating recent scholarship by UW School of Law faculty and librarians.

The reception follows the public program Bridging Town & Gown: Academics Meet the Real World, featuring presentations by professors Sean O'Connor and Kathryn Watts.

Seating on the south side of Floor L1 will be closed beginning at 3pm so that caterers and displays can set up in the area.

Thanks for your cooperation.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Justice Stevens's Digital Legacy

Here's an interesting argument that Justice Stevens's opinion in Sony v. Universal (1984) is central to the digital media we use all the time: Matt Schruers & Jonathan Band, Justice Stevens Invented the Internet, LLRX, April 23, 2010.

Social Media Counter

Everyone knows that social media are growing all the time. (Just look at your neighbor's laptop when a Facebook newsfeed is displayed.) Gary Hayes, a "new media developer" in Australia has created a cool counter to illustrate just how fast different sites are growing:

Thanks: Law Librarian Blog.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Washington's Monumental Library Fines

The first president and founding father of our republic, namesake of our great state, university, and law school has racked up a jaw-dropping sum in overdue fees at a private Manhattan library, the New York Daily News recently reported.

There's no talk of placing liens on Mount Vernon just yet, but George Washington's tab for two tomes, checked out from the New York Society Library in 1789 and still missing, now totals a whopping $300,000. Washington would have borrowed the books from the library -- the City's oldest -- at the time when New York was the capital of our fledgling nation.

Library staff discovered the incriminating entries while digitizing old records, according to BBC News. Other famous patrons of the day included Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, whose names appear in the yellowed ledger alongside the president's.

The titles in question? Law of Nations, a dissertation on international relations, and number 12 of a 14-volume set of debate records from the British House of Commons.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Old RCWs

Sometimes you need to know not what the law is today but what it was at some time in the past.

The Office of the Code Reviser (a legislative office) now makes that easier to research online: it has posted an RCW Archive going back to 2002. For each year you can see a PDF of the official print RCW or RCW supplement. (The full RCW is reprinted in even-numbered years and a supplement in odd-numbered years.)

Other ways to look for older versions of the Revised Code of Washington (or its annotated equivalents):
  • Washington Historical Statutes on Westlaw (basically the Revised Code of Washington Annotated): WA-STANN89, WA-STANN90, etc.

  • Legislative Archive on LexisNexis (basically the Annotated Revised Code of Washington (follow the path: Washington > Find Statutes, Regulations, Administrative Materials & Court Rules > By Statutes & Regulations > Legislative Archive) (begins with 1992)

  • the Law Library's print collection:

    • current format of RCW (big paperbound volumes with supplements in the off years), 1974-date, KFW30 1951 .A2 at Classified Stacks and Special Collections Washington

    • original format of RCW (looseleaf pages, saved by the library and organized by title, covering 1951-1972): KFW30 1951 .A19dp at Special Collections Washington

    • superseded volumes of the Annotated Revised Code of Washington, 1994-date, KFW30 1994 .A43 at Special Collections Washington

    • superseded volumes of West's Revised Code of Washington Annotated, 1961-date, KFW30 1961 .B3 at Classified Stacks and Special Collections Washington

    • old pocket parts from West's Revised Code of Washington Annotated, 1986-date, KFW30 1961 .B3 P.P. at Special Collections Washington
You might not be familiar with the location "Special Collections Washington." That's because it's not in a public area of the library. Because resources like those displaced looseleaf pages from the 1960s are both rare and important for future researchers, we keep them in a locked room. They're still usable, though -- you just need to ask a staff member at the Circulation Desk or in the Reference Office to get you the volumes you need.

You won't always need to look up the law as it was in 1964 or 1978. But when you do, you'll be glad that our predecessors in the Law Library held onto these materials even after they were superseded.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Twitter in the News

It was only fitting that in the middle of National Library Week, the Library of Congress would make such an announcement:

Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

Twitter itself also spread the news, and added this caveat:

It's very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history. It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets will [sic] be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.

If any of us would like to search Twitter public posts, how could we do that? Well, Google is providing a way, called Google Replay. With Replay, anyone can zoom in on a specific time period (like a month or day) and read what folks were tweeting about on a topic. Check the above link for more information and instructions.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Library Use Value Calculator

A public library in Massachusetts has a Library Use Value Calculator on its website. People can plug in the number of books they check out or the number of magazine articles they retrieve from a database and get an estimate of what they would cost if they had to buy them directly.

The calculator is set up for public libraries and we're a little different (no children's programs, audio books, or museum passes), but you can still think about how much library services add to your education or research.

Hundreds of thousands of books, rich and varied databases, pleasant spaces to study, interlibrary loan, expert reference assistance -- all here for you whenever you want them. Each interaction is "free" -- thanks to tuition, tax dollars, and gifts to the law library.

Federal Sentencing Statistics

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has issued its 14th Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics.

Data from 81,372 cases from Oct. 1, 2008 through Sept. 30, 2009 were analyzed for this report. Information is presented on numerous factors, including:
  • age
  • citizenship
  • criminal history
  • drug offenses
  • education
  • fines and restitution
  • gender
  • immigration offenses
  • race
  • reasons for departures from the sentencing guidelines
For those with an insatiable appetite for numbers, these tables will be fascinating.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Missing Crossword Puzzle Clue

Are you working on the National Library Week crossword puzzle, Rock 'n Roll 'n Robes?

A sharp-eyed library staff member discovered that 100 Across is missing its clue. Here it is:

Occur over time

Now that you have that clue in hand, I'm sure that you'll be able to speedily complete the puzzle!

Remember to turn in your completed puzzle (in the appropriately labeled box at the Circulation Desk) to become eligible for fabulous prizes.

Free Trials in Celebration of National Library Week

In honor of National Library Week, a few publishers have opened their firewalls to offer public access to some of their otherwise "by subscription only" databases.

Hat tip to Victoria Szymczak, a contributing editor on Law Library Blog for the trials listed below:

ABC-CLIO eBooks - Register with basic information about yourself and your institution to gain full access to their resources through National Library Week.

Gale - Registration includes downloading a widget, but once you are registered, you will have access to Archives Unbound, Global Issues in Context and Global Reference on the Environment databases.

Credo Reference - Register for access to a variety of online reference materials, including 480 full text searchable reference publications from over 70 well-known publishers.

ProQuest - Includes access to two of their History and Genealogy databases: African American Heritage and Historical Newspapers - Black Newspapers, as well as CultureGrams, eLibrary, and SIRS Discoverer and Reader products.

Sage Journals Online - With a simple registration, you will have full access to their resources for free until 5/15.

WestLaw Next Videos

Hungry for more information about the new Westlaw platform, Next? Register at the West eLearning Center for short videos and tutorials.

Examples include:
  • Accessing related content (7 minutes)
  • Finding documents (3 minutes)
  • Inclusive and relevant results (8 minutes)
  • Searching specific content (5 minutes)
Of course, you will find lots of helpful features on the current version of Westlaw (which will still be an option for the foreseeable future). The site includes more than 220 lessons.

All you need to register is your name and email address.

In Tough Times, Libraries Are Lifelines

In its new report on The State of America's Libraries, the American Library Association finds
As the recession that took hold in December 2007 drags on into 2010, Americans are turning to their libraries in ever larger numbers for access to resources for employment, continuing education, and government services. The local library, a traditional source of free access to books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs, has become a lifeline, offering technology training and workshops on topics that ranged from résumé-writing to job-interview skills.
The report also describes "a perfect storm" of increasing demand and shrinking resources. As state and federal revenues struggle in the economic downturn, funding for all types of public libraries suffer.

During National Library Week, take a few minutes to reflect on how you and your family have used libraries. From children's story hours to homework assistance, from free Internet access to leisure reading, from videos and music to concerts and lectures--all of these services and more come from your local libraries.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Celebrate National Library Week

Join the staff of the Gallagher Law Library in celebrating National Library Week, April 11-18, 2010!

Test you wits with the 2010 crossword puzzle: Rock 'n Roll 'n Robes. This challenging puzzle features mash-ups of judges' names and the names of rock 'n roll groups, performers, and songs. These theme clues are shown in bold type. One example:

65 Across: Ozzy's band fan

Library visitors can also enter the Candy Count Contest (aka, Number the Nougat) and enjoy a bit of candy in the Reference Office (and for law students, in the Law Student Lounge).

Law students will have two great reasons to celebrate on Thursday, April 15th: the Library is sponsoring TGIT, from 5-7p in Rooms 115 A-B-C and the IRS is sponsoring Last Day to Mail Your Tax Returns! Yippee!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Justice Stevens Announces Retirement

Justice John Paul Stevens, who has served on the Supreme Court since 1975, today announced his retirement. A copy of his retirement letter to President Obama is here.


Peeps in Law

It's spring, and the thoughts of young lawyers (and law students) turn to - PEEPS! Once again the ABA Journal is sponsoring a Peeps in Law Diorama contest. Submissions started early in the year, and now the contest is down to the "final five." Take a look at the five, then vote for your favorite. View and vote before 5:00 CT on Monday, April 12, when the polling closes.

If you would like to see all the submissions, check out this ABA Journal article about the contest. This fascination with personifying peeps extends to folks in our national capital as well. Check out the winner and other submissions of the Washington Post Peeps Show.

Government Information Should be Free, Right?

Although there are many, many outlets for legal information that have no direct costs to the consumer, federal court docket information will cost you 8 cents per page. Sure, the PACER Service Center incurs costs in maintaining and distributing these documents -- but doesn't every government entity?

There have been efforts to redistribute PACER docket information for free (some official, some not), but here's one that gets the information out passively. RECAP is a firefox extension that searches the Internet Archives collection of PACER documents -- i.e. available for free. Then, for those documents you have to download from PACER, it uploads them to the archive.

Perhaps a more sophisticated docketing system would allow the world to follow specific litigation more closely -- at least, for a lower cost. Better yet, pehaps a hapless attorney could monitor his federal dockets via Google Alerts.

10 Simple Google Search Tricks

We all know that Google is a great research tool -- quick, easy, generally effective. And it can work even better. Check out these 10 Simple Google Search Tricks, N.Y. Times, April 2, 2010.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Studying for the USPTO patent bar exam?

If you're studying for the USPTO patent bar exam, you might want to check out these free lectures and study guides from Oppedahl Patent Law Firm LLC. Each lecture discusses a question from a past exam.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Faculty Publication: Peter Nicolas on Dying Declarations

Peter Nicolas, 'I'm Dying to Tell You What Happened': The Admissibility of Testimonial Dying Declarations Post-Crawford, 37 Hastings Const. L.Q. 487 (Spring 2010).

As Professor Nicolas points out at the beginning of his new article, the admissibility of hearsay evidence has always existed in tension with the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which requires that the accused be given an opportunity to confront witnesses testifying against him or her at trial.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), significantly narrowed the circumstances under which the admission of testimonial hearsay statements is constitutionally permissible. However, a footnote in Crawford created an apparent exception to the new rule for “dying declarations.”

Professor Nicolas examines two questions raised by the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford:
  1. What are the constitutional parameters of the “dying declaration” exception to the Confrontation Clause?
  2. Do the varying definitions of “dying declaration” currently included in federal and state hearsay exceptions run afoul of the Sixth Amendment?

New Faculty Publication: Jane Winn on International Commercial Law Reform

Jane K. Winn, Hard Law and Soft Law in International Commercial Law Reform, 3 Sungkyunkwan J. of Sci. & Tech. L. 173 (Fall 2009).

Professor Winn explains at the outset of her article that although international commercial transactions have long been subject to customary international law, recent decades have seen a move away from the use of unwritten customary laws to govern these transactions.

In their place, parties have come to rely more heavily on positive law, such as treaties and formal codifications of merchant custom. These laws are referred to as "hard" or "soft," depending in part upon their precision and legally binding nature.

Professor Winn examines new, more informal types of "soft" law that began to emerge at the end of the 20th century, fueled by the process of globalization. She observes a pattern of states and parties in advanced economies "opting in" to private governance systems that permit them to capitalize on their market sophistication, and analyzes the impact of this trend.