Here’s the job description and qualifications needed for the soon to be open position of AALL executive director. No mention that a library degree is required or preferred. — Joe
Category Archives: Library Associations
Following up on this LLB post that asks “Does WEXIS use legal search user data in their surveillance search platforms?,” Sarah Lamdan reports via email about what transpired at CRIV’s Vendor Roundtable on Sunday. Sarah reports that LexisNexis denied using legal search user data in their surveillance search platform and Bloomberg Law stated it doesn’t save user data. “Thomson Reuters/Westlaw was notably silent,” Sarah observed.
Not discussed at CRIV’s vendor roundtable Sunday was the thornier issue for librarian professional ethics, namely that these companies are bidding on and contracting with ICE for surveillance purposes. See Sarah’s Surveillance and Legal Research Providers: What You Need to Know. — Joe
As Sarah Lamdan has documented both Thomson Reuters and RELX are supplying search solutions for their compiled surveillance data to law enforcement agencies, including ICE. She has also called attention to the ethical issues information professionals face in light of this development.
One issue that affects law librarians who use WEXIS legal search services is the extent to which, if any, there is cross-pollination of usage data from WEXIS legal search platforms to their surveillance search platforms. One would think our WEXIS representatives would be able to answer one simple yes/no question — Does WEXIS use legal search user data in their surveillance search platforms?
Hopefully this question will be asked and answered straightforwardly at CRIV’s Vendor Roundtable Sunday. That assumes WEXIS will send company representatives to the roundtable to serve as participants, not just observers, and further assumes that WEXIS responses will not hide behind a “proprietary information” response.
This matter may lead to further investigations by CRIV and, perhaps may require AALL Executive Board involvement. This Sunday’s vendor roundtable may be one of the most interesting roundtables in recent memory.
CRIV Vendor Roundtable
Sunday, July 15
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Hilton Key Ballroom 9
By Sarah Lamdan
Legal research companies are selling surveillance data and services to law enforcement agencies including ICE. Their participation in government surveillance raises ethical questions about privacy, confidentiality and financial support: How private is your search history when your legal research vendors also sell surveillance data? Are you funding products that sell your patrons’ and clients’ data to ICE and other law enforcement agencies?
Historically, librarians have protected people from unwanted surveillance and safeguarded intellectual freedom. How do librarians uphold their privacy and intellectual freedom standards when they rely on surveillance companies for their research resources?
Thomson Reuters, RELX, and ICE Surveillance
Since September 11, 2001, permissive surveillance laws and improving data technology have created a huge market for big data policing products. Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier (now branded as RELX), the companies that own Westlaw and Lexis, are competing for contracts to supply troves of personal data and search technology to the government. Both companies have expanded their product lines to take advantage of lucrative surveillance opportunities. Since 2017, Thomson Reuters and RELX have bid on contracts to help ICE track hundreds of thousands of immigrants and target them for arrest.
Thomson Reuters and RELX have quietly been developing surveillance tools for years. In 2004, Reed Elsevier purchased Accurint, a huge personal information data system. By 2006, Lexis had the world’s largest electronic legal, news, and public records collection. In 2015, Reed Elsevier rebranded itself as RELX and moved further away from traditional academic and professional publishing. This year, the company purchased ThreatMetrix, a cybersecurity company that specializes in tracking and authenticating people’s online activities, which even tech reporters saw as a notable departure from the company’s prior academic publishing role.
Thomson Reuters, Westlaw’s company, has also changed its business to compete in the surveillance data and technology market. Thomson Reuters Special Services (TRSS) was developed to sell surveillance products, and TRSS CEO Stephen Rubley joined the board of the ICE Foundation. Thomson Reuters has signed three contracts to provide ICE with surveillance services totaling over $26 million. The contracts include:
- A contract to provide ICE access to Thomson Reuters’ Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting (CLEAR) system, which contains information that ICE uses to identify and target suspects, businesses and assets for arrest, seizure, and forfeiture. CLEAR provides access to billions of records, sourced from both government agencies and private suppliers. RELX’s Accurint is CLEAR’s main competitor. The product interfaces with law enforcement agency databases in real-time, feeding data through Palantir’s FALCON analysis system, Peter Thiel’s “automated policing” technology that decides whether people should be targeted for investigation.
- A contract to integrate license plate recognition (LPR) data into the CLEAR system. LPRs are roadside cameras that automatically photograph passing license plates and convert the images into a computer-readable format, creating a “read” that contains license plate numbers and registration data, vehicles’ makes and models, camera IDs that include passenger IDs in some cases, GPS coordinates, and the time and date each photograph was taken to pinpoint peoples’ locations. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has warned that using LPRs could violate the First Amendment, and in 2015, the DHS cancelled its bid for LPR services after a privacy impact assessment raised red flags. However, in 2017, the agency went ahead and purchased LPR services from Thomson Reuters and a company called Vigilant Solutions.
- A contract to give ICE “subscription data services” that continuously monitor and alert ICE about changes to immigrant’s FBI numbers; State Identification Numbers; jail booking data; credit history; insurance claims; phone number account information; wireless phone accounts; wire transfer data; driver’s license information; vehicle registration information; property information; payday loan information; public court records; incarceration data; employment address data; Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) data; and employer records. (RELX also expressed interest in this contract, but lost out to Thomson Reuters, according to the Sole Source Justification records.)
More surveillance contracts are likely on the way to help ICE reach its goal of generating at least 10,000 leads per year for deportation and visa denial. Thomson Reuters and RELX will likely bid on those contracts, too. Representatives from both companies attended ICE’s investor day event for its controversial Visa Lifecycle Vetting Initiative (VLVI), or Extreme Vetting program. ICE wanted to hire a data company to surveill social media profiles and predict who should be allowed in the U.S., but ICE shelved the program because the companies had not yet developed the technology the agency wanted. Once the companies make the right surveillance tools, ICE will probably want to pay for them.
Why does this matter to law librarians?
Thomson Reuters’ and RELX’s expansion into big data surveillance products has changed their relationships with law librarians. The new business models mean that law product purchasers are no longer the companies’ top priority customers. As Thomson Reuters and RELX work to entice law enforcement customers, law librarians have been moved down the queue. Westlaw and Lexis have become less flexible and forthcoming about contracts while providing less customer service.
Even as customer relations decline, AALL treats the companies like colleagues rather than service providers and censors librarians’ conversations about their surveillance contracts. But not talking about these issues does not change the fact that Lexis and Westlaw are no longer mom n’ pop law companies. Like other companies, they operate less like publishers and more like data supercenters. Westlaw and Lexis legal product packages now sit on virtual megastore shelves next to the law-adjacent “risk solution” law enforcement surveillance products, and the legal products help the companies leverage surveillance product sales to law enforcement agencies. Law librarians no longer have a clear understanding of their vendors’ practices as law libraries are one of many profit sources for corporations that also sell data to entities whose ethical practices might violate librarians’ professional codes.
Librarians protect their patrons’ privacy. The American Library Association’s Code of Ethics requires that librarians safeguard people’s personal information and ensure that people seeking information do not become surveillance targets. Moreover, the Code says that librarians must not advance private interests, including those of vendors, at the expense of library users. Librarians are responsible for protecting intellectual freedom against surveillance efforts.
Librarians also support the ethical use of information. The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy emphasizes the ethical use of information, data, and scholarship. The AALL Legal Research Competencies and Standards state that a successful legal researcher “distinguishes between ethical and unethical uses of information” and the Boulder Statement on Legal Research Education specifies that legal research instruction should include “an ongoing examination of professional standards, including the identification of ethical responsibilities.”
Lexis and Westlaw’s companies’ expansion into surveillance products implicates librarians’ ethical obligations in several ways:
- Confidentiality and Privacy: When legal research vendors sell surveillance data to enforcement agencies, they risk the confidentiality of the data collected by their legal research product. If surveillance is their market, what happens to data tracking Westlaw and Lexis log-ins, search histories, and document views? Client confidentiality is a cornerstone of the legal profession. With few exceptions, lawyers are obligated to keep client information from enforcement agencies’ reach. While product reps may say that searches on their law products are private, neither company has issued any official assurances that they would not funnel lawyers’ search histories into their other products. Thomson Reuters’ privacy statement says that the company can use subscribers’ information (which includes browsing history and search terms) “for the prevention, detection or investigation of a crime or other breach of law or requirement, loss prevention or fraud” or “to comply with requests from courts, law enforcement agencies, regulatory agencies, and other public and government authorities.” Without affirming a commitment to search confidentiality, Westlaw and Lexis users cannot be sure that either product would defy their government clients’ requests for legal research data.
- The Ethical Use of Information: When law librarians and legal professionals buy legal research services from vendors that are developing surveillance products for ICE and other enforcement entities, chances are high that the money funds surveillance research and development. Buying Westlaw’s legal products gives Thomson Reuters ample overhead to build a “digital deportation machine” for ICE. Contracting with research vendors that fuel government surveillance and help ICE carry out ethically fraught programs raises critical information literacy issues ripe for discussion by law library professionals.
ICE surveillance data may be used to target noncriminal residents for denaturalization and to locate and arrest people at schools, at courthouses, in hospitals, at work, and at their homes. Some companies are refusing to use and work with companies that build ICE surveillance systems as ICE’s surveillance and enforcement practices raise numerous ethical and legal concerns. Lawyers, including the ABA, have called ICE’s practices unconstitutional and unethical.
Editor’s Note: I want to thank Sarah for calling her article to my attention and allowing me to republish it on LLB. The article was originally published on Medium on July 6th. See also Sarah’s earlier LLB post on this subject here. — Joe
Here’s the text of the eBriefing emailed to AALL members today:
In response to the June 7 letter sent by AALL’s attorney to LexisNexis, AALL and Lexis leadership met in Chicago on July 2. Those in attendance were Greg Lambert, AALL president, Kate Hagan, AALL executive director, James P. Fieweger, AALL counsel, and Lexis representatives Sean Fitzpatrick, managing director of North American research solutions, Paul Speca, vice president, large law & law school markets, Jeffrey Pfeifer, vice president, product management, and Logan Breed, counsel.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss member concerns regarding a recent LexisNexis sales practice that ties access to its electronic and print publication products to the purchase of a license to Lexis Advance.
AALL had a series of questions it wanted addressed regarding the new policy. Specific questions included the terms of the policy, why the policy was put in place at this time, and why members who were able to purchase stand-alone Lexis print and electronic products in the past are now required to purchase Lexis Advance for access to those products.
Lexis advised AALL it is unable to discuss any product packaging or pricing matters, except with their customers, since each relationship is customized to meet the firm’s needs, and because Lexis has negotiated NDAs with all of its customers.
They also reiterated their earlier statement: “As we retire Lexis.com this year and upgrade users to Lexis Advance, we will more fully leverage our platform that consolidates all content and tools to one ecosystem.”
AALL also could not confirm what markets the new sales policy affects, but to date, we have only heard from law firm members regarding this change.
AALL President Greg Lambert strongly urged Lexis leadership to reconsider the new practice. While we do not anticipate that will occur, he further urged that they communicate fully to the membership and to their individual customers at the local level the specifics of this new sales practice and how it will affect them when renewing their Lexis contracts.
AALL will continue to pursue any rights we might have in addressing these product-tying policies. In the meantime, it is important members are aware that the Lexis strategy of tying its print and electronic products to the purchase of Lexis Advance is an issue affecting the legal information marketplace. Members, especially those working in law firms, should work with firm leadership to inform them of these changes and the implications for the firm’s legal information and research needs. Members should also communicate directly with their assigned Lexis representatives to discuss what terms and conditions may or may not be available to them as customers of Lexis.
What-if: Taking “legal or commercial action” against LexisNexis for its anticompetitive tying sales strategy
On July 2nd, AALL representatives met with LexisNexis representatives to discuss the company’s anticompetitive tying sales strategy. No official word on the outcome. (Not sure one should even expect an outcome after only one meeting. ) Until members hear something, this matter can be viewed as a work-in-progress. However, what if it wasn’t?
In its letter to LexisNexis CEO Mike Walsh, AALL called for an open dialog over the company’s anticompetitive tying sales strategy. If that failed, our association warned of taking “legal or commercial action” against the company. Assuming for this post that dialog does not produce our association’s desired outcome, the cessation of tying print and ancillary products to a Lexis Advance license, then taking legal or commercial action would be costly to AALL’s treasury.
It goes without saying that legal action would be very expensive (unless an AALL-member law firm would take the matter pro bono). The outcome would be unpredictable. But this option is more likely in getting Lexis to change its sales policy. Only someone with expertise in antitrust law (meaning not me) can evaluate this option.
Less unpredictable but also less likely to be as effective as legal action is taking “commercial action.” Commercial action could range from no longer accepting Lexis advertising revenue in AALL publications like LLJ and Spectrum, to a ban from AALL’s annual meeting and its exhibit hall, to a complete ban from all sanctioned activities of AALL and its chapters. Commercial action could be fairly expensive for our association too in some instances.
Using FY2018 budget data as a basis for illustrating future consequences, estimated total advertising revenue from Spectrum is $60,000 and from LLJ is $3,800. That’s hardly a large amount. Spectrum and LLJ are already costing AALL more than the total revenue generated with an estimated annual net deficit of $114,928 for both. Not knowing what portion of Spectrum-LLJ ad revenue comes from Lexis, let’s just assume that the company pays AALL about $30,000. If so, simply banning Lexis from advertising would not hurt AALL’s bottom line that much. AALL would still end up with an estimated adjusted total budget surplus of $50,000 because AALL’s estimated total annual surplus for FY2018 is only $82,260. For such an egregious violation of fair business practices and possible antitrust violations simply banning LN from advertising just does not seem a proportional response. More is needed.
What’s needed in this what-if scenario is denying LN participation in our annual meeting and its exhibit hall until LN changes its sales policy. Not allowing LN a presence at our 2019 annual meeting (and later annual meetings as well) is justified. The company’s tying ultimatum deserve a similar take it or leave it action from AALL.
I cannot estimate what this annual meeting ban would cost AALL (but AALL administrators could). However I believe the ban would negatively impact our association’s annual budget surplus, turning a surplus of $82,260 into an annual net budget deficit amounting to low six figures. And if AALL decided to ban the company from our annual meeting, AALL would have to raise income some way, most likely in ways that directly affect rank-and-file law librarians.
So… is it still worth it? Yes. — Joe
Yes, AALL and LN will meet today in Chicago to try to resolve the on-going tying controversy. Representing our association will be AALL President Greg Lambert. No word on who will be representing LexisNexis. — Joe
LexisNexis tying, a matter of attempting to preserve the company’s revenue stream in a saturated market
Michael Feit looks at the AALL-LexisNexis controversy about the company’s strategy of tying print and ancillary products to a Lexis Advance license, noting that Lexis Advance is a mature product at a competitive disadvantage with Westlaw in a saturated market. From this vantage point Feit calls the company’s tying sales strategy an attempt to preserve a revenue stream that may decline in the coming years. — Joe
Speaking on behalf of our association AALL President Greg Lambert is quoted in the June 20, 2018 press release:
“This administration continues to take actions regarding immigrants and asylum seekers that go well beyond long-standing legal precedent and limit access to justice for those most in need of guidance and representation. AALL is committed to issues of diversity, community and collaboration. We are, as a legal organization, repulsed by this policy of separating families at the border. This practice is antithetical to AALL’s mission and sense of justice, and we call on the entire legal community to highlight this gross human rights violation and demand immediate change.”
From ALA’s official June 19, 2018 statement:
The nation’s library community is appalled that innocent children would face such emotional trauma and would be locked in mass facilities and separated from their families,” [ALA President Jim] Neal said. There is no legitimate policy or moral basis for this unconscionable action.
The library community stands for diversity and inclusion, and for the legal rights of refugees entering on our borders. We serve immigrants in our communities across the US, and view libraries’ support to children as one of our most important values. We must support legislation and action that set aside this unacceptable practice.
ALA, through its Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services and Washington Office, and in partnership with REFORMA, is providing and sharing resources that support action against this zero-tolerance immigration policy.
H/T Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe
On June 7th, AALL sent Mike Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis Legal, a letter calling for the company to cease tying the acquisition of its other print and digital products to licensing Legal Advance. [Text of letter here ; text of press release]. Early coverage of this development include Jean O’Grady’s The Law Librarians Revolt: AALL Accuses LexisNexis of Engaging in Unfair Business Practices – Possible Antitrust Violations, Dewey b strategic, June 7, 2018 and Dan Packet’s Law Librarians Accuse Lexis of Anti-Competitive Bundling, American Lawyer, June 7, 2018 (behind paywall).
That AALL Letter Addressed To Mike Walsh CEO Lexis Nexis, House of Butter, n.d.
AALL Accuses LexisNexis of Possible Antitrust Violations, Legal Skills Prof Blog, June 8, 2018
Why Lexis’ Sales Approach Should Concern Law Firm Management and Leadership, Greg Lambert, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, June 11, 2018
Law Librarians Accuse LexisNexis of Anticompetitive Sales Practices, Bob Ambrogi, LawSites, June 14, 2018
LexisNexis must talk with customers to show it cares, Kevin O’Keefe, Real Lawyers, June 14, 2018
AALL Quarrels With LexisNexis, Information Today NewsBreaks, June 19, 2018
Lexis’s Legal Pricing Strategy Has Haters, But Might Be a Risk Worth Taking, Michael Feit, Legaltech News, June 25, 2018
Related background coverage prior to letter’s issuance… .
LexisNexis/AALL CRIV Conference Call November 28, 2017, 4:00 p.m., CRIV Blog, Dec. 20, 2017
What! Is LexisNexis discriminating against law libraries that cancel Lexis Advance? Law Librarian Blog, April 3, 2018
Read more about it. — Joe
Answering the call for AALL consumer advocacy: 10 years after the Great Recession AALL is living up to its potential — what’s next?
The Great Recession sent AALL into a tailspin with members over consumer advocacy. Rank-and-file members’ calls for AALL to commit to consumer advocacy due to numerous complaints about price inflation and unscrupulous vendor business practices were pushed back by successive AALL executive boards during the Great Recession and its library-related aftermath, the “Shed West” (print) era, 2008-2013. Push backs? Sure, (1) the vendor liaison fiasco usurped CRIV’s traditional jurisdiction and authority; (2) the Vendor Colloquium and its (in)action plan left consumer advocacy almost entirely unaddressed and (3) the issuance of AALL’s Antitrust FAQ, our association’s stringent interpretation of antitrust rules, heavy-handedly reminded AALL members that “AALL cannot be used by any of its members as a vehicle for engaging in collective action that would be anticompetitive.” There was also the short-lived Consumer Advocacy Caucus which died on the vine due in part to the animus certain AALL executive board members had toward the group (and due to leadership changes within the caucus).
But that is in the past. Now AALL is living up to its potential in consumer advocacy. “Law librarians revolt,” said executive board member Jean O’Grady in her Dewey B Strategic post. The anticompetitive tying controversy with LexisNexis also demonstrates that our association can commit to consumer advocacy for AALL’s institutional members, the employers of firm, government and academic law librarians. AALL president Greg Lambert reminds readers that this controversy is not just about law librarians at Why Lexis’ Sales Approach Should Concern Law Firm Management and Leadership, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, June 11, 2018 (“It is definitely an issue which those outside the law firm libraries should take notice, and be very concerned. This is something that affects the entire law firm, not just the law librarians.”)
What’s next? “[AALL legal counsel] ask[s] on behalf of AALL that representatives of LexisNexis commit to a meeting with AALL leadership, which prefers and encourages open dialogue on this issue, as opposed to legal or commercial action,” is how AALL closed its letter to LexisNexis’ CEO Mike Walsh. While AALL did not stipulate a drop-dead deadline for discussions before taking legal or commercial action, it would be wise for LN C-suite occupants to meet with the executive board members and CRIV representatives before or at AALL 2018 in Baltimore next month. It most certainly would be a good idea to conduct this meeting (and hopefully resolve the controversy) before CRIV’s annual vendor roundtable which is scheduled for July 15, 2018. Remember, all members (and vendors) are invited to attend and participate in the roundtable discussion. I bet anticompetitive tying demands by Lexis will be a hot topic at the meeting. The roundtable may also learn of questionable tying practices by other very expensive legal information vendors. As CRIV explains “This roundtable discussion can often inform CRIV’s activities for the upcoming year.” So what’s next in my opinion is that all interested AALL members attend CRIV’s vendor roundtable. — Joe
CRIV Vendor Roundtable
Sunday, July 15
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Hilton Key Ballroom 9
From the conclusion of Guy Sagi’s A Comprehensive Economic and Legal Analysis of Tying Arrangements, 38 Seattle University Law Review 1 (2014):
There is currently a gap between the economic theory and the prevailing law regarding tying arrangements. These arrangements, which used to be considered essentially harmful, have been shown to possess limited potential for harm—certainly less significant potential than was previously thought. Moreover, tying arrangements have been shown to hold the potential for great and essential benefit. This Article has presented the main accepted modern economic insights, and has proposed the appropriate legal rules for analyzing the various tying scenarios. When the tying arrangement does not lead to a significant closing of the tied product market, and so it does not affect this market’s competitive structure, the legal per se rule should be applied. In contrast, when the tying arrangement leads to a significant closing of the tied product market, the rule of reason test should be applied, but not in the format that assumes that tying arrangements in these scenarios are harmful. Rather, it should be applied in a format that requires the plaintiff to prove the existence of real potential to harm competition significantly. If the existence of harmful potential is proven, the defendant will have to prove a significant efficiency justification. Then, the onus returns to the plaintiff to show that the anticompetitive potential of the tying outweighs its procompetitive potential.
“This policy has a detrimental impact on every AALL member using LexisNexis. We have a responsibility to come to the aid of our members and make their voices heard.” — Greg Lambert, AALL President, June 11, 2018 press release.
After failed attempts to discuss LN’s anticompetitive tying sales policy in a substantive way, our association issued this letter to Mike Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis Legal last week. On June 11th, AALL reinforced its position by releasing this press release. Read more about it. — Joe
June 7, 2018
CEO Global Legal Business
230 Park Ave, Suite 7
New York City, NY 10017
Dear Mr. Walsh:
On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), I am writing to ask that LexisNexis cease its recently enacted policy of tying access to its electronic and print publication products to the purchase of a license to its Lexis Advance search product. AALL believes this practice is anticompetitive and detrimental to the long-term relationship between LexisNexis and AALL’s constituents.
As you may know, AALL is a national association representing the interests of legal information experts, and is focused on supporting its members’ efforts to provide timely and relevant information to their professional colleagues. Its members include law librarians, Chief Knowledge Officers, marketing and business development research analysts, web content and materials managers, judges, and other information specialists. Many of these members work for law firms and in similar corporate settings, supporting the work of practicing attorneys.
Historically, law firms have been able to purchase from LexisNexis publications and search services that fit the needs of their practice. This practice allowed firms to license access to specialized materials, such as Moore’s Federal Practice, leading treatises such as Nimmer on Copyright, Chisum on Patents, or Collier on Bankruptcy, relevant trade publications such as the various Law360 titles, or analytical tools such as Lex Machina, without necessarily licensing Lexis Advance, LexisNexis’ legal search product.
Since July 2017, however, AALL has received numerous reports from law firm-affiliated members that LexisNexis has adopted a new sales policy. Under the new policy, firms are required to purchase a license to Advance before they can purchase access to other LexisNexis publications and products. And those firms that do not wish to purchase Advance, for whatever reason, have been foreclosed from accessing other products they have used in their practice for years and, in some cases, for decades.
It is evident that LexisNexis has elected to leverage the demand for certain products and publications to extract purchases of its Advance search product. Such conduct is anticompetitive and likely prohibited by law. Equally as important to AALL, this new policy is detrimental to its members and the law firms they serve.
It also has put LexisNexis at odds with standards AALL has promulgated for its members and publishing professionals. The AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers describes standards for the business practices of publishers that most directly affect librarians and other legal information consumers. These recommended practices are premised on the belief that good customer service and positive customer relations benefit legal publishers as well as customers. With this aim of mutual benefit in mind, Section 3.2 of the Guide provides that “Publishers should engage in open and fair negotiations with customers regarding licensing agreements and other contracts.” LexisNexis violates this standard by coercively tying access to publications regularly used and relied upon by legal professionals to a subscription to Advance. Likewise, by refusing to consider granting the type of stand-alone licenses it previously provided, LexisNexis fails to provide its customers an opportunity to negotiate contract terms as required by Section 3.2(c). Through its violation of these standards, LexisNexis has placed itself in apposition to the interests of the very law firms that it and AALL seek to serve.
The AALL Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV) his attempted to open a dialogue with LexisNexis regarding the impact of its anticompetitive policy on law firm libraries and on law firms. But, to date, LexisNexis’ response has been vague, incomplete, and unsatisfactory, evincing. no interest or intent to revoke or otherwise modify the practice in question.
Therefore, I ask on behalf of AALL that representatives of LexisNexis commit to a meeting with AALL leadership, which prefers and encourages open dialogue on this issue, as opposed to legal or commercial action.
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP
James P. Fieweger
It’s a start in the right direction. — Joe
Kyle Courtney and Harvard’s State Copyright Resource Center team win 2018 AALL Public Access to Government Information Award
Kudos to the award winners. From AALL’s press release:
Courtney and the State Copyright Resource Center Team at Harvard University have created an innovative website that helps users easily access information about the copyright status of their state’s legal information. By offering an easy to navigate, free to use digital resource, the State Copyright Resource Center website educates the public on copyright law and policy and provides advocacy tools for open access advocates and libraries.
Visit the State Copyright Resource Center at Harvard University here. Very helpful. — Joe
This year’s award recognizes Susan Nevelow Mart’s The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal (Re)Search. The article, which some may and I will say, is one of the most important articles published in the 2010’s, demonstrates how legal research is impacted by the biases and assumptions held by the programmers who construct the algorithms searchers use. Congratulations. — Joe
According to today’s AALL eBriefing, Bloomberg Law’s Point of Law artificial intelligence solution has been awarded AALL’s 2018 New Product Award. For a review of the product, see Mark Giangrande’s LLB post. — Joe
“The Board will be gathering more facts in order to determine how to effectively respond” to LexisNexis’ tying ultimatum
We have been reporting on recent LexisNexis tie-in attempts wherein the Company refuses to sell print or ancillary products in retaliation for cancelling Lexis Advance as if this may be a new company sales policy. Initially I thought a rogue LN sales rep may have created the reported situation involving a large law firm in Texas. Having now heard confidentially about similar tie-in negotiations, I and I have no doubt other invoice-paying law librarians are interested in finding out what is going on and what we are going to do about this to support member institutions. So is our association’s Executive Board.
At last week’s meeting, the Executive Board heard a request from CRIV to issue “a statement of disapproval of the LexisNexis policy.” Instead of issuing the statement, the Executive Board has decided to gather “more facts in order to determine how to effectively respond” according to AALL Member News for the Week of April 9, 2018. No word on who is performing the investigation, when it will commence and conclude, whether the results will be reported to the membership in a timely manner, and what AALL will do with the results of its investigation.
OK, our association isn’t exactly known for its consumer advocacy efforts on behalf of all institutional members but I hope AALL’s statement means that it will solicit additional information, this time from all law librarians who have been confronted with LN’s tie-in ultimatum. If your law library has been the recipient of LN’s ultimatum, I think the best people to inform right now are the members of CRIV. The more instances of similar negotiations, the better.
Let’s not let LexisNexis get away with giving the Executive Board the same sort of “answers” the Company gave CRIV when CRIV asked LN three times for an explanation. Here they are:
First attempted explanation — “Our pricing is different in each market and varies depending on which products and solutions work best for each customer. Accordingly, we sit down with customers and explain the pricing for their firm, including what products are sold together and which are sold separately. If any of your readers want to discuss, we are happy to do so directly with them.”
Second attempted explanation — “Keep in mind that Lexis has been selling integrated products as a package with Online for many years with notable examples such as Lexis Search Advantage, Lexis for Microsoft Office, Verdict and Settlement Analyzer, Profile Suite, LN Publisher, and Digital Library. As we retire Lexis.com this year, and upgrade users to Lexis Advance, we will more fully leverage our
platform that consolidates all content and tools to one ecosystem. This affords considerable benefits to users including being able to navigate seamlessly between products, have answer sets surfaced across products, and gain access into the central Online content repository, that formerly would have been restricted by product.”
Third attempted explanation — “It is impossible for us to answer this specific question with a blanket statement since all markets have unique pricing plans suited to buying preferences. What does apply at a broad level is that we are continuing to integrate products into Lexis Advance where all global content and tools will be housed and maintained to the highest level of accuracy and currentness. We are
exploring pricing and packaging options that offer a seamless experience across products and access to related answer sets not possible with satellite products. Please refer to related information provided in the LexisNexis/CRIV conference posted on CRIV Blog, Dec. 20, Again, If any readers wish to discuss, we encourage them to contact their account team directly.”
I call BS.
Hopefully, our association will aggressively pursue what may be the most serious complaint about LexisNexis in at least a decade. — Joe