The Free Law Project has recently announced that in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor and Georgia State University, they have collected every free written order and opinion that is currently available in PACER.
New opinions will be downloaded every night (!) to keep the collection up-to-date.
Currently, the collection contains about 3.4 million orders and opinions from cases dating back to 1960. All of the documents are available for search, and the Free Law Project has also partnered with the Internet Archive to upload a copy of every opinion as well (the Internet Archive is a non-profit whose mission is to permanently store digital content).
Read more about this exciting new initiative here.
Are you one of the 550,000+ people who have registered for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? This is the federal program that forgives the remaining balance on qualifying student loans after 10 years of payments while working full-time for a qualifying public service employer.
If so, you’ll likely want to read the article in yesterday’s New York Times which reports that “thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time,” per the Department of Education.
From the article:
Four borrowers and the American Bar Association have filed a suit in United States District Court in Washington against the department.
The plaintiffs held jobs that they initially were told qualified them for debt forgiveness, only to later have that decision reversed — with no evident way to appeal, they say. The suit seeks to have their eligibility for the forgiveness program restored….
The idea that approvals can be reversed at any time, with no explanation, is chilling for borrowers. Mr. Rudert [an attorney at a non profit legal aid group and one of the plaintiffs], who graduated from law school owing nearly $135,000 on student loans, said he would have picked a different employer if he had known that his work… would not qualify.
Although no explanation was given for the denial, it appears that the questions generally center around whether certain nonprofit organizations qualify as public service employers.
Hat tip to my colleague, Kris Turner, for alerting me to this story.
One of the UW Law School’s clinics is making news, this time on WPR. The Law and Entrepreneurship clinic helped out over 300 clients in the past year, navigating tricky issues involving beginning new businesses. For more details and an interview with Anne Smith, check out WPR’s page on the L&E clinic here.
Today the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in favor of Stephanie Lenz in a Fair Use case that may have long-reaching consequences.
In 2007, Lenz posted a 29 second video to Youtube of her baby dancing and bouncing to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy”. Universal, at the time the owner of the copyright on that song, sent Youtube a request to have it removed since they claimed it violated copyright.
Now, after an extended legal tussle, the 9th circuit has come down with a pro-fair use decision, with Circuit Judge Richard Tallman writing (for the 3-0 panel) that:
“Copyright holders cannot shirk their duty to consider in good faith and prior to sending a takedown notification – whether allegedly infringing material constitutes fair use,”
Copyright holders, following this ruling, may be held much more accountable (and perhaps legally liable) if they do not take fair use into account when issuing take-down orders. It seems that there may be a smaller amount of these orders sent out in the future if this decision holds up.
For more on the ruling and it’s potential implications, read Thomson Reuters review of the case and decision.
Click here to read or download the decision itself.
From the FDLP News:
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) marks its 154th anniversary of opening for business today. Since March 4, 1861, GPO has seen many changes as the agency continually adapted to changing technologies. In the ink-on-paper era, this meant moving from hand-set to machine typesetting, from slower to high-speed presses, and from hand to automated bookbinding. While these changes were significant for their time, they pale by comparison with the transformation that accompanied GPO’s adoption of electronic information technologies, which began over 50 years ago with a plan to develop a new system of computer-based typesetting. By the early 1980s this system had completely supplanted machine-based hot metal typesetting. By the early 1990s, the databases generated by GPO’s typesetting system were uploaded to the Internet via the agency’s first Web site, GPO Access, vastly expanding the agency’s information dissemination capabilities. Those functions continue today with GPO’s Federal Digital System on a more complex and comprehensive scale, which last year registered its one billionth document download.
As a result of these sweeping technology changes, GPO is now fundamentally different from what it was as recently as a generation ago. It is smaller, leaner, and equipped with digital production capabilities that are the bedrock of the information systems relied upon daily by Congress, Federal agencies, and the public to ensure open and transparent Government in the digital era. As GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks has pointed out, GPO is not just for printing anymore. Late last year, Congress and the President recognized GPO’s technology transformation by changing the agency’s name to the Government Publishing Office.
GPO’s new name provides an opportunity to introduce a new, modern logo representative of the 21st century. Based on the Lubalin Graph typeface, the G forms an arrow pointing forward, showing the direction the agency is moving. The arrow points to the P, which stands for publishing and conveys the significance of the communication services GPO provides today. The new logo will be phased in throughout the agency.
See the new logo here.
“GPO is on the move as a publishing operation. With publishing as our new middle name, GPO is offering a broad range of products and services to Federal agencies, ranging from conventional print to digital apps, eBooks, and bulk data downloads,” said GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks. “In our mission to Keep America Informed, we will continue to adapt to the new technologies that the Government and the public have come to expect from us.”
Late last week, a Wisconsin Law Journal article (Subscription required) discussed how the focus of recent bills proposing changes to Wisconsin’s Court Access Website (CCAP) may be changing. The senators who sponsored the bill have received feedback and are re-evaluating what the best step may be to improve CCAP.
The original bill proposed splitting CCAP into two databases: one for the public (which could allow some records to be removed) and one for law enforcement, loan officers and other interested parties that would maintain a complete record of all court cases. After receiving negative feedback on the bill from a wide variety of groups ranging from landlords to broadcasters, the bill is now facing a make-over from original authors Rep. Evan Goyke and Sen. Lena Taylor.
With a shift away from the two database proposal (which would have cost $500,000 to set up and $125,000 a year to maintain according to John Voelker, the Wisconsin State Courts Director), the bill may now focus on expunction.
Expunction has been debated before, most notably in 2007 and 2010. If the change is made, certain records may be removed by judges from CCAP. While the debate is far from over, Voelker has introduced a bill that would allow judges to expunge records of cases that did not lead to conviction. That bill is still looking for a sponsor.
For now, CCAP remains unchanged, but it remains to be seen how long it will stay that way.
CCAP, Wisconsin’s online access to Circuit Court Records, may be altered if pending legislation passes. Introduced by Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) in the Senate and Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) in the Assembly, the bill is designed to give persons who were wrongfully arrested a chance to clear their records. Currently, the records that can be accessed by the public include wrongful arrests and any charges, even if they are dropped. The legislation that was introduced wants to give the wrongfully arrested a chance to have that information removed from the CCAP website.
According to Rep. Goyke, “Too many people stop at the initial screen that says [a person is] charged with a crime, and that’s it. And that’s not an accurate picture.” Similar legislation has been debated in the past, and failed. Notably, committees studied the possibility of removing wrongful arrests from CCAP most recently in 2010, but no recommendations were made.
The information would still be available, but not on CCAP. The legislation proposes a separate database that would be accessible for certain groups, such as landlords, court employees, journalists, attorneys, real-estate workers and others that may need to see the information. The County Clerk’s office would also retain records of all arrests and charges that would be available to the public.
Some are concerned that the elimination of information from CCAP may fly in the face of first amendment ‘freedom of information’ rights, while others are leery that private companies could begin charging the public for the information that was once found for free on CCAP.
In addition to the proposed changes to CCAP, the legislation would also require landlords and employers to disclose that they used CCAP information when deciding to deny employment or housing or face a $1,000 fine.
It remains to be seen if this most recent iteration of the CCAP revamp will pass the Senate and Assembly. If so, it will alter how arrest information is made available to the public.
For more information, read the full text of the legislation that was introduced into the Senate.
The New York Times reports that Google is closing a loophole which allowed users to access large numbers of articles on subscription-based sites without paying for them.
The company’s “First Click Free” program, which publishers of pay sites can choose to participate in, is designed to allow readers to get a taste of a site’s content. For example, a person who finds a Wall Street Journal article through Google News can read it free, but if they try to reach other articles from that page they are asked to buy a subscription.
A well-known loophole has allowed readers to return to Google News and get access to more Journal articles. In many cases, a search for the article’s headline on Google News produces a link to a free version.
In a change that Google announced in a blog post Tuesday, the company will allow publishers to limit non-subscribers to five free articles a day.
Thanks to my UW Law Library colleague, Howard Nash, for the tip.
If you read the Wall Street Journal online, you’ve surely noticed that many of the articles are available in preview only. A subscription is required to view the full content.
But, as The Business Insider explains, these same articles are available at no cost when searched via Google.
The WSJ wants to be indexed in and accessible via Google. This is great for Google traffic. But it also means you don’t really need a WSJ subscription to read any of its content online.
Read the article for instructions on how to view the full text articles without a WSJ subscription.
From the Blog of the Legal Times:
Legal Times, which has reported on the D.C. legal and lobbying communities since 1978, is merging with one of its sibling publications, The National Law Journal.
The combined publication will focus on national legal news, with a special emphasis on Washington, and it will carry the name The National Law Journal.
Source: Lex Scripta