Monthly Archives: September 2010

International Environmental Treaty Resource

Looking for international environmental treaty information? Visit ENTRI, the Environmental Treaties Resource Indicators site. Funded by NASA and operated by Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network, ENTRI is a cooperative project of academic, conservation, and research organizations. It offers status data, treaty text, and related documentation. You can keyword search, browse treaties, view country profiles, construct data tables customized to your research interests, and much more. Visit ENTRI and be amazed!
[RKM]

Free Online Resources Website

If you are looking for free resources that are available on the web, including databases, lists and rankings, and multimedia, then check out the resource shelf. (http://web.resourceshelf.com/) This website is constantly updating new free material on the web. It also has a newsletter and an RSS feed if you want to get it regularly. The material is timely and useful. An example of the type of material available is the recent post  on Google Scholar E-Mail Alerts, which are now available,  for free. The Alerts are for all three of the content categories on Google scholar including  legal documents and journals. There is also a feature that allows you to create alerts each time there is a new citation to an article in which you’re interested. These alerts are available at any email address not just Gmail.  Alerts are a great way to keep current. They are available on Westlaw, Lexis and most other legal databases also. The Resource Shelf is another online tool to keep current on a number of free online legal and non-legal resources. (Post-David)

The Ties That Bind

Would you be surprised to learn that a party can’t enter into an agreement, perform according to the agreement, and then declare that it never intended to be bound by the agreement?  The Seventh Circuit didn’t buy it, either, noting, “. . .private intent counts only if it is conveyed to the other party and shared. . . You can’t escape contractual obligation by signing with your fingers crossed behind your back, even if that clearly shows your intent not to be bound.”  Read all about it in Robbins v. Lynch, 836 F.2d 330 (7th Cir., 1988).
[RKM]

9th Circuit Undercuts First Sale Doctrine for Software

On September 10, 2010 the 9th Circuit decided Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., No. 09-35969 (9th Cir. 2010).  This decision is a blow to an essential copyright legal principle known as the “First sale doctrine.”  The first sale doctrine is a legal theory that allows purchasers of copyrighted material, in this case software, to assert as a defense to copyright infringement upon the resale of the original copyrighted material. The 9th Circuit in its decision determined that the manufacturer can by including a clause in its software licensing agreement reserving the ownership interest  to itself make the purchaser merely a “licensee.”  The shrink-wrapped software agreement changes the character of the purchased item, it becomes a license to use rather than an ownership interest. This decision will have ramifications for all software and other copyrighted materials if it is allowed to stay unchallenged.  It should be noted that several other Circuits have decided the case  in the opposite direction. Clearly this issue will be decided by the Supreme Court in the future.

To read the opinion go to the Court’s website. [www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/09/10/09-35969.pdf] (Post-David)

Creating your own success

There was much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth after the most recent U.S. News law school rankings came out, showing that the University of South Carolina School of Law had dropped into the 3rd tier of law schools – no longer ranked individually, but merely listed with other unremarkable peers.  But be of good cheer, law students and grads.  The rankings are not destiny.  You can, if you work hard and smart, have a successful career (assuming money is your measure of success).  Witness David J. Stern, graduate of South Texas Law School (4th tier, btw), currently raking in tens of millions of dollars a year through his mortgage foreclosure practice in Florida.  Besting, in terms of income, those Harvard & Yale grads at Biglaw on a daily basis.

[PRM]

New Free International Law Resource on the Web

The International Law Library, launched yesterday by Justice Sir Kenneth Keith of the International Court of Justice, offers free access to treaties, decisions and transcripts from the ICJ and ICC, decisions of numerous human rights tribunals, UN documents, and much more. Many of the databases offer PDF documents, although some are HTML. Visit today and scoop up your own free international law resources.
[RKM]

Legal Cite Saver for Google Scholar

For those of you that don’t already know it there are a lot of good free legal search engines for cases on the internet. One of them, Google Scholar has really been working on their legal database (See November 19th, 2009 post) to make it a good place to do free basic legal research. Google scholar cases (http://scholar.google.com) contains U.S. Supreme Court cases go back to 1791, U.S. District Court decisions go back to at least 1923, and state supreme court and appellate court decisions go to 1950.  

Now, an independent company has made a cite function available CiteStack (http://www.citestack.com/) is an add-on to Google Chrome browser. Its website touts its ability to highlight and save cites as you read, organize cites by projects, and generate reports of cites and annotation in a project file for export.   It looks interesting but it is not free.  However, it is much cheaper than the alternative. It costs $69.00 per year. It may be a viable tool for cheaper legal research porjects if it usable for your work environment. (Post-David)

Judicial Notice of Horseplay

The Supreme Court of New Hampshire, in 1944, noted that “it is common knowledge to everyone who employs labor that workmen are apt to indulge in a moment’s diversion from work to joke with or play a prank upon a fellow workman.”

Read all about it in Maltais v. Equitable Life Assur. Soc. of U. S., 40 A.2d 837 (N.H. 1944).

Research hint: Use the citation information or party names to locate this case in your favorite print or online resource.
[RKM]