Wednesday, August 27, 2014

U.S. Code Title 52: Voting and Elections on the Move

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel recently announced the addition of Title 52 (Voting and Elections) to the official United States Code (U.S.C.). This "editorial reclassification" takes effect on September 1 for the electronic version of U.S.C., and will relocate voting and election-related laws from existing titles 2 and 42 into the new Title 52. (A chart of the planned changes is already available.) Title 52 will appear in the printed U.S. Code beginning with Supplement II of the 2012 edition.

Five years ago, the Office of the Law Revision Counsel recommended that Congress enact a proposed new title 52 into positive law, but federal lawmakers took no action. An "editorial reclassification" is considered a routine transfer of existing Code sections, and may be undertaken by the Code editors unilaterally.

The last new addition to the Code was Title 51, National and Commercial Space Programs, which was enacted into positive law in 2010 (see our blog post). Law Revision Counsel editors have proposed additional new titles of the Code as potential candidates for positive law codification:
  • Title 53, Small Business
  • Title 54, National Park System
  • Title 55, Environment
Only time will tell if these other proposed new titles will also be added as non-positive law "editorial reclassifications" if no action is taken to enact them into positive law. For help with using the U.S. Code in all its formats, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Digital Law Dictionaries

Law has a language all its own. Newer researchers are often mystified by the Latin phrases, legal jargon, and unfamiliar uses of common English words which litter our case law and statutes. Legal dictionaries are an essential tool for lawyers who need to decode the secret language of law. Black's Law Dictionary and Ballentine's Law Dictionary remain the standard references for legal terms, and both are available for consultation in the Goodson Law Library's Reference Collection (see Level 3 map).

However, even more dictionaries are just a click away in electronic format. The online version of Black's Law Dictionary can be found on WestlawNext, while LexisNexis provides the electronic version of Ballentine's Law Dictionary. But since 1Ls won't receive their passwords to these popular research services until early September, additional legal dictionary options may be worth an online bookmark. Basic free legal dictionaries include those on consumer websites like FindLaw, Nolo Press, and Cornell's Legal Information Institute.

Historical dictionaries can also be found online. This week, Cornell's InSITE service highlighted the Georgetown Law Library's new collection of online legal dictionaries, which includes scans of law dictionaries from 1575 to the early 1900s. Additional dictionaries will be added to this growing collection. One hundred more online legal dictionaries, both historical and current, can be found in the Duke Libraries Catalog with a subject search for "Law – Dictionaries" and the use of the "Online" format filter.

For help accessing a legal dictionary, in either print or online format, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Law360 Now Available to Law Community

As the Goodson Blogson reported back in January, LexisNexis began to include news and commentary from legal current-awareness service Law360 in its Legal News search results. However, this did not include all content from Law360, and also did not provide any access to the separate website. Effective today, however, the Duke Law community may now access the full text of Law360 stories, courtesy of LexisNexis, at both and via the carousel of Law360 headlines within Lexis Advance.

Access to is restricted to Duke Law School IP ranges, but includes the full text of stories within more than 35 practice areas. Stories frequently include links to helpful content like case dockets and court opinions, such as the recent article covering Duke University's trademark lawsuit with the estate of actor John Wayne over use of the actor's "Duke" nickname on alcoholic beverages. The "Related" sidebar includes PDF copies of case documents, as well as the case docket number for further research.

A recent Law360 profile of Duke Law Professor Emeritus Walter E. Dellinger III also illustrates the sidebar's helpful "Related" content, linking readers to stories which are related to his law firm (O'Melveny & Myers) as well as to specific companies mentioned in the text. An envelope icon allows readers to set up email alerts to any of these specific companies or firms. Alerts are also available for practice areas, by email or RSS feed.

For help with using or with accessing Law360 articles on Lexis Advance, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

All's Fair in Internet Images?

To the dismay of schoolteachers everywhere, the Internet has made copying simpler than ever. With a single click, entire passages of a research paper can be lifted from Wikipedia; someone else's photo can be saved as your own; and all of this can happen countless times per day. The growing ease of copying digital content has led to increased confusion about fair use and obtaining permission, particularly when using images.

Fortunately, blogger Curtis Newbold (a.k.a. The Visual Communication Guy) is here to help. Lifehacker recently highlighted his detailed July 2014 flowchart, Can I Use That Picture? The Terms, Laws, and Ethics for Using Copyrighted Images. The flowchart walks novice would-be image users through the minefield of fair use considerations, Creative Commons attribution, and stock photo licensing. "My rule above all else?" he concludes: "Ask permission to use all images. If in doubt, don't use the image!"

Want to use a particular image, but are unsure where it may have originated? Google's Reverse Image Search allows you to upload an image file or search a link to an image on a website in order to track down similar images on the web. This may also be an effective way to locate a higher-resolution version of the image you want, determine its owner for permissions purposes – or even, perhaps, discover whether someone might be using your own photos for their online dating profile (or other unsavory purposes).

More information about copyright clearance can be found in the Nolo Press title Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off (Ref. KF3002 .S75 2007 & 2013 ed. online via Legal Information Reference Center). For other treatises on copyright law, visit the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property Law or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Researching Tribal Law

The Library of Congress recently unveiled a new Indigenous Law Portal to help researchers locate tribal law materials. As outlined in the LOC's blog post, the resource includes digitized tribal constitutions from the Library of Congress's collection as well as links to electronic legal resources on tribal websites. The new portal brings together many difficult-to-locate materials into one convenient site, which can be searched by tribe name, state, or geographic region.

To learn more about tribal law in America, search the Duke Libraries catalog for "Indians of North America – Legal status, laws, etc." to find recent titles like Fletcher's American Indian Tribal Law (2011) or EagleWoman's Mastering American Indian Law (2013). In addition to print titles in the library's collection, Duke University community members may search or browse the 2012 edition of the treatise Cohen's Handbook on Federal Indian Law within LexisNexis Academic. (Members of the Law School community may also access the Cohen treatise within Lexis Advance.)

For help with using the Indigenous Law Portal or accessing library resources on tribal law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.