French Law 2012-287: Database of Digitized 20th Century Books

Law 2012-287 was published in the Official Journal of France on March 2, 2012. The law, which amended France’s Intellectual Property Code, proposes building a free, public database of digitized books that were published in the 20th Century and are no longer in commercial distribution. The Bibliothèque national de France (BNF) would be in charge of creating and administering the database.

Publishers and rights holders will have 6 months to challenge inclusion of a book in the database. It also appears that after raising a challenge, publishers have three years to demonstrate a market for the book, or that they have created their own digitized version.

I did not see a specific appropriation of funds in the bill, so it is unclear to me how the BNF will finance the project.

Reaction on French law librarian mailing lists and blogs has been positive, but muted. Wait and see seems to be the prevailing sentiment.

Whether this bill leads to a free database or not, let’s hope that it spurs debate in France, Europe, and across the Atlantic, about the role of digitized books in society.

Law 2012-287 relative à l’exploitation numérique des livres indisponibles du XXe siècle.

Full-text of the bill and links to legislative history materials are available at

Some authors’ groups have already criticized the bill for ignoring copyright law. For example, see the petition circulated by writer Yal Ayerdhal:

Additional commentary on the bill from the Rue89 blog

“Freeliterature” Portal to E-Book Sites

Freeliterature is a valuable portal to e-book sites, including not only collections of items in English — such as Project Gutenberg — but also in other languages from around the globe.

Categories of books/materials covered — see here — include, among other things:

  • Classical Greek & Latin – Medieval
  • Technical and Scientific
  • Audio Books
  • Art
  • Music
  • Research, Education and Scientific Publications

Freeliterature also invites participation — see here — in the proofreading of electronic texts in order to help make them available online.

Hat tip to

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Jolyon Ford

Pretoria (Tshwane),: Institute for Security Studies, 2009

From the Introduction:

Consider the following six brief and related statements:


1. Impunity and inaction in response to the most serious crimes of concern to the

international community represent a failure to meet human rights principles,

to respect victims, and to deal with issues affecting future peace.


2.A global consensus exists on the need to provide an acceptable, principled

international criminal justice system as a means to deal with perpetrators of

international crimes: that consensus is reflected in the Rome Statute of the



3.The ICC is only likely to be perceived as just, effective, legitimate and

sustainable to the extent that it is fair in its treatment of those brought before



4. Representation by a competent independent legal defence counsel is, in turn,

considered indispensible to fair investigations and trials in the ICC and other

international criminal tribunals.


5.The role of the defence lawyer in ensuring systematic fairness in international

justice deserves more attention generally.


6.There is, in particular, an ongoing need for more awareness raising and

capacity building in order to enable African lawyers to engage in the work of

the ICC in general and in Africa, including by acting as defence counsel or



This handbook explores some of the issues raised in these statements with a view

to increasing African lawyers’ understanding of, and engagement, with the ICC

and its processes and in particular the role of defence counsel, in order to help

bring fairness to international justice.


On E-readers

The number one best-selling product on this holiday season is the Kindle.  Visit and you’ll see a big push for the Sony Reader.  The same is true with Barnes & Noble and the new Nook.

As a book junkie, I confess I don’t understand what the fuss is all about.  E-readers are expensive, the screens are small and drab, and the interfaces are clunky and slow.  I’m not saying “don’t buy a Kindle” — I understand the convenience of putting a lot of books on a small, light device.  The e-books are cheaper than their print brethren, and yes, it is kind of cool to be able to say you have a library in the palm of your hand.  But books can be obtained FREE at the library, most people who aren’t students don’t carry more than one book around, and books are ridiculously easy to use.

More importantly, where is the fun in a one-dimensional informational gadget?  Hasn’t the smart phone taught the e-reader makers that we want to be able to surf the Web, send texts and emails, listen to music, watch videos, and make phone calls all in one device?

Well, maybe it has.  The major magazine publishers have recently piped up to unveil a prototype for a digital magazine concept that ideally works on a tablet-like computer.  TechCrunch has excellent coverage of the prototype in a recent post, a video from which is below.

It will be interesting to see if the e-magazine concept takes off the way the e-book concept seems to have done.  One aspect of this digital magazine prototype that I find inherently more interesting is the way the content is re-imagined for the digital medium.  This concept isn’t  just re-distributing the same print magazine like the e-readers are doing, it’s adding interactivity and inter-connectivity.

Another possible game changer is the much-rumored Apple tablet computer, which is speculated to be smaller and lighter than current tablet PC’s.  Supposedly set for a 2010 release, the Apple tablet may become the iPhone of e-readers–in other words a “must-have” type of portable device that can not only run applications and play music, but can also display e-books and e-magazines, dynamically and in full color.  As a September 2009 Gizmodo post points out:

Some [Gizmodo’s writer has] talked to believe the initial content will be mere translations of text to tablet form. But while the idea of print on the Tablet is enticing, it’s nothing the Kindle or any E-Ink device couldn’t do. The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridized content that draws from audio, video and interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static. And with release dates for Microsoft’s Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static E-Ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content. First, it’ll get its feet wet with more basic repurposing of the stuff found on dead trees today.

It seems likely, then, that with Apple’s tablet, and Microsoft’s similar device the “Courier” on the way, current e-readers are probably just the first wave before a much larger and more interesting tablet computer invasion.

UPDATE [12/15/2009] : It’s worth mentioning that there is a wave of color e-readers on the way, too.  Qualcomm’s Mirasol-equipped e-readers, featuring a mirroring amplification display system that can split ambient light into colors, are scheduled for production in 2010.  (An interesting twist is a  potential video game controller add-on — perfect for study breaks.)  Pixtronix is developing an energy-efficient color pixel technology with the PerfectLight Display, which could find its way onto other e-readers. Meanwhile, Liquavista, a spin-off from electronics giant Philips, will use oil, water, and electricity in a technique known as electrowetting to produce color e-reader displays that use little power.  All of these technologies take advantage of ambient light to make text more readable and less energy-consuming than LCD screens commonly found on computers and smart phones today, and unlike the current E-ink readers, allow for color and video.

E-books and Cannibals has an article about the on-going negotiations between book publishers and vendors of e-books (Amazon in particular).  The sticking point?  E-books that cost much less than their hard copy counterparts.

“Authors and book agents also fret that low e-book prices will “cannibalize” hardcover sales, which will “undercut the sales and royalty potential of the printed hardcover,” as one agent puts it. One publisher of a hotly anticipated book is delaying the e-book by six or more months because he fears cannibalization.”

In “Does the Book Industry Want To Get Napstered?” Jack Shafer likens this fight to what occurred in the music industry in years past and comments on the likelihood of a rise in online book pirates.

PixeLegis: University of Seville Digital Legal Books Project

The University of Seville Library has an ongoing project to digitize its law related titles. The PixeLegis project is posting out of  copyright texts online., The majority of texts are from the 19thCentury. The focus of the collection is Spanish law and civil law in general. Books are available in Spanish, Latin, French, German and English.  A nice feature of the site is the breakdown of texts by area of law. This should prove useful to scholars interested in historical legal developments in Spain or Latin America. Un millón de gracias a nuestros colegas en la Universidad de Sevilla. 


E-Books. Is the tide turning?

I see a much greater recent acceptance and use of e-books by our students.   A few earlier stabs with electronic casebooks here at the law school went nowhere, but this past year I’ve seen several students stop by the reference desk with an e-book open on their laptops.  Maybe the time has come for us to take a closer look.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s The Wired Campus feature made this note last Friday:

Research Libraries Embrace E-Books

Sixty-nine percent of university research libraries plan to increase spending on e-books over the next two years, according to a recent study published by Primary Research Group Inc. . . . 

Clearly e-book technology has improved dramatically in a short period of time. Only a year-and-a-half-ago college librarians were saying that e-books were not ready for the campus environment.


The study shows that the larger the library the more interested it is in purchasing e-books. And it also shows that foreign libraries are more attracted to e-books, than libraries in the U.S.—Andrea L. Foster

And L. Gordon Crovitz’s “Information Age” column in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Social Networking in the Digital Age,” includes this little bit of related information:

. . .

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos disclosed [at The D: All Things Digital conference] that for books available on the Kindle electronic reader, some 6% of Amazon sales are now for the digital version. He enjoys physical books, but their future is in doubt now that there is the more powerful way of reading through electronic devices.

. . .