Friday, December 26, 2014

Patently Devious

One of the newest titles in the Goodson Law Library is Invented by Law: Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent That Changed America (KF3116 .B43 2015), by Brooklyn Law School professor Christopher Beauchamp. This engaging, accessible work details the legal battles surrounding the invention of the telephone, giving a fascinating history of American patent law in the process.

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell's patent for Improvement of Telegraphy (No. 174,465) was approved by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO). It was an unusually fast approval process, with three applications hand-delivered by Bell's lawyer on February 14, mere hours before a competing application was submitted by engineer Elisha Gray. Bell's legal maneuvering strongly suggested that an unknown informant within the PTO was assisting efforts to beat Gray to the telephone patent. Subsequent litigation reached the U.S. Supreme Court twice in 1888, first with The Telephone Cases (126 U.S. 1),  and then with United States v. American Bell Telephone Corp. (128 U.S. 315). Beauchamp untangles these lawsuits and analyzes their aftermath in a way that should appeal to even intellectual property novices.

For further reading on the history of patent law, search the Duke Libraries Catalog with a subject keyword search for patent laws and legislation and history. To learn more about modern patent law, consult the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property Law or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

World Treaty Library Now Available in HeinOnline

The Goodson Law Library has just added the new World Treaty Library to its HeinOnline subscription. Members of the Duke University community can access the new library from the HeinOnline Welcome screen.

This library includes digital versions of many important treaty indexes and compilations, including the League of Nations Treaty Series (L.N.T.S.), the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.), and the Kavass (KAV) treaty collection. Of particular interest to historical treaty researchers is Wiktor's Multilateral Treaty Calendar, 1648-1995, which extends the library's historical reach to the mid-17th century. In all, Hein estimates that more than 180,000 treaty records are available through this library.

Long-time treaty researchers will likely appreciate the convenience of a single source for searching and accessing the text of historical treaties. (For example, one foreign & international law librarian described the collection as "a truly monumental library" in a review published this month on the blog DipLawMatic Dialogues.) Even novice treaty researchers should find the Treaty Index search feature to be easy to use; its 12 search options include keyword or full text, citation, countries/party, and even place or date of signature. The Browse Options also simplify navigation through the default Treaty Index search, separate landing pages specifically for U.S. or U.N. treaty collections, or collections of treatises and articles on international law topics.

HeinOnline has prepared a 7-minute training video to help users navigate the new library. For further assistance with treaty research, consult the Goodson Law Library research guide to Treaties or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas for Law Students

'Tis the season for holiday shopping! If you are still in search of the perfect gift for the legal eagles in your life, check out the Goodson Blogson's suggestions. Blogger Reid Trautz's 10th edition of his annual gift guide at Reid My Blog has higher-end gifts for lawyers covered, so our gift guide focuses on affordable items which should appeal to law students.

If your law student is also a Supreme Court geek, the Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop is always worth a browse. It's made our shopping list every year for good reason – there is a wide variety of Court-themed books, ornaments, office accessories, and even glassware. SCOTUS-lovers might also enjoy National Public Radio’s Warhol-esque tribute to its Legal Affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg – the Nina Totin' Bag.

The "Notorious R.B.G." meme hit the mainstream this fall, with cheerful approval from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself. There are a few variations on the Notorious R.B.G. t-shirt out there, but this one is sold by the makers of the original Tumblr. (Another law-related social media phenomenon, Twitter's Kanye WestLaw, offers its "Law So Hard" t-shirt in black or blue for both men's and ladies' sizing.)

Also in apparel: if your law student still mourns the end of Breaking Bad and/or is just counting the days until the 2015 debut of its prequel spin-off Better Call Saul, the series' gift shop offers a walking advertisement for shady lawyer Saul Goodman's practice. (If you're also shopping for some sci-fi/fantasy fans and want to combine shipments, the same shirt is also available through ThinkGeek.)

Legal history buffs might like the Library of Congress's Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor, a companion book to the current exhibit featured in the Goodson Blogson last month. (A Magna Carta coffee mug is also available.)

On the lighter side of legal history are the head-scratching tchotchkes at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library gift shop, including a stackable head-and-top hat salt-and-pepper shaker set...or perhaps an Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln figurine salt-and-pepper shaker set. (The site also includes jams and jellies from Mary Todd Lincoln's own recipes and a Log Cabin play set.)

If you need stocking stuffers, the Lucky Bar Exam Pencil set on Etsy is sure to be a hit for either the holidays or graduation. The American Bar Association's "Little Book of ___ Law" publication series might not fit into every stocking, but could contain a fun idea for a small gift if your recipient is interested in one of the 17 available topics (including movies, fashion, and even BBQ).

Finally, most law students would certainly appreciate a trusty gift card to help purchase pricey spring semester casebooks (and perhaps a few select other goodies for themselves). But did you know your Amazon purchases can do double-duty through the Amazon Smile program for charitable organizations? Simply log in to, and select a charity before shopping. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total purchase to a worthy organization on its list – which, if you want to stick with our theme, includes more than 700 legal aid providers in the United States.

For more gift ideas, explore the New York Times' interactive 2014 Gift Guide, review the daily updates to the best online sales at Kinja Deals, or check out the many law-themed gifts at The Billable Hour. Happy holidays to all our readers!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Papers Chase

This week's New Yorker features "The Great Paper Caper," a fascinating account of the 1970s theft of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter's personal papers from the Library of Congress. The missing documents -- some of which have never resurfaced -- included a 1952 letter from future Chief Justice William Rehnquist, then a law clerk for Justice Robert Jackson, allegedly expressing disappointment with the Court's decision to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson's "separate but equal" doctrine. (Rehnquist's views on segregation, exposed in a separate memorandum released to Newsweek, had become a focal point during his 1971 confirmation hearing. The missing letter from the Frankfurter collection was explored in more detail in a 2012 Boston College Law Review article.)

Author Jill Lepore reconstructs the F.B.I. investigation of the Frankfurter thefts, speaking with researchers who had consulted the papers prior to the theft and recounting the efforts of syndicated columnist Jack Anderson to broker the papers' safe return. Some, but not all, of the purloined papers were eventually sent to him as photocopies; Anderson's plan for publicizing their triumphant return was thwarted by the press's increased attention to the growing Watergate scandal.

It's an engaging heist story which also sheds light on the fractured state of Supreme Court archival research. As Lepore notes:
The papers of Supreme Court Justices are not public records; they’re private property. The decision whether to make these documents available is entirely at the discretion of the Justices and their heirs and executors. They can shred them; they can burn them; they can use them as placemats. Texts vanish; e-mails are deleted. The Court has no policies or guidelines for secretaries and clerks about what to keep and what to throw away. Some Justices have destroyed virtually their entire documentary trail; others have made a point of tossing their conference notes.
Rehnquist, whose Supreme Court career nearly derailed as a result of public access to other Justices' papers, quickly reversed his earlier stated position that Supreme Court papers should all reside at the Library of Congress. His own papers remain mostly inaccessible until the last Justice who served with him passes away. Other Justices' papers might reside at the Library of Congress, with various requirements on the length of their sealing. Some Justices' paper sets were donated to university archives. Still others, such as Hugo Black's, have been burned.

This story is a sobering reminder to historical researchers. While it's well-known by now that not everything is available online, it's perhaps more important to know that many historical records might not be available at all. Databases like WorldCat and ArchiveGrid can help you determine where a particular collection of papers might be held. But access to the documents could require an in-person visit and/or hefty copying fees. Newer archival researchers may benefit from reviewing the Society of American Archivists' Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research, for helpful information on locating archives, requesting materials and planning visits. More seasoned archival researchers might enjoy the recent Inside Higher Ed piece, 6 Tools to Make Archival Research More Efficient, covering apps and technology to make this complex research more streamlined. For assistance with beginning an archival research project, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Unfriendly Skies: Regulating Drones

From modern warfare to planned Amazon Prime delivery, drones (also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or UAS) have become more commonplace in the last few years. As drone technology continues to grow more accessible to consumers (see Gizmodo's recent review of household drones, just in time for the holidays), lawmakers have scrambled to react to the potential implications for aerial surveillance and airspace crowding. The Federal Aviation Administration already maintains an information page on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, with frequently-asked questions, links to regulations, and news releases concerning the use of unmanned aircraft for recreational or other purposes. Most recently, the FAA prohibited the use of drones over sports stadiums which seat 30,000 or more people, through a special security notice posted to its website.

The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains a 50-state survey, Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape. This page maps the 20 states which have also enacted some sort of drone-related legislation since 2013, along with a summary of each law. Even North Carolina, the birthplace of aviation, enacted drone legislation as part of the 2014 appropriations bill. The new provisions took effect on October 1.

A report released earlier this month by the Brookings Institution urges lawmakers to exercise caution when enacting legislation related to aerial drone surveillance. Author Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pepperdine, notes that most legal focus has been on the technology itself rather than setting reasonable limits on the surveillance power of law enforcement. Other scholars have also explored various aspects of drone technology; check out the open-access articles available through the ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center custom search engine or use the subscription databases available under the "Finding Articles”" tab of Legal Databases & Links. For help finding additional resources on drones and the law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Mother Court

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York celebrated its 225th anniversary earlier this month, with the festivities documented in a just-released video from the U.S. Courts. Featuring historical artifacts as well as interviews with federal judges and even courtroom artists, the video provides a quick overview of the S.D.N.Y.'s important place in judicial history.

The Southern District of New York was the first new federal district court to be established following the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789. Its historic first session, on Nov. 3 of that year, earned the S.D.N.Y. the nickname "the Mother Court." The name has endured, as the S.D.N.Y. continues to enjoy a position of influence among federal courts. It has served as the setting for many major trials throughout our nation's history, and has most recently emerged as a pioneer in electronic discovery practice, thanks to Judge Shira Scheindlin in the Zubulake cases.

To learn more about this influential federal court, check out the recent American Bar Association publication The Mother Court: Tales of Cases that Mattered in America's Greatest Trial Court (KF8755.N9 Z57 2014). The book chronicles some of the most well-known cases tackled by the court, including the Ulysses obscenity trial, the espionage case against Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and numerous Mafia convictions. Author James D. Zirin, a former U.S. Attorney in the S.D.N.Y., provides both a short history of the court and a more thorough personal recollection of the cases with which he was directly involved. Because Zirin's former World Trade Center office was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the personal anecdotes were assembled from memory – a particularly impressive feat for a lifetime of law practice before the court.

Additional publications on the history of S.D.N.Y. have been digitized by the court. For assistance with researching the history of federal courts, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Magna Carta at 800

Today, the Library of Congress opened its long-awaited exhibition Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor, a 10-week celebration of the foundational charter of liberties which has informed the democratic rule of law in both England and the United States. At the heart of the exhibit is one of only four surviving copies of the 1215 document, on loan from England's Lincoln Cathedral. (As noted in a historical document from the Goodson Law Library's collection, also digitized on HathiTrust, the Lincoln Cathedral previously loaned their copy to the Library of Congress for an exhibition in the late 1930s.)

Today's Washington Post succinctly summarizes the history of this "Great Charter". In an attempt to subdue a rebellion among his feudal barons, King John agreed to the terms of the document, which ensured the rights of land-owning subjects and limited the power of the Crown. Forty-one copies were made and distributed to each baron; the document on display at the Library of Congress is one of the few left from this set. However, King John later voided the charter with the help of Pope Innocent, sparking the First Barons' War. Finally signed into law in 1297, Magna Carta rose to philosophical and scholarly prominence in the 17th century, thanks to Sir Edward Coke's Second Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England. And the rest, as they say, is history.

For more information about Magna Carta as its 800th anniversary nears, check out For more information about the Library of Congress exhibit (which runs through January 2015), visit the exhibition website. The American Bar Association is also planning some anniversary events in 2015. To learn more about Magna Carta's history and impact before its 800th birthday celebration, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries catalog for "Magna Carta" or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Online Index to American Doctoral Dissertations, 1933-1955

In honor of Open Access Week, the Goodson Blogson is highlighting another free research resource. Last week, we brought you the news that HeinOnline and the Law Library of Congress had teamed up to provide free public access to historical federal legal materials like the U.S. Code and U.S. Supreme Court cases. Today, we're featuring a new free resource for historical doctoral dissertations.

Earlier this month, EBSCO announced the release of American Doctoral Dissertations 1933-1955, a free digitized index of nearly 100,000 doctoral dissertations which were accepted by American universities during those three decades. The database, available at, includes scans of a print index set, Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities, which is also available in the Duke University Libraries' off-site storage facility.

Searching this free database does not include the same features as other EBSCO-produced subscription databases, but expert field codes are available to perform more advanced searching. For example, to retrieve a list of dissertations from Duke University on the subject of law, use the Advanced Search AF(duke) and KW(law). To limit your search keywords to only the title of the document, try an Advanced Search like TI("supreme court"). Results include a scan of the printed index's relevant page, rather than the full text of the dissertation. However, the increased accessibility of this index should help researchers uncover useful citations from this time period for retrieval.

The full text of many dissertations can be found online via ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. This subscription database, available to the Duke University community and to on-site visitors, offers full-text PDFs for selected dissertations as well as indexing back to the 1860s. ProQuest also offers free access to the full text of open-access dissertations in its collection, via PQDT Open.

Dissertations not available in full-text via these ProQuest databases will likely require an interlibrary loan request. The text would have to be supplied from either the degree-granting institution or from a library which owns a microfilmed copy. For help with locating the full text of a dissertation, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Free Access to Federal Law

The Law Library of Congress has just announced an agreement with legal publisher William S. Hein which provides free public access to historical federal publications, including the United States Code, U.S. Reports, Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal Register. While neither as complete nor searchable as the HeinOnline subscription libraries which are available to current Duke University community members, these collections linked within the Law Library of Congress's Guide to Law Online help fill in the historical gaps for these important legislative, judicial, and executive branch publications, which have long been available back to the mid-1990s on the federal government website FDsys. Generally, the free Hein libraries begin with the first edition of the publication in question, and end when free access via FDsys begins.

The free collections have been added to the Goodson Law Library's handy list of Federal Law Links, and will be added to subject-specific library research guides as they are updated. The links can also be accessed through the Law Library of Congress's Guide to Law Online web portal. Users may browse to specific volumes or issues, and can download up to 20 pages at a time. (In the subscription-based version of HeinOnline, the download limit is 200 pages at once; a search function is also available.)

Hein describes the free collections as "a donation to the Library and to the American public." Researchers everywhere will undoubtedly benefit from this increased access to historical federal law publications. For assistance with using the Guide to Law Online links or the Duke University version of HeinOnline, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pattern Jury Instructions, Online and Off

Effective on October 6, North Carolina Bar Association members can no longer access the state's Pattern Jury Instructions (PJI) online through the Fastcase research service. Private vendor CX Corp is now the exclusive online source for North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions, and is offering direct individual subscriptions after 11 years of providing access through the state bar association's member research service.

Goodson Law Library users can continue to find print copies of the North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions, compiled and updated by the state's Conference of Superior Court Judges and published by the UNC School of Government, in the Walker North Carolina Alcove on Level 2. There are separate volumes for civil, criminal, and motor vehicle instructions. The library's research guide to North Carolina Practice includes information about these PJI publications as well as other state legal research tools.

What's all the fuss about Pattern Jury Instructions? PJI, sometimes also called "model jury instructions" or "standard jury instructions," provide sample language that judges may read to juries before trial deliberations. The instructions generally outline the necessary elements, burdens or proof, and other jury considerations in clear and plain language. PJI publications frequently also include citations to case law and other authority within the jurisdiction. For both of these reasons, they are valuable legal research tools.

PJI from other states are often available in full-text online in Westlaw, LexisNexis, or free through court websites. To locate all jury instruction publications on WestlawNext, follow the path Secondary Sources > Jury Instructions. On Lexis Advance, choose Browse > Sources > By Category > Jury Instructions to see available titles. Available jury instruction publications can also be accessed through the source menu for a specific state.

For help locating or using PJI publications, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

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 website. Effective today, however, the Duke Law community may now access the full text of Law360 stories, courtesy of LexisNexis, at both and via the carousel of Law360 headlines within Lexis Advance.

Access to 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 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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rotten Links (Are Big Time-Sinks)

It's no secret that web links can be unreliable. The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group, which has been reporting on website "link rot" since 2008, said in its 2013 annual report that nearly half of the links from its original website sample list no longer work; this includes a number of government and educational websites. A similar study of websites cited by the U.S. Supreme Court from 1996-2010 showed that nearly one-third of the cited links were no longer functional. As the A.B.A. Journal reported in December, groups including Chesapeake as well as (of which Duke Law is a member) are working to combat the problem going forward, but in many cases the damage has already been done.

So what can researchers do when they encounter a dead website URL? A blueprint can be found in chapter 6 of the latest edition of Levitt & Rosch's new reference work The Cybersleuth's Guide to the Internet: Conducting Effective Free Investigative & Legal Research on the Web. For pages which were changed or moved very recently, you may be able to access a cached version through your preferred search engine. Google, Bing and Yahoo all provide temporary "cached" copies of the last time their search engine's crawler visited a particular page. On Yahoo search results, a link for the "Cached" version of each page is displayed prominently; on Google and Bing, cached options must be accessed through a drop-down arrow next to the page's URL.

Cached versions of pages change frequently. To view versions of a web page which are older than available search engine caches, try the Wayback Machine, which provides archived versions of specific web pages, dating back to 1996 in some cases. Enter the website URL in the search box to view a timeline of available archived versions. For example, the Goodson Law Library home page has been archived back to February 1999 (back when it was known as the Duke University Law Library, or D.U.L.L.).

 Note that many websites request to be excluded from the Wayback Machine, and even archived versions of pages may not always display properly. (For an example, note the broken image files in this early 1999 snapshot of the Duke Law Library site. They load quickly and effectively by the snapshots from 2000.) Sometimes, top-level archived pages will display properly, but lower-level pages will result in an error message. In addition, content which was generated dynamically (e.g., from a built-in site search) on a site, and downloads such as PDF files, may still be inaccessible via the Wayback Machine. However, the site remains a great option for accessing older versions of known URLs.

For help with tracking down a broken link, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Free Legal Research via State Bar Associations: An Update

Last October, Goodson Law Library Head of Reference Services Jennifer L. Behrens compiled an online map detailing which low-cost legal research services were provided for free to members of various state bar associations. This was an update of a 2010 map created by Greg Lambert of 3 Geeks and a Law Blog.

Since the October 2013 map was compiled, several state bars have either changed or announced upcoming changes to their free legal research services to members. The Goodson Law Library map has now been updated for June 2014 to reflect those changes, and can be found at or downloaded below.

Although the overall market share of leading services Fastcase and Casemaker remains steady, several states have made changes to their designated free research service. Most notably, the State Bar of Texas will offer both Fastcase and Casemaker to its members, after previously providing only Casemaker. Several states will also switch their longstanding services later this year, with Pennsylvania adopting Casemaker this summer in place of its InCite service, and South Carolina switching from Casemaker to Fastcase in November.

Chart view: Legal Research Services by State Bar Association, as of 06/27/2014 07/01/2014 (thanks to Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase, for the correction)

Service Offered
No statewide service
(some access via local bars)
No statewide service
District of Columbia
No statewide service Fastcase
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
InCite (switching to Casemaker in August 2014)
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Casemaker (switching to Fastcase in Nov. 2014)
South Dakota
West Virginia

Currently, Duke Law students can sign up for free access to Casemaker through the CasemakerX educational platform. Although there is currently no direct access at Duke Law to Fastcase, currently-enrolled law students can join the North Carolina Bar Association for free to enjoy this membership benefit. In addition, Duke students can see some Fastcase materials through its partnership with HeinOnline. HeinOnline's research libraries include links to state and federal case law which are powered by Fastcase. Fastcase's Authority Check citation analysis tool is also used within Hein in order to locate additional relevant case law and make note of potentially negative treatment. To see the Hein-Fastcase partnership in action, visit HeinOnline and click the Fastcase tab in order to quickly access cases by citation. 

For more information about low-cost legal research alternatives, check out the Goodson Law Library guide to Legal Research on the Web or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Price of a Wrongful Conviction

What is a year of your life worth? If you spent it behind bars for a crime you didn't commit, the answer may be lower than you think. As NPR reported yesterday, slightly more than half the states have procedures in place for restitution when a wrongfully-convicted person is exonerated. An interactive map, with links to the relevant code sections, is available courtesy of the Innocence Project.

North Carolina fixes the amount at $50,000 per year in prison – an amount equal to the federal government and several other states, though experts note that this amount was selected by the federal government ten years ago simply to match the top-paying state at the time. Texas tops the list at $80,000, while Wisconsin offers only $5,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment.

Although Wisconsin may look comparatively stingy, the states which offer higher amounts are not necessarily being generous. In many states, acceptance of the fixed payout waives a former inmate's right to sue – which could cost the state much more in potential legal fees and damage awards. And as outlined in a 2012 Albany Law Review article, many exonerees must wait for years to receive their statutory compensation.

To learn more about the legal issues surrounding wrongful convictions, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for "Judicial error – United States". You’ll find titles like Duke Law alumni author James R. Acker's 2011 title Wrongful Conviction: Law, Science, and Policy. For help locating this or other resources about wrongful convictions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

United Nations Law Collection Now Available in HeinOnline

The Goodson Law Library has added HeinOnline's United Nations Law Collection to its subscription of Hein content libraries. Researchers at Duke University now have additional options to access key UN legal publications, including the United Nations Treaty Series, the League of Nations Treaty Series, UNCITRAL and UNIDIR publications, UN Yearbooks and journals. A collection of current and historical treatises on international law, human rights, and the history of the UN is also included.

Although many of these items are available in the Goodson Law Library's book collection as well as on the United Nations' own website, the Hein library makes it easy to quickly retrieve a UN Treaty by UNTS or LNTS citation, locate a UN Treaty by topic, and link to the full text of law review articles that cite a specific UN Treaty. The enhanced searching and retrieval features will undoubtedly aid international law researchers at Duke Law and Duke University, who can access the Hein library from off-campus with a current NetID and password.

Access to UN resources through HeinOnline will soon be added to the Goodson Law Library's extensive research guide to the United Nations. In the meantime, explore the United Nations Law Collection directly, or Ask a Librarian for assistance with using it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tiananmen Square: 25 Years Later

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, during which the Chinese government declared martial law in order to brutally end several weeks of peaceful pro-democracy student protests in central Beijing. The exact death toll remains uncertain, but hundreds of citizens were fatally beaten, shot or crushed by tanks; thousands more were wounded in the daylong military reaction.

The world media has commemorated the somber anniversary with fascinating histories of the events. TIME magazine's cover story provides a detailed view of the events on the ground, while the New York Times reviewed internal Chinese military documents which showed discord among military leaders regarding the use of force on student protestors. London's Independent paper examined the uncertain fate of the iconic "Tank Man," who defiantly blocked the path of a line of tanks in the street (CNN video footage). The powerful sight of a lone dissident bravely standing before the Chinese army became the most recognizable image from the Tiananmen Square protests. Many Chinese citizens have likely never seen this incredible moment, however, due to censorship of the state-run media and school textbooks.

To learn more about the history of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, visit the National Security Archive's collection Tiananmen Square, 1989: The Declassified History, which reproduces embassy cables and other State Department communications from the crackdown. A subject search of the Duke Libraries catalog for "China -- History -- Tiananmen Square Incident, 1989" will reveal titles on campus such as the 2001 collection The Tiananmen Papers, which purported to reproduce key official documents related to the crackdown (although the New York Times notes scholarly controversy about the authenticity of its contents). The Duke database Tiananmen Square and U.S.-China relations, 1989-1993 also offers thousands of pages of White House and State Department files related to the massacre and its effect on foreign policy. For help using these library resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Saving Time with 50-State Surveys

Legal researchers often have good reason to locate and compare legislation or regulations from multiple jurisdictions. For example, over the last three years, about a dozen states have enacted laws to prevent employers from demanding access to employees' personal social media accounts. The most recent example, Louisiana's Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act, was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal last week. Researchers in a state which has not yet passed a law on the same issue may wish to compile these various state laws in order to present a comparative perspective in a legal filing, or to aid in the drafting of model legislation for their own jurisdiction.

Unfortunately for legal researchers, the process of searching for similar statutes from a variety of jurisdictions can be time-consuming. Thankfully, publications known as 50-state surveys provide quick access to various jurisdictions' statutes and/or regulations on a particular subject. Although there won't always be a survey available on your specific research topic, it's always worth a check before you attempt to compile the information yourself. Here are some possible places to begin your search for comparative surveys:
  • Duke Law maintains a subscription to HeinOnline's Subject Compilations of State Laws database. Based on a book series (available in the library's Reference Collection), this resource is searchable by keyword or browseable by topic, and indexes multi-state surveys from premium databases, footnotes and appendices to law review articles, and non-governmental organization websites. In this case, a search of the database for social media and employers returns two results, both 2013 law review articles which include footnotes and tables charting the six states which had enacted similar laws by that time.
  • Premium legal research services like Bloomberg, Lexis and Westlaw also offer 50-state survey publications. The Subject Compilations database will frequently point to surveys available on these services, but because of publication delays it can be useful to search these premium databases separately for more recent materials. These premium surveys are usually available as Excel or PDF downloads, with convenient hyperlinks to the relevant state code sections in the research database:
    • Lexis Advance has recently added LexisNexis 50 State Surveys, Legislation & Regulations, which was previously available only within the interface.To reach it, Browse Sources and type surveys into the "Search Sources" box at the left side of the screen. You can add the database to your search box, or view the table of contents to browse available surveys. The Labor & Employment Law section includes a few surveys on Employee Privacy, but not yet anything specific to social media passwords.
    • On WestlawNext, type survey into the search bar to view available databases of statutory and regulatory surveys. Subtopics within these databases, including employment law, can be browsed or searched. In this case, Westlaw offers several dozen surveys related to employment law, including drug testing, minimum wage laws, credit checks for applicants, and disability leave, but nothing on this relatively new area of social media access by potential employers.
    • On Bloomberg, published multistate surveys are most likely to be found in the Legal Analysis & News > Books & Treatises section, particularly under Bloomberg BNA. State-by-State Survey titles are particularly strong in the area of labor and employment law.
  • For newer and still-emerging areas of legislation like this one, a quick web search can also be an effective research strategy for locating free 50-state surveys which may not yet be indexed by the Subject Compilations of State Laws. The National Conference of State Legislatures has been compiling reports of social media password access legislation since 2012, and is a good free source to search for any other topic of state legislation. News articles available online, such as the coverage of the Louisiana law, may also provide helpful leads for locating additional laws.
For help with locating 50-state surveys on any topic, be sure to Ask a Librarian.