"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.
N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law


Friday, August 15, 2014

Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents

This week the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. added a new feature to its Legislative Sourcebook: Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents, Sources and Explanations.  The Legislative Sourcebook is an excellent research tool for research guides and sources related to federal legislation, the work of Congress, and the Executive Branch. The Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents portion of the site allows users to quickly see where materials like the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, Executive Orders, Presidential Directives, Proclamations, and Signing Statements are found online. The guide indicates the years of availability of the information and includes the content holdings of both freely available online sources and subscription services.

One feature especially helpful about this guide is the inclusion of explanatory materials. For example, for Executive Orders, in addition to links to orders from 1789, links are also included to a Congressional Research Service report that explains the historical use and effect of such orders by Presidents. Similar works are available for Presidential signing statements and proclamations.

Check out the site for an easy to understand look at where you can find Presidential Documents, the date range covered, and multiple options for free online sources: http://www.llsdc.org/executive-orders-and-other-presidential-documents.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Intellectual Property Materials on WestlawNext

This year more and more materials have migrated from Westlaw Classic to their permanent home in WestlawNext, including  intellectual property materials. According to Product Specialist Ryan Kaatz, by the end of the year, all intellectual property materials, including patents will have fully crossed-over to WestlawNext.

IP Tools are now available in WestlawNext and include the claims history of patents (showing all versions of the patent during the prosecution process) and a references cited section that allows users to quickly view all prior art cited in the patent application. Additionally, Asia Pacific and European patent materials have also migrated to WestlawNext.

One thing users should note is the method of accessing WestlawNext patent materials. On the WestlawNext home screen, the All Content tab separates materials included in general search of content through the search bar, and content that must be searched separately. There is a vertical line separating these materials, and Intellectual Property materials link  is on the right side of the line, and this not included in an “all content” search.



This is the link you should select in order to access patents and applications, assignment, cases, Markman orders and more.




Under the “Practice Areas” tab that links to relevant materials for  the subject matter, there is also an Intellectual Property link.


 This link, however, leads to the Intellectual Property Practitioner’s Insight page, designed to provide current awareness materials to IP practitioners. 



For the other practice area, some link to the most used content (e.g. Insurance Law), while others link to a Practitioner’s Insight page (e.g. Employment). Without clarity as to what content the user may expect, substantial confusion and frustration is likely to occur. So remember, in order to use patent and other IP materials on WestlawNext choose the link on the right-hand side of the “All Content” tab, not under the "Practice Areas" tab.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Indigenous Law Portal From the Law Library of Congress



The Law Library of Congress recently unveiled a new search tool to help researchers find indigenous law materials.  The Indigenous Law Portal is still being beta tested, but right now it provides links to American Indian constitutions and legal materials from a number of tribes across the U.S.  The portal has split the U.S. into six sections including the Arctic, New Southwest, North Central, Northeast Atlantic, Pacific Northwest, and South, allowing users to access content by region.  They have also organized the content by state as well as alphabetically by tribe.  

Addition of the U.S. materials should be completed in the next few weeks.  Next, they plan to add information about the aboriginal peoples of Canada.  More information about the new project can be found on the Law Library of Congress’ In Custodia Legis blog. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Preserving Access to Online Government Information Through the FDLP Web Archive


These days, much of the information produced by U.S. government agencies is provided on agency websites, and this migration to e-government has dramatically increased access to government materials.  However, one problem with disseminating information in this way that has long been recognized is that fact that when agency websites change, some of the information they once provided can disappear without warning.  To help alleviate this problem, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is now working on archiving agency websites through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Web Archive.  The government is using Archive-It to save agency websites at various points in time, so that users can see what the websites looked like, and access the content they provided, on the dates they were archived.    
 
GPO started the project by archiving the websites of certain federal commissions, committees, and independent agencies, but now they are expanding to other U.S. agencies as well.  Currently, they have archived the websites of almost 50 federal agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, Indian Health Service, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  While they started archiving many of the websites in 2014, some websites are archived back to 2012.  To see the entire list of archived sites, visit the FDLP Web Archive page on the Archive-It website.  If you want to learn more about the archive, see the FDLP’s Web Archiving information page.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Legal Resources for Unaccompanied Children

The University of Houston Law Center is taking part in addressing the ongoing immigration crisis by providing local attorneys with training on how to assist unaccompanied children.

Yesterday was the first such training opportunity as the Law Center, along with the South Texas College of Law, the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and the Harris County Attorney’s Office, co-sponsored a CLE on the rights of unaccompanied, undocumented children crossing the Texas border.  For attorneys interested in helping but unable to enroll in the CLE due to how quickly it reached capacity, the CLE materials are available online.  The State Bar of Texas offers additional resources as well as links to other CLEs for lawyers outside of the Houston area.

For more information about ongoing events and future opportunities please consult the Law Center’s media release.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nationwide Tech Disaster Hits Bar Exams

A technology disaster struck multiple states yesterday as bar examinees found themselves unable to upload their completed examinations by the deadline.  The unhappy affected examinees were forced to try resubmitting their exams repeatedly over the course of the evening, upsetting many plans to rest and prepare for the second day of the test.

ExamSoft, the company that provided the software involved in this incident, has compiled a list of states that have moved back their submission deadlines in response to their examinees' difficulties.

Local examinees taking the Texas Bar Examination were not affected yesterday; the first day of the Texas exam was scheduled to end around lunchtime, and the examinees that experienced problems were testing in states where Tuesday’s exam was supposed to be submitted in the evening.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Platform for Data on Internet Activity and Content Controls


The Internet Monitor, a project of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, recently launched its pilot platform at thenetmonitor.org. The platform compiles and presents quantitative data on internet activity and content controls around the world. This should be of interest to anyone following current stories about internet filtering in China, Iran, the United Kingdom, and other countries. The site’s content control data is organized by country, and divided into separate categories such as political filtering, social filtering, and conflict/security filtering.    

Another interesting feature of the platform is its access index, which compiles internet access data by country. The categories of access data are grouped under four main headings: (1) adoption, (2) speed and quality, (3) price, and (4) literacy and gender equality. The adoption data includes the percentage of individuals using the internet and the percentage of households with internet service. Some of the data can be surprising. While it may seem that everyone is online nowadays, only 81 percent of Americans use the internet. Norway rates much higher, with 95 percent of the population online, while in Somalia the number is 1.5 percent.

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society was founded in 1998 as a research center for the study of cyberspace. For more information, click here