Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kindle Loosens Library Policy

Readers of this blog may recall two earlier posts regarding the ability of library patrons to borrow both Kindles and the eBooks that are in the library's collection. The first post addressed issues concerning the restrictive license that Amazon, maker and distributor of the Kindle, puts on eBooks downloaded from their site. The second post dealt with Amazon allowing libraries to check out the electronic reader i.e., the Kindle itself. In both cases it was argued that market forces, rather than legal action, would encourage Amazon to allow use of the Kindle in a traditional library setting.

Now, according to a NY Times article by Julie Bosman - Kindle Connects to Library E-Books - it appears that Amazon is on the way to allowing public library patrons to use their own Kindle or borrow a library Kindle, and to download ebooks that are in the library's collection. The conditions are not overly restrictive and are in line with typical library practice; for example, if a library buys 5 copies of a particular ebook it can only lend 5 copies. Just like lending print books.

There are two major problems that have yet to be resolved:

1. The new Amazon program is limited to 11,000 libraries. Great. But there are 122,000+ libraries in the United States. So, less than one percent of all US libraries will be affected.

2. Some publishers are still reluctant to get with the program. These publishers fear that library usage will cut into their traditional business model (a concern that has been around since the advent of the book iself). Perhaps it is time for publishers to change their business model. One possible business model publishers can adopt is the Netflix model. Unlimited views (think Netflix Instant) for a monthly fee.

Monday, September 19, 2011

PACER Fees Go Up

According to Ericka Wayne and a US Courts press release, the price per page to retrieve a document from PACER has just gone up from 8 cents a page to 10 cents a page effective November 1st. (The price increase is noted in paragraph 5 of the press release. Talk about burying the lead.) This may not seem like a lot until you begin downloading some of records and briefs from a federal district court web site. PACER has slowly morphed into a valid legal research tool. A 25% increase in fees may actually affect download statistics.

Pressure From The Rankings Leads To Cheating By Law School Administrations

Most know by now that some law school administrations have an unhealthy obsession with the US News & World Report Law School Rankings. Paying attention to the rankings is one thing. They do, after all, serve as a way for schools to compare themselves with others and to catch trends. Cheating in the pursuit of higher rankings, however, is beyond the pale. Past cheating scandals include the miserable attempts by at least one school to cook their stats via late admissions of candidates with lower GPAs and LSATs.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to paying attention to the USN&WR rankings, Villanova was caught taking their GPA and LSAT admissions scores last February. Now, it may be Indiana's turn. A lengthy quote from the article -

The law school world was scandalized in February when Villanova University School of Law announced that its former dean and admissions officials had for years inflated the Law School Admission Test scores and grade-point averages of the school's incoming classes.

On Sept. 11, officials at the University of Illinois announced that they were investigating the veracity of the same statistics reported by its College of Law after getting a tip that the numbers released for its new class were wrong.

It remains to be seen whether Illinois did, in fact, report bogus numbers this year or in the past, or whether it was done on purpose. But the fact that a second law school had fallen under suspicion within a year raised questions. How widespread is the inflation of the academic credentials? What is being done to ensure law schools are honest?

What indeed? You can and should read the whole story here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Searching for a Comment/Note Topic? Try US Law Week

If you are faced with the age old problem of finding a topic for a journal comment or note you might consider using the Circuit Split feature in BNA's US Law Week. This week's Circuit Splits section notes nine new circuit splits encompassing antitrust to the Establishment Clause. That could translate into nine different comments/notes.

Not interested in writing something for a journal? This could still be fertile ground for any upper class writing project.

Regardless, BNA US Law Week is a great way to stay in touch with what is happening in the law across the nation.

Rutgers students can sign up to get email alerts by going to the Rutgers BNA page here. Just scroll down, click on the US Law Week link. You can sign up for email alerts by using the link on the right side of the page. It's the last link in the right hand column - could they make it any more difficult to find? Make sure you sign up for email alerts while you are on campus. It just works better that way.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Delayed Birth Certificate in New Jersey - Bureaucratic Overkill?

Here's a heartwarming story about how Chief Judge Alex Kosinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals helped an attorney who was looking for a judge to witness the signing of an affidavit in aid of filing a Certificate of Delayed Birth for a child born in New Jersey. The story is reported in Above the Law and on the ABA Journal site.

The form requires that if the affidavit in support of the Certificate is being signed in a state other than New Jersey it must be signed before a judge. The New Jersey statute that imposes this requirement, of course, is NJSA 26:8-32 (b)(2). According to the ABA Journal and Above the Law, this requirment was deemed either "perplexing" or "unusual."

Justifiable or bureaucratic overkill? You be the judge. So to speak.