Posted on March 28, 2006 in Uncategorized by Brian RoweView Comments

This week I will be talking about the two more papers presented at the Lewis and Clark’s Spring IP Symposium on Open Access Legal Scholarship.

Before reading further, please note that all papers presented at the conference are still in a draft form. I invite readers to read the papers at the LC website but not to quote or cite the papers.

The first of these papers, Open Access in a Closed Universe: Lexis, Westlaw and the Law School, was written by Olufunmilayo B. Arewa, Assistant Professor of Law, Case School of Law
Professor Arewa does a great job of presenting the history of monopolizing of legal printing markets followed by a critical analysis of how the current legal publishing market is being subsidized by law schools by training future lawyers to use these closed tools. I am most troubled by the way that public institutions are being used by the private sector to create a cycle of dependence on the West Law and Lexis information drugs.

On an unrelated side note I particularly enjoyed her reference to Wikipedia’s categorization for the law publishing duopoly as “Wexis.”

The second article I will talk about is Michael Carroll, Associate Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law The Movement for Open Access Law. This article was particularly interesting for two reasons the solutions presented and the analysis of impacts on the public. One of these solutions can be found on the website already:

“Open Access Law: Principles

WE, THE EDITORS OF OUR LAW JOURNAL, BELIEVE that legal scholarship should be available to the widest possible audience, regardless of wealth.

WE BELIEVE that law journals should subscribe to Open Access principles, as articulated in the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge, and the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

WE ARE COMMITTED to Open Access principles that ensure free and neutral access to legal scholarship.

THEREFORE, WE ADOPT the following four principles as part of our publication policy:

1. The Journal will require from the Author no more than a reasonable, limited-term exclusive license for commercial publication. The Journal will not interfere at any time with the author’s freedom to make his or her work available under a license as free as the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

2. In the event of reprinting or republication (of any part) of the Article the Author will always attribute first publication to the Journal, unless the Journal does not require this.

3. Upon publication of the Article, the Journal will make available to the Author an electronic version of the edited Article—such as the PDF or the word processing document of the published Article—with the expectation that this will be posted in an Open Access Repository.

4. In the event that the Journal does not use the Science Commons Open Access Law Model Publication Agreement, it will post a current copy of its publication agreement on its web site, and will ensure that its agreement complies with these four principles. “

I hope that anyone intrested in creating an Open Access legal publishing world will look into Professer Carroll’s suggestions.

Posted on March 26, 2006 in Uncategorized by Sarah DaviesComments Off

Intellectual Property is in the news this week not as a protected right or possession, but as an investment. A firm called Ocean Tomo has annouced that they will hold the first ever live patent auction on April 5th at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco. Admission to the auction is a ritzy $1500.00, and a glossy catalog of the 400 patents up for auction is $500.00. The catalog features the income each patent currently collects in licensing agreements, and the history of litigation of the patent. Potential bidders have the opportunity to calculate future suits and resulting settlements based on past litigation history.

The patents are not being sold individually, but in portfolios, like stocks. They are categorized by technology area. These areas include but are not limited to bar codes, RFID chips and scanners, medical technology, automotive technology, and financial services. There are 68 lots in total.

According to a statement on Ocean Tomo’s website by their vice chairman, the company creates a space where “Intellectual Property sellers may achieve world record prices.”

Ocean Tomo’s ability to hold this auction is granted by patent laws whose purpose is to encourage innovation. Patents were never intended to be held for ransom. Patent law is stifling innovation, and if we allow it to continue, we will become a stagnant society. Existing patent law has made it more profitable to hold patents and file suits against patent users than to innovate on them. The people who are profiting from this system will continue to fund it and lobby for it. We must fight back.

Posted on March 21, 2006 in Uncategorized by Brian RoweComments Off

March 10th, I attended the Lewis and Clark’s Spring IP Symposium on Open Access Legal Scholarship my next three articles are going to discuss some of the ideas put forward at the conference.

Matthew Bodie, Associate Professor of Law, Hofstra University School of Law, put forward the very interesting idea of publishing academics materials through an open access environment. The basic idea was well illustrated with the example of case books, the back bone of legal text books. An online space would be created to house cases and legal articles, then professors could pick and choose which cases and article they wanted in their case book and create a the book online. Students could then go to the website and download the particular book while other professors could change existing case books to fit their needs or comment on other books.

I am in strong support of this idea for three reasons:

Customizable: The current system makes it difficult for professors to add their personal perspective to a class. I was concerned with the idea presented at the conference that controlling access to publishing case books allows certain academics to control the direction of certain types of law. This seems to be similar to problem with treaties controlling certain areas of law. A reference becomes the authority shaping laws to the authors will.

Furthermore the ability to customize case books may reach out to niche fields of research that are not being served currently. During my undergrad work in Informatics I explored the interactions of Human Rights and Intellectual Property, this is not an area that many if any case books are written on, if just one professor had the interest to teach a class on the topic the posting of the case book would have been extremely useful to my research.

Cost: I have to admit that as a recent graduate the cost of text books is very painful for many students. Extremely high text book cost are often subsidized through loans to the student that end up cost significantly more when they are paid off. If having professionals and lawyers, that are willing to work in public service areas is a goal of academia, these cost issues needs to be address. I believe that open access to case books is a step in the right direction.

Uses in a larger open access legal world: If the case book creation system was part of a larger open access legal network providing cases and article to the public it could be a way to make the volume of information more manageable to the public. A series of case book ideas with comments could be an entry point for non legal professionals to start research in a legal area.

Anyone who is interested in more information on this idea should look at Lewis and Clark’s pod casts of the Symposium at:

Posted on March 19, 2006 in Uncategorized by Sarah DaviesComments Off

British newspaper The Guardian launched a campaign last week called Free Our Data. The British government has collected data on the UK for years through offices such as the Ordnance Survey and UK Hydrographic Office and Highways Agency funded by taxpayers. The crown is claiming that it has an exclusive copyright on this data, and charges individuals and companies to access this data.

The campaign has been gaining steam; they now have a website and a blog. Their most compelling argument in my opinion is that organizations who provide open access to data, such as Google and Wikipedia are vastly more useful and profitable than organizations that charge restrictive fees to access the data. They also argue that if the UK expects to compete with the US in the highly competitive field of organizing the world’s data, they’d better give UK developers some data to organize.

The largest organization they are going after is the Ordnance Survey, the governmental agency in charge of keeping a detailed map of the UK. That agency has responded to the campaign. They point out that the maintenance of the maps is quite expensive (an average of 5,000 changes every working day, totaling £105.7m in 2004-05 ), and only £60m is funded by tax payers, the rest comes from licensing fees. While that is a large sum, I agree with Free Our Data’s assertion that it would be more than made up for in tax revenue from developers using the data for web-based applications funded by text ads.

If you are a citizen of the UK or the EU, and you believe in the cause, online petitions can be found at and The Open Knowledge Foundation Network.