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Archive for September, 2009

Hundreds of Thousands of Records on Holocaust and Nazi Art Looting Made Available

The National Archives and Records Administration of the United States and yesterday announced the release of the Internet’s largest Interactive Holocaust Collection with hundreds of thousands of records, including:

  • The Ardelia Hall Collection of records relating to the Nazi looting of Jewish possessions, including looted art
  • Concentration camp registers and documents from Dachau, Mauthausen, Auschwitz, and Flossenburg
  • Captured German records including deportation and death lists from concentration camps
  • Nuremberg War Crimes Trial proceedings

Access to the collection will be available for free on through the month of October.

On the matter of looted art, there are a number . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law

Australia Frees Data

The Australian government has launched as the new home of Australian government public information datasets. There are more than 165 sets arranged into 30 or so categories, covering such topics as culture, planning, environment and education. The invitation on the site is to “[mash]-up the data to create something new and exciting!”. The datasets are in various formats — XML, XLS, ESRI Shapefiles, CSV, etc. — each accompanied by basic metadata.

The United States federal government offers an increasing number of federal datasets free via

Partly in response to the U.S. initiative, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Retro Case Builds – Does Anyone Really Need Them?

The debate in legal publishing circles continues with regard to retro case law builds. Does anyone really need them? If so, which ones and why? Do any of retro builds in the planning or development stages have any real value to the legal researcher?

Unreported court cases that pre-date 1970. Boxes and boxes of older full text court cases that were not reported in print law report series still haunt some court houses and some legal publishers. What should be done with them? Tens of thousands of these cases exist in hardcopy and rest heavy on the consciences of those . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Finding and Updating Canadian Federal Private Acts

A patron asks you to find (and update) a Canadian federal private Act. How do you do it?

The legal research literature lacks detail on the process, so I thought I would test the following approach with SLAW readers and ask if there is a better way. I also provide links to some additional resources on researching federal private Acts.

In the following example, I have (arbitrarily) picked the Stanmount Pipe Line Company (which would appear to no longer exist – at least based on Google searches; as such, it is not a very realistic example, but I needed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law: Legislation

Rule of Law vs the Rule of Reason

I was reading my usual RSS feeds this morning, partly to see if I could find some inspiration for my Slaw post for today, and found the following post on Techdirt. I couldn’t agree more – and since this is one of those “like he said” posts that I can’t really improve on – I’ve simply reproduced it below. I know the author, Mike Masnick, won’t mind so long as I don’t take credit for writing it.

The Rule Of Law Over The Rule Of Reason

from the stop-the-insanity dept

While not directly a tech/business related story, Jonny sent . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Fishbowl Haiku

If there’s one time of year that should give us cause to pause and look out from our legal Fishbowls it’s the autumn. Given the season, I thought I’d invite us all to take a break from our computer screens and document briefs and look out our windows to reflect on nature.

I had just such a moment of distraction last spring that I let slip into a Tweet. Peg Duncan (keeper of the LexUM e-discovery case law digests) translated it into this wonderful English-style Haiku:

the tower creaks

in the cool east wind

ridable waves in Toronto

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law

This Week’s Biotech Highlights

No post-High Holiday edition of the week in biotech would be complete without some repentance and some new beginnings:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law

Metadata Tsunami


Author, Title, Publisher, Date. Doesn’t seem that hard, really. I guess that’s what the Google geniuses (see also Apple Genius) thought when they set up Google Book Search.

Turns out, its not that easy. Anyone who has been tempted by the promises of citation managers, and then had their hopes dashed on the rocks of bibliographic complexity, knows this too well. The criticism of Google Books Search’s performance is pretty trenchant. And now this article doing the same service for Google Scholar. Its a metadata tsunami. Something like that Fishbone song:

Karma Tsunami
comin . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Google Fast Flip

click image to enlarge

A couple of weeks ago Google Labs released Fast Flip, a way of browsing news stories from mainly print media. About 40 newspapers and magazines have partnered with Google, which then provides you with images of their news stories. (The images are in PNG format, so you can’t copy the text as you might with some PDFs.) Thumbnail images of pages are presented in four rows, which filter, respectively, for “recent,” “sources,” “sections,” or “topics.” Helpfully, there’s a headline below each image to let you decide where you’d like to jump into the stream. Once . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Technology, Technology: Internet

RECAP: Crowdsourcing U.S. Federal Court Transparency

Back in July I talked about a petition urging to improve PACER, the online access service to U.S. court records and documents. Until improvements are made, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard have stepped in to provide a tool to give open access to court documents that originate on PACER in cooperation with the Internet Archive. The video below is a presentation by Steve Schultze, fellow of the Berkman Center and new Associate Director at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy at the September 8, 2009 conference Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase explaining how the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law, Technology

Prostitution and Tax Expenses

Running a call-girl business is an inherently risky venture. The lines frequently blur, and participants end up in what the law would describe as prostitution.

To sort out these complicated legal dilemmas operators frequently have to hire counsel. Should these expenses be reportable for tax purposes?

The now-defunct Exchequer Court examined the issue back in 1964, in Canada (Minister of National Revenue – M.N.R.) v. Eldridge, when several employees of the respondent were arrested on prostitution charges.

. . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law

A Judge Named Sue

A month ago the Vancouver Sun picked up on study done by two South Carolina economists at Clemson University, Bentley Coffey and Patrick A. McLaughlin, entitled “Do Masculine Names Help Female Lawyers Become Judges? Evidence from South Carolina” (American Law and Economics Review, January 2009, 11 (1), pg. 112-133 — behind paywall). The gist of the article, if there can be such a thing in a heavily statistics-based study, is that in South Carolina a woman lawyer has a better chance of advancing in her career and of becoming a judge if she has a “masculine . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law