Wednesday, August 27, 2014

U.S. Code Title 52: Voting and Elections on the Move

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel recently announced the addition of Title 52 (Voting and Elections) to the official United States Code (U.S.C.). This "editorial reclassification" takes effect on September 1 for the electronic version of U.S.C., and will relocate voting and election-related laws from existing titles 2 and 42 into the new Title 52. (A chart of the planned changes is already available.) Title 52 will appear in the printed U.S. Code beginning with Supplement II of the 2012 edition.

Five years ago, the Office of the Law Revision Counsel recommended that Congress enact a proposed new title 52 into positive law, but federal lawmakers took no action. An "editorial reclassification" is considered a routine transfer of existing Code sections, and may be undertaken by the Code editors unilaterally.

The last new addition to the Code was Title 51, National and Commercial Space Programs, which was enacted into positive law in 2010 (see our blog post). Law Revision Counsel editors have proposed additional new titles of the Code as potential candidates for positive law codification:
  • Title 53, Small Business
  • Title 54, National Park System
  • Title 55, Environment
Only time will tell if these other proposed new titles will also be added as non-positive law "editorial reclassifications" if no action is taken to enact them into positive law. For help with using the U.S. Code in all its formats, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Digital Law Dictionaries

Law has a language all its own. Newer researchers are often mystified by the Latin phrases, legal jargon, and unfamiliar uses of common English words which litter our case law and statutes. Legal dictionaries are an essential tool for lawyers who need to decode the secret language of law. Black's Law Dictionary and Ballentine's Law Dictionary remain the standard references for legal terms, and both are available for consultation in the Goodson Law Library's Reference Collection (see Level 3 map).

However, even more dictionaries are just a click away in electronic format. The online version of Black's Law Dictionary can be found on WestlawNext, while LexisNexis provides the electronic version of Ballentine's Law Dictionary. But since 1Ls won't receive their passwords to these popular research services until early September, additional legal dictionary options may be worth an online bookmark. Basic free legal dictionaries include those on consumer websites like FindLaw, Nolo Press, and Cornell's Legal Information Institute.

Historical dictionaries can also be found online. This week, Cornell's InSITE service highlighted the Georgetown Law Library's new collection of online legal dictionaries, which includes scans of law dictionaries from 1575 to the early 1900s. Additional dictionaries will be added to this growing collection. One hundred more online legal dictionaries, both historical and current, can be found in the Duke Libraries Catalog with a subject search for "Law – Dictionaries" and the use of the "Online" format filter.

For help accessing a legal dictionary, in either print or online format, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Law360 Now Available to Law Community

As the Goodson Blogson reported back in January, LexisNexis began to include news and commentary from legal current-awareness service Law360 in its Legal News search results. However, this did not include all content from Law360, and also did not provide any access to the separate Law360.com website. Effective today, however, the Duke Law community may now access the full text of Law360 stories, courtesy of LexisNexis, at both Law360.com and via the carousel of Law360 headlines within Lexis Advance.

Access to Law360.com is restricted to Duke Law School IP ranges, but includes the full text of stories within more than 35 practice areas. Stories frequently include links to helpful content like case dockets and court opinions, such as the recent article covering Duke University's trademark lawsuit with the estate of actor John Wayne over use of the actor's "Duke" nickname on alcoholic beverages. The "Related" sidebar includes PDF copies of case documents, as well as the case docket number for further research.

A recent Law360 profile of Duke Law Professor Emeritus Walter E. Dellinger III also illustrates the sidebar's helpful "Related" content, linking readers to stories which are related to his law firm (O'Melveny & Myers) as well as to specific companies mentioned in the text. An envelope icon allows readers to set up email alerts to any of these specific companies or firms. Alerts are also available for practice areas, by email or RSS feed.

For help with using Law360.com or with accessing Law360 articles on Lexis Advance, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

All's Fair in Internet Images?

To the dismay of schoolteachers everywhere, the Internet has made copying simpler than ever. With a single click, entire passages of a research paper can be lifted from Wikipedia; someone else's photo can be saved as your own; and all of this can happen countless times per day. The growing ease of copying digital content has led to increased confusion about fair use and obtaining permission, particularly when using images.

Fortunately, blogger Curtis Newbold (a.k.a. The Visual Communication Guy) is here to help. Lifehacker recently highlighted his detailed July 2014 flowchart, Can I Use That Picture? The Terms, Laws, and Ethics for Using Copyrighted Images. The flowchart walks novice would-be image users through the minefield of fair use considerations, Creative Commons attribution, and stock photo licensing. "My rule above all else?" he concludes: "Ask permission to use all images. If in doubt, don't use the image!"

Want to use a particular image, but are unsure where it may have originated? Google's Reverse Image Search allows you to upload an image file or search a link to an image on a website in order to track down similar images on the web. This may also be an effective way to locate a higher-resolution version of the image you want, determine its owner for permissions purposes – or even, perhaps, discover whether someone might be using your own photos for their online dating profile (or other unsavory purposes).

More information about copyright clearance can be found in the Nolo Press title Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off (Ref. KF3002 .S75 2007 & 2013 ed. online via Legal Information Reference Center). For other treatises on copyright law, visit the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property Law or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Researching Tribal Law

The Library of Congress recently unveiled a new Indigenous Law Portal to help researchers locate tribal law materials. As outlined in the LOC's blog post, the resource includes digitized tribal constitutions from the Library of Congress's collection as well as links to electronic legal resources on tribal websites. The new portal brings together many difficult-to-locate materials into one convenient site, which can be searched by tribe name, state, or geographic region.

To learn more about tribal law in America, search the Duke Libraries catalog for "Indians of North America – Legal status, laws, etc." to find recent titles like Fletcher's American Indian Tribal Law (2011) or EagleWoman's Mastering American Indian Law (2013). In addition to print titles in the library's collection, Duke University community members may search or browse the 2012 edition of the treatise Cohen's Handbook on Federal Indian Law within LexisNexis Academic. (Members of the Law School community may also access the Cohen treatise within Lexis Advance.)

For help with using the Indigenous Law Portal or accessing library resources on tribal law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Phony Maps & Copyright Traps

By all accounts, Ohio native Lillian Mountweazel (1942-1973) lived an interesting life. The former fountain designer turned to photography at the tender age of 21, exhibiting and publishing her critically-acclaimed photographs of such far-ranging subjects as Parisian cemeteries and American mailboxes. Mountweazel died at just 31 years old in an explosion, while on an assignment for Combustibles magazine. Had she lived a bit longer, she might have eventually settled down in Agloe, New York or Argleton, England -- places which, like Lillian Mountweazel, never really existed.

Those are just a few examples of copyright traps: fabrications deliberately tucked into otherwise factual publications in order to detect third-party copying. Copyright traps can be found in a variety of sources like:
  • Encyclopedias: Lillian Mountweazel was an invention of The New Columbia Encyclopedia (1975). "If someone copied Lillian," editor Richard Steins told The New Yorker in 2005, "then we'd know they'd stolen from us."
  • Dictionaries: In 2005, linguistic experts uncovered the New Oxford American Dictionary's copyright trap, "esquivalience." Defined as "the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities; the shirking of duties," editors confirmed it had been invented and inserted to detect copying. (The word appeared in both the first and second editions of the dictionary, but has been dropped from the most recent 3d edition.)
  • Telephone directories: A dispute over phony phone-book entries made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. In the seminal copyright case Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 US 340 (1991), plaintiffs included twenty-eight fictitious listings in their telephone directory, from which defendants copied four. Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor held that the plaintiff's directory listings were uncopyrightable facts, and their basic arrangement lacked sufficient originality to receive protection from the copyright laws.
  • Search engine results: More recently, search engine competitors have used fictitious results as a way to detect copying. In 2011, Google created 100 fictitious search engine results for gibberish words like "hiybbprqag." Google later accused rival search engine Bing of stealing its results for these made-up entries. See a detailed review of the sting operation, complete with screen shots, at Search Engine Land.
Perhaps the most interesting examples of copyright traps occur in the world of cartography. Last week, the blog Atlas Obscura highlighted the age-old map-making practice of "trap streets" or even fictitious towns, such as the famously non-existent Argleton, England. Its American equivalent, Agloe, New York, was covered earlier this year by NPR and Big Think. It's impossible to know how many other "phantom settlements" might be lurking in old maps – a 1902 National Geographic Magazine article on map copyright law describes the practice, saying that "occasionally some map-makers intentionally introduce slight errors in order to more effectually catch the unwary infringer. Appearance of such an intentional error has been held evidence of copying."

In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court's Feist decision, though, it seemed likely that trap streets and other fictitious map entries would be treated similarly to fictitious telephone directory listings – that is, as uncopyrightable facts. Atlas Obscura cites a Pennsylvania federal court opinion from Alexandria Drafting Co. v. Amsterdam, No. 95-1587 (E.D. Pa. June 4, 1997), which addressed the copying of trap streets, and held for the defendant after applying the reasoning of Feist. It should be noted, however, that legal research citators like Westlaw's KeyCite and LexisNexis's Shepard's service reveal that this particular opinion was withdrawn and vacated by the same court a year later, on June 22, 1998, by an order which read in part, "THE 6/4/97 DECISION IS WITHDRAWN AND VACATED AND OF NO FURTHER FORCE OR EFFECT." (According to a party brief in an unrelated case from the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals, this opinion withdrawal was part of a confidential settlement agreement between Alexandria Drafting and Amsterdam. Brief for Defendants-Appellees Cross-Appellants, Sparaco v. Lawler, No. 99-9519, 2002 WL 32174330 (2d Cir. June 28, 2002), at 29-30.) But while Alexandria Drafting Co. itself should no longer be cited by legal researchers, its reasoning and application of Feist would likely be repeated in future, similar court opinions concerning copyright traps.

To learn more about copyright law, check out the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Updated Guide to North Carolina Practice

The Goodson Law Library's research guide to North Carolina Practice has just been updated. This guide outlines primary and secondary legal research resources for the state of North Carolina, in both print and electronic formats. So what's changed in the latest version of this guide, besides updates to links and book editions?
  • A new section with guidance on researching North Carolina legislative history, including links to General Assembly study reports and digitized versions of House and Senate journals.
  • Updates to the list of A-Z Subject Treatises to include North Carolina Continuing Legal Education (CLE) publications, which are now available to the Duke Law School community via Bloomberg Law's secondary sources menu.
  • Improved instructions for accessing online versions of other treatises on LexisNexis and WestlawNext, as well as N.C. pattern jury instructions through Fastcase (which is provided free to members of the N.C. Bar Association, and is the only electronic source for the state's pattern jury instructions).
Thanks to Reference Intern Aaron Kirschenfeld for his work on updating the N.C. Practice research guide. For help with accessing the listed resources, or for other questions about North Carolina legal materials, be sure to Ask a Librarian.