Friday, December 31, 2021

The Public Domain Gets Louder

New Year's Day is a time for many to take stock of personal goals for the future. But January 1 also merits a look back to the past, as this year thousands of copyrighted works from 1926 will enter the public domain, along with hundreds of thousands of pre-1923 sound recordings. Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain outlines these exciting new additions at Public Domain Day 2022.

Books entering the U.S. public domain this year include early works by Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Langston Hughes, and Agatha Christie. Films starring the likes of Buster Keaton, Greta Garbo, and Rudolph Valentino will join them, along with compositions by George Gershwin, Jelly Roll Morton, and Irving Berlin. As noted at the Public Domain Day site, this year features the first major entry of sound recordings into the public domain, under the schedule created by Congress in the 2018 Music Modernization Act. (These older compositions were already in the public domain, but the individual performance recordings were still covered by various state laws until the federal act took effect.)

Works entering the public domain in 2022 will be freely accessible in sites like the Internet Archive, Google Books, and HathiTrust (which has set up a preview of 1926 Publications that will change from "Limited" to "Full" view), available for copying, republication, and adaptation without permissions or clearance fees.

While the continued expansion of the public domain is cause for celebration, the Public Domain Day website notes that under the laws that were in place prior to copyright term renewals in the late 20th century, the U.S. could be welcoming works from 1965 into the public domain this year. The Public Domain Review's "Festive Countdown" highlights some additional entries around the world in countries whose copyright scheme differs from the United States -- for example, while A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh enters the U.S. public domain this year, it was already in the public domain in countries with a "life of author plus 50 years" copyright term.

To learn more about copyright law and the public domain, check out some of the recommended readings at the Public Domain Day site, including the Center's FAQs. Additional resources on copyright law can be found in the library's research guide to Intellectual Property. For help locating treatises or public domain resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A Database by Any Other Name

Rebranding has been a hot trend over the last year or two. Facebook? Recently rechristened its parent corporation to Meta. Washington's football team? Officially now the…Washington Football Team. Legal research databases are no exception -- particularly at Wolters Kluwer, which has renamed several of its research products in late 2021.

First was VitalLaw (formerly known as Cheetah), which at Duke provides access to a number of Wolters Kluwer treatises on various topics, particularly in intellectual property, securities law, and tax law. Some key resources include:

  • Hazard et al, The Law of Lawyering: a core treatise on law practice and professional responsibility topics
  • Federal Securities Law Reporter: reproduces the key securities acts and collects cases, regulations, releases, no-action letters, and editorial commentary, all arranged by the act to which they relate
  • Epstein on Intellectual Property: treatise covering various aspects of IP law, including patent, trademark, and copyright.

As noted by legal blogger Bob Ambrogi, the rebranding effort also includes free public access to the top stories on legal news pages, as well as associated primary law for that story. Any user not affiliated with a subscribing institution may also access up to three "locked" stories on VitalLaw per month.

Coming soon is the Aspen Learning Library, which our students currently know better as the Wolters Kluwer Study Aids Library. This database contains nearly 200 study aids from Aspen Publishing, including the series Examples & Explanations, Glannon Guides, Emanuel Law Outlines, and more. Users may search or read online, or create an individual account that allows for offline reading and annotation. The company will also launch a new Aspen Learning Library app early in 2022. 

The Library will be working to update its references to both VitalLaw and the Aspen Learning Library on the library website and research guides. Right now, the Legal Databases & Links page has pointers under both the new and former names to help users get accustomed to the changes, and if you ever have trouble remembering what to call that resource, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Legal Holiday Gift Guide 2021

First, the not-so-nice news: with continued disruptions to both the global supply chain and the postal service, holiday shopping will present additional challenges this year. Experts recommend advance planning, especially for expected shipping delays. However, there's still time to find a great holiday gift! Since 2009, the Goodson Blogson has scoured the internet to find gift ideas that are suitable for the law students and lawyers in your life.

Judging by the consistent demand for the library’s sit-stand desks, many law students (and, presumably, lawyers) might also enjoy a similar setup in their home office spaces. If you'd like a copycat model, our sit-stands are the UPLIFT Standing Desk (48" x 30" desktop) with ash gray laminate. However, these desktops can also be customized in about 20 different styles, including a whiteboard laminate.

Book stands are another thoughtful gift, although law students will need a larger version to accommodate their heavy casebooks. Check out Book Riot's 2020 guide 12 Worthy Big Book Holders for Textbooks and Other Large Books for some stylish ideas.

If you know a pre-law or new law student, they might also appreciate a multi-year Bluebook Online gift subscription, which provides access to the online version of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and allows students to annotate their highly-used citation rules.

Mechanical keyboards have gained a large following in the gaming community for their speed and durability. Switches underneath each key make typing a more tactile (and, it should be noted, noisier) experience, and each board can be customized in myriad ways, including colored keys and backlighting. Wirecutter recommends several of The Best Mechanical Keyboards.

For a more traditional and law-themed keyboard, there's also LegalBoard, which includes specialized keys and functions for inserting the common legal writing symbols like §, ¶, em and en dashes, and frequently-used citation signals, among other tasks. The new wireless version is now available for pre-order, and the classic keyboard as well as a travel-sized LegalPad are also available.

Although the pandemic feels far from over, business and leisure travel is on the upswing. If your recipient has fly-back interviews or business trips in their future, perhaps they’d appreciate a Cadence magnetic honeycomb for TSA-approved quantities of toiletries. A "Build Your 6" bundle is currently available with a $14 discount and several color choices.

Another gift suitable for both travel and study is a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. CNET provides a range of options with detailed reviews; the NYTimes Wirecutter blog provides a similar list. Sound machines (a.k.a. white noise machines) may be another welcome gift at a lower price point than headphones; Wired writes up six recommended options.

For the lawyer with an impressive home or office library, bookshelf insert dioramas are another fun gift. Etsy offers a variety of options to nestle between tomes. Sci-fi and fantasy scenes dominate the landscape, but other options include a Parisian café, quaint alleyways, and even Sherlock Holmes. No courtroom scenes that we could find (objection!), but DIY kits are also available for those who wish to build their own book nook scenes.

And OK, maybe the library is a little biased, but we think books make great gifts, too. Titles on law, U.S. history, or writing references may be especially thoughtful gifts for your legal eagle. While you may find faster shipping at other retailers, consider supporting your local independent retailer or, which shares allows profits from your order with a specific independent bookstore, or an earnings pool that is distributed to independent bookstores around the country. Some recent titles that may fit the bill include: Nikole Hannah-Jones's forthcoming The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's final book, Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life's Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union, and Fred Shapiro's reference work The New Yale Book of Quotations, updated this summer with more than a thousand new entries.

Finally, an annual reminder to support local vendors as well as online retailers for your holiday shopping. Many small businesses and restaurants are still struggling to stay afloat from the pandemic, and your gift cards and purchases will likely go a long way. Some local Durham retailers can be found on the Sustain-a-Bull website, and more can be located in the INDYweek Best of the Triangle listings

As always, the Goodson Blogson HQ wishes you a safe and happy holiday season -- and one where everything arrives on time!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Revisiting the Durham Statement on Open Access

Sunday, November 7 marks the thirteenth anniversary of a fateful meeting at the Goodson Law Library. During the Law School's Dedication Week festivities in 2008, marking the end of a fifteen-month building renovation project, a group of academic law library directors gathered in the library's conference room. That meeting was the genesis of the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, formally released in February 2009 after several months of drafting. The Durham Statement aimed to improve the dissemination of legal scholarly information through formal commitments to open access and electronic publication.

In February 2021, the current directors of the signatory law libraries formed a Durham Statement Review Task Force, comprised of representatives from four drafting schools, in order to explore the current status of the Statement's adoption, examine barriers to adoption, and recommend best practices going forward, including potential revisions to the statement language. The Final Report of the Durham Statement Review Task Force was completed in August 2021 and is now available on the Duke Law Scholarship Repository.

The Task Force reviewed scholarly literature on the impacts of open access publication and the Durham Statement itself. The group also surveyed academic law library directors in order to determine the status of the Durham Statement's implementation, including barriers to adoption of its various calls to action and suggested language for a potential revised or new version of the Statement. 

For more information about the history and background of the Durham Statement, visit the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship and Frequently Asked Questions. Both pages include a link to the Task Force's Final Report.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

A New Look for ICLR Online

This weekend, the British legal research database ICLR Online upgraded to ICLR.4. As noted in ICLR's overview of changes, this version of the resource includes new features and functionality, including improved legislation searching and a new option to browse case law by topic. (An add-on feature called Case Genie, incorporating AI into natural language search processing, is not currently available in Duke's campus-wide subscription to this resource.)

Now in its tenth year of operation, ICLR Online is the digital research platform for Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales, which has published law reports for England and Wales in print since 1865. ICLR Online contains the full text of case law from ICLR reporters in both HTML and PDF format, as well as a number of search options and browsing tool. The new upgrade to ICLR.4 adds integrated access to legislation through the UK's website.

For additional resources related to searching English law specifically, consult the library research guides to English Law Research and English Legal History, or Ask a Librarian.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Workers of the World

On Monday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees expects more than 60,000 of its members to begin a labor strike. The move would shut down film and television production across the country, unless and until an agreement is reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. They'll join several other labor union strikes that have made headlines in recent weeks, inspiring the hashtag #Striketober on social media. Currently, more than 10,000 workers at John Deere plants are on strike, following an overwhelming rejection of a new contract proposal. Another 1,400 employees of Kellogg cereal plants are also in their second week of a strike over labor negotiations.

With unemployment rates continuing to trend toward pre-pandemic levels, and a record number of employees quitting jobs in what is now termed "The Great Resignation", labor conditions and labor markets will likely be hot topics of conversation for the indefinite future. If you're interested in learning more about these topics, the U.S. Department of Labor offers helpful free topic pages on Major Laws, Labor Relations, and common worker questions like workplace safety, wage and hour laws, and whistleblower protections.

For more detailed treatment of labor law topics, try some of these legal resources:

  • Labor Law in a Nutshell, 5th ed 2008 (online in West Academic Library Study Aids): provides a quick overview with concise discussion of key laws and procedures, including topics like organizational picketing, antitrust considerations, and collective bargaining agreements.
  • Higgins, The Developing Labor Law: The Board, the Courts, and the National Labor Relations Act, 7th ed. 2017 (online in Bloomberg Law): this expansive treatise, updated in 2020, provides an overview of the NLRA’s history and discussion of topics like protected employee activity, the collective bargaining process, and a section on "economic action" describing strike practices.
  • Lareau et al, Labor and Employment Law (available on Lexis). This treatise is recognized as a leading authority on the topic of labor law, with chapters on major topics like the NLRA, Wages and Hours, and Labor and Employment Arbitration. Lexis's Practice Area page for Labor and Employment Law includes other titles like National Labor Relations Act: Law and Practice and Wages & Hours: Law and Practice.

To locate additional titles in print or online about these topics, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for "Labor laws and legislation -- United States" or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, September 27, 2021

First Monday in October

Monday, October 4 marks the annual opening of the U.S. Supreme Court's new argument term, as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2. "First Monday in October" hasn't always been the start of a new Court term, however: as noted in the treatise Supreme Court Practice § 1.2(f) (Reserves KF9057 .S8 2019 & online in Bloomberg Law), the opening day of the Court's term (and even the total number of regular terms per year) has changed over time…although not since 1916.

This year, the Court will return to oral arguments inside the courtroom, after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to schedule remote arguments for the end of the 2019-2020 term, and for the entirety of October Term 2020. However, the Court's building will remain closed to the public, limiting in-person access during arguments to the justices, the attorneys, and to a limited number of media representatives. The Court anticipates live audio streaming of oral arguments to continue through at least December, a practice that began during the pandemic after many years of institutional resistance.

Last week, the Court announced another update to its argument format, inspired by the changes made during remote arguments. The remote argument format allotted each justice dedicated questioning time in order of seniority, rather than the more freewheeling, interruption-prone in-person oral arguments. Upon returning to the courtroom, the Court will take a hybrid approach: first, the traditional open questioning during an attorney's argument time, followed by a more structured question-and-answer portion in order of seniority. The Court's Guide for Counsel in Cases to be Argued before the Supreme Court of the United States has already been updated with this change.

This new term begins at a time when polling firm Gallup reports that U.S. public opinion of the Supreme Court is at an historic low, with only 40% of Americans approving of the Court's recent activities. The Court has come under increased scrutiny for its "shadow docket" rulings on emergency petitions, which can have sweeping impacts without the processes of oral argument, deliberation, or lengthy opinion drafting. Most recently, the Court's unsigned 5-4 ruling that declined to block Texas's restrictive new abortion law from taking effect pending constitutional challenges has sparked new debate, with dissenting Justice Elena Kagan observing, "Today's ruling illustrates just how far the Court's 'shadow-docket' decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process." 

 This Court term is likely to generate more controversy, with a petition already pending before SCOTUS on the Texas abortion law as well as oral argument on the constitutionality of a Mississippi abortion ban scheduled for December. Detailed descriptions of cases already on the Court’s upcoming docket can be found at SCOTUSblog and the Court's own argument calendar.

For more information on the history and practices of the U.S. Supreme Court, check out the resources linked in the library's research guide or Ask a Librarian.