Authentication of Primary Legal Materials and Pricing Options

Always worth reading is Intersect Alert, the one published by the SLA San Francisco Bay Region Chapter (and not to be confused with Chuck Bartowski’s Intersect).

This item about a new California Office of Legislative Counsel white paper is from the most recent issue:

Authentication of Primary Legal Materials and Pricing Options
“The recent passage of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has brought to the forefront the issue of costs of authenticating primary legal materials in electronic format. This white paper briefly reviews five methods of electronic authentication. These methods are based on trustworthiness, file types, effort to implement, and volume of electronic documents to be authenticated. Six sample solutions are described and their relative costs are compared. The white paper also frames the legal landscape and background of authentication for primary legal materials in electronic format, and provides context and points to applicable resources. The aim of this collective effort is to promote the understanding of costs related to authentication and invite further discussion on the issue.”
http://www.mnhs.org/preserve/records/legislativerecords/docs_pdfs/CA_Authentication_WhitePaper_Dec2011.pdf

ICALIRDA Conference 2012 – Legal Information in India

International Conference on Access to Legal Information & Research in the Digital Age (ICALIRDA 2012)
February 29 – March 2, 2012

Organizers:
National Law University, Delhi
SAARC Law
Mohan Law House

Location:
Auditorium, National Law University, Delhi
Sector-14, Dwarka, New Delhi-110078 India

Main Theme:
International Conference on Access to Legal Information & Research in the Digital Age
(29 Feb-02 March 2012)

Sub Themes:
*   Legal Education and Research: Current Development in Digital Age
*   Role of ICT in Development of Comparative Jurisprudence
*   International Law and Globalization in Digital Age
*   Current Trends in Legal Publishing :IPR Issues & Challenges
*   Licensing for Digital Resources
*   Best Practices of Information & Knowledge Management in Libraries
*   Open Access Initiatives and Scholarly Publishing
*   Free Access to Law Movement: National & International Perspective
*   Access, Authorization and Authentication of Digital Web Information
*   Role, Relevancy and Research: Online Legal Databases

For additional information contact the Conference Convener, Priya Rai:
Ms. Priya Rai
Deputy Librarian,
Justice T.P.S.Chawla Library,
National Law University Delhi,
Sec-14 Dwarka, New Delhi-110078
Tel: 011-24533441,09811260504
icalirda2012@gmail.com
http://www.nludelhi.ac.in

hat tip to Aru Satkalmi.

Law.gov video presentation now online!

In a January 2, 2010 op-ed in the New York Times entitled “A Nation of Do-It-Yourself Lawyers,” California Chief Justice Ronald George and New Hampshire Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. asked “how can we help those who are left to represent themselves in court?”

One thing we can do is make the law of the nation freely available.  Today much of the law remains behind a pay wall, often a very expensive pay wall.

There have been efforts to liberate the law — five guys at Cornell (Cornell’s Legal Information Institute), three guys at Google (Google Scholar legal opinions), and others.  The federal government has made strides too, eCFR remains a model of free, updated legal content, but as the first paragraph explains on the eCFR website disclaims, “It is not an official legal edition of the CFR.”  State government efforts are as varied as the 50 states and District of Columbia.

So what to do?

Law.gov is a campaign to identify what a national law registry should include, and to make recommendations to the policy makers on how to structure a repository of all primary legal materials (and maybe more) at all levels of government.

The Stanford Law Library hosted a Law.gov kickoff event on January 12, 2010 and the day’s events included a terrific panel discussion with Carl Malamud, Anurag Acharya (Google Scholar lead engineer) and law professor Jonathan Zittrain, moderated by Stanford Law School lecturer Roberta Morris.  We now have a streaming video link from this discussion and it’s definitely worth viewing:

http://www.law.stanford.edu/calendar/details/3717/#related_media

Best Evidence and the Wayback Machine: A Workable Authentication Standard for Archived Internet Evidence

“Note, Best Evidence and the Wayback Machine: A Workable Authentication Standard for Archived Internet Evidence”

Fordham Law Review, Forthcoming

DEBORAH R. ELTGROTH, Fordham University – Fordham Law Review

This Note addresses the use of archived Internet content obtained via the Wayback Machine, a service provided by the Internet Archive that accesses the largest online digital collection of archived Web pages in the world. Given the dynamic nature of the World Wide Web, Internet content is constantly changed, amended, and removed. As a result, interim versions of Web pages have limited life spans. The Internet Archive indexes and stores Web pages to allow researchers to access discarded or since-altered versions. In the legal profession, archived Web pages have become an increasingly helpful form of proof. Intellectual property enforcers have recognized the value of the Internet Archive as a tool for tracking down infringers, but evidence from the Internet Archive has rarely been admitted at trial. This Note surveys the handful of judicial opinions and orders that comment on the admission of Internet Archive evidence and explores the conflict underlying these approaches. As an alternative to the courses they have taken, this Note urges courts to treat the introduction of archived Web pages as implicating a best evidence issue in addition to an authentication question. Under this approach, courts would decide using evidence sufficient to the purpose, but not necessarily admissible at trial, whether the archived page qualifies as a ‘duplicate’ of a page that once appeared on the Web. Beyond that, courts would apply authentication standards already developed to decide whether a reasonable jury could find, based only on admissible evidence, whether proffered evidence accurately represents the page stored on the Internet Archive server and, if necessary, whether the original page accurately represented material placed on the originating site by the site’s owner or operator. With this additional step, reliable evidence from the Wayback Machine can become as easily admitted as any other Internet-derived proof.

 

Source:  LSN Intellectual Property Law Vol. 2 No. 109,  09/30/2009

The Decline and Fall of the Dominant Paradigm: Trustworthiness of Case Reports in the Digital Age

The latest issue of the New York Law School Law Review just crossed my desk, with many interesting articles,  including this one by William R. Mills, associate librarian and professor of Legal Research:

New York Law School Law Review

Volume 53 2008/09

William R. Mills

The Decline and Fall of the Dominant Paradigm: Trustworthiness of Case Reports in the Digital Age

Professor Mills’s conclusion:

The foundation of trust that underpins our system of case law reporting has now been undermined. Cases posted to many mainstream Internet legal research sources, other than Lexis or Westlaw, appear with no strong guarantee of accuracy or authenticity. Scrupulous legal researchers who wish to independently verify the accuracy of the case reports they cite from Internet sources are met with the burden of comparing the electronic reports against print versions, which are the only ones that courts deem to be official. On a large scale, this burden can prove insurmountable. Furthermore, readers of modern legal literature, when encountering citations from the National Reporter System, have good reason to harbor doubt that the authors who wrote those citations actually consulted the editions that they cited. Moreover, if the authors did not actually consult the National Reporter System, or its established electronic counterparts Lexis or Westlaw, then there is no assurance that the sources they did consult were reliably accurate.

In the digital age, the foundation of trust in our case law reporting system, and in legal citation generally, must be rebuilt. Such a rebuilding effort cannot succeed by utilizing the technology of printed books. Today’s legal researchers are increasingly abandoning print sources in favor of their Internet-based counterparts. The rebuilding of trust in the case reporting system must take place in the realm of digital technology. It must focus on implementing digital safeguards within the process of dissemination of case law databases to better ensure the accuracy and security of information found in those databases.

While court systems and other government entities will obviously play major roles in this rebuilding effort, the legal profession would be naive to expect the government alone to accomplish this work. The government, after all, has never succeeded in creating an efficient case reporting system that served the needs of lawyers nationwide.  Rather, the rebuilding of the American case reporting system for the digital age must be an effort undertaken jointly by government, professional groups, and private enterprise.  The corporate proprietors of Westlaw and Lexis, as the inheritors of the West paradigm, ought not to resist this effort, but instead join in to facilitate its speedy success. Cooperation among all parties is essential, and private enterprise would be an ultimate beneficiary. The companies that market databases of case reports to lawyers have nothing to lose and much to gain from an improved system that bolsters the trustworthiness of these products.

Where Have All Our Cowboys Gone? Authentication of Online Legal Resources

John Joergensen, a reference librarian at Rutgers-Camden, writes about the on-going issue of authentication of digital legal resources on Cornell’s VoxPopuLII.  His discussion touches on several different issues entwined in the authentication bundle, including the idea of reputation and “perceived trustworthiness” that the all too few commercial vendors enjoy and how to gain similar ground for free resources.  His post reminded me of a lecture that Bob Berring gave to our Advanced Legal Research in which he likened these veteran vendors to Tinkerbell.  The legal community believes in their veracity and authenticity and so they continue to dominate the digital landscape.  It’s high time we created room for more Tinkerbells to spread their online legal resource dust.

At present, AALL’s Electronic Legal Information Access and Citation Committee (ELIACC) is working on an update to their 2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources.  As a participant in the update, I was asked to re-evaluate that state of West Virginia’s online primary legal materials.  In their case, while the courts and legislature provide free access to their decisions and bills/laws, they also explicitly state these versions are unofficial and no overt steps toward authentication are apparent.  I am interested to see how the terrain may have changed for other states.  Stay tuned…..

The Next Generation of Legal Citations Survey, and Authentication and Link Rot Issues

Link rot is a pet peeve of mine.  A posting I made on June 11, 2008, “Law School Laptop Bans,” already has a broken link to a news story and the posting isn’t even a year old yet.  And I can’t count the number of times I have found a terrific-sounding right-on-point resource in a law review footnote, only to find its URL leads to the dreaded “404 Not Found.”  But it’s more than a pet peeve issue, as this survey makes clear:

“The Next Generation of Legal Citations: A Survey of Internet Citations in the Opinions of the Washington Supreme Court and Washington Appellate Courts, 1999-2005”

Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2007

TINA CHING, Seattle University School of Law

As more legal research is conducted online, it is reasonable to conclude that there will be a corresponding increase in citations to the Internet by judges in their opinions. With the widespread public use of the Internet to access information along with the constant changes and impermanence of websites, citing to the Internet should be an issue of increasing concern to the legal community across the country. This paper surveys the types of Internet sources the Washington state Supreme Court and Appellate Court justices are citing. It discusses the interrelated issues of link rot and the impermanence of web pages, citation format, authentication and preservation of online electronic legal information.

 

Source:  LSN Legal Information & Technology Vol. 1 No. 11,  04/29/2009