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

Coalition of Organizations Concerned with Animal Abuse File Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit in District of Idaho against Idaho’s Ag-Gag Law

A coalition of organizations such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and the Center for Food Safety, along with others, yesterday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Idaho’s “Ag-Gag” law — Idaho Code § 18‒7042 (2014) — which they consider to be unconstitutional.

The case is:

Animal Legal Defense Fund et al v. Otter et al.
Docket No. 1:14-cv-00104 (D. Idaho, Boise – Southern Mar. 16, 2014) (complaint)

For some coverage of the case, please see here and here.

Release of Latest Biennial Report on U.S. Academic Libraries

Earlier this year the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education, published and released the latest biennial report on U.S. academic libraries, which contains data on staffing, spending, collections and other services at academic libraries in 2- and 4-year degree-granting post-secondary institutions in the United States.

Please see the 57-page document:

Academic Libraries: 2012 First Look (January 2014)

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.

Center for Democracy & Technology Report on U.S. National Security Agency Activities

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a Washington, DC-based, Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization — with a mission  to promote an open, innovative, and free Internet — released in October of last year a 5-page report on U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) activities:

Bulk Data Collection and Electronic Surveillance by the United States National Security Agency

The CDT makes a number of recommendations in the report, including:

  • Disclose annually the number of surveillance requests the U.S. government makes…
  • The U.S. Congress should bar the NSA from circumventing U.S. law by obtaining from other intelligence agencies information U.S. law bars it from collecting itself.

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.

Free Law Project Improves with API

Our good friend Pablo Arredondo shares this great free law development:

Those pursuing better legal technology will find new wind in their sails with the release of the first-ever application programming interface (“API”) for U.S. judicial opinions. The API is the latest in a string of great contributions from the Berkeley-centered Free Law Project (FLP), and will give developers and researchers unprecedented dexterity in accessing and analyzing FLP’s substantial (and growing) collection of judicial opinions.
Mike Lissner, co-founder of FLP and the driving force behind the new API, describes some potential uses for the API here: http://freelawproject.org/?p=342

The actual API can be accessed here: https://www.courtlistener.com/api/rest-info/
As with everything FLP does, this project is open-source and feedback from the community of users is encouraged and greatly appreciated.

“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.