New U.S. Copyright Office Report: “Orphan Works and Mass Digitization”

The United States Copyright Office has recently issued a new report on “orphan works,” or copyright-protected work for which rights-holders are not determinable or contactable, as well as on digitization en masse.

Please see:

Orphan Works and Mass Digitization: A Report of the Register of Copyrights (June 2015)

From the Executive Summary on page 1:

This Report addresses two circumstances in which the accomplishment of [the] goal [to facilitate the dissemination of creative expression [as] an important means of fulfilling the constitutional mandate to “promote the Progress of Science” through the copyright system] may be hindered under the current law due to practical obstacles preventing good faith actors from securing permission to make productive uses of copyrighted works. First, with respect to orphan works, referred to as “perhaps the single greatest impediment to creating new works,” [footnote omitted], a user’s ability to seek permission or to negotiate licensing terms is compromised by the fact that, despite his or her diligent efforts, the user cannot identify or locate the copyright owner. Second, in the case of mass digitization – which involves making reproductions of many works, as well as possible efforts to make the works publicly accessible – obtaining permission is essentially impossible, not necessarily because of a lack of identifying information or the inability to contact the copyright owner, but because of the sheer number of individual permissions required.

Library of Congress (LoC) Launches New Web Archive Content on Its Website

Please see:

A New Interface and New Web Archive Content at Loc.gov

A total of 21 named collections on wide-ranging subject matter are now available in the new archive interface.

Cross-posted at Law Library Blog.

Some Rather Differing Takes — in Two Recent Law Library Journal Articles — on the Future of [Academic] Law Libraries…

Legal Education in Crisis, and Why Law Libraries Are Doomed vs. Like Mark Twain: The Death of Academic Law Libraries Is an Exaggeration

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

The U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services has recently (February 26, 2015) made available

Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

of the Director of National Intelligence.

“PubAg,” User-Friendly Search Engine, Debuts at the U.S. National Agricultural Library

The U.S. National Agricultural Library (NAL) has debuted PubAg, a user-friendly search engine, which provides “enhanced access” to the public to search for and obtain research published by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The NAL is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Please see here for the USDA’s press release about PubAg.

EU “Right To Be Forgotten” Guidelines

Europe’s Article 29 Working Party, made up of data protection (or data privacy or information privacy) representatives from individual Member States of the European Union (EU), recently published guidelines for implementing the so-called “right to be forgotten” ruling, which was earlier handed down by Europe’s top court in May of this year.

IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report”

The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] has recently released its Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report.

From the first 2 paragraphs of the press release accompanying the report:

Human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed on all continents. If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. However, options are available to adapt to climate change and implementing stringent mitigations activities can ensure that the impacts of climate change remain within a manageable range, creating a brighter and more sustainable future.

These are among the key findings of the Synthesis Report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Sunday. The Synthesis Report distils and integrates the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by over 800 scientists and released over the past 13 months – the most comprehensive assessment of climate change ever undertaken.

A policymaker-targeted summary is here.

For a previous IPCC-related item on this blog please see here.

Oral Arguments on CourtListener!

Great news from our friends at CourtListener….

The CourtListener site is now adding oral arguments to the project,
and users can now search for oral
arguments and even get email alerts based on words in a case’s caption.

For more on this, see their exciting press release below from the Free Law Project:

“We’re very excited to announce that CourtListener is currently in the process of rolling out support for Oral Argument audio. This is a feature that we’ve wanted for at least four years — our name is CourtListener, after all — and one that will bring a raft of new features to the project. We already have about 500 oral arguments on the site, and we’ve got many more we’re we’ll be adding over the coming weeks.

For now we are getting oral argument audio in real time from ten federal appellate courts. As we get this audio, we are using it to power a number of features:

  • Oral Argument files become immediately available in our search results.
  • A podcast is automatically available for every jurisdiction we support and for any query that you can dream up. Want a custom podcast containing all of the 9th circuit arguments for a particular litigant? You got it.
  • You can now get alerts for oral arguments so you can be sure that you keep up with the latest coming out of the courts.
  • For developers, there are a number of new endpoints in both our REST API and our bulk data API for audio files.
  • Using the Free Law Seal Rookery, we are enhancing the audio we find on court websites by adding album art and better meta data.

For now, search results and alerts are limited to the data that is provided by court websites, so you cannot (yet) get alerted any time somebody says a certain word in court. Audio is a new area for us though and we’d absolutely love to automatically create transcripts for the courts, enabling such a feature. This would be an incredibly powerful feature, so if you are an expert on audio transcription, we’d love to hear from you and to work together on this.

Beyond all of the great features we’re rolling out today, oral argument data also marks an important turning point for the project because it lays the ground work for adding more types of data to CourtListener. It’s been a large undertaking adding a second type of data to the project, but adding a third will be much easier. Next in our hopper will likely be the content from RECAP so that you can create alerts, have powerful APIs, and do all the other things you expect from CourtListener, except this time, for documents from PACER.

We’re very excited about being able to provide oral argument data today and RECAP data tomorrow. We can’t wait to see what kinds of legal research and innovation these new features bring.”

Per U.S. Library of Congress, Congress.gov Is No Longer in Beta Phase

Per the U.S. Library of Congress, Congress.gov — the successor to THOMAS — is no longer in its beta phase — please see the following news release:

Congress.gov Officially Out of Beta

From the news release, here are some new features/enhancements:

  1. New Feature: Congress.gov Resources
    – A new resources section providing an A to Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress
    – An expanded list of “most viewed” bills each day, archived to July 20, 2014
  2. New Feature: House Committee Hearing Videos
    – Live streams of House Committee hearings and meetings, and an accompanying archive to January, 2012
  3. Improvement: Advanced Search
    – Support for 30 new fields, including nominations, Congressional Record and name of member
  4. Improvement: Browse
    – Days in session calendar view
    – Roll Call votes
    – Bill by sponsor/co-sponsor

Filings in Legal Databases as Possible Source for Withdrawn State Court Opinions

We wanted to share as a tip the good fortune that might be had in a legal database’s collection of “Filings” when one is searching for withdrawn state court opinions.  In our scenario, citations in both WestlawNext (“WLN”) and LexisAdvance (“LA”) indicated that a particular state supreme court opinion had been withdrawn.  The WLN & LA results for the withdrawn opinion revealed only that the opinion had been substituted, but no longer contained the text for the withdrawn opinion.  However, with some deep digging into WLN’s “Filings” linked to the substituted opinion, we were able to find a PDF copy of the withdrawn opinion attached as an exhibit to a petition for review.  Often (and as was the case here) the HTML versions of these “Filings” lack referenced exhibits, but thank goodness for PDFs…particularly for these 25-year-old, pre-electronic-filing state court cases!

We hope you’re equally as lucky in gaining ready access to withdrawn state supreme court opinions!