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Law BooksQuestion: Is there a good reason why judges should not be blogging their opinions?

Follow my thinking here.

I, like many librarians, love books. By that I mean I love physical books. I love the feel of paper in my hand. I love the smell of books. When I attended library school, there was no doubt in my mind that I would work in a place surrounded by shelf after shelf of beautiful books. I was confident that I would be able to transfer that love of books to a new generation.

That’s not how things turned out. Without recounting exactly how I got here, I should say that I am a technology librarian, and have been since even before I graduated library school. Technology is where I found my calling, and where libraries seem to need the most help. As I delve deeper into the world of library technology, particularly in the academic setting, I am increasingly forced to confront an uncomfortable reality: Print formats are inferior to electronic. And in some of my darker moments, I may even go so far as to echo the comments of Jeff Jarvis in his book “What Would Google Do” when he writes: “print sucks.”

On page 71, talking about the burden of physical “stuff,” Jarvis writes:

“It’s expensive to produce content for print, expensive to manufacture, and expensive to deliver. Print limits your space and your ability to give readers all they want. It restricts your timing and the ability to keep readers up-to-the-minute. Print is already stale when it’s fresh. It is one-size-fits-all and can’t be adapted to the needs of each customer. It comes with no ability to click for more. It can’t be searched or forwarded. It has no archive. It kills trees. It uses energy. And you really should recycle it, though that’s just a pain. Print sucks. Stuff sucks.”

In this paragraph, Jarvis may as well have been talking about the current state of online legal information. Although we may not have figured out the magic bullets of authenticity and preservation, the fact remains that print is a burden. In many cases, it is a burden to our governments, and our libraries.

There are good reasons to proceed cautiously towards online legal information. However, the most significant barriers to accepting new modes of publishing official legal information online, like judges' blogging opinions, may be cultural and political. In the end, law librarians and other legal professionals can’t allow our own nostalgia and habit to stand in the way of changes that can, should, and must happen.

AALL Working Groups

As many readers may know, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) began forming state working groups earlier this year. The purpose of those working groups was to “help AALL ensure access to electronic legal information in your state.” This is certainly a worthwhile goal, and one I obviously support. But the PDF document online, calling for formation of these working groups, sends a mixed message.

The very first duty of each working group is to “take action to oppose any plan in your state to eliminate an official print legal resource in favor of online-only unless the electronic version is digitally authenticated and will be preserved for permanent public access, or to charge fees to access legal information electronically. This is an increasingly common problem as states respond to severe budget cuts.”

Perhaps it’s just the phrasing of the document that bothered me. Rather than even providing guidance to states planning to eliminate print legal resources, AALL has set as its default position the opposition to any such plan.

In fairness, I note that the document hints that online-only legal resources might be acceptable if states don’t charge for them, or if such resources meet the rather complex standards laid out in the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions' Statement of Principles.

The Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions (ARJD) published Statement of Principles: “Official” On-Line Documents in February 2007, revised in May 2008. Most tellingly, in Principle 3 of the Statement they write: “Print publication, because of its reliability, is the preferred medium for government documents at present."

Later in the document we find out why print is so reliable. Talking about electronic versions, the ARJD says they should not be considered official unless they are “permanent in that they are impervious to corruption by natural disaster, technological obsolescence, and similar factors and their digitized form can be readily translated into each successive electronic medium used to publish them.”

Without question, electronic material must be able to survive a natural disaster. The practice of storing information on a single server or keeping all backups in the same facility could be problematic. But emerging trends and best practices could help safeguard against these problems. In addition, programs like LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) can help alleviate some of these concerns by making sure many copies of each digital item exist at multiple geographic locations.

Also, digital format obsolescence has largely been overstated. PDF documents are not going anywhere anytime soon. Even conservative estimates establish PDF as a reliable format for the foreseeable future.

HTML may be no different. Consider that the very first Web document, Links and Anchors, is almost valid HTML5. Nearly 20 years later, that document is compatible with modern Web browsers.

BookOn the other side of the equation, is print impervious to natural disaster, or even technological obsolescence? Of course not. At Yale, with our rare books library and large historical collection, I have witnessed first hand the damage time can do to a physical book. Even more importantly, books in the last hundred years have been published so cheaply they may fall apart even sooner than books published centuries ago.

Print and Electronic Costs

The reality is that moving to online-only legal information is a good thing for everyone involved in producing and consuming such information. The burden of print is not limited to the costs forced upon states that produce it; that burden is also borne by libraries and citizens who consume it.

As mentioned above respecting the AALL working group document, many states are already looking at going online-only to cut costs, and why shouldn’t they? With current budget situations across the country being what they are, printing costs being particularly high, and electronic publishing costs being so low, of course states are looking at saving money by ending needless printing.

But libraries would also benefit from the cost savings of governments' moving to electronic formats. Not only do libraries currently have to subsidize printing costs by paying for the “official” print copies of legal materials; libraries also have to pay for the shelf space, as well as manpower to process incoming material and place it on the shelf, and may also have to pay additional costs for preserving the physical material. Not to mention the fact that we may pay for additional services that furnish access to the exact same material in an electronic format.

The costs involved in dealing with print legal resources are well known to most librarians. So why aren’t we clamoring for governments to publish online-only legal information?

Officialness, Authenticity, Preservation, and Citeability

Of course there are genuine concerns about online-only legal information. The big sticking points seem to be (in no particular order) officialness, authenticity, preservation, and citeability. Each issue is worthy of, and has been the subject of, much discussion.

Officiality may be in some ways the easiest and most difficult hurdle for online-only legal information to leap. To make an online version of legal material official, an appropriate authoritative body need only declare that version “official.” The task seems simple enough.

The more difficult part may be political. With organizations like AALL and ARJD currently opposing online-only options, that action may be politically difficult. Persuading lawyers, judges, and legislatures to approve such a declaration could be even more difficult. Can you imagine a bill, regulation, or some other action making a blog the “official” outlet for a particular court’s opinions?

The question of authenticity is more difficult to deal with from a technological perspective, although there has been interesting work done with respect to PDFs, electronic signatures, and public and private keys. The Government Printing Office (GPO) has done a great job leading the way in the area of authenticity: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/authentication/. The new Legislation.gov.uk site unveiled recently has taken a different approach from the GPO's. As John Sheridan has written in an earlier post, at the moment The U.K. National Archives are not taking any steps towards authenticating the information on the Legislation.gov.uk site, but they recognize the need to address the issue at some point. John Joergensen at Rutgers-Camden has taken yet another approach. And Claire Germain, in a recent paper about authentication practices respecting international legal information (pdf), states that those practices vary throughout the world. Thus the prickly question of authenticating online legal information is an issue that’s not going away any time soon.

AALL and ARJD have made a big deal about preservation of online legal information, an issue that's important for librarians, too. Unfortunately, this is another area where no good answer exists to guide us. As Sarah Rhodes wrote earlier this year, "our current digital preservation strategies and systems are imperfect – and they most likely will never be perfected."

The Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure & Preservation Program (NDIIPP) has some helpful resources. The Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) also provides some good guidance in this area. However, many librarians are still reluctant to accept that digital preservation practices may enable us to end our reliance on print.

A similar reluctance can be seen in resistance to the Durham Statement, which -- though directed at law reviews -- also says something about other kinds of online legal information. Most notably, Margaret Leary of the University of Michigan chose not to sign the Durham Statement, and discussed her decision to continue to rely on print at a recent AALL program. In a listserv posting quoted in Richard Danner's recent paper, Ms. Leary asserted: "I do not agree with the call to stop publishing in print, nor do I think we have now or will have in the foreseeable future the requisite 'stable, open, digital formats'." Similarly, Richard Leiter explains that he signed the Durham Statement with an asterisk because of the statement's call for an end to the printing of law reviews.

What constitutes 'stable, open, digital formats' for the purposes of satisfying some librarians is unclear. As I mentioned earlier, a number of digital formats currently fit this description. This makes me think that there's something else going on here, a resistance to abandoning print for other reasons.

Citeability also becomes an issue as print legal information disappears. If there is no print reporter volume in which an opinion is issued, then how would one cite to an opinion (setting aside for a moment Lexis and Westlaw citations)?

However, efforts towards implementing “medium-neutral legal citation formats” have already been made. According to Ivan Mokanov's recent VoxPopuLII post, most citations in Canada are of a neutral format. In the United States, LegisLink.org has made an effort to improve online citations, as Joe Carmel describes in his recent post. Work on URN:LEX and other standards has resulted in some progress towards dealing with the citeability issue. Organizations like the AALL Electronic Legal Information Access & Citation Committee also deserve credit for taking this on. [Editor's Note: Those organizations have produced universal citation standards -- such as the AALL Universal Citation Guide -- which have been adopted by a number of U.S. jurisdictions.] Even The Bluebook supports alternative citation formats. For example, rule 10.3.3, “Public Domain Format,” specifies how to cite to a public domain or “medium-neutral format.” The Bluebook even goes so far as to allow citation in a jurisdiction’s specified format.

But despite all this work, nothing has yet stuck.

The Next Step

One thing you’ll notice respecting all of these issues is that they are currently unsettled. While AALL and ARJD have both suggested that they would look favorably on online-only legal information if it were official, authenticated, and preserved (they do not mention citeability), there is no indication of when we will reach a level of achievement on these issues that would be satisfactory to these organizations. Can governments, libraries, and citizens afford to wait?

Asking states to continue to bear the burden of publishing material in print as they run out of funding, and libraries to bear the expense of preserving that print, is irresponsible. While we might not have all of the answers now, we certainly have enough to move forward in an intelligent manner.

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) has been working on an Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act. [Editor's Note: The Chair of the Act's Drafting Committee is Michele L. Timmons, the Revisor of Statutes for the State of Minnesota, and its Reporter is Professor Barbara Bintliff of the University of Texas School of Law.] According to the Study Committee's Report and Recommendations for the Act's Drafting Committee, the goal of the draft should be to "describ[e] minimum standards for the authentication and preservation of online state legal materials." This seems like an appropriate place to start.

Rather than setting unrealistic or vague expectations, the minimum standards provided by the draft act seem to allow some flexibility for how states could address some of these issues. As opposed to working towards a "stable and open digital format," which seems more a moving target than an attainable goal, the draft act sets forth an outline for how states can get started with publishing official and authentic online-only legal information. While far from finished, the draft act appears to be a step in the right direction.

What Is the Real Issue?

I think the real sticking point on this matter is mental or emotional. It comes from an uneasiness about how to deal with new methods of publishing legal information. For hundreds of years, legal information has been based in print. Even information available on the Lexis and Westlaw online services has its roots in print, if not full print versions of the same material. It’s as if the lack of a print or print-like version will cause librarians to lose the compass that helps us navigate the complex legal information landscape.

Of course, publishing legal information electronically brings its own challenges and costs for libraries. Electronic memory and space are not free, and setting up the IT infrastructure to consume, make available, and preserve digital materials can be costly. But in the long run, dealing with electronic material can and will be much easier and less costly for all involved, as well as giving greater access to legal information to the citizens who need it.

So Judges Blogging?Gavel

Question: Is there a good reason why judges should not be blogging their opinions?

Although he was the co-chair of the ARJD committee that produced the Statement of Principles, even Frank Wagner, the outgoing U.S. Supreme Court reporter of decisions, acknowledges that “budgetary constraints may eventually force most governmental units to abandon the printed word in favor of publishing their official materials exclusively online.” He also recognizes that the GPO’s work in this area may put an end to the printed U.S. Reports sooner than other “official publications.”

So were an appropriate authority to make them official, and some form of authentication were decided on, and methods of preservation and citation had been taken into account, would you feel comfortable with judges' blogging their opinions?

We have to get over our unease with new formats for publishing online legal information. We have to stop handcuffing governments and libraries by placing unrealistic and unattainable expectations on them for publishing online legal information. We have to prepare ourselves for a world where online is the only outlet for official legal information.

I still enjoy taking a book off the shelf and reading. I enjoy flipping through and browsing the pages. But nostalgia and habit are not valid strategies for libraries of the future.

jason_eisemanJason Eiseman is the Librarian for Emerging Technologies at Yale Law School. He has experience in academic and law firm libraries working with intranets, websites, and technology training.

VoxPopuLII is edited by Judith Pratt. Editor in chief is Robert Richards.

15 Responses to “Time to Turn the Page on Print Legal Information”

  1. I thought about your position on electronic legal material over lunch. I agree with Margaret Leary. We have to keep legal material available in print.
    If I needed to read an electronic copy of a statute, I could not build a computer. However, I could open a book. I think that something that has been tested for over 6000 years, the physical printed word, is much more reliable than PDF's or html, which has been around for all of 20 years.

  2. Although Mr. Eiseman brings up several good points regarding the state of legal information formats (and misses on several others), the answer to his question, as framed by his commentary (namely, "Is there a good reason why judges should not be releasing their official decisions by blogging them?") is a resounding yes! And the reason is that, by design, blogs are inherently unstable, and, as Mr. Eiseman implicitly concedes, authority requires, at a minimum, stability.

    Of course, if by "blogging", he simply means including links to PDF (i.e., relatively stable) versions of the decisions in blog postings announcing the decisions, that's one thing that can be (and is being) done now. But his commentary goes further than that; if I understand him correctly, he's actually calling for the blog postings themselves to include the full texts of any decisions and to be deemed the sole, official, authoritative versions.

    If there were "an appropriate authority to make [blogs] official, and some form of authentication were decided on, and methods of preservation and citation had been taken into account," as Mr. Eiseman anticipates, then why stop at decisions? Why not allow judges to hold entire proceedings through blogs, with the judge (or a clerk) getting the ball rolling by calling the proceeding to order through a posting and allowing the attorneys and witnesses to testify, cross-examine, and object through postings and comments to postings. Then, the entire record would be available for everyone. Isn't that the future way of doing things? If Mr. Eiseman and the other technophiles want "a world where online is the only outlet for official legal information", then isn't this the logical next step?

    I am not afraid of nor resistant to all technological advances, but as Prof. John Palfrey wrote in his recent article, "Some of the change underway ought to be embraced; some of it ought to be resisted." Despite Mr. Eiseman's assertion that these changes "can, should, and must happen", it must be kept in mind that such changes are not a foregone conclusion, and if such a world comes about, it will be because people like Mr. Eiseman wanted it to, not because it must.

  3. Judges blogging legal opinions? Love it! I've noticed several courts tweeting newly released opinions. I'm totally okay using and relying on online resources, but only as long as some entity continues to capture the opinions to be searched in a single database at a later date.

    Do you think we're merely shifting the cost from print to online? Our Westlaw/Lexis expenses are out of control in the private sector. If we shift from print to online, then we no longer need clerks to maintain the print collection, but we will need staff with greater tech skills to support the online resources.

    I don't really see the cost savings in switching from print to online. Many publishers charge more for online resources. For instance, we used to subscribe to a daily bond newspaper for around $2,500. Now we subscribe to the online product for around $5,500...which is limited to 5 attorneys. The environment is better off, but is the firm? Sure, attorneys receive the info much faster, but access is restricted to only 5 users.

    I'm not sure if you're hinting at creating/supporting free online legal resources, but that type of volunteer-based product scares me. It's hard to maintain quality volunteer staff indefinitely. Heck, it's hard enough to get quality product when you're paying for it! I have no problem paying for value added finding aids (head notes, keynumbers, sophisticated search options, etc.) Authentication/credibility isn't a huge concern of mine...we use Wexis, right? They're not perfect, but they're pretty good. Volunteers just do not have the incentive to consistently provide quality work.

    Great post! Thanks for thinking about these topics.

  4. This terrific post addresses a slew of issues, and even though I'm a blogger, I'd have to do a bit more digging to speak on Judges blogging. I like the idea. But couldn't disagree more with Vija Doks' comment on the reasons for keeping materials in print.

    Build a computer? It's right there on our phone! And more accessible that trying to find a library that houses the print copy of a statute.

    And, reliability? As Jason points out, books are just as, if not more susceptible to damage and once lost, are not retrievable. And, as he further points out, the quality of paper used for printing books have been inferior in recent years and subject to falling apart much sooner than older books.

  5. I enjoyed your post Jason, and found it provocative in the most useful sorts of ways.

    Thank you for addressing the actually-rather-stable status of standards-compliant, openly-documented, digital formats. I've often heard an argument that roughly amounts to "I can no longer open my WordPerfect 4.2 document on a 5-1/2" floppy from my old DOS-based desktop; ergo electronic formats are unstable and not to be trusted."

    Concerns about stable and reliable formats are, obviously, legitimate, but it also makes no sense to pretend that digital-information practices haven't matured greatly. A number of software formats - you mention pdf and html, and there are others - will remain standards for a very long time, if only to facilitate the vastly larger libraries of content encoded in those formats than was the case with any past, abandoned, formats. Extensibility, reverse-compatibility, and solid format documentation can accomplish a lot, and incentives built into the information marketplace itself make me cautiously optimistic about truly long-range reverse-compatibility. And, in a networked-computing world, hardware-migration concerns like that old floppy disk are also less troubling than they were in the relatively recent past.

    At present there are major reliability/durability/authenticity problems with online resources (both those in proprietary databases and those on the Web) but it is important to tease out where those problems are the result of current cultural practices that can be changed and where they are (or, mostly, are not) the result of some instability inherent to the medium, some essential unreliability of those ethereal electronic documents. A too-easy conviction of that latter kind of unreliability - an unconscious belief that digitally-encoded documents are somehow inherently slippery and dangerous -- is a risk for us in this business and frankly often a generational gap between our assumptions and those of (our newer) users/patrons/customers.

    I do think concerns like those Margaret Leary expressed regarding the Durham Statement do really come into play only with the possibility of major cataclysm -- problems that would amount to civilization-ending events. Would a human-readable, paper-based, information ecosystem be more likely to survive a new dark ages to be rediscovered by (far) future civilizations than would one based on machine-readable electronic formats that rely upon the maintenance of at least some shred of the electrical grid and other major technical systems? Presumably it would - though it is of course unknowable.

    I actually agree that the end-of-civilization scenario is one that, collectively, we should take some account of. But it can't be the all-deciding consideration, and for most of us it can't be a contingency on which we expect to justify expending our institutional resources. For all ordinary purposes, including "ordinary" security against local and all-but-total global disaster, I agree that electronic formats can and must be made sufficiently stable and robust.

  6. My main concern is that librarians and others having this conversation while the people with the real power over this issue are not a part of the conversation and, honestly, don't really care.

    The issue is always going to come back to money. As money becomes tighter providing the same thing in multiple forms is not supportable. Not only is there an opportunity cost loss but even the initial provision of the information will be examined under a tight fiscal microscope.

    Librarians can go back and forth about what format is "better" or more authentic or whatever, but at the end of the day, it will be the format that is at least acceptable to consumers (and we know that people will buy the cheaper less "good" product - anyone remember the VCR wars?) and cheapest to produce.

    There is a fundamental shift going on today, one no smaller than the shift that took place after the development of the printing press. It is an uncomfortable and uncertain time. I think that anyone who claims to know what the information landscape will look like in fifty or two hundred years is mistaken.

    Yes, well made non-acidic paper items have benefits and deficits and the model shook the world. Electronic information has benefits and deficits and the model will shake the world. There is no disputing that, my concern is that we're getting hot and bothered by the problem and we're going to turn around and find out that the decision has been made without us.

    Demanding the perfect solution is the quickest road to irrelevance in the world today. That might suck, but it's the way it is.

  7. So, John, are you suggestion that librarians shouldn't have this conversation? Of course they should. And who are the people with the real power? And they don't care? Really? If they don't, then we need to have this conversation to have a better understanding of the issues and present it to them in a meaningful, persuasive way.

    And by the way, no one is demanding a perfect solution. We're searching for ways to better serve our clients, patrons, and yes, our profession.

  8. Oops, please excuse some of the grammatical errors in my comments. I just type and submit. Too busy to proof :-)

  9. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be discussing this, just that we seem to be talking amongst ourselves and with some other do-gooders (law.gov) but that the publishers and state treasurers are going to do what they want and our concerns about authenticity be-damned. I don't like this, but I think that it's likely.

    I think that what getting a good result out of the upcoming changes in the way that legal material is presented requires us to take on behaviors and modes of thought that have, in the past, been difficult for some members of our profession. I think that getting a good result will require flexibility, quick movement, and taking a less than ideal result and making the best of it.

    If we think we are driving the conversation, we're mistaken and if it seems that we are, we're probably talking to the wrong people. In this conversation, we have good point and real concerns, but we must recognize that we do not have a lot of power.

    Rather than developing overly complex and restrictive solutions (please note that I am not casting aspersions at any particular plan or proposal, rather I'm commenting about the types of solutions generally favored by us and our associations) we need to develop good-enough easy and cheap solutions. If we don't, if we insist that the easy cheap solution isn't good enough, I'm afraid that we'll get less.

    Yes we need to talk about this, but we need to recognize where the power resides and what is driving them. It's not what drives or concerns us. Our concerns are real and I hope that they're addressed, but there are very real possibilities (likelihoods?) that we will be ignored unless we respond to the needs of the people who will drive this.

    Telling them that authenticity and permanence are important isn't enough. Even showing the publishers and treasurers that they are important isn't enough. They are looking for solutions to their problems. If they find solutions to their problems that don't address our concerns, they will take them. The best result would be that we propose solutions to their problems that address our concerns. However, every bit that our solution is more costly or difficult than their ideal solution will make adoption less likely.

    We need to discuss this, we need to do so fully aware of what issues will drive the real decision makers (the ones with the purse-strings), and we need to recognize that ours is a small voice among many. Therefore, pie in the sky solutions (much as I love them - I'm a huge supporter of the ideals of law.gov and I love print repositories) just won't cut it.

    Printed books aren't as beautiful as illuminated manuscripts, but the ease of production led to mush higher rates of literacy and thence to revolutionary changes in every aspect of human life. E-books have a lot of problems, but they will lead to immense changes (good or bad from our perspective? I have no idea) and they are here, don't think that they are not. Any time spent waking the print book and insisting that "its better" is time wasted; time that we could be trying to make a positive impact.

    If we think that permanence, authenticity and the rest are important, then we need to make it an easy part of the electronic delivery of information. Insisting or lecturing in an attempt to turn back time or to force people to adopt a difficult solution just isn't going to work.

  10. Ah, got ya, John. If you're identifying publishers and state treasurers as the real powers, they you're probably right. But I would suggest that if there's a demand, they'll supply. So, on the most basic level, if we, for instance, cancel our print subscriptions, they won't have need to produce it.

    Love your thoughts on flexibility, movement and keeping solutions simple

  11. I believe that I did not express myself well. If you can imagine a world where technology is interrupted-- perhaps a huge black-out or another world war. In such a scenerio, a book can be consulted. This is not always the case with electronic files.

  12. I share your concern about the wording used by the AALL. The phrase "...unless the electronic version is digitally authenticated..." pre-supposes that the technical world has a good handle on how best to digitally authenticate electronic versions.

    I do not believe that this is the case. Primarily because preserving the data bits is not the same as preserving the law because of the way platforms, operating systems and software applications act on data bits to produce renderings. See http://bit.ly/9gxYf4 and also http://bit.ly/am5Dul.

    I have some thoughts on what we need to do to fix this which I will be blogging over the next while as time permits

  13. Thanks to Jason for highlighting very important issues of authenticity and preservation of legal information in his post "Time to Turn the Page on Print Legal Information." Jason mentions the important work of the AALL and its committee, Electronic Legal Information Access and Citation Committee (ELIACC), which I currently chair. Over ten years ago, AALL began raising the issues of authenticity and preservation in connection with digital legal information and since then has accomplished many things, including its survey of all fifty states and how each state is dealing with its digital legal information, followed by a very successful (with judges, publishers, revisors of statutes, reporter of decisions, etc.) National Summit on Digital Legal Information. Rather than "opposing online-only options," AALL has been a strong advocate of access to digital legal information. In fact, it was AALL's leadership on the authentication issue that led the Government Printing Office to begin authenticating documents using digital signatures and other technology. The AALL Government Relations Office has worked with GPO over many years to get it right. Some states also have responded very well to the AALL fifty state survey and have now adopted methods to authenticate court opinions, administrative codes, etc. Take a look at what the Arkansas Supreme Court is doing with the authentication of its digital opinions. Also, as a follow-up to the National Summit, Michele Timmons (Revisor of Statutes for the State of Minnesota and a delegate at the AALL National Summit) chaired a NCCUSL study committee to determine if NCCUSL should draft a uniform law. The study committee responded yes, and NCCUSL is continuing to work on a uniform law,which will be read for the second time at the July 2011 NCCUSL annual meeting. NCCUSL started this work primarily because judges, lawyers, revisors of statutes, and others who attended the National Summit felt that the critical issues of official designation, authentication, trustworthiness, and preservation need to be addressed by state legislatures. AALL certainly does not oppose online-only options, but its members want those online options, when they are in fact the only option for legal information, to be designated as an official version, to be authenticated so users can trust the authenticity of the documents, and to be preserved so they are not today at judge's blog, but gone tomorrow. AALL members in individual states are working through the national legal inventory project that Jason mentions to offer guidance to states as they move primary legal sources from print to digital formats. Currently, more than 140 AALL members are scheduled to participate in a webinar in October about creating the national legal inventory and how to use the information compiled as part of this project combined the NCCUSL uniform law (that hopefully will pass the second reading at the July 2011 NCCUSL meeting) to advice state legislators about authentication, trustworthiness, and preservation. Thanks, Jason, for a great post and stimulating conversations about these issues.

  14. [...] This trend is leading to a continuous increase in the number and the volume of case-related digital judicial libraries, where the full content of each single hearing is available for online consultation. A typical [...]

  15. Nicely put Jason. I wish I had read it before we met at Yale. dana

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