"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, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law
In this case, the defendant was a website dedicated to providing the public with access to free copies of federal, state and local government codes. Some of the federal codes hosted by the defendant incorporated voluntary industry standards and best practices into federal law by reference, as is permitted under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(1)(E). The defendant hosted free copies of these standards on its website along with the federal codes, and was sued by the organizations that drafted and published the standards. The district court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, holding that copyrighted material does not lose its protection when incorporated by reference into law.
This case does not result in the complete unavailability of free legal materials, as the plaintiffs in this case also provide their respective standards to the public online, and at no charge. However, the free versions of these materials lack the search functionality of the paid versions, and the precedent of preserving intellectual property rights in materials incorporated into law may become a concern in the future.
President Trump recently nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the
U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin
Scalia. For those interested in learning more about the appointment process,
the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a new report, Supreme Court Appointment
Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee. It includes information on the
criteria for selecting a nominee, the advice and consent role of the Senate, the
political aspects of the process, and the use of recess appointments to
temporarily bypass Senate confirmation. For a more detailed account of the
Senate’s role, the following CRS reports may also be of interest:
To those unfamiliar, the Congressional Research
Service (CRS) is a federal legislative branch agency, housed inside the Library
of Congress, charged with providing the United States Congress non-partisan
advice on issues that may come before Congress, including immigration.
Included in the report are in-depth discussions on the
operation of sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in the context of the executive power . Discussions
of sections 212(f), 214(a)(1) and 215(a)(1)
report on how the sections have been used by Presidents, along with relevant
case law and precedents. Most interesting is the list of executive orders
excluding some groups of aliens during past presidencies; the table allows
readers to compare and contrast the limits of previous orders.
The report notes the large breadth of power the
president holds in denying entry to aliens, “if [the president] finds that
their entry would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, for
such period as he shall deem necessary.” It also identifies potential
challenges that could be made to such an order including: inconsistency with
congressional intent, and the violation of international treaties or the First
Amendment if the exclusion is based on religion.
Anyone interested in learning
the legal underpinnings of the recent immigration ban or is writing on the
topic will find the report most useful.
The CIA recently announced that its CREST tool is now available
online.CREST is an electronic database
of records that have been declassified under the CIA's 25 year program.While the CREST tool only contains a subset
of the declassified records, previously researchers were required to visit the
National Archives in Maryland to search the database, so the online tool
greatly increases the availability of these records.
The United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) are partnering to digitize and publish historic issues of the Federal Register.
Legal researchers interested in historic issues of the Federal Register may currently access scanned images from the Library of Congress website, but this new project will make those issues searchable using the GPO's online system.
As of the date of the date of this post, the GPO and OFR have already made issues of the Federal Register published from 1990 to 1994 available online through this new project. The project plans to digitize all historic issues going back to the first issue of the Federal Register published in 1936.
Yesterday the White
House announced a series of archival projects related to “the first Social
Media presidency.” These include a searchable archive of over
250,000 social media posts from the Obama White House, a comprehensive collection of Obama GIFs,
tool that analyzes White House tweets, and complete archives of the White House’s
Twitter, Facebook, and Vine accounts. The Internet
Archive will also be making White House social media data available on its
website. You can read more about these projects here.
In related news, the Internet Archive recently launched its Trump Archive,
an ongoing project that already includes over 520 hours of video related to
President-elect Donald Trump.