Bloomberg Law wants to get out of the print business (except, perhaps, for its treatise product line). I know of no BLaw press release announcing this fundamental change in publishing model but to its credit the Company explained its plans in some detail to CRIV earlier this year.

Last summer BLaw announced to CRIV that it was moving toward becoming a digital-only publisher because, the company explained, law libraries are moving away from print. True for law firms — 75% of total information budget is spent on electronic information.  Less so for academic law libraries — 44% of total information budget is spent on electronic information. And much less so for public sector law libraries — 35% of total information budget is spent on electronic information according to AALL statistics.

The transition from BNA Law Reports in print to the news platform is a major component of this strategy to reinvent the Company.  Not offering new Bloomberg Law online subscribers print materials for sale started some two years ago and that is another major component. Now BLaw is transitioning existing clients to its digital-only model. Or should I say, digital-almost-only model.

BLaw reported to CRIV that Tax Management Portfolios and Corporate Practice Series will continue in print for the time being. “No print sunset has been determined at this time. Subscribers will be notified in advance when an end date is determined.” Until that date is determined, BLaw is executing a sales policy similar to LexisNexis tying its print products availability to entering into a subscription for Lexis Advance. One difference: while LexisNexis has no coherent publishing strategy and is just trying to improve its bottom line by holding print hostage to digital, BLaw is trying to move to digital-only publishing by pricing some of its most valued print resources out of existence.

With regret, my county law library cancelled all BNA print and e-resources several years ago. We simply couldn’t afford to maintain our subscriptions. Now several of my Ohio county law library colleagues are grappling with BLaw demands as their print editions of BNA’s portfolio series come up for renewal.

For existing subscribers of BLaw BNA print portfolios, the Company now is requiring law libraries to subscribe to at least one seat for Bloomberg Law in order to have the privilege of subscribing to the print editions of Tax Management Portfolios and/or Corporate Practice Series for an additional expense. One Ohio county law library recently calculated that BLaw’s tying is almost a 300% increase over its cost for subscribing just to portfolios in print. That county law library, one of Ohio’s largest, cancelled its BNA print and did not subscribe to Bloomberg Law. So did another Ohio county law library. And a third, also one of Ohio’s largest county law libraries, will probably cancel if it does not receive some concessions from the Company. That’s how Ohio’s public sector is responding to BLaw.

I wonder how many other law libraries are simply walking away from BLaw in response to this new digital-almost-only sales policy. I guess subscriber cancellations in response to take-it-or-leave-it negotiations tactics is one way to reinvent yourself as a digital-only publisher. Unfortunately BLaw’s fundamental changes impact the law library marketplace unevenly.  Arguably private law firm libraries are more capable of paying the increased cost than either academic or public law libraries.

From the blurb for Kyle Banerjee & Terry Reese, Jr., Building Digital Libraries, 2d ed., (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2019):

Whether you’re embarking on the challenge of building a digital collection from scratch, or simply need to understand the conceptual and technical challenges of constructing a digital library, this top-to-bottom resource is the ideal guidebook to keep at your side, especially in this thoroughly updated and reworked edition. Demonstrating how resources are created, distributed, and accessed, and how librarians can keep up with the latest technologies for successfully completing these tasks, its chapters walk you step-by-step through every stage. Demystifying core technologies and workflows, this book comprehensively covers

  • needs assessment and planning for a digital repository;
  • choosing a platform;
  • acquiring, processing, classifying, and describing digital content;
  • storing and managing resources in a digital repository;
  • digital preservation;
  • technologies and standards useful to digital repositories, including XML, the Portland Common Data Model, metadata schema such as Dublin Core, scripting using JSON and REST, linked open data, and automated metadata assignment;
  • sharing data and metadata;
  • understanding information-access issues, including digital rights management; and
  • analyzing repository use, planning for the future, migrating to new platforms, and accommodating new types of data.

The Supreme Court Mapping Project, produced by Baltimore Law prof Colin Starger, gives one a way to analyze and predict developments in Supreme Court doctrine with simple visual charts that cover 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th and 14th Amendment doctrine as well as the commerce power, patents, civil procedure, and more. The software allows users to create sophisticated, interactive maps of Supreme Court doctrine by plotting relationships among majority, concurring and dissenting opinions. With the software, users can both visualize how different lines of Supreme Court opinions have evolved and employ animation to make interactive presentations. Very interesting.

From the abstract for Kyle Langvardt, A New Deal for the Online Public Sphere, 26 George Mason Law Review ___ (2019):

Social media platforms have emerged as formidable regulators of online discourse, and their influence only grows as more speech activity migrates to online spaces. The platforms have come under heavy criticism, however, after revelations about Facebook’s role in amplifying disinformation and polarization during the 2016 presidential election. Policymakers have begun to discuss an official response, but what they envision – namely, a set of rules for online political ads – addresses only a small corner of a much wider set of problems. Their hesitancy to go deeper is understandable. How would government even go about regulating a social platform, and if it did, how would it do so without intruding too far on the freedom of speech?

This Article takes an early, panoramic view of the challenge. It begins with a conceptual overview of the problem: what kinds of risks do online platforms present, and what makes these risks novel compared to traditional First Amendment concerns? The Article then outlines the eclectic and sometimes exotic policies regulators might someday apply to problems including false news, private censorship, ideological polarization, and online addiction. Finally, the Article suggests some high-level directions for First Amendment jurisprudence as it adapts to online platforms’ new and radically disruptive presence in the marketplace of ideas.

AI Fairness 360 (AIF360) is a comprehensive open-source toolkit of metrics to check for unwanted bias in datasets and machine learning models, and state-of-the-art algorithms to mitigate such bias throughout the AI application lifecycle. Containing over 30 fairness metrics and 9 state-of-the-art bias mitigation algorithms developed by the research community, it is designed to translate algorithmic research from the lab into actual practice. Here’s IBM’s press release.

On Sept. 11, Gale launched its Digital Scholar Lab (DSL), a cloud-based text mining and natural language processing solution that facilitates analysis of raw text data (optical character recognition/OCR text) from 160 million pages of Gale Primary Sources content. Combining commonly used open source algorithms and programs such as MALLET (MAchine Learning for LanguagE Toolkit) with proprietary tools, DSL is designed to enable students and researchers to generate data sets, utilize integrated data visualization tools, download and share those data sets and visualizations, and organize research for long-term projects.

For details, see Gale’s press release, blog post and LJ article.

H/T to Bob Ambrogi for calling attention to BYU Law’s Law and Corpus Linguistics Technology Platform. The platform, which is open to all to use at no cost, has three corpora:

  1. Corpus of Founding Era American English, a collection spanning 1760 to 1799 that contains nearly 100,000 documents from the founders, ordinary people and legal sources, and that includes letters, diaries, newspapers, non-fiction and fiction books, sermons, speeches, debates, legal cases and other legal materials.
  2. Corpus of Supreme Court of the United States, a collection of all Supreme Court opinions in the United States Reports though the 2017 term (with the 2018 soon to be added).
  3. Early English Books Online (EBO), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) corrected by the Text Creation Partnership (TCP) Evans Bibliography (University of Michigan).

— Joe

According to this Above the Law post, attorneys searching Casetext’s CARA completed their research 24.5 times faster compared to Lexis Advance. Annualized time savings using CARA adds up to between 132 and 210 hours a year. The survey also found that attorneys rated CARA’s results 20.8 percent more relevant than Lexis Advance. Interesting but I would prefer to see a similar study comparing Casetext’s CLARA and Westlaw Edge. — Joe

From the announcement: “Today we are thrilled to announce the general availability of PACER Docket Alerts on CourtListener.com. Once enabled, a docket alert will send you an email whenever there is a new filing in a case in PACER. … We believe PACER Docket Alerts will be a valuable resource to journalists, researchers, lawyers, and the public as they grapple with staying up to date with the latest PACER filings.” — Joe

Following Facebook and Twitter, Google has published its political ad database which details spending in US federal elections. The database contains any political ads purchased to run on Google Search or YouTube starting on or after May 31. The database will be updated weekly, not in real time. The database will include information about who paid for the ad, how many impressions it received, how long it ran for, and how much money was spent on it.

H/T Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

From the webinar’s announcement:

Licensing electronic resources must be undertaken in a way that supports the library’s mission by providing access to the highest possible number of databases, electronic journals, eBooks, and streaming media at the lowest possible cost. While the specific objectives and strategies of libraries will vary, skilled librarians must undertake a number of complex tasks in order to successfully license electronic resources. Some of the most important of these tasks or objectives include: negotiating the best possible terms in complex license agreements, maintaining positive working relationships with library vendors, communicating important information to internal and external constituencies, tracking changes in business models and relevant technologies, providing data for collection analysis, as well as coordinating their work with library administrators. This webinar series will cover these and other topics that address the needs of librarians working with the licensing of electronic resources.

This six-part series includes the following sessions:

August 22, 2018- Fundamentals of Licensing Electronic Resources

August 29, 2018 – Managing & Implementing Licensing Agreements for Electronic Resources, Part I

September 5, 2018 – Managing & Implementing Licensing Agreements for Electronic Resources, Part II

September 12, 2018 – Negotiation & Cost Containment Strategies for Electronic Resources

September 25, 2018 – Legal Issues in Licensing Electronic Resources

October 3, 2018 – Licensing Electronic Resources for Consortia

During this six-part webinar series, attendees will learn the fundamental structure of contracts, commonly used terms, and how to address indemnification clauses, constraints on use permissions, problems of legal jurisdiction, perpetual access rights, and some more recent developments such as the pursuit of text and data mining rights. Contributors will also explore some complex legal issues and other aspects of electronic resources management including how to maintain positive working relationships with vendors, track important changes in business models and technologies, and control costs. Above all, attendees should understand how licensing does not occur in a vacuum, but must be well grounded in a complex chain of information exchange within and beyond the library, all of which should be undertaken to support the library’s mission as understood and implemented by the library administration.

— Joe

Here’s the abstract for Digital Object Identifiers and the Next Generation of Legal Scholarship (May 15, 2018) by Aaron Retteen and Malikah Hall:

The use of digital object identifiers (DOIs) in academic publishing has become so pervasive that robust, data-driven services using the DOI as the centerpiece of connectivity have been developed and integrated into the publication process. In fact, DOIs have become so commonplace that many services, ranging from academic social media platforms for individual scholars to proprietary products aimed at university administrators, expect most, if not all, scholarship to be tracked using a DOI.

In the academic legal community, the use of digital identifiers has not yet become pervasive, which means the academic legal community is not currently reaping the many benefits DOIs offer and that the academic legal community will be left out of future developments and innovations in generating and measuring impact data from scholarship. This project seeks to understand the current landscape of the use of persistent identifiers in the legal academic community (or lack thereof), identify potential barriers this community experiences regarding the implementation and widespread adoption of DOIs, as well as provide an anecdotal example of creating a sustainable workflow between the law library and legal publication organizations such as law reviews for other similarly-situated entities to follow as a guide.

In addition to the white paper, this project will result in a call to action and a usable toolkit for all law schools and law libraries to follow our example and implement DOI registration in their publication process.

— Joe

Here’s the abstract for Michael James Bommarito, Daniel Martin Katz and Eric Detterman, OpenEDGAR: Open Source Software for SEC EDGAR Analysis (June 27, 2018):

OpenEDGAR is an open source Python framework designed to rapidly construct research databases based on the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) system operated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). OpenEDGAR is built on the Django application framework, supports distributed compute across one or more servers, and includes functionality to (i) retrieve and parse index and filing data from EDGAR, (ii) build tables for key metadata like form type and filer, (iii) retrieve, parse, and update CIK to ticker and industry mappings, (iv) extract content and metadata from filing documents, and (v) search filing document contents. OpenEDGAR is designed for use in both academic research and industrial applications, and is distributed under MIT License.

— Joe

Hat tip to Canada’s online legal magazine Slaw for calling attention to Jonathan de Vries, Legal Research, Legal Reasoning and Precedent in Canada in the Digital Age, 48 Advocates’ Quarterly 1 (2018). Here’s the abstract:

The past few decades have witnessed the rapid replacement of print-based sources of legal information by digital sources. This article summarizes the existing Anglo-American scholarship on the interaction between legal media, legal reasoning and substantive law, and applies it to the context of Canadian law and Canada’s unique experience of print-based legal information. While Canada adopted the intellectual methods of a print-based legal system, it lagged behind in the establishment of print-based sources of legal information, with the result that the intellectual and institutional structures that derive from print media were nowhere near as entrenched in Canadian law as compared with other common law jurisdictions. Therefore, to whatever degree the transition to digital legal information poses a threat of disruption to a common law legal system, this disruptive effect will be more acute in Canada than in the United States or England.

Interesting. — Joe