ALA’s Virtual Town Hall on eBooks will explore emerging subjects in the eBook lending arena, including digital preservation, reader accessibility, self-publisher engagement, and libraries as publishers. It will take place from 11 a.m. to noon Central time on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.

Panelists include:

  • Barbara Stripling, ALA president;
  • Maureen Sullivan, ALA immediate past president;
  • Keith Michael Fiels, ALA executive director;
  • Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library and DCWG cochair;
  • Robert Wolven, associate university librarian of Columbia University and DCWG cochair;
  • Alan S. Inouye, director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy.

Register here.

Joe

Illinois is just one state in a long line that has imposed sales tax collection on out-of-state retailers when there are in-state affiliates that refer sales to that out-of-state retailer via links on the in-state affiliate’s web site.  These laws are pretty much aimed at Amazon and any other large retailer that use the same arrangements.  The Illinois General Assembly passed its own “Amazon tax” in 2011.  It was challenged by the Performance Marketing Association, Inc. Unlike the result in other challenges in other states, the PMA won at trial with the decision affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court in a 6-1 opinion released last Friday.

The PMA argued that the tax collection requirement was discriminatory and as such was a violation of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) (47 U.S.C. § 151 note (2000).  The provision which limits the collection of discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce as prohibited reads:

“(A) any tax imposed by a State or political subdivision thereof on electronic commerce that—

* * *

(iii) imposes an obligation to collect or pay tax on a different person or entity than in the case of transactions involving similar property, goods, services, or information accomplished through other means.” 47 U.S.C. § 151 note.

The distinction the Court draws comes from the fact that tax collecting requirements are not imposed on out-of-state retailers who enter into advertising campaigns with Illinois publishers and broadcasters.  The PMA argued that the taxing requirement comes into effect simply through a link on a web site which can be international in scope.  The Court agreed with this:

Under paragraph 3 of the definition section of the Use Tax Act, retailers who enter into contracts with Illinois publishers and broadcasters for advertising “disseminated primarily to consumers located in this State,” i.e., locally, are obligated to collect use tax. But Internet advertising is different. As the parties’ joint stipulation of facts states: “The home page and other publicly-available pages of any Internet website can be accessed from a computer, or other digital device, located anywhere in the world that is connected to the Internet via wire or radio signal. Thus, information appearing on a webpage is available and disseminated worldwide.” (Emphasis added.) Illinois law does not presently require out-of-state retailers who enter into performance marketing contracts for “offline” print or broadcast advertising which is disseminated nationally, or internationally, to collect Illinois use tax. However, under the Act, out-of-state retailers who enter into such contracts with Illinois Internet affiliates for the publication of online marketing—which is inherently national or international in scope and disseminated to a national or international audience—are required to collect Illinois use tax. In this way, by singling out retailers with Internet performance marketing arrangements for use tax collection, the Act imposes discriminatory taxes within the meaning of the ITFA.

The case is Performance Marketing Association, Inc. v. Brian Hamer, Directory of Revenue 2103 IL 114496.

Mark

Starting at slide 11, Bess Reynolds, Technical Services Manager, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, addresses pain points, budgetary concerns and the failure of vendors to develop library management tools, issues all law libraries, large and small in the private and public sectors, face in acquiring and maintaining today’s digital resources. From her Oct. 4, 2013 presentation at LLNE’s Fall Meeting, “Acquiring and Maintaining Resources for the New Collection” [complete stack below], pain points include:

  • Substituting digital formats for print without proper notice;
  • Digital versions of print serials that circulated to many may come with a prohibitively high single user price tag; and
  • Creating proprietary platforms for eBooks thwarting single silo for discovery

With respect to vendors failing to develop library management tools, Bess notes that busy lawyers don’t have time to register themselves on web sites, manage their passwords and learn new platforms. Internal IT department restrictions designed to protect an institution’s network results in attorneys and librarians not able to install applications or vendor plug-ins. And, of course, any new vendor software scheme requires extensive in-house testing.

It is “important for publishers to hear directly from their customers” because official AALL vendor relations dogma maintains that “we don’t all have the same needs and perspectives.” I believe Bess Reynolds’ presentation underscores that working law librarians are grappling with the same issues regardless of their institutional setting when it comes to acquiring and maintaining resources for the new normal in collection development. — Joe

It’s an old story on Salary.com, covering jobs that are evolving or going extinct.  Librarian was the first in the slide show and the verdict was “evolving.”  The short version of the rationale included this statement:  “The new librarian is a digital archivist, savvy with searches, keywords and helpful websites.”  We’ll sure.  Those of us in law libraries understand the subject specialties and literature in detail when working with lawyers, faculty, students, and public patrons know that it is a bit more than that.  Nonetheless, in the spirit of Friday Fun, I offer my own short version of the Song of the Reference Librarian:

I can’t believe they pay me to Polly-waddle Google all day.

I sit on my butt in front of a screen and Polly-wolly Google all day.

Fair thee well, fair thee well, I’m Polly-wolly Googling all day.

I move a mouse and point and click, Polly-wolly Googling all day.

I’ve seen that Shirley Temple movie collection ad one time too many, and that’s what it turned into for me after probably the 100th time on screen.  Oh, and I had to Google the original lyrics so I could spell “wolly” correctly.  Librarians will still be around mining the Internet, if for no other reason than to show patrons that there is more to useful information than Wikipedia.    

Mark

Congressional lawmakers—more than two-fifths of whom are lawyers by education—often can’t resist from referring to their law school days when in need of a pithy anecdote for speechifying.

In remarks on the House and Senate floors, members of Congress this year brought up law school in a variety of ways, from arguing that an issue is too difficult to understand—not even a lawyer can figure it out!—to saying that a concept is so easy to grasp that even a first-year law student would not be vexed. Need to make fun of yourself? Mention how you didn’t get into Harvard Law School. Trying to fill time during a filibuster? Tell a story about law school. — Todd Ruger

Ruger proceeds to list seven of the best law school mentions in his National Law Journal article (free registration required). — Joe

And law profs don’t like student editors. Wow! And law reviews impact law prof careers negatively. Hum… . Why?

Those are the takeaways from a recent Loyola Law Review article, What Do U.S. Law Professors, Student Editors, Attorneys, and Judges Think about U.S. Law Reviews and the Need for Reform? by Richard A. Wise, Joseph C. Miller, Douglas P. Peters, Heather K. Terrell, Brett Holfeld, & Joe R. Neal [GSTF Digital Library, DOI: 10.5176/2251-2853_2.2.127]. Here’s the abstract

We surveyed 1325 law professors, 338 student editors, 215 attorneys, and 156 judges about their beliefs about U.S. law reviews and the need for reforms. Law reviews play a critical role in the law and legal education in the U.S. They are also one of the best means for social scientists to convey research about the law to legal professionals. Law professors were generally the most critical of law reviews and student editors were usually the least critical. Respondents identified several problems with law reviews. They believed that law review articles are too long. Most respondents also believed that U.S. law reviews have a negative effect on law professors’ careers and that they are not meeting the needs of attorneys and judges. The vast majority of respondents indicated that reforms are needed and that U.S. law reviews should implement blind, peer reviews. We also discuss the significance of our findings for the U.S. legal system and for social scientists who study the law.

About that negative career impact thing, Karen Sloan writes

The law professors surveyed had a more negative take on law review article selection than did the student editors, while the judges and practitioners were largely neutral on the issue. The law professors responded that law reviews frequently select articles based on the author’s credentials instead of the quality of the submitted article, and that law reviews don’t give adequate consideration to articles before making a decision on whether to accept them.

Quoting from Law Review Articles Need A Makeover, Study Finds (NLJ, Oct. 10, 2013; behind paywall).

In other words, “my submission is better than that other law prof’s submission.” Would peer review change that?  — Joe

Well, that’s not exactly news but Dean Allard also talks about Brooklyn Law’s two-year program in this interview with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

From the Bloomberg Law description:

Law schools need to find ways to cut the expense of merit scholarships, which they “use to buy students . . . with high LSATs” to improve the schools’ US News rankings, Brooklyn Law School Dean and Patton Boggs Partner Nicholas Allard tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia. The money would be better spent on scholarships for students with financial need, he says.

Joe

I assume everyone is sitting on pins and needles over whether the government will be pushed into default by Congress’ seeming inability to fund the government and/or raise the debt limit.  I admit that I’ve probably spent more than a few minutes over the past few days wandering the chattering class web sites while nervously thumbing my latest TIAA/CREF quarterly statement.  I’m not going to take a stand on how this is going to (or ought to) turn out.  The latest news is that the Senate leadership has reached a funding agreement with House Speaker John Boehner going along with allowing a House vote.  Perhaps my and more than a few others’ retirement balances are safe for a few more months.  I’ll be happy when the legislation is signed into law.

One of the casualties of the shutdown has been government web sites.  Sites have either been down or available with messages saying they are not being updated due to the shutdown.  The Federal Trade Commission site still features a stark page stating the site is not available.  Sites that are available but with messages stating they are not being updated at present include the White House, the Department of Justice, and other major cabinet departments.  I’m happy to report that the Library of Congress web site appears to be functioning though it has a message saying it is not being updated.  Earlier reports indicated that the LOC was one of the first sites to become totally unavailable.  Thomas and FDSys are working as well, though the latter says it is processing congressional material in any event, even if it’s not posted immediately. The Federal Register is kept current to some extent.  Thomas, by the way, is not going to be with us much longer.  A message on that site says the Thomas web address will redirect to FDSys starting in November.

The Supreme Court is still going despite the shutdown.  The latest message on the Court’s web site says everything will continue, including public access to its building at least until the 17th of October.  We’ll see how normal everything becomes once the appropriations are made.

 

Mark

On Tom Glocer’s blog, former TRI CEO Tom Glocer returned to the day, some 30 years ago, when he and fellow Yale LS classmate, Ron Wright, launched a computer game at YLS that was designed to be a teaching aid for pre-trial discovery. The program apparently was well received at Yale. It even made the New York Times. Glocer republished the article in his 30th Anniversary Post – Can Computers Teach the Law? post. [Glitchy direct link warning; hence the above link to the blog’s front page.] From Computer Gives Yale Law Students a Taste of Court Process (NYT, Dec. 25, 1983):

Professor Fiss, one of Yale’s three professors teaching civil procedure this semester, is replacing what was a written exercise with a computer game created by Mr. Glocer and Mr. Wright. Process of Discovery.

OK, so the NYT article was Christmas Day newspaper fodder. Still, it’s too bad Glocer didn’t bring that sort of innovation to the table at Thomson Reuters. Then again, WEXIS is the cemetery for innovative thinkers. Perhaps he tried.

Dear Tom,

Don’t know about your non-compete clause but … why not start up an Etsy eCommerce site for one-off  e-“legal solutions” like altSEs, apps, etc., handmade by legal technologists? My hunch is many of those creative folks wouldn’t mind giving you a 4% sales commission for the exposure they might get from a legal Etsy site.

Your pal, Joe

Help Us Improve The Bluebook !

The editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are about to embark on the exciting task of making revisions for the forthcoming Twentieth Edition, and we need your help.  We rely on user input to guide our revisions to The Bluebook. This survey is an opportunity for you to share your ideas with us as we update The Bluebook so that we can target our revisions to best serve your needs.

Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey at  www.legalbluebook.com/survey.  Surveys must be received by November 8, 2013, in order to be considered for the Twentieth Edition. Comments and suggestions are also welcome through e-mail to editor@legalbluebook.com.

Bonus Prize:

As an added incentive for the completion of our survey, we will select five participants at random to receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. An additional twenty participants will be randomly selected to receive a free copy of the Twentieth Edition as well as a two-year subscription to The Bluebook Online (www.legalbluebook.com). Winners will be notified by December 8, 2013.

Source: law-lib announcement (republished with permission). — Joe

Hat tip to Jean O’Grady for calling attention to yesterday’s re-launch of the product now known as “Business Law Center on WestlawNext.” After giving a brief history of Thomson Reuters’ many bungled attempts since acquiring Global Securities Information (GSI) in 2005, Jean provides an overview of Business Law Center and comments on this development.

This relaunch is surely about regaining lost “good will” and reinforcing credibility in the corporate practice space. But I suspect that the Business Center is a beachhead from which a greater initiative will be launched. It is becoming increasingly clear that as content has become commoditized, the large legal publishers will maintain their growth and advantage by providing more integrated content, enhancing context and folding content into tools for process improvement.

In this case, the battleground is for control of the transactional desktop. See Thomson Reuters Re-Launches Westlaw Business (Again): The Business Law Center and the Next Great Battle for the Corporate Lawyer’s Desktop on Dewey B Strategic. Highly recommended.

If interested, see also TR’s press release, Thomson Reuters Introduces Business Law Center on WestlawNext: Next generation of business law research supported by Experts On-Call dedicated research assistance, and its companion podcast discussing Experts On-Call.

Joe

“Now I’m ready to close my eyes. Now I’m ready to close my mind. … Now I wanna be your dog.

Come on!” — The Stooges

After yadda-yadda-ing about AALL’s prodigious generation of a lot of words that have no real world consequences, the e-Board’s hired help writes

Throughout the year I met with legal publishers in person or by phone to discuss our policies and resource guides and to reiterate the importance of compliance with the fair business practices principles.

And yet no news that even one vendor has committed in whole or in part to Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers, 3d ed. Securing commitments was a stated goal, remember? None so far posted. Commitments in whole or in part and outright rejections in the written word authored by AALL’s “vendor partners” is one of those proof-of-concept things.

I continued to expand the list of publishers with whom I am in regular communication, providing them with news about our activities as well as feedback about a wide range of issues of concern to our membership.

Does the list really need to be more extensive than TR Legal Solutions, LexisNexis, BLaw-BNA and Wolters Kluwer. Granted it might be difficult to engage WK in regular communications but … just keeping a feedback loop open with AALL’s so-called major “vendor partners” about a narrow range of issues is hard enough. CRIV Unleashed can handle the rest.

But what really struck me as odd in this year-end review was the following statement from the September 2013 Vendor Liasion Update:

I believe we are in a long period of transition for law libraries and legal publishing as we all struggle to meet the changing demands of legal information users. Law librarians and legal publishers must keep the lines of communication open to ensure affordable and effective delivery of information services. I pledge my support for continuing this dialogue and look forward to working with both groups in the process.

Wait a minute — “working with both groups”! Who the hell pays for this program?! So much for consumer advocacy, the vendor liaison program way. — Joe

Karen Sloan at the National Law Journal is highlighting a new public blog written by law school deans.  The idea is to regularly offer a dean’s perspective about the current state of law schools into the public discourse.  I think it’s about time.  As the article notes, law school deans have occasionally published pieces on blogs and major news outlets, often to sharp criticism.  Many deans may have been surprised by the reaction to their pieces.  This outlet, on the other hand, gives them a chance to respond to critics and continue the conversation about law school trends.

It’s one thing to express views to ABA regulators in private.  It’s certainly another to take a public stand on the nature of the curriculum, law school debt, and the job market. Frank Wu is quoted as supporting the idea:  “We’re playing defense, and I don’t want to keep playing defense. My message to my decanal colleagues is, ‘You’ve got to do this.'” I agree, provided that the contributors are candid enough.  Posts that say things aren’t that bad should be backed by realistic arguments and evidence to that effect.  And when things are bad, well, there should be responses that address the problems.

The article is unclear as to whether the blog has begun publishing.  The blog, however, is located here.  Posts started to appear on October 4th.  Let the discussion begin

Mark

From the WSJ’s Jess Bravin interview with Justice Kennedy:

Of the 9,000 [petitions] we mark about 500 for discussion. From the 500 we discuss, we should take about 100, 120. Lately we’ve been taking only 80. There’s not a lot of emotional or intellectual capital expended arguing over whether we should take the case.  If it’s a really important case and we feel badly that it wasn’t taken, there will be another one [sooner or later] on the same issue.

For more, see Justice Kennedy On Choosing Cases, ‘Empathy,’ And Diversity (WSJ Law Blog). Hat tip to Cynthia Fountaine’s Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog post.

And with a hat tip to Eugene Volokh’s post, note this exchange about checking out what blogging law profs have to say after cert has been granted. From Jess Bravin’s Justice Kennedy On Law School, Blogging, And Popular Culture (WSJ Law Blog):

Q: Chief Justice John Roberts, among others, has criticized law reviews for publishing articles on obscure subjects that offer little assistance to the bar and bench. I understand you agree — but have found a substitute.

A: Professors are back in the act with the blogs. Orin Kerr, one of my former clerks, with criminal procedure [and] the internet area, Mike Dorf, Jack Goldsmith. So the professors within 72 hours have a comment on the court opinion, which is helpful, and they are beginning to comment on when the certs are granted. And I like that.

Q: So you’re reading blog posts after cert grants?

A: I have my clerks do it, especially with the ones when we’ve granted cert, to see how they think about what the issues are.

Joe

Google and Facebook are getting to be more and more like each other when it comes to taking advantage of user information.  Google announced today that it will show a +1 and picture of the friend who gave the recommendation in ads and searches.  These are called “shared endorsements.”  Google does offer a mechanism to opt out.  There is a check box in Google Account settings that reads “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.”  The box is checked by default.  Unchecking it prevents sharing.  Press reports on the new setting are in PC Magazine and ZDNet.  The new setting goes into effect on November 11.

Facebook is making a change to privacy settings on the social network as well.  It is removing the ability for an individual to hide their timeline from search by name.  Facebook had eliminated the setting a while back for those who had not selected it.  This action now removes the opt-out for the less than 1% of accounts that selected it, calling it “and old search setting.”  The site suggests using other privacy settings to limit information that can be seen by others.  I can image there are indignant individuals who use Facebook but resent the lack of control over privacy.  Then there are individuals who have genuine privacy concerns, such as hiding from stalkers or abusive ex-’s.   The report in Ars Technica has the details.

Mark