Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Freeing the Law

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org Inc., with a 5-4 majority ruling that the non-binding annotations in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated were not eligible for copyright protection under the government edicts doctrine.

As the New York Times noted, the voting blocs were not the typical 5-4 ideological division: Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion was joined by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. Justice Thomas wrote one dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Alito in full and Justice Breyer in part. Justice Ginsburg authored a separate dissenting opinion, which was also joined by Justice Breyer. SCOTUSblog includes photo illustrations of vote alignment by both ideology and seniority, each demonstrating the unusual alliances in this case.

The Code Revision Commission of Georgia had contracted with LEXIS to prepare the revisions; annotations were drafted by Lexis staff as a work-for-hire. Lexis sells hard copies of the annotated code for $412, and provides a free public-access version online, subject to Terms & Conditions that "the State of Georgia reserves the right to claim and defend the copyright in any copyrightable portions of the site."

Public.Resource.Org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to government information, posted its own scanned copy of the print OCGA online, prompting the copyright litigation that eventually reached the Court. Yesterday's decision will likely affect the other state governments that work with private publishers on their official publications and/or claim at least partial copyright protection in portions of their official legislative or regulatory codes.

Public.Resource.Org has several other government information access lawsuits pending, including a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit related to its scans of public safety codes. These privately-produced standards are frequently "incorporated by reference" in legislative and regulatory codes, but are usually available only for a fee or through restrictive public-access versions with limits on printing/saving/downloading. In a Tweet thanking his legal team, Public.Resource.Org founder Carl Malamud noted, "What's funny is that Georgia isn't even the main show in terms of effort. That's the standards case currently in DC court." A listing of ongoing litigation (with links to dockets) is available at Public.Resource.Org.

For more about copyright law (and what it doesn't protect), check out the resources on our research guide to Intellectual Property. You'll find suggested titles from basic introduction to detailed treatises in the library's collection, as well as links to free resources like the Cornell University Library Copyright Information Center. For help with accessing resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Alumni Author Virtual Celebration

Today would have been the library's ninth annual National Library Week Alumni Author event, with featured speaker Randolph J. May (B.A. 1968/J.D. 1971) of the Free State Foundation. While the global coronavirus pandemic has indefinitely postponed our planned event with May to discuss his new book (with co-author Seth Cooper), Modernizing Copyright Law for the Digital Age: Constitutional Foundations for Reform, we still wanted to recognize May, as well as to celebrate our many Duke Law alumni who have published books on a wide variety of topics, both legal and non-legal.

Books by Duke Law School alumni are marked in the Duke Libraries Catalog with the collection name "Alumni Authors." The items are still shelved by their Library of Congress call number, rather than in a separately-located collection, to aid the discovery of works on a particular topic.

You can view recordings of our eight past Alumni Author event speakers on the National Library Week at the Goodson Law Library playlist at Duke Law's YouTube channel. We look forward to adding future event videos to the playlist, as well as future alumni books to the library collection. If you would like to alert the library to a new or forthcoming alumni author publication, please Ask (well, Tell) a Librarian.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Summer Access to Library Resources

Whether you're continuing at Duke Law next year or graduating this May, your access to legal research services like Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law will change.
All Students
Many of the temporary resources for textbooks and eBooks listed on the Library's Working Remotely site will expire at different times this summer.

Continuing Students
For rising 2Ls and 3Ls, your Law School research access generally continues uninterrupted over the summer. Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law both allow student usage over the summer for educational as well as for commercial purposes. (However, check with your employer before using your Law School accounts for paid work – many employers prefer that summer associates avoid using their school accounts for researching firm matters.)

Westlaw restricts continuing students' summer access to non-commercial/educational research purposes only. The eligible categories for summer access include:
  • Summer coursework
  • Research assistant assignments
  • Law Review or Journal research
  • Moot Court research
  • Non-Profit work
  • Clinical work
  • Externship sponsored by the school

2020 Graduates
Before leaving Duke Law, check out the library's information page on Library Services for Law Alumni, which contains helpful details about accessing legal research services, borrowing library materials, and extending building access for bar study.

For graduating 3Ls and LLMs, Bloomberg Law automatically extends educational accounts for 6 months.

Lexis offers a Graduate Program that provides recent law school graduates extended access to Lexis Advance; a customized version of the Law School Home Page with graduate specific content; and a choice of a graduation gift from LexisNexis. Spring graduates have access to Lexis Advance via their law school IDs through December 31, 2020. This ID also grants them access to the Graduate Home Page.By July 8, 2020, spring graduates' view of the Law School Home Page will switch to the graduate view.

Under Westlaw's "Grad Elite" program, access continues for 6 months after graduation. Duke Law graduates are allowed 60 hours of usage per month for services like Westlaw and Practical Law for educational purposes. Graduating students will need to register for extended access this spring.

For help with your summer access to these or other Duke resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian. The library's summer hours, which take effect at the end of final exams, are Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.