Reporting for The Street, Kinsey Grant reports that Facebook is preparing to monetize its Instant Articles: “Instant Articles hosts news pieces on Facebook’s mobile app. Instead of operating a subscription service itself to get users on the Instant Articles, Facebook is said to be implementing a paywall after 10 articles on the app. Once a user hits 10 pieces from a particular publisher in a month, Facebook will send him or her to the publisher’s site to sign up for a subscription.” — Joe
Category Archives: Publishing Industry
Here’s a little postscript to the Apple e-book antitrust case. A failed e-book retailer BooksOnBoard (BOB) sued the publishers in 2014 for antitrust violations, essentially blaming conduct by the five Apple defendant publishers for its failure. BOB purchased e-book inventory from a third-party wholesaler and sold books at a discount via its web site.
BOB claimed that the agency model pricing scheme destroyed its ability to compete in the e-book market, among other injuries. The publishers presented evidence contradicting BOB’s claims. The move to agency model pricing actually increased revenues for BOB. The District Court opinion also mentioned factors such as the inability to link product to dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle or Nook and questionable management practices.
LexisNexis announced yesterday that the company is adding 250 titles from ALM to the LexisNexis Digital Library. From the press release:
As a result, the LexisNexis Digital Library will now feature titles from ALM’s publications including Law Journal Press, The National Underwriter Co. and analytical titles from respected regional brands such as The Legal Intelligencer, New York Law Journal, New Jersey Law Journal and more. These titles will provide in-depth information on the latest issues and insightful analysis from leading lawyers, practicing attorneys and experts.
Fastcase appoints Steve Errick as Chief Operating Officer and announces plan to launch own imprint for secondary works
Yesterday Fastcase announced that former LexisNexis executive Steve Errick will join the company’s executive team on July 1 as Chief Operating Officer. He will be responsible for executing the company’s strategic vision, developing new editorial products, and developing the company’s organizational structure as the company expands. From the press release:
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Steve join the team,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “Fastcase is an increasingly complex company, with sophisticated legal data updating operations, multiple product lines and more than 100 employees in three offices – and we’re growing all the time. Steve’s deep relationships in the industry and his experience in managing legal publishing companies at scale will be important as we are becoming one of America’s largest legal tech companies.”
Fastcase also announced that it would begin editorial publishing starting in 2018 to expand the reach of its legal research service, which to date has focused exclusively on primary law such as case law, statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions. The company will launch it’s own imprint of expert treatises, secondary material, journals and partner with its various State Bar Associations in developing new state workflow products to serve the state practitioner markets.
“Early in my career at West, my challenge was finding the best authors,” Errick said. “Most recently at LexisNexis it was acquiring the best companies and building a product team to drive those businesses. And now, I get this wonderful opportunity to use these diverse experiences to help accelerate the pace of the most innovative company in legal tech.”
Sometime in the future, the hiring of Steve Errick will be viewed as the stimulus for taking Fastcase to the next level to compete with Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and Bloomberg BNA. It is no coincidence that Fastcase’s press release announced both the hiring of Errick and the move into the secondary source market in 2018. — Joe
AALL’s annual New Product Award gives the recipient vendor free fodder for an advertising campaign and a dose of much needed good press each year. “This award honors new commercial information products that enhance or improve existing law library services or procedures or innovative products which improve access to legal information, the legal research process, or procedures for technical processing of library materials. A ‘new’ product is one which has been in the library-related marketplace for two years or less. New products may include, but are not limited to, computer hardware and/or software, educational or bibliographic material, or other products or devices that aid or improve library workflow, research, or intellectual access. Products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.” Quoting from AALL’s New Product Award page.
Thomson Reuters won the award for WestlawNext in 2011 and Bloomberg Law won for BLaw in 2012. What ever happened to Lexis Advance? Launched in 2011, Lexis Advance would have still been eligible for the award in 2013 but PLI’s PLI Discover PLUS received it that year. PLI Discover PLUS is an excellent service but…it’s not from a major vendor of what was then a next-generation search service like, for example, WestlawNext was at the time Thomson Reuters received its award. Besides, I believe, PLI Discover PLUS would have been eligible for the award in 2014.
Lexis Advance was no better or worse than WestlawNext and arguably better that BLaw back in 2011-2013. So I’m left wondering why LexisNexis never received AALL’s New Product Award. For that matter, why didn’t LexisNexis receive the New Product Award when it launched the first professional grade, enhanced law eBooks and/or the first law eBook lending platform, the LexisNexis Digital Library? If LexisNexis systematically enhances its secondary works accessed on Lexis Advance with videos as it did with one title, the Company might be eligible again because “products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.” — Joe
List of Previous AALL New Product Award Winners
2017: Casetext, Pablo Arredondo, Vice President, Legal Research, San Francisco, CA, CARA
2016: Ravel Law, Daniel Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder, San Francisco, CA, Judge Analytics
2015: Lex Machina, Josh Becker, CEO, Menlo Park, CA, Legal Analytics®
2014: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Getzville, NY and Fastcase, Inc., Washington, D.C., HeinOnline/Fastcase Integration
2013: Practicing Law Institute, New York, NY, PLI Discover PLUS
2012: Bloomberg Law, New York, NY, Bloomberg Law
2011: WestlawNext Team, Eagan, MN, Thomson Reuters – WestlawNext
2010: Fastcase, Inc., Fastcase Legal Research iPhone App
2009: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Subject Compilations of State Laws (HeinOnline)
2008: Cassidy Cataloging Services, Inc., WLX Cataloging Record Service (WLX E Treatise Collection, Lexis II Primary Sources, and Westlaw IV Journals & Law Reviews)
2007: No award
2006: No award
2005: Thomson Gale, The Making of Modern Law
2004: Jenkins Law Library & American Lawyer Media, http://www.palawlibrary.com
2003: No award
2002: No award
2001: W.S. Hein & Co., Inc., Hein-On-Line
2000: IndexMaster, Inc., IndexMaster
1999: West Group, Key Cite
1998: Congressional Information Services, Inc., CIS Congressional Universe
1997: BNA, Inc., Health Law & Business Series
1996: No award
1995: Shepard’s McGraw-Hill, Inc., How to Shepardize
Since the foreshadowed demise of Lexis and Westlaw classic versions back in 2010 and 2011, I’ve been expecting to see the use of multimedia by our very expensive digital legal publishers in their newer search service platforms because it could be a transformative value-add-on for the traditional text-only electronic delivery of legal information. LexisNexis’ The Wagstaffe Group Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial embeds 150+ short videos within the content of the work when you subscribe to the publication on Lexis Advance. LexisNexis press release. It appears, however, that the videos may not be embedded in a standalone eBook edition of this work. The work’s blurb notes “The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options. Video content and links are exclusively available with a subscription to this title on Lexis Advance.” That’s disappointing but not unexpected; both Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis require a subscription to their search service to access resources linked to in their eBooks.
H/T to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSite post. See also Jean O’Grady’s Treatises are not dead they are just being transformed. Lexis Launches First Video Treatise. Can the Gamified Treatise Be Far Behind? — Joe
“Low-cost can cost you” campaign: Does LexisNexis now acknowledge that Fastcase and Casemaker (and even Google Scholar) pose competitive threats?
On Lextalk, LexisNexis makes an obvious distinction: it offers resources low-cost search services do not provide. In a nutshell, Low-Cost Legal Research = Low-Value Results. LexisNexis Equips You with Much, Much More (March 18, 2017) claims that Lexis Advance is simply better because of its offerings (even if you don’t need the resources, tools and other value-add-ons). No metrics, no comparison of search engine performance, simply an unsubstantiated warning to lawyers that “cost savings usually equals case-law light,” meaning as displayed below, “low-cost can cost you.” See also Lextalk’s Low-Cost Legal Research: Go Cheap, Get Gaps. Go LexisNexis, Gain Confidence (Apr. 5, 2017).
In LexisNexis Comes Out Swinging Against Lower-Cost Legal Research Services, the Lawyerist’s Lisa Needham makes a perceptive observation: “What LexisNexis seems to overlook in their eagerness to go after everyone else is that it merely highlights how much they see things like Fastcase and Google Scholar as competition. If you’re scared enough to mount an entire campaign about how great you are and how terrible other services are, you’ve pretty much already acknowledged that they represent a legitimate threat. Fastcase and Casemaker should be nothing but proud to be highlighted in this fashion.”
Competition is definitely increasing in the small law market with Lexis, Westlaw and Fastcase in a virtual tie in the small law market and it does look like Lexis is mounting a campaign to acquire a larger install base in it. Lextalk recently published posts such as Texas Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, Massachusetts Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly and Illinois Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, all of which were published on April 25, 2017. Each post offers a discount for Lexis Advance that is limited to any attorney in a law firm with 1 – 50 attorneys. So has Lexis been losing ground to Casemaker and Fastcase in the Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois small law market? — Joe
End note: Members of the state bars of Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois receive Fastcase access as a membership benefit.
Why is Thomson Reuters’ profit margin for tax and accounting resources and services so much lower than its legal resources and services division?
At the close of 2016, Thomson Reuters reported that the operating profit margin excluding fourth quarter charges for Thomson Reuters Legal was 30%. For Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting, the operating profit margin excluding fourth quarter charges was 20%. This 10 percentage point difference is not atypical in the Company’s annual financial reports for both divisions. Some years the difference is even greater. But why?
I believe there are sufficient similarities to compare these two markets. Consumers in both markets are, for example, information and analytics intensive professionals. Both markets acquire similar information resources with (presumably) similar publishing costs. And both markets are dominated by a small number of very large and expensive value-adding suppliers who offer a similar mix of resources and services in print and digital formats.
Is the answer to the question “why?” that Thomson Reuters’ faces stiffer competition from specialty law publishers like Wolters Kluwer and Boomberg BNA to produce a 10% percentage point profit margin differential? Or is it that tax and accounting information consumers are better price negotiators than we are? I think both come into play. But since one can negotiate better pricing — one has greater bargaining power — in a more competitive market, competition from well-entrenched specialty tax and accounting providers probably is the primary reason Thomson Reuters’ profit margin is 10 percentage points lower that its legal division.
Being privately held, we have no financial data for Bloomberg BNA but we do for Wolters Kluwer. In 2016, Wolters Kluwer’s operating profit margin for its Tax & Accounting division was 26.9%, almost 7 percentage points better that Thomson Reuters’ Tax & Accounting division. One can almost say that Thomson Reuters is an also-ran in the tax and accounting market. Of course, one can also say that Wolters Kluwer is also almost an also-ran in the more general law and regulatory market because that market is dominated by LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters. (Wolters Kluwer reported an operating profit margin of only 12% for its Legal & Regulatory division. Remember, Thomson Reuters Legal reported a 30% profit margin.)
In a practice I would recommend to library budget managers because of the insights to be gained, I have followed the financial reporting of RELX Group (for LexisNexis), Thomson Reuters (for TR Legal) and Wolters Kluwer for several years now, since the beginnings of the Great Recession in fact. This information is handy to have for background purposes when representatives from our very expensive value-adding providers of law and law-related information knock on your office door to discuss their latest offer. — Joe
Spurred by customer complaints about the difficulty they experienced navigating BLaw, Bloomberg Law has rolled out a streamlined user interface for conducting searches and finding specific types of content. For much more, see Bob Ambrogi’s In Major Redesign, Bloomberg Law Streamlines Its Search Interface. — Joe
Going digital only: CALL responds to possibility that print publication of annual Statutes of Canada may be discontinued
From Connie Crosby’s, (President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL)) letter to Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada wherein she explains the concern Canadian law librarians have about the possibility that the annual Statutes of Canada will stop being published in print:
Recordkeeping is an important foundation of any advanced democracy. In Canada, the Publication of Statutes Act and its regulations were designed to ensure that all Canadians were provided with long term access to archival versions of our statutes. This law was necessary at the time to ensure that the medium chosen (paper) conformed to the best standards known at the time for archival formats. In a common law system history matters; this means that all citizens are entitled to long term access to our statutes, and the government must keep this squarely at front of mind at all times.
The question is, what law is necessary today to ensure that the medium chosen (digital) conforms to the best standards known at the time for archiving?
And on CALL recommendations in the Crosby letter:
If the government continues on the path towards “digital only” publication of the Statutes of Canada, we would encourage you to REPLACE the Publication of Statutes Act with a comprehensive plan that considers:
maintaining a small print run for long-term preservation purposes;
the future of the Canada Gazette, and in particular the Canada Gazette Part Three which provides our only official online version of annual statutes, as well as the helpful Table of Proclamations;
the future of the Table of Public Statutes. This Table was published as a stationary publication in the Statutes of Canada each year. The online version on Justice Laws is not sustainable in its current format – an annual archived version could be contemplated;
what will be the official version of our Statutes of Canada moving forward in a digitalage?
a way to maintain the side-by-side, English/French comparison, which can be an important part of some statutory interpretation exercises, while still meeting accessibility requirements.
H/T to and for more, see Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s Slaw post. — Joe
So this morning’s email from the Land of 10,000 Invoices said, “Thomson Reuters is conducting a survey to gather your feedback as a valued customer.” OK, what the hell. Sometimes taking a vendor survey is revealing. From the survey’s first page display comes the first question:
Thank you for taking the time to participate in our survey. The survey is brief and should take around 5-7 minutes to complete. Your opinions will help us ensure that we are providing the best possible solutions and services.
What best describes your role?
Clerk of Court
Court Administrator/Court Manager
Management Information Systems (MIS) Director
Other (please specify) ____________
And when I specified “Law Librarian” the response I received was “We thank you for your time spent taking this survey. Your response has been recorded.” At least the survey took less than a minute. File this under “Friday Fun from Thomson Reuters.” I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get too deep into the survey because of the listed job titles. Can’t the “answer company” manage its email lists better for targeting surveys? — Joe
Want to search an out-of-date version of the National Survey of State Laws? There’s a very expensive online legal search service for that!
Westlaw carries the full text of the sixth edition of the National Survey of State Laws online. Therein lies the problem. In addition to not stating online that the sixth edition has been superceded by the much more recent seventh edition (which Westlaw is going to publish online), the compiliers of the State Laws Survey have released two updates and four (or is it five?) new chapters that are not online. Bottom line: if you are using the National Survey of State Laws on Westlaw, you are searching eight-year-old topical state laws surveys. Make a note of that, researchers, at least until the seventh edition is online.
Time for the folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices to get the seventh edition of this valuable resource uploaded and to keep it updated once it is. Perhaps Lexis or BNA can do a better publishing job for this title.– Joe
PS: A reader has commented that the seventh edition of the National Survey of State Laws is available, apparently since Jan. 12, 2016, on HeinOnline.
As a quick follow-up to my earlier post titled 10,000 documents: Is there a flaw in West Search? (March 20, 2017), it appears that a West reference attorney has confirmed my conclusion that Westlaw does not offer as comprehensive a searching capability as Lexis.
In reading Mary Whisner’s (Reference librarian, Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington School of Law) research paper Comparing Case Law Retrievals, Mid-1990s and Today, Appendix B records an exchange between Whisner and a West reference attorney. Here’s the pertinent parts:
11/18/2016 01:14:35PM Agent (Anna Wiles): “Those searches seem to be maxing out.”
11/18/2016 01:14:51PM Agent (Anna Wiles): “Sometimes, the algorithm will cut off before 10,000.”
11/18/2016 01:23:26PM Agent (Anna Wiles): “If you run the search in all states and all federal, it will max out because it is a broad search.”
11/18/2016 01:23:53PM Agent (Anna Wiles): “If you narrow by a jurisdiction, the results will not max out.”
But Whisner was attempting to perform a fairly comprehensive search. Note that West Search sometimes will max out at under 10,000 documents too according to the West staffer.
More evidence that in an attempt to find the Holy Grail of legal research — the uber precise search result — West Search may have sacrificed comprehensiveness. — Joe
10,000 documents is an awful lot. Truly a low precision, high recall search. But sometimes, one starts off searching very broadly because Westlaw and Lexis Advance provide a “search within results” option to narrow down initial search output. While I do not perform many broad searches in Westlaw, I have never once seen a figure higher than 10,000 documents in my search results. I have, however, seen “10,000+” documents in equally broad Lexis Advance searches on the same topic. Unfortunately 10,000 documents appears to be a search results limit in Westlaw.
If an initial search pulls up 10,000 documents in Westlaw, there is no reason to believe all Westlaw documents identified by one’s search are really all the potentially relevant documents in the Westlaw database. Searching within the initial 10,000 documents search results would be, therefore, based on a seriously flawed subset of the Westlaw database, one defined by West Search, not one’s search logic. This is not the case in Lexis Advance where a broad search may yield 10,000+ documents for searching within initial results. If this is indeed a flaw in West Search’s output, one must conclude that Lexis Advance offers more comprehensive searching of its database than Westlaw. — Joe
Law bloggers frequently cite to primary sources but most offer no links to them because the sources they use reside behind a paywall, be it Bloomberg, LexisNexis or Thomson Reuters. For LexBlog bloggers, the paywall problem has been resolved by the integration of Fastcase’s legal search service into LexBlog’s WordPress platform. Now clicking on a LexBlog link will display within the same browser interface primary law sourced by Fastcase. For details, see Kevin O’Keefe’s LexBlog launches Fastcase integration. — Joe
Hoping to represent a class of consumers who bought LN’s New York Landload-Tennat Law (aka the Tanbook), the law firm of Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph brought a Feb. 23 complaint against the publisher in Manhattan Supreme Court.
“Rather than an authoritative source of state statutes, laws and regulations, the Tanbook, which is represented by the defendant as complete and unedited, is instead, at least as pertains to those involving rent regulated housing in New York rife with omissions and inaccuracies, rendering it of no value to the attorneys, lay people, or judges who use it,” the 25-page complaint states.
Details at Class Calls LexisNexis Publication Totally Useless (Courthouse News Service). Hat tip to and see also Jean O’Grady’s Dewey B Strategic post. — Joe
SSRN, the social science and humanities repository, has been acquired by Elsevier. Elsevier plans to leverage its Mendeley technology to enhance SSRN’s repository and online community. Mandeley is a free reference manager and academic social network Elsevier acquired a couple of years ago. Here’s the press release. — Joe
Legal software publishing companies and legal application developers that serve the public directly beware. A discussion paper from the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services is inviting comments on proposing a regulatory scheme that would impose restrictions on currently unregulated, non-traditional legal service providers. See Issues Paper Concerning Unregulated LSP Entities (March 31, 2016). Is the ABA protecting the “public interest” or attempting to expand its control over competitive threats to the organized bar’s hegemony? — Joe