Thursday, April 12, 2012

The National Library Week Crossword Research Genius Award Winner Is...

Congratulations to the Research Genius Award Winner: David Proctor, Director of the Research and Information Center, Ballard Spahr. who submitted the first competed and correct crossword.

Second Place, Lance Odegard, Director National Technology, Thomson Reuters.

Thanks to all participants. The competed crossword and clues are below..

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Enter the Dewey B Strategic Research Crossword Challenge

In honor of National Library Week I have developed a legal research trivia crossword. The first person to send a competed copy with correct answers to DeweyBStrategic  ( will be honored as the first DeweyBStrategic  legal research genius.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Are PDF Format Newsletters an "Attractive Nuisance?"

Back in January 2012, Warren Communications sued US Signal (1 12 cv-00138 U.S.D.C.D.C.) for unauthorized copying of their PDF format newsletter and is seeking damages of $19M. Warren publishes the Communications Daily which focuses on regulation of the communications industry.

Lesson Number 1: It Pays to Have a Librarian

Like the  Lowrys v Legg Mason case  which was filed in 2001, a single subscription was purchased by a non-librarian executive and the issues were alleged to have been systematically copied and redistributed throughout the organization.The Lowry case resulted in a $20M judgement for the plaintiffs. Lowry’s Reports, Inc. v. Legg Mason Inc., et al. 271 F.Supp.2d 737, Civil No. WDQ-01-3898 (D. Md., July 10, 2003). In both cases it appears that the intent from the outset was to purchase the smallest license and engage in a wider than authorized distribution.

I have no sympathy for organizations which demonstrate either institutional disregard for copyright law or institutional negligence in failing to have licenses negotiated by competent professionals.  Librarians play important "risk management" roles because they are  familiar with copyright law and  are experienced at negotiating and scaling licenses based on practice needs and expected workflows of the organization.

Are PDF Newsletters A Kind of "Attractive Nuisance"?

American courts developed the concept of the "attractive nuisance"  which allows injured trespassers to sue landowners. The courts have recognized that certain structures on land such as swimming pools are so inherently attractive to children that their presence is equivalent to an express invitation trespass.The courts have ruled against property owners because they knew the structures were both dangerous and irresistibly alluring and yet the owners failed to secure them from trespass. In other words landowners have a duty to protect trespassers from foreseeable injury.

 Is a Newsletter Publisher Negligent if they Distribute an Unsecured PDF Newletter?

It is not that hard to create a secure newsletter. The technology has been around for years. BNA was the first legal publisher to introduce electronic newsletters about 12 years ago. From the beginning, these newsletters incorporated security by requiring passwords or IP recognition in order to gain access to the full text of individual stories. Most legal publishers have followed suit and incorporate security devices into their publication format. These publisher protect their own intellectual property but also protect their readers from their natural impulse to share.

So I am completely baffled as to why there are newsletter publishers that fail to secure their intellectual content. Publishers who publish newsletters in PDF format not only fail to secure individual stories, they fail to secure the entire issue of a newsletter.

Is It Time To Introduce an Attractive Nuisance Defence in Digital Copyright Law?

I posit that in our porous digital world, a PDF newsletter creates a dangerously alluring and completely foreseeable threat to the subscribing organization and to each recipient. It is like sending a "digital timebomb" because a PDF newsletter once forwarded can not be retrieved and the licence holder becomes liable for all subsequent copying and forwarding that may result from that "one false click," 

Does an intellectual property owner owe a duty to it's subscribers to provide more secure products?

One impulsive act - major consequences

In a world of ubiquitous and continuous digital sharing, is the publisher of a newsletter distributed in PDF format creating an intellectual property equivalent of an unfenced swimming pool? Has the publisher created an inherently dangerous, alluring and foreseeable threat to the recipients? It only takes one injudicious and instantaneous impulse to hit "forward" to create an irreversible liability for a law firm.  Once forwarded by any employee,  the subscribing organization is in a position of irreversible financial peril.

Minimizing Risk

For now the entire burden is on the subscriber to prevent unauthorized copying and forwarding of PDF newsletters.
  • The best risk management strategy is to hire and/or empower a librarian versed in copyright, content and licensing negotiations to act as an effective "risk manager."
  • Negotiate the broadest possible license to cover your firm. Always negotiate in good faith and provide an honest disclosure regarding the number of subscribers.
  • Educate lawyers and staff to understand their responsibilities in copyright compliance.
  • Technology can also be employed to reduce risks. IT  network administrators can create rules to trap and block PDF newsletters from being forwarded.

Photos: Creative Commons


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Welcome to MORE on Bloomberg Law: BNA Debuts on the Blaw Platform

The skeptics said it couldn't be done. The cynics said it wouldn't be done ( at no additional cost to subscribers.) Only six months after the acquisition of BNA in September 2011, Bloomberg Law has loaded and integrated BNA content into the Blaw platform. And they are not charging their subscribers for the "mother lode" of content that became available virtually over night.
Today's press release, announced the full integration of  BNA content as well as a major redesign of the Bloomberg Law platform.

"When we first welcomed BNA to the Bloomberg family, we promised this match would create a unique combination of premium content, deep subject matter expertise and world-class technological capabilities," said Dan Doctoroff, CEO and President of Bloomberg. "Today marks a milestone in which we are delivering on that promise by creating one of the most powerful products in legal research."

The newly loaded BNA content is fully searchable and provides links  to documents from Bloomberg Law. The BNA classification systems for Labor, Employee Benefits and Intellectual Property are now navigable and add a new dimension of research to the Blaw platform.

BNA Content Added to Bloomberg Law:
The Newsletters. Including the "high ticket" BNA Dailys, The Daily Report for Executives, The Daily Labor Reporter, the Daily Tax Report and US Law Week and over 100 other titles can be routed to any subscriber in "one click."

The Portfolios.  The Tax Management Portfolios and Corporate Practice Portfolios

Secondary Sources; BNA Treatises, Professional Books,  and manuals

Practice Centers:The Labor, Employee Benefits and Intellectual Property practice centers introduce BNA's proprietary headnote and classification system into the Bloomberg Law platform. The BNA analytical materials now contain links to Bloomberg's primary sources such as opinions, dockets, statutes and regulations as well as Bloomberg's company and market information.

Platform Enhancements Bloomberg has streamlined navigation and access. Deb Sours, a regional Research Services Manager at DLA Piper  who has been using BLaw for over a year loves the new look and feel of the platform that was released today. According to Sours "The new interface provides a cleaner and more concise format for accessing content."  If you enter a company name into the Blaw "Go bar" you see a menu of search options which  can retrieve information about the company and it's executives. One click will take you to the caselaw, dockets, SEC filings, company  and executive profiles.

Enhancements to Bloomberg Law’s Interface

The Bloomberg "Go Bar" Displays  sources of company  information
What's Next? I spoke with Lou Andeozzi, Chairman of Bloomberg Law  today to see if I could get some insights into any upcoming plans for Bloomberg Law. While he disclosed no specific plans for adding new content, he reaffirmed that "Bloomberg Law will follow the model originally set by the Bloomberg terminal. We will continue to add content and functionality which grow the value of Bloomberg Law to lawyers at no additional cost." For the short term they will be focusing on enhancing the functionality and integration of the Bloomberg and BNA content. Tax Law remains one big practice which is in need of a fully developed practice center. Given the speed of the integration of the first 3 practice centers which were released today, I expect that the market may also be surprised by a speedy release of the Tax Practice Center in the near future.