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Showing posts from June, 2012

The Outer Limits of Copyright Law -- Part 2

Intellectual property law is interesting because the issues it addresses arise in interesting places and in interesting ways. A good example of this is in the area of published laws. Are laws protected by copyright? Do they belong to someone? The case of Veeck v. Southern Building Code Congress Int’l, Inc. 293 F. 3d 791 (5th Cir. 2002) raised this issue.  
In Veeck, the towns of Anna and Savoy had adopted as their official building code the model codes promulgated by the Southern Building Code Congress (SBCCI).  When the plaintiff, Mr. Veeck, posted on his web site the towns’ building codes, the SBCCI requested that the codes be removed, claiming that Veeck had violated the SBCCI’s copyright.  Veeck filed for a declaratory judgment to determine whether he was in fact violating SBCCI’s copyright.  
The scenario in the Veeck case is quite common.  Rather than draft their own codes, federal, state, and local governments frequently adopt as law standards developed by private, not-for-pro…

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launches Consumer Complaint Database

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched the beta version of the Consumer Complaint Database.This database collects credit card complaints from consumers and makes them available to the public via the Internet.Various types of information is collected:date of the complaint, location were the complaint originated (zip code), reason for the complaint, the type of response that the consumer received from the credit card company, and whether or not the response was timely.No information which could reveal the identity of the person submitting the complaint is included.However, the names of the offending credit card companies are included.So, data is available to the general public that in the past was only available to the individual complainant, the credit card company, regulators, or the public through the Freedom of Information Act.

The website includes an especially helpful tutorial for those individuals who lack experience working with databases such as this.When r…

Spotlight on New Titles--A First Amendment Profile of the Supreme Court

John Cabot University Press has recently published A First Amendment Profile of the Supreme Court, (edited by Craig R. Smith), which is now on the O’Quinn Law Library’s new titles shelf (KF8742.F567 2011).The nine chapters which comprise the heart of the book were written by different “budding and brilliant” young scholars.Each chapter focuses on how the individual justices arrive at his or her position in First Amendment cases.Throughout the book, the rhetoric of Supreme Court opinions is important.The authors do not simply analyze the justices’ lines of argument, they look at the broader rhetorical strategies employed by the justices when rationalizing and making their decisions.Each chapter has the same basic format:A profile of the justice is developed based on what he or she said during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the positions he or she has since adopted in important Supreme Court cases.These profiles are then analyzed in terms of Philip Bobbitt’s six “mod…

Fastcase App Now Available on Android

Fastcase has announced that it's app is now available for Android devices. This is good news for Android users, because before this announcement, all comprehensive legal research apps have required an Apple device. The Fastcase app, which is now available on GooglePlay and the App Store,  provides access to case law and statutes, which can be searched or browsed, and the app is free to download and access after registration. For subscribers to the desktop version of Fastcase, the app will sync with the desktop version. Hopefully, Fastcase will make this free app available for all mobile devices in the near future.

Texas.gov Mobile Website Available

According to an announcement available on BusinessWire, Texas.gov is now available as a mobile website for all devices. The search feature will allow the user to locate information regarding government services such as renewing a driver license or requesting a birth certificate. The site also allows several services to be browsed by topic (referred to as the most popular searches) although the user will likely find the search feature to be the most effective way to navigate this site. Currently, the App Store and GooglePlay both have this app available but those without Apple or Android devices can simply type: Texas.gov into their web browser and it will automatically display the mobile website.

Yet Another Lexis Advance Polemic: A Reply to Sellers & Gragg

I must admit that I have experienced several moments in my life where I felt like I was playing the character of John Adams in the musical 1776, wondering "Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?" In each of those moments, I could see that I was being pulled down a disastrous path and knew there was a better path to take, but the group of people pulling me would not listen, or could not understand, when I tried pointing out the perils that awaited us if we continued down the road we were on or the benefits of an alternate route. Unfortunately, reading the latest "Back and Forth . . ." column in the current Law Library Journal has raised those feelings once again.Entitled "WestlawNext and Lexis Advance" (2012 Law Libr. J. 25, 104 Law Libr. J. 341), the latest exchange between Christine L. Sellers and Phillip Gragg promises to "discuss and debate the emergence of [the titular products], and consider their impact on legal resea…