World Economic Forum (WEF) White Paper: Internet Fragmentation

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has recently posted the white paper

Internet Fragmentation: An Overview (January 2016)

From the Executive Summary (page 3/6 of the PDF) of the document:

…the Internet is in some danger of splintering or breaking up into loosely coupled islands of connectivity. A number of potentially troubling trends driven by technological developments, government policies and commercial practices have been rippling across the Internet’s layers….

The growth of these concerns does not indicate a pending cataclysm. The Internet remains stable and generally open and secure in its foundations, and it is morphing and incorporating new capabilities that open up extraordinary new horizons, from the Internet of Things and services to the spread of block chain technology and beyond. … But there are challenges accumulating which, if left unattended, could chip away to varying degrees at the Internet’s enormous capacity to facilitate human progress. We need to take stock of these….

The purpose of this document is to contribute to the emergence of a common baseline understanding of Internet fragmentation. It maps the landscape of some of the key trends and practices that have been variously described as constituting Internet fragmentation and highlights 28 examples.

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

Ineffective Assistance of Library: The Failings and the Future of Prison Law Libraries

By Jonathan Abel, in Volume 101, Issue #5 of The Georgetown Law Journal (June 2013).  Here’s the abstract:

The prison law library has long been a potent symbol of the inmate’s right to access the courts. But it has never been a practical tool for providing that access. This contradiction lies at the core of the law library doctrine. It takes little imagination to see the problem with requiring untrained inmates, many of them illiterate or non-English speakers, to navigate the world of postconviction relief and civil rights litigation with nothing more than the help of a few library books. Yet law libraries are ubiquitous in American prisons. Now, in light of a technological revolution in legal research methods, prison libraries face an existential crisis that requires prison officials, courts, scholars, and inmates to reconsider the very purpose of the prison law library. This Article takes up that challenge by providing a novel historical account of the prison law library’s development.

This Article uses original historical research to show how prison law libraries arose, not as a means of accessing the courts, but rather as a means of controlling inmates’ behavior. By placing the origin of the prison law library in the first decades of the twentieth century–half a century earlier than typical accounts–this Article shows how the law library evolved to take on a new purpose in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Supreme Court and other courts first began to fashion a law library doctrine. The central argument of this Article is simple: The courts’ attempts to graft an access-to-courts rationale onto a law library system that had developed for other purposes led to a law library doctrine riddled with contradictions and doomed to failure. This historical account helps explain a prison law library system that never really made sense in terms of providing access to the courts. As prisons look to update their law libraries in light of sweeping technological changes, it is all the more important to understand the history of the law library system so that authorities can plan for its future.

 

 

Michael Hart, Father of Project Gutenberg

Today’s New York Times includes the lengthy obituary: “Michael Hart, a Pioneer of E-Books, Dies at 64.”

The obit tells the story of the fascinating history of Project Gutenberg, which was born when Mr. Hart typed out the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1971 and made it freely downloadable from Arpanet.   From that beginning, the project has grown to include over 30,000 books.

The obituary also discusses various copyright issues and Mr. Hart’s connection with then Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig when Prof. Lessig met for lunch with Mr. Hart to see if he might serve as lead plaintiff in a constitutional challenge to the Copyright Term Extension Act.  Mr. Hart, after pouring sugar on his pizza, told Prof. Lessig that he saw the ligitation as a chance to “challenge the entire social and economic system of the United States.”    According to the obit. Prof. Lessig was looking for someone a little “less visionary” and enlisted Eric Eldred for the cause, which resulted in the 2003 Supreme Court decision Eldred v. Ashcroft.

The goodness of porn

 

The staff of the Stanford Law Library must abide by two simple rules:  1. Be nice; 2. no porn.

I start my day in the office by reading four newspapers:  The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Financial Times (have I got a great job or what?! – I get paid to read the newspaper).

So imagine my surprise when I turned to page 5 of yesterday’s Financial Times and found a full-page ad placed by the adult entertainment industry in support of the new .xxx internet extension, “WHY THE ADULT ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IS ADOPTING A NEW POSITION.”

According to the ad (and, rhetorical question here:  what will replace the impact of a “full-page ad” when newspapers give up their print editions?), there are many benefits of the .xxx address.

For one thing, all sites ending in .xxx with be scanned daily for malware and spyware.

And $10 for every .xxx domain will go to the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, which develops tools to protect children online.

“.XXX is the most desirable thing to happen to online adult entertainment in a long time,” the ad concludes.

And this ad comes about a week after a news story suggesting that colleges might want to “snatch up .xxx domains.”

But you won’t be seeing LegalResearchPlus.xxx, and my two rules still apply at the library:

1. Be nice.  2. No porn.

If anyone wants more information, the ad points to www.about.xxx and I’d be happy to send along a copy of the full-page ad upon request.

Save the Tweets: Library Acquisition of Online Materials

The latest issue of AIPLA Quarterly Journal (Volume 39, Issue Number 2, Spring 2011) just landed upon my desk, and at page 269 I found this article calling for “digital acquisition rights”:

Save the Tweets: Library Acquisition of Online Materials, by Jodie C. Graham

Its abstract from the AIPLA webpage:

As the Internet becomes an increasingly pervasive communications technology in society, public discussions and other born-digital documents of social and political importance frequently exist solely on various websites.  To fulfill their missions of preserving public knowledge, libraries seek to acquire and make accessible web documents to scholars, students, and other library patrons.  However, section 108 of the Copyright Act, which previously provided sufficient protection from liability for libraries’ acquisition and reproduction activities, does not adequately map onto the technological realities of acquiring digital documents over the Internet.  As a result, libraries must accept the risk of copyright infringement liability or forgo preserving historically important online documents.  This Note proposes a set of amendments that would update section 108 to extend libraries’ current limited protections from copyright liability to the acquisition, preservation, and making available of online documents.​

Un-Legislative History

Wikipedia is often a boon for quick legal research about well-publicized matters.  It’s a great way to find where a statute is codified, or the background of a famous case.  When it comes to legislative history, though, sometimes Wikipedia’s a bust.  For anyone looking for a good example of why one must follow up with proper research into legislative history, please see Wikipedia’s entry on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed in July 2010.  As of Nov. 16, 2010, Wikipedia has the following to say about the changes implemented by Title XI of Dodd-Frank:

“The Federal Reserve Act is amended to change the New York Federal Reserve President to a Presidential appointment, with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

In support of this assertion, Wikipedia cites and links to the Enrolled Final Version of HR 4173, available on the LOC’s Thomas page.  Unfortunately, Wikipedia gets it wrong:  The version of the bill that passed Congress removed that language (which had been proposed by the Senate but rejected by the House).  The Senate’s proposal in this regard was snipped on June 17, 2010, weeks before the final bill passed.  Legislative history research–including review of committee meeting transcripts–coupled with news and secondary source coverage bore out the truth.

We always offer cautions when it comes to Wikipedia, and now there’s a handy example to which we can refer.

UPDATE:  Thanks to our helpful reader, Wikipedia has been policed. . .while its lesson remains!

French Legal Guides from EducNet – Guides Juridique Legamedia

The French Ministry of Higher Education and Research has posted a handful of thematic legal guides on their EducNet site. Guides are able for copyright, protection of children online, cultural property, privacy, human rights, and regulation of teachers and professors. All information is available only in French.

Guides Juridique Legamedia

http://www.educnet.education.fr/legamedia

Using Bing Search Engine for Foreign Legal Research

The Bing search engine seems to be indexing  specific resources from LexisNexis. For example, a search of  [france lexis] produced the following result in position number four:

Full Search results: http://www.bing.com/search?q=lexis+france&entrypoint=IE-SearchBox&FORM=LENIE

This link leads directly to LexisNexis’ Doing Business in France (File Name DBFRAN). Although very useful, Bing does not provide a title for the link; it only provides the www.lexis.com title. Similar searches for Russian statutes [russia lexis laws] lead directly to LexisNexis’ Economic Laws of the Russian Federation database , but again failed to include the publication name in the link. 

Full search results for [russia lexis laws]: http://www.bing.com/search?q=russia+lexis+laws&entrypoint=IE-SearchBox&FORM=LENIE

Bing’s searching of LexisNexis resources is welcome, but here’s hoping that the links can be made much more  informative.

I was not able to locate specific Westlaw database links using Bing, or at least they did not appear in the top 5 results. 

Bing Search Engine

http://www.bing.com/

eYou Guide – European Union Guide to Internet Rights

The European Commission has created a Web site for citizens to learn about EU Internet law, e-commerce,  privacy rights online, and copying digital content. Although not designed for attorneys, the site does link to the full-text of legislation and case law mentioned in the text.

eYou Guide to your rights online          http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eyouguide/navigation/index_en.htm

 

Examples of questions addresed by eYouGuide site:

Protecting privacy

Tips and precautions you should take in order to prevent misuse of your personal information online.

Can the company that provides my internet connection see which sites I visit? If so, how do they use this information?

What you should know about the consumer contracts, unfair terms and delivery of goods bought online.

Shopping online

When buying goods/services online, what are the consequences of clicking “I have read and approved the terms & conditions”?

Safety & security

Concerns about the security of your computer, Internet connection or safety of your online payments.

What are the risks of using social networking websites?

Copyright & IPR

What you should know about your rights and obligations related to music files, movies, CDs and DVDs and books online.

Can I lawfully copy images and texts I found on the internet?   

Can I record streaming video and audio?

Disabled, older people

Access to and use of online services for older people and people with disabilities.

I am a blind user and sometimes I have difficulties accessing some literary or artistic works online. What can I do about this?

Who’s liable?

How to find who is responsible for illegal content online and for faulty goods sold or advertised on the internet.

Can an online seller be held liable for faulty products?

Who is going to pay for the damages caused by a defective product bought online?

The Wayback Machine and More From Brewster Kahle

Really nice 2-page spread on Brewster Kahle, “The internet’s librarian,”  in this week’s issue of The Economist.

The Economist

March 7th – 13th 2009

Technology Quarterly insert

Brain scan

The internet’s librarian

Brewster Kahle wants to create a free, online collection of human knowledge.  It sounds impossibly idealistic — but he is making progress

It is easy to dismiss Mr. Kahle as an idealist, but he has an impressive record of getting things done.

I have used the Wayback machine — i.e., The Internet Archive — to find needed documents that were not otherwise available online anymore.  And apparently I’m not the only one:

The most famous part of the archive is the Wayback Machine (its name inspired by the WABAC machine in the 50-year-old television cartoon featuring Rocky and Bullwinkle). This online attic of digital memorabilia stores copies of internet sites . . . Paul Courant, the dean of libraries at the University of Michigan, equates what the archive does for the internet with what the British Museum did for the British empire. . . . The Wayback Machine “gives us access to what people were producing at different points in time,” he says.  Evidentially this is of more than just academic interest: the site gets 500 page requests per second.

The article also discusses “Mr. Kahle’s wider goal:

to build the world’s largest digital library.  He has recruited 135 libraries worldwide to openlibrary.org, the aim of which is to create a catalogue of every book ever published, with links to its full text where available. . . .

The article notes that “this activist for online privacy is also a staunch supporter of openness” and details efforts and litigation Mr. Kahle has been involved with.