From the press release:

The Open Data Index is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation. The Index is compiled using contributions from civil society members and open data practitioners around the world, which are then peer-reviewed and checked by expert open data editors. The Index provides an independent assessment of openness in the following areas: transport timetables; government budget; government spending; election results; company registers; national map; national statistics; legislation; postcodes / ZIP codes; emissions of pollutants.

Countries assessed (in rank order): United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, Iceland, Moldova, Bulgaria, Malta, Italy, France, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Israel, Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Isle Of Man, Japan, Serbia, Russian Federation, Ecuador, South Korea, Poland, Taiwan R.O.C., China, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Jersey, Guernsey, Slovak Republic, Bermuda, Romania, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Singapore, Lithuania, South Africa, Cayman Islands, Egypt, Nepal, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Gibraltar, Belgium, Hong Kong, Barbados, Bahamas, India, Bahrain, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Kenya, British Virgin Is., Saint Kitts & Nevis, Cyprus.

Full results of Open Knowledge Foundation’s assessment and graphs of the data. — Joe

It’s that time of the year for not being able to vote for “none of the above” in AALL’s E-board elections. But there may be a candidate or two to vote for after viewing their biographies and campaign statements, assuming you haven’t already turned in your AALL membership “card.”

The polls open today; “may I have the envelope please.”

Vice President/President-Elect:

  • Carol Bredemeyer, Assistant Director for Faculty Services, Salmon P. Chase College of Law Library, Northern Kentucky University
  • Keith Ann Stiverson, Director of the Law Library and Senior Lecturer, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

Secretary:

  • Katherine K. Coolidge, Law Librarian, Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP
  • Sarah K.C. Mauldin, Director of Library Services, Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP

Executive Board Member (vote for two):

  • John W. Adkins, Director of Libraries, San Diego Law Library
  • Miriam D. Childs, Associate Director/Head of Technical Services, Law Library of Louisiana
  • Tina Dumas, Reference Librarian, Nixon Peabody LLP
  • Donna Nixon, Electronic Resources Librarian & Clinical Assistant Professor of Law, Kathrine R. Everett Law Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Joe

Hat tip to Slaw’s Monday’s Mix for information about the following University of Ottawa Press book.

The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law, Edited by Michael Geist.

Description

In the summer of 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada issued rulings on five copyright cases in a single day. The cases represent a seismic shift in Canadian copyright law, with the Court providing an unequivocal affirmation that copyright exceptions such as fair dealing should be treated as users’ rights, while emphasizing the need for a technology neutral approach to copyright law.

The Court’s decisions, which were quickly dubbed the “copyright pentalogy,” included no fees for song previews on services such as iTunes, no additional payment for music included in downloaded video games, and that copying materials for instructional purposes may qualify as fair dealing. The Canadian copyright community soon looked beyond the cases and their litigants and began to debate the larger implications of the decisions. Several issues quickly emerged.

This book represents an effort by some of Canada’s leading copyright scholars to begin the process of examining the long-term implications of the copyright pentalogy. The diversity of contributors ensures an equally diverse view on these five cases, contributions are grouped into five parts. Part 1 features three chapters on the standard of review in the courts. Part 2 examines the fair dealing implications of the copyright pentalogy, with five chapters on the evolution of fair dealing and its likely interpretation in the years ahead. Part 3 contains two chapters on technological neutrality, which the Court established as a foundational principle of copyright law. The scope of copyright is assessed in Part 4 with two chapters that canvas the exclusive rights under the copyright and the establishment of new “right” associated with user-generated content. Part 5 features two chapters on copyright collective management and its future in the aftermath of the Court’s decisions.

This volume represents the first comprehensive scholarly analysis of the five rulings. Edited by Professor Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, the volume includes contributions from experts across Canada. This indispensable volume identifies the key aspects of the Court’s decisions and considers the implications for the future of copyright law in Canada.

You can download the complete book as an open access PDF from the above link. — Joe

The news hit the feeds on Sunday:  Lou Reed was dead.  The news was surprising but not necessarily shocking.  Recent pictures showed Reed a bit frail at best.  He had a liver transplant not too long ago and apparently died from liver complications.  He was a unique talent who wrote unique songs.  His career began before the Velvet Underground with a band called The Primitives.  They had a minor hit in 1964 called The Ostrich featuring Reed on guitar and vocals.  He also co-wrote the song.  It’s available on YouTube.

Lou Reed’s music fit into little pockets of my life.  I had DeeJay’d at a punk bar in Chicago called LaMere Vipere in 1977.  The bar had gone punk from a gay disco.  The first song ever played in the new format was the live version of Sweet Jane from the Rock And Roll Animal album.  The second was Television’s Marquee Moon.  I arrived in New York City for the first time a few years before that.  I had taken the Broadway Express and walked out of Pennsylvania Station to a hot summer day in August.  It was 95 degrees as I headed south to the Village.  The smell of the city rose upward with the steam from the broken sidewalks.  My first thought was that I understood the music of Lou Reed much better all of a sudden.

I met Jackie Curtis at one point and we hung out for a while.  I have a 90 minute tape of one of our conversations somewhere in a box in my basement.  I asked Jackie about the reference to her in Walk On The Wild Side (“Jackie is just speeding away….).  She said she first heard the song when passing a record store that was playing it over street speakers.  She said she stopped, listened, and then she cried.  Jackie signed a matchbook from Max’s Kansas City for me.

I’ve seen Reed perform live four times, probably more than any artist.  The show that comes immediately to mind was on Thanksgiving night in 1975 at the Academy of Music.  It was billed as an evening with Lou Reed.  Was it ever!  I think it was probably the longest show in history, or at least it seemed that way to me.  I was still excited at the end of the first hour. By the time the third hour ended I wondered if the show would ever end.  My memory, hazy as it is, is that the show went on for another hour or more after that.  A review of one of his shows in the Chicago Reader said that Lou Reed had taken laid back and turned it into face down on the floor.  I knew just what they meant.

I have a lot of Reed’s music in my collection.  I think my favorite album is probably Berlin.  Rolling Stone reviewed it twice in two successive issues, calling it the best album since Sgt. Pepper and then the biggest piece of trash to ever been released.  One of my bands covered the title track in several live performances.  Others in my favorites category are Rock and Roll Heart, The Bells, Sally Can’t Dance, and Coney Island Baby.  His later stuff is good as well though I did not care much for The Raven or his collaboration with Metallica (Lulu).  My friends and I have argued about that.  But that was the music of Lou Reed.  It either grabbed you or it didn’t, and when it did, well, it really did.

Other little tidbits I remember include the first Velvet Underground “reunion” in 1972 when Reed, John Cale, and Nico performed in Paris.  The CD was released in 2004.  I have a tape of the performance from before the official release that included a hotel room rehearsal.  I don’t if Reed and Cale knew they were being taped but they said some very mean things about Nico along the way.  Speaking of mean things, John Cale would recount in one of his biographies that Reed would shoot a little too much heroin while riding around in limousines in New York.  I get the impression that Reed was lucky to be alive after some of his “experiences.”  There is also Victor Bockris’s unauthorized biography, Transformer.  The irony was that even though Reed cooperated with Bockris even though he portrayed Reed as a relatively unsympathetic character.  Such is Lou Reed.

We’ll miss you Lou though your music will live forever.  There is nothing quite like it.  Some of your music is not possible to cover since it’s so uniquely you.  In your own words, oh babe I’m going to miss you know that you’re gone, one sweet day.  I’ll end this with a video clip of one of the most unlikely and unnecessary covers of Perfect Day, one featuring Lou Reed with full orchestra in a duet with Luciano Pavarotti.  It truly is an OMG moment.

Mark

No or not until computers can generate a document that meets the reader’s needs and expectations according to Syracuse Law prof Ian Gallacher in his essay, Do RoboMemos Dream Of Electric Nouns?: A Search For The Soul Of Legal Writing [bepress]. Here’s the abstract:

This essay considers the possibility that computers might soon be capable of writing many of the documents lawyers typically write, and considers what qualities of writing are uniquely human and whether those qualities are sufficient to render human written work superior to computer generated work.

After noting that despite the claims of rhetoricians and narrative theorists, not all legal writing is persuasive writing, and that it is in the non-persuasive area of prosaic, functional documents that computer generated documents might gain a bridgehead into the legal market, the essay tracks the development of computer-generated written work, particularly in the areas of sports journalism and corporate reporting. The essay notes that the templates developed to generate these documents can be customized to produce the tone desired by the customer, meaning that both rhetoric and narrative have been captured and transformed into tools that can be manipulated by computer programmers. This in turn means that computer generated documents will not be devoid of rhetorical or narrative interest, making the programs that develop them potentially appealing for lawyers even if they seek to use them to draft persuasive as well as more functional documents.

What these programs will lack, however, is empathy — the ability to anticipate what information a reader will need from a document, and when the reader will need it, and to draft a document that meets the reader’s needs and expectations. An empathetic human writer knows when to follow and when to break the genre expectations of a document and can send powerfully persuasive messages to a reader by use of that knowledge.

The essay concludes that empathy is a crucial, and uniquely human, aspect of persuasive writing and that an empathetically-aware written document should be superior to a technically accurate but non-empathetic computer generated document.

Joe

— in order to begin to address domestic concerns that laws are being implemented in ways beyond what was thought allowable and to rebuild faith with our international partners?

I guess we will have to wait ‘n see. Quoting from OpenGovernment.org’s Oct. 29, 2013 newsletter article, “US to Outline New Commitment​s at the Open Government Partnershi​p Summit”:

Later this week the Obama Administration is scheduled to announce the US’ new round of commitments to make the government more open and accountable during the meeting of the Open Government Partnership in London. Due in part to complications created by the government shutdown, the US will not be unveiling its full action plan (the full plan will be released in early December), but US officials will be presenting an outline of what they consider to be ambitious commitments. The commitments that will be discussed during the meeting are expected to be related to modernizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), spending transparency, and open data.

A recent letter coordinated by OpenTheGovernment.org and signed by 45 organizations that work on a variety of issues urged the President to take advantage of the Summit’s international stage to commit to curbing secret law. As regular readers know, secret interpretations of the law have been at the heart of recent controversies ranging from opinions by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel memo authorizing interrogation techniques that many say equate to torture to opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that allowed for massive expansion of the National Security Administration’s surveillance programs. The most recent revelations regarding surveillance have raised serious concerns about what the government is doing in our name and the extent of violations of American’s privacy and civil liberties, and critical questions about whether the US’s programs breach international law. We intend to continue to raise these issues with the Obama Administration, and push for concrete commitments.

The embedded link in the above quote sends one to the press release for the Oct. 21, 2013 open letter. Here’s the list of signatories:

  1. American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
  2. American Civil Liberties Union
  3. American Library Association
  4. American Society of News Editors
  5. Arab American Institute
  6. ARTICLE 19
  7. Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  8. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
  9. Californians Aware
  10. Center for Democracy and Technology
  11. Center for Effective Government
  12. Center for Media and Democracy
  13. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – CREW
  14. The Constitution Project
  15. Council on American-Islamic Relations – CAIR
  16. Electronic Frontier Foundation
  17. Electronic Privacy Information Center – EPIC
  18. Essential Information
  19. Federation of American Scientists
  20. First Amendment Foundation
  21. Government Accountability Project – GAP
  22. Human Right Watch
  23. iSolon.org
  24. James Madison Project
  25. Just Foreign Policy
  26. Liberty Coalition
  27. National Coalition Against Censorship
  28. National Freedom of Information Coalition
  29. National Security Archive
  30. No More Guantanamos
  31. OpenTheGovernment.org
  32. PolitiHacks
  33. Project On Government Oversight – POGO
  34. Public Citizen
  35. Public Knowledge
  36. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  37. Reporters Without Borders
  38. Society of Professional Journalists
  39. Sunlight Foundation
  40. Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University
  41. Understanding Government
  42. Vermont Coalition for Open Government
  43. Vermont Press Association
  44. Washington Civil Rights Council
  45. Win Without War

Yup, AALL is not a signatory. — Joe

Patrick M. Ellis, a 3L who is an associate editor of the Michigan State Law Review, decided to find out. Here’s the abstract for his working draft of 140 Characters or Less: An Experiment in Legal Research [SSRN]:

In 1995, Robert Ambrogi, former columnist for Legal Technology News, wrote about the Internet’s potential to revolutionize the accessibility and delivery of legal information. Almost 20 years later, Ambrogi now describes his initial optimism as a “pipe dream.” Perhaps one of the greatest problems facing the legal industry today is the sheer inaccessibility of legal information. Not only does this inaccessibility prevent millions of Americans from obtaining reliable legal information, but it also prevents many attorneys from adequately providing legal services to their clients. Whether locked behind government paywalls or corporate cash registers, legal information is simply not efficiently and affordably attainable through traditional means.

There may, however, be an answer. Although the legal industry appears to just be warming up to social media for marketing purposes, social media platforms, like Twitter, may have the untapped potential to help solve the accessibility problem. This Note attempts to prove that assertion by showing an iteration of social media’s potential alternative use, as an effective and free information sharing mechanism for legal professionals and the communities and clients they serve.

Generally speaking, law review editors and other academicians demand that authors support every claim with a citation, or, at the very least, require extensive research to support claims or theses. This Note seeks to fulfill this requirement, with a variation on conventional legal scholarship. Almost all of the sources in this Note were obtained via Twitter. Thus, this somewhat experimental piece should demonstrate social media’s potential as an emerging and legitimate source of legal information. By perceiving and using social media as something more than a marketing tool, lawyers, law schools, and, most importantly, clients, may be able to tap into a more diverse and more accessible well of information. This redistribution of information accessibility may not only solve some of the problems facing the legal industry, but also has the capability to improve society at large.

Hat tip to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites post. — Joe

For history of US legal education buffs, Yale Law School Library’s Document Collection Center has launched a wonderful resource, Litchfield Law School Sources.

This resource brings together text, images, interpretive material and bibliography about Litchfield Law School and the law notebooks kept by its students.  During the school’s years of operation, 1774 to 1833, nearly 1,000 young men traveled to Litchfield to study with Tapping Reeve, the founder, and James Gould, his assistant and sole proprietor after Reeve’s death. More than 270 notebooks have survived, representing the efforts of 90 students as they recorded law lectures delivered by their teachers and copied charts and essays on particular points of  law. At a time when the usual method of legal training in this country was an apprenticeship with a solo practioner, these notebooks are evidence of the beginning of professional legal education, based on a comprehensive curriculum which relied heavily on the content and structure of  William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.

Why did so many of the best and the brightest sons from elite families attend Litchfield? For the answer comb through the provided resources. See, for example, Composite Curriculum at Litchfield Law School based on lectures of Tapping Reeve, 1790-1798.

Hat tip to Dan Ernst’s Legal History Blog post. — Joe

Things I’ve read lately on the Internet that have piqued my interest include an article on The Atlantic by Bruce Schneier called The Battle for Power on the Internet.  Scheier argues that institutional power wielded by government and corporations have caught up with hackers and formerly (relatively) powerless advocacy groups when it comes to use and control of the Internet.  It’s an interesting read in that he leans to institutional control as the likely winner in the long run.  Corporations and government work together in a public/private partnership to track Internet usage.  One uses the information for marketing and the other for surveillance.  This is, in contrast, to the early days of the network when anonymity ruled.

We’ve seen the Internet destroy re-fashion certain industries such as news delivery, music and media, and Schneier touches on these to the extent that industry and government work with each other to minimize piracy in intellectual property, enforce trade restrictions, and track activities.  That last one gets prominent attention, although Schneier doesn’t take a stand on whether this is good or bad.  One of his examples shows how the rebels in Syria use Facebook to organize resistance.  The Syrian government uses Facebook activity to identify individuals for arrest.  In the end, those with technical proficiency will be in the best position to endure changes.

It’s always been my opinion that the more convenience technology offers, the more we are likely we are to be tracked and monitored.  I’m not paranoid about this.  It’s almost impossible to use an electronic device or service without creating a transactional record.  I think we are well past the point of limited archives that evaporate after a short time.

My solution would be to have a clear understanding of what information is collected, for how long, how it’s used, and who has access to it.  I don’t mean to support vague and wordy privacy policies either.  There should be a clear law or policy that requires that this information be spelled out.  Schneier suggests that neither a police state nor an Internet utopia is likely.  As he puts it, “figuring out a stable middle ground is hard.”  He states these kinds of issues are primarily political questions and will be sorted out that way, no matter how technology develops.

Mark

A new gold rush has come to California, with the state’s massive legal system open for mining as courts and lawyers move to new technology. Investor Warren Buffett’s right hand man has joined in the race along with enormous software and publishing companies from around the nation. “It’s truly the wild west here in California,” said an industry insider, “a land grab.”

They are scrambling for a mother lode of multi-million-dollar contracts for software and licensing, vast additional sums for upkeep, and the right to set up a toll booth on Court Road for 38 million people. — Maria Dinzeo, Courthouse News Service

Why? Dinzeo explains that “the rush of deal-making follows the collapse of a half-billion-dollar, ten-year state project to develop a Court Case Management System for all California’s 58 trial courts. Widely savaged by judges as a ‘fiasco” and a “boondoggle,’ the software developed by Deloitte Consulting was abandoned last year.” For much more see Tech Gold Rush Strikes CA Courts. — Joe

Sounds like New England Law School administration has found a novel hardball way to downsize faculty ranks. The title of Blog Emperor Caron’s post explains the School’s plans in a nutshell: New England Law Faculty Face 8-Course Teaching Loads, Mandatory Office Presence (M-F, 9-5) Unless 35% Accept Buyouts. Yikes, that sounds like the four letter word most feared in the legal academy — W O R K. Apparently tenured and junior profs targeted for buyouts will have to work such grueling hours if they do not accept the buyouts being offered before start of the 2014 academic year.

Hat tip to Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports. — Joe

Hat tip to DigitalKoans for calling attention to Jingfeng Xia’s The Open Access Divide, Publications 2013, 1(3), 113-139; doi:10.3390/publications1030113. Here’s the abstract:

This paper is an attempt to review various aspects of the open access divide regarding the difference between those academics who support free sharing of data and scholarly output and those academics who do not. It provides a structured description by adopting the Ws doctrines emphasizing such questions as who, what, when, where and why for information-gathering. Using measurable variables to define a common expression of the open access divide, this study collects aggregated data from existing open access as well as non-open access publications including journal articles and extensive reports. The definition of the open access divide is integrated into the discussion of scholarship on a larger scale.

— Joe

Windows 8.1 became available last week to consumers wishing to upgrade their Windows 8 installations.  The update is free and is only available as a download through the Windows store.  I have a Windows 8 machine that is dedicated to music production.  My so-called productivity machine runs Windows 7 with no plans to upgrade to Windows 8.1 for the foreseeable future.  I am one of the Metro Modern Interface haters, though I’m not pathological about it compared to some of the comments I’ve read in tech stories.  All of my audio/video applications are based in the desktop.  I made the upgrade last weekend.

Aside from the download (about 3.5 GB), a lot of the actual installation happens behind innocuous screens that ask for patience or state “almost done” or words to that effect.  SkyDrive is deeply integrated into Windows with an option in the install process to use it or not (which Microsoft does not recommend).  I declined as I didn’t need cloud storage for everything I do.  Raw recorded multi-channel music files can be in the hundreds of megabytes each and I don’t need to waste the bandwidth to access them.

Microsoft seems to lean on machine owners to log into their systems using a Microsoft account, though there are ways to maintain a local account on the machine.  If a local account already exists, there is an option on the “create a Microsoft account” screen that includes a link to “Continue using my existing account.”  See the illustration and instructions here and here.

Depending on preferences, there are steps to disable Bing search as part of the desktop search, if one doesn’t want it, and steps to boot directly to the desktop (right click on the desktop taskbar and look for the option under navigation).  There are better options for grouping apps on the Start Screen.  The Start Button also returns with my favorite feature.  Right clicking on it brings up several options, including one to power down without having to invoke the charms list on the right side of the monitor.  The Start Button is worth it for that feature alone.  One other point worth mentioning is that antivirus software such as McAffee does not work with Windows 8.1.  The install process silently removes any installed antivirus software and replaces it with Windows Defender.

I understand what Microsoft is doing here by creating an operating system that can share information seamlessly over Windows powered devices.  It makes sense in a world where people use phones, tablets, and desktop machines and need that convenience.  It’s lost on me since a) I don’t use social media, so I’m not constantly sharing anything, b) have only one Windows 8 capable computer with no current plans to buy another, and c) use all of my applications via the desktop with a mouse and keyboard.  I appreciate the fact that Microsoft has built in settings that can be changed to disable most of the new features. I’ll be posting links to the better articles that offer Windows 8.1 tips over the next few days.

Mark