Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guide to International Legal Research 2014

The Goodson Law Library recently received the 2014 edition of the Guide to International Legal Research, available for consultation in the Reference Collection on level 3. The George Washington International Law Review first published the guide in 1986 as a special double issue (available to Duke users in HeinOnline, under the journal's former name, the George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics), but began an annual book publication of the popular guide in 1990, in partnership with LexisNexis.

The updated Guide is also available online in Lexis Advance. To browse or search, type Guide to International Legal Research into the Lexis Advance search bar, and click "Table of Contents" to reach the full text.

The text of the Guide is divided into two general parts. First, a regional section describes the legal systems and major legal resources for countries and multinational organizations within Africa, Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the former USSR, Europe, and Latin America. This portion of the Guide is a valuable overview of available sources for statutes, case law, and treatises, as well as valuable links to government websites and local media outlets.

Following the regional bibliography are subject-based guides to resources on international law topics. These include international law in general, as well as more specific topics like animal law, space law, public health, international criminal law, and more. Like the regional chapters, each topical chapter contains a general overview followed by an annotated bibliography of organizations, primary law (such as treaties), and secondary sources covering the topic.

For more assistance with researching international law topics, consult the library’s Foreign & International Research Guides, including International Law, International Criminal Law and Treaties. For help locating resources listed in GWU's Guide or the Goodson Law Library, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, September 26, 2014

225 Years of the U.S. Attorney General

Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to resign his position once a successor is confirmed. Holder has helmed the Justice Department since February 2009; his service already marks the fourth-longest Attorney General term in U.S. history. Speculation – and political sniping – has already begun over the upcoming Senate confirmation process for Holder's still-unnamed successor. The U.S. Senate website contains details about the Senate power to confirm or reject presidential nominations.

Holder's announcement came one day after the 225th anniversary of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which created the position of Attorney General (in addition to its more famous impact on the federal court structure). The Judiciary Act called for the appointment of a "person […] learned in the law, to act as Attorney General for the United States." Oversight of the Justice Department was added to the Attorney General's duties in 1870, with Congress's passage of an Act to Establish the Department of Justice.

To learn more about the history of the U.S. Attorney General's office, check out the Department of Justice's 1990 publication commemorating the position's bicentennial, available in the library and online in HathiTrust. The Justice Department website also maintains an online photo gallery with biographies of past Attorneys General. Works about the role of the office in our federal government, including access to published confirmation hearings, can be found with a subject search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for "United States -- Department of Justice --Office of the Attorney General". For assistance with locating information about the Attorney General, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oxford Handbooks on Law Available Online

The Duke Libraries Catalog includes thousands of e-books, which are available to readers with a current University NetID and password. Law School researchers might be particularly interested in the collection of Oxford Handbooks Online: Law. This collection includes full access to twelve law-themed handbooks, dating from 2004 to 2014.

Most of the handbooks focus on international or comparative law topics, and several feature contributions from current Duke Law faculty members (links below are to print copies; online versions can be accessed above):
These handbooks are a subset of hundreds of Oxford University Press e-books which are available to the Duke University community. To see other titles, search the Duke Libraries Catalog, or visit Oxford Scholarship Online. For information about access and any download/printing restrictions, visit the Libraries' guide to eBooks at Duke or Ask a Librarian.

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.