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The Indiana Law Library Blog

We Want a Death Star!

The White House has created a means by which the American people can voice their concerns on any range of issues and urge POTUS to take action.  “We the People” is the site where you can create a petition or browse and sign other petitions.

According to the How & Why, “If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”

I wonder what the official response might be to the petition urging construction of a Death Star.

As of this posting, the Death Star petition has received over 1,400 signatures.  This petition suggests that “[b]y focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.”

Check out some of the other pending petitions, which include the following:

Cyber(law) Monday — it won’t cost you a cent!

You’ve already selected the obligatory new tie for Dad; used the discount code UGLYXMASSWEATER to buy Mom a festive holiday cardigan; and snagged the video game at the top of your sister’s wish list.  Now what should you do with the rest of your Cyber Monday?  Why not consider engaging in a bit of computer law research?

According to the Council on Research Excellence,  Americans spent an average of over 2 hours per day (142.8 minutes) parked in front of their computers as of 2009.  Technological advances and the increased importance of computing and the Internet in American society have created a burgeoning new legal field.  Per Black’s Law Dictionary, cyberlaw deals “…with the Internet, encompassing cases, statutes, regulations, and disputes that affect people and businesses interacting through computers.  [It] addresses issues of online speech and business that arise because of the nature of the medium, including intellectual property rights, free speech, privacy, e-commerce, and safety, as well as questions of jurisdiction.”

There are a number of online legal publications devoted to technology and intellectual property issues.  Among them, the Maurer School of Law’s IP Theory, which is available in our digital repository.  Other major law journal publications covering this topic include the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Harvard’s Journal of Law & Technology, and Florida’s Journal of Technology Law & Policy.  In HeinOnline, you can search the Law Journal Library for topical articles in additional journals.  While you are there, be sure to search their new Intellectual Property Law Collection too.

Several of the law library’s electronic databases also contain cyberlaw material.  Bloomberg’s Technology and Internet Law practice page has a sizable amount of information, with an emphasis on current developments and news.  Lexis Advance’s Computer & Internet Law database can be selected (and searched) using the “Browse Topics” tab and contains a helpful breakdown of the major subtopics.

Another great place to conduct Internet law research is IUCAT.  Because cyberlaw is a loosely-defined area of law that is closely intertwined with several broad legal concepts, search term selection is particularly critical, whether you are searching the Internet or a library catalog.  Try using “cyberlaw” and its synonyms, such as “Internet law” or “virtual law” or “computer law”.  Additionally, it is a good practice to attempt searches combining the core subject term (i.e., “the Internet”) and any narrower terms applicable to your research interests (i.e., “privacy” or “intellectual property”).  The law library has several recent print publications on computer and technology law.  Books on this subject are classified beginning at KF390.5 and located on the 3rd floor.  Thumb through the volumes of  Law of the Internet (3rd edition), peruse Virtual Law, or scan Internet Law in a Nutshell (on reserve at the circulation desk).

For current awareness resources, look at the ABA Journal’s list of technology law-focused blogs and news sites, Science and Technology Law Blawgs, and any of the numerous institutes on technology and law: Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, Center for Innovation Law & Policy, and Stanford’s Center for Internet & Society, to name a few.  These organizations often host conferences and publish articles on Internet law and related topics.  GL&HF researching cyberlaw!

Managing Facebook in the Legal Profession

Today, CLE programs abound discussing the proper and ethical use of social media by attorneys.  In Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers (KF 320.I57 K46 2012), a recent addition to the law library’s collection, authors Dennis Kennedy and Allison C. Shields discuss both basic and advanced features of Facebook and how these can be employed in the legal profession.  No matter how long you’ve been using Facebook (or even if you’ve never used Facebook), this text offers excellent discussion of the ethical implications of your Facebook choices.  Unlike many resources that might tell you to delete your Facebook account before looking for jobs, this text enthusiastically encourages the use of Facebook by attorneys, but in a mindful manner.

The chapters are arranged as progressive lessons, walking the reader through the process of setting up a Facebook account, managing one’s privacy and security settings, and building a profile.  Each lesson offers practical advice about what one’s choices will mean in terms of who can view or otherwise access your profile.  At less than 200 pages, this book is brimming with useful information (and will probably in fact only take you, as the title suggests, about an hour to peruse).

The following are a few highlights from the book:

  • General Principles of Facebook use (pp. 28-29): When setting up your account, assume Facebook intends to share more than you might intend and consequently “assume more people can see your Facebook activities than you think.”  This means you need to go through each privacy and security setting, understand what each does, and set them according to your comfort level.  With the frequent changes that occur in Facebook, however, you cannot “set and forget” – it is important to check your settings from time to time.
  • Security (p. 32): Security settings are discussed at length, but one particularly good piece of advice was to turn on secure browsing for your Facebook account; this helps keep your account safe when using public WiFi.
  • Privacy (p. 35): We are most often told to delete our Facebook accounts because of foolish things we may have posted in the past that potential employers would still be able to see; however, as the authors point out, there is now a feature on Facebook that allows you to limit the audience for individual posts.  Essentially you can alter how your profile appears to different people (i.e. Friends versus Public).  You can see how your profile appears to these groups by using the “View As” feature on your profile.
  • Pages versus Profiles (beginning at p. 61): Lesson 4 discusses Facebook pages.  If your intent is to create a Facebook account for your firm rather than yourself, Facebook now asks that you create a page rather than a profile.  This lesson offers suggestions for this type of account.
  • Advanced Topics (beginning at p. 137): Perhaps most helpful in this book are the advanced topics located at the back.  Where the lessons focus on setting up and managing a Facebook account, the advanced topics focus more on ethical and legal implications of Facebook accounts.  These topics include “Ethics” (pp. 137-47), “Separating Your Personal from Your Professional Presence” (pp. 149-52), “Facebook Apps” (pp. 153-57), “Litigation and Discovery” (pp. 159-61), and some final “Tips” (pp. 163-69).

Even if you’ve been using Facebook since its inception, this book is worth a read.  There’s no denying that social media has made its way into the legal profession, but the choices made in one’s Facebook account can have serious ethical and legal implications.  This is certainly not the only resource available discussing these issues, but for a quick read on the subject, check it out.

And while you’re at it, “like” the law library on Facebook!  At the beginning of the year I set a challenge that we would give away a $25 Starbucks gift card once we reach 100 likes.  We’re getting closer, but we can’t give it away until we make that goal, so like us (and if you already have, tell a friend!).
Source: Dennis Kennedy & Allison C. Shields, Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers (2012).

Lawyers Behaving Badly

With the final Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) of the year looming on the horizon, ethics may be at the forefront of your mind.  While the MPRE tests for knowledge of the Model Codes for Professional Responsibility and Judicial conduct, as well as common law principles related to attorney discipline, there are guaranteed to be a nearly infinite number of ethical quandaries that won’t make it onto the exam.  Fortunately, there are resources available to help law students and practitioners navigate these issues.

First, always start with the rules governing professional responsibility.  It is sound advice to familiarize yourself with the Rules of Professional Conduct in your jurisdiction.  The current version of Indiana’s rules can be found on the judiciary’s website.  In addition, attorney disciplinary opinions are available online at the Indiana Judiciary website, with coverage from 2004 to present.  Periodically, the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) publishes ethical advisory opinions.  This ethical guidance can be retrieved through the ISBA’s website.  For coverage of other jurisdictions, Bloomberg BNA and the ABA collaborate to produce the Lawyers Manual on Professional Conduct.  This online resource can be accessed by selecting “BNA Premier” from the Online Resources menu and choosing the “ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct” from the BNA “All Resources” list.

Next, keep abreast of changes – in both the legal field and society at large.  The advent of the Information Age, and its resulting technological advances, has added another layer of complexity in legal ethics.  Electronic discovery methods, and even simple email correspondence, can imperil the otherwise well-intended attorney.  Res Gestae, the journal of the Indiana Bar Association, includes a column in each issue devoted to ethics called “Ethics Curbstone.”  The law library keeps recent issues of this publication in the reference collection behind the circulation desk, shelved in the final row closest to the computer bank.  Res Gestae is a great current awareness resource for ethical concerns that are emerging or otherwise newsworthy.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or colleague.  In each state, there is help available to attorneys and judges struggling with mental health and substance issues.  In Indiana, the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) provides a variety of services to members of the legal community trying to cope with these types of difficulties.

Remain informed by using the myriad resources and advice available concerning legal ethics.  Be diligent and thoughtful in your professional and personal conduct.  Take care of your mental and physical health.  Lastly, remember that when you are an attorney, or even an aspiring one, what happens in Vegas, doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas.

Copyright Law in the Digital Age

The law library recently added the Hathi Trust Digital Library to our list of electronic resources.  The Hathi Trust is a cooperative digitization effort by many major research institutions, including Indiana University, with a goal of preserving and providing access to library collections in digital format for use now and in the future.  With so many institutions contributing, collections within the Hathi Trust are vast, including such subjects as nineteenth century German texts, eighteenth century cookbooks, and many historic government documents that can be difficult to locate, such as Patent Indexes going back to the 1800s.

With the natural (and sometimes unnatural) deterioration of print materials, being able to digitize these works helps to ensure their preservation and accessibility for the future.  However, for a little over a year the Hathi Trust has been involved in a copyright lawsuit by the Authors Guild for copyright infringement.  The Authors Guild claimed that creating digital copies of copyrighted works infringed the authors’ copyright, because no permission was sought from the copyright holders, and that such wide-scale distribution (as is afforded by digital access) overstepped the allowances provided for in the Copyright Act’s fair use provisions.

On Wednesday, however, the presiding judge in this case ruled in favor of the Hathi Trust, finding that fair use was met, both because the digitization process was sufficiently transformative (the digital versions of the works in the Hathi Trust are full-text searchable in the database) and because this process provides much-needed access for disabled students (who can now read the digitized works through the help of assistive software).

Copyright law originates in the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8, endowing Congress with the power “[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The U.S. Copyright Act can be found in Title 17 of the U.S. Code.  For more information on U.S. copyright law, see this booklet from the U.S. Copyright Office.

If you’re interested in further research into copyright law, try searching the subject heading Copyright–United States in IUCAT, or browse the shelves around the KF 2994′s (second floor of the law library).

LawInfoChina upgrades Web Site

The Library subscribes to several databases of Chinese law. One of them is LawInfoChina, which is produced by the Peking University Legal Information Center. LawInfoChina  has  a variety of collections. Laws & Regulations contains laws, regulations, rules, judicial interpretations, local regulations and local rules in more than ninety subject areas. It includes all laws adopted by the National People’s Congress and the NPC Standing Committee and all regulations issued by the State Council from 1949 onward. Laws & Regulations also includes “important judicial interpretations that substantially influence legal practices and are recognized as an indispensable part of the original Chinese laws and regulations.” LawInfoChina includes a separate Case Law Database, which contains “typical judicial decisions approved and published by the Supreme People’s Court or the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.” These editorially enhanced cases are chosen “to reflect both current and predicted future trends in Chinese legal practice,” but the emphasis is on meeting the needs of companies doing business in China. Finally, there are both a Gazettes database (containing tables of contents of the official gazettes of various government agencies) and a database of Chinese Law Journals.

LawInfoChina has just updated it web site. It is now possible to search (or filter search results) by data facets, such as type of document, subject area, year of adoption, or any combination. The title/keyword search engine now also supports Boolean search syntax, allowing you to “and” and “or” search concepts, as well as search for phrases.

Of course, the single greatest value-added aspect of LawInfoChina is that all material is translated into English. However, those who speak or read Chinese should also keep in mind that the same platform supports a Chinese-language version of the database, ChinaLawInfo, which contains more material than its English-language counterpart. One nice feature is that it is possible to toggle back and forth between the two versions.

HeinOnline User Guides, Quick Reference Guides, and Other Training Materials

We all think of HeinOnline as a terrific source for PDF versions of law review articles. There’s good reason for this, since HeinOnline includes so many titles, and provides access to all of them all the way back to volume one. No other database provides PDF versions of so many articles, covering such a long period of time. Full Story »

We Have A Winner!

Last week I posted a blog entry offering a Starbucks gift card to the first student who could correctly answer several research questions using my new Foreign Law Basics research guide. And we have a winner! Charles Shaw, an associate on the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies,took the challenge and proved to himself how easy it is to do research when you use the correct sources. Congratulations, Charles!

If you haven’t noticed our new Research Guides web site, you should take a look. We already have eight new guides available, and many more are on the way. In fact, if you would like to see a research guide on a particular subject, please don’t hesitate to let us know!

Free Starbucks Gift Card!

Have you noticed that the Library has a new web site for research guides? Although we only recently began transitioning to this new site, there are already a number of new research guides available, and many more will follow. Take a look and let us know what you think.

To get you started, I invite you to look at the most recent guide, Foreign Law Basics. This research guide is intended to be a quick introduction to the most important sources, mostly electronic, that will help you no matter what country you are interested in.

And here’s a challenge. The first person to email me with correct answers to the following questions will receive a $10 gift card from Starbucks. Needless to say, all questions can be answered using electronic sources mentioned in Foreign Law Basics.

1) Which sections of the Austrian Civil Code deal with adoption?

2) When was the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany most recently amended? Where can I find an English-language translation of the amending law?

3) What was the approximate population of Belgium in mid-2010?

Believe me, these questions are not difficult to answer. If you like Starbucks coffee, it will be worth your while to look through Foreign Law Basics and give it a shot. (No pun intended.)

Library Adds Electronic Backfiles of Important Cambridge Journals

The Library recently added to its electronic coverage of 13 important Cambridge University Press journals, now providing access back to volume one for each of them. The Library had switched to electronic access to these journals some time ago, and this new purchase adds complete backfiles that in most cases the Library did not have in print. A few of these journals are partially available electronically in Lexis and WestLaw, and indexed in LegalTrac and the Index to Legal Periodicals. A few more are indexed in Academic Search Premier, a comprehensive index of more than 4500 journals in many disciplines. However, all of the titles are comprehensively indexed in Cambridge Journals Online, the platform providing full-text access to all electronic journals from Cambridge University Press.

To access the electronic version of these journals, the patron should retrieve the IUCAT record for the journal title of interest. A link in the bibliographic record will open a new window displaying the Cambridge journals Online platform, defaulted to the specific journal in which he or she is interested. Here one can search the specific journal, or the entire Cambridge Online Platform, using either a simple Google-type search, or an advanced search template that supports field searching. Alternatively, one can search for articles in various online indexes devoted to areas such as history, philosophy, politics, and the social sciences more generally, all available through the Wells Library web site, then retrieve the IUCAT record(s) for the journal(s) of interest with citation(s) already in hand. A browse function in Cambridge Journals Online will permit the patron to retrieve articles by citation. This would be the preferred approach if the patron wants to search multiple journals by subject, rather than just the titles in Cambridge Journals Online.

In general, patrons are reminded that the best way to determine the Library’s coverage for any specific journal is to look up the journal by title in IUCAT. The bibliographic record will indicate dates of coverage and location of all printed volumes, and will also provide links to all available databases that include the title sought. For each such database, dates of coverage will be provided, so that the patron can immediately determine which, if any, will include the specific article he or she is seeking. This is obviously far more efficient than the “hunt-and-peck” method of trying to guess which databases might include the title of interest.

Cambridge titles referred to in this posting include the following: Economics and Philosophy, Foreign Policy Bulletin, Journal of Economic History, Legal Theory, Leiden Journal of International Law, Netherlands International Law Review, Social Philosophy and Policy, The Journal of Politics, Utilitas, World Politics, Netherlands Yearbook of International Law, Continuity and Change, and British Journal of Political Science.