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Category Archives: Education

Who Owns the Law? Why We Must Restore Public Ownership of Legal Publishing

Leslie Street and David R. Hansen. Who Owns the Law? Why We Must Restore Public Ownership of Legal Publishing, 26 J. Intell. Prop. L. 205 (2019)
“Who owns the law? In the United States, most law is published by a handful of companies. Among the largest are Thomson Reuters, a Canadian mass-media information firm, and RELX Group, a Dutch analytics and information company. With very few exceptions, almost all “official” versions of state statutory codes and regulations are published by those two companies. Thomson Reuters also controls the National Reporter System, the caselaw reporters which are the required version for citation before most U.S. courts. Publication, of course, is not synonymous with “ownership.” Or at least it should not be.2 But, in the U.S. legal system, those two concepts have begun to merge; publishers now use powerful legal tools to control who has access to the text of the law, how much they must pay, and under what terms. This paper is about how that transfer of control occurred, and how it is harmful. Meaningful access to the law is a fundamental prerequisite for due process, and ultimately the rule of law, yet the problem of private control is longstanding3 and growing worse in the advent of electronic publishing and publisher consolidation. Part I of this article explains why effective access to the law is so important. Part II explains some of the challenges with control over official, authentic legal publications and how control over that content has come to rest with a handful of private companies. Part III reviews how those companies assert control over published law through threat of legal actions based on copyright, contract law, website terms of use, and even criminal statutes. Part IV concludes with several practical and aspirational steps for information intermediaries, such as libraries, the courts, and state legislatures to take. Ultimately, government bears responsibility for adequately publishing its law in formats that are accessible and useable by the public. In 2019, that means free, unrestricted online access to official, authenticated, and reliably preserved primary legal texts. Short of that ideal, we suggest ways to at least remove barriers for trustworthy, beneficent third parties—of which there are many, eager and willing—to collect, preserve, and make available official copies of the law to the public for free online…”

AALL Spectrum and Law Library Journal are now true open access

AALL: “In order to promote the legal scholarship of our members, both AALL Spectrum and Law Library Journal are now true open access and no longer require someone to create a free profile first in order to access them. Any resources that are restricted to current AALL members or AALL executive board members will continue to… Continue Reading

Federal Workers Increasingly Interested in Private Tech Sector

Indeed Hiring Lab: Uncle Sam has a new rival: the private tech sector. Since last year’s government shutdown, federal workers’ interest in the tech sector has continually outpaced that of the general population. The government may face a steep challenge attracting tech talent, largely because tech jobs in the tech sector command nearly a 50%… Continue Reading

How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image

Custer, S., Prakash, M., Solis, J., Knight, R., and J. Lin. (2019). Influencing the Narrative: How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image. Williamsburg, VA. AidData at William & Mary: “Chinese leaders have mobilized an impressive array of government agencies, media outlets, and educational institutions at home and abroad as a… Continue Reading


“iCivics works to ensure every student in America receives a quality and engaging civic education and graduates from high school well prepared and enthusiastic for citizenship. With your support, that vision is within our reach. Today, more than 108,000 teachers and 6 million students in all 50 states utilize iCivics’ innovative and free online resources.… Continue Reading

Report – Information literacy in the age of algorithms

Project Information Literacy – Student experiences with news and information, and the need for change. Alison J. Head, Ph.D., Barbara Fister, Margy MacMillan. January 15, 2020. “This report presents findings about how college students conceptualize the ever-changing online information landscape, and navigate volatile and popular platforms that increasingly employ algorithms to shape and filter content.… Continue Reading

The Hidden Dangers of the Great Index Fund Takeover

Bloomberg:  The Big Three—BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street—are the most important players in corporate America. Whether they like it or not. “If you hold a stock market index fund, congratulations. The S&P 500’s total return was a thumping 31.5% in 2019, and a fund that passively tracks that benchmark delivered almost all those gains, minus… Continue Reading

NYPL Top 10 Checkouts of All Time

New York Public Library: “Since The New York Public Library’s founding in 1895, millions of books have been checked out by patrons of all ages throughout the city. In honor of the 125th anniversary, a team of experts from the Library carefully evaluated a series of key factors to determine the most borrowed books, including… Continue Reading

Profs say teaching students how to email them properly is gift that keeps on giving

Journal of Higher Ed: “Somewhere between birth and college, students hopefully have learned how to compose concise, grammatically correct and contextually appropriate emails. Often they haven’t. So, to head off 3 a.m. need-your-help-now emails from Jake No Last Name, many professors explicitly teach students how to email them at the start of the academic year.… Continue Reading

100,000 Artworks Images From Paris Museum Collections Now Freely Available

Hyperallergic: “Paris Musées announced yesterday that it is now offering 100,000 digital reproductions of artworks in the city’s museums as Open Access — free of charge and without restrictions — via its Collections portal. Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la… Continue Reading

Dictionaries and the Law

Davis, Laurel, “Dictionaries and the Law” (2019). Rare Book Room Exhibition Programs. 33.   “Exhibition program from a Spring 2019 exhibit presented in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room at the Boston College Law Library. The exhibit focused on the history of legal dictionaries published over the last 500 years.” “The law is a profession… Continue Reading