New White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Memo on Improving Management of and Access to Scientific Collections

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) of the White House yesterday issued a memorandum to the heads of all federal executive departments and agencies on “improving the management of and access to federal scientific collections – please see here.

The accompanying press release is here.

Hat tip to Law Librarians.

WeCite Project’s win-win opportunities

Analyzing how a given opinion has been impacted by subsequent decisions is an essential part of legal research.   Consequently, the work of the Free Law movement cannot stop with making opinions freely available: a free and robust citator is also needed.

A gargantuan effort will be required to build (and continually update) such a citator. The newly launched WeCite Project, co-sponsored by the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics and the free legal research platform Casetext, aims to bring the win-win power of crowdsourcing to the task. Along with the traditional crowdsourcing strategy of enabling a community of like-minded people to easily contribute,  the WeCite Project is also giving law schools the unique opportunity to do their fair share in another win-win way:  students learn about citators and citation analysis; the database grows.  Already a number of advanced legal research classes have already participated and our class this spring will join the crowd.

The Columbia Society for Law, Science and Technology is hosting a WeCite Event at Columbia Law School on March 26, 2014 (see details and RSVP here: https://casetext.com/wecite/event).  Any and all who are passionate about legal research and/or equal access to the law are invited to attend.  Those who cannot make it to New York can also participate remotely.

Importantly, any and all citator entries created under the WeCite Project (“wecites”) are public domain under a Creative Commons SA license.  Casetext will also be creating an API to allow anyone to bulk download wecites.

The beauty of crowdsourcing is that small contributions from individuals can aggregate into something magnificent.  For those who are interesting in pitching in, instructions can be found here: https://casetext.com/wecite

Ralph Nader Supports Carl Malamud & His Nonprofit Public.Resource.Org

Longtime American political activist, lecturer, author, and attorney Ralph Nader has today posted

The Law Must Be Free and Accessible to All — Not Secret and Profitable

in support of Carl Malamud, our friend and technologist, author, and public domain advocate — and perhaps best known for his nonprofit foundation Public.Resource.org.

New from Copyright Clearance Center (CCC): Open Access Resource Center

The nonprofit Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), “a global rights broker for the world’s most sought-after books, journals, blogs, movies and more” – last month launched a new Open Access Resource Center, in partnership with the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), which “aims to be a comprehensive resource for all things open access to make it easy for the marketplace to stay on top of the latest developments” (see press release here).

See also: Why I Don’t Care About Open Access to Research—and Why You Should

U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG): 65 percent of college students have at some point decided against buying a college textbook due to its high price

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) has today released a report — Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives — showing “that 65% of student consumers have opted out of buying a college textbook due to its high price, and of those students, 94% they suffer academically.”

Please see: here, here and, for the full, 18-page report, here.

U.S. Census Bureau Adds New Mobile App — “dwellr” — that Delivers On-the-Go Local Statistics

Late last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new mobile app called dwellr that helps users find local statistics.

Please see the official news release here.

The new app is available for both Apple iOS and Android OS (operating system) mobile devices.

“Cranch Project” Launched by the District of Columbia Council to Create Open-Source, State-Level Code

The “Cranch Project” has been launched by the Council of the District of Columbia “to create the nation’s first UELMA[Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act]-compliant, open-source, state-level Code of Laws.”

For some news/commentary please see here.

Hat tip to Law Librarians.

Recent Paper of Interest: “The Open Access Divide”

Prof. Jingfeng Xia at the School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has recently published

The Open Access Divide

The abstract to this article reads:

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.

Hat tip to Law Librarians (with further hat tip to DigitalKoans).

Recent Open Access Development in the U.K.: “Briefing on Mandatory Open Access Policies”

The Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) representing all university libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland published last month a 135-page document

Briefing on Mandatory Open Access Policies

Prepared by Sarah Durrant, Red Sage Consulting and Ann Rossiter

Hat tip to DocuTicker.com.

Free Law Project from CourtListener

We here at Stanford are big fans of CourtListener.  We use it to, among other things, identify recent cases that cite our faculty; those alerts come to us faster than those from some other services.

Stanford Law School alumnus, Legal Research Plus guest blogger and legal informatics visionary Pablo Arredondo has some news to share about CourtListener’s Free Law Project:

Brian W. Carver and Michael Lissner, creators of the CourtListener platform
and associated technology, are pleased to announce that after four years
developing free and open legal technologies, they are launching a
non-profit umbrella organization for their work: Free Law Project. Free Law
Project will serve to bring legal materials and research to the public for
free, formalizing the work that they have been doing, and providing a
long-term home for similar projects.

“Since the birth of this country, legal materials have been in the hands of
the few, denying legal justice to the many,” said Michael Lissner,
co-founder of the new non-profit. “It is appalling that the public does not
have free online access to the entirety of United States case law,” said
Brian Carver, UC Berkeley professor and Free Law Project co-founder. “We
are working to change this situation. We also provide a platform for
developing technologies that can make legal research easier for both
professionals and the general public.”

The official goals for the non-profit are:

*   To provide free, public, and permanent access to primary legal
materials on the Internet for educational, charitable, and scientific
purposes;
*   To develop, implement, and provide public access to technologies useful
for legal research;
*   To create an open ecosystem for legal research and materials; and
*   To support academic research on related technologies, corpora, and
legal systems.

The CourtListener platform was started in 2009 as part of a masters project
at UC Berkeley, and has matured over the years to be a powerful legal
research platform. It has nearly a million legal opinions dating from 1754,
and has more each day as it gets them directly from court websites.
CourtListener currently serves thousands of people with free legal opinions
each week, and has had a doubling of traffic just since July 2013.
CourtListener sends out hundreds of alerts to its users each week,
informing them of new legal cases in which they have expressed an interest.
All of CourtListener’s code is open source and all of its content is
available for free bulk download. Numerous startups and researchers have
used both the code and the bulk data as a basis for their work.

More information is available in [the Free Law Project about page][1],
where you can find a list of current activities and non-profit documents.
The co-founders expect to pursue grant funding from foundations, but also
hope that those who support the goals of improving public access to the law
will [donate directly][2] so that the non-profit can put more developers to
work on these efforts.

In the future, freelawproject.org will be the official place to find
updates about Free Law Project and its related technologies.

“This is a huge day for the open legal movement, and we hope you’ll help
share the news by telling your friends and colleagues,” said Lissner.

**Brian W. Carver** is Assistant Professor at the UC Berkeley School of
Information where he does research on and teaches about intellectual
property law and cyberlaw. He is also passionate about the public’s access
to the law. In 2009 and 2010 he advised an I School Masters student,
Michael Lissner, on the creation of CourtListener.com, an alert service
covering the U.S. federal appellate courts. After Michael’s graduation he
and Brian continued working on the site and have grown the database of
opinions to include over 900,000 documents.

**Michael Lissner** is the co-founder and lead developer of CourtListener,
a project that works to make the law more accessible to all. He graduated
from UC Berkeley’s School of Information. Michael is passionate about
bringing greater access to our primary legal materials, about how
technology can replace old legal models, and about open source,
community-driven approaches to legal research.

For more information, contact info@freelawproject.org

[1]: http://freelawproject.org/about/
[2]: https://courtlistener.com/donate/?referrer=flp-blog