“Harvard Law School’s Nuremberg Trials Project” by Judith A. Haran

Abstract:  This article is primarily a case study of the Nuremberg Trials Project at the Harvard Law School Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It begins with an historical note about the war crimes trials and their documentary record, including the fate of the several tons of trial documents that were distributed in 1949. The second part of the article is a description of the Harvard Law School Nuremberg project, including its history, goals, logistical considerations, digitization process and challenges, and resulting impact. The structure and function of the project website is described, followed by a description of a typical user experience, the project’s current status, comparison to related projects, and plans for the future. Appendices provide information on the current distribution of Nuremberg trial documents within the United States, a bibliography on this topic, and a list of U.S. repositories holding related collections (primarily collections of personal papers of participants).

BITSS Preprints | Why We Need Open Policy Analysis

Abstract:  The evidence-based policy movement promotes the use of empirical evidence to inform policy decision-making. While this movement has gained traction over the last two decades, several concerns about the credibility of empirical research have been identified in scientific disciplines that use research methods and practices that are commonplace in policy analysis. As a solution, we argue that policy analysis should adopt the transparent, open, and reproducible research practices espoused in related disciplines. We first discuss the importance of evidence-based policy in an era of increasing disagreement about facts, analysis, and expertise. We then review recent credibility crises of empirical research (difficulties reproducing results), their causes (questionable research practices such as publication biases and p-hacking), and their relevance to the credibility of evidence-based policy (trust in policy analysis). The remainder of the paper makes the case for “open” policy analysis and how to achieve it. We include examples of recent policy analyses that have incorporated open research practices such as transparent reporting, open data, and code sharing. We conclude with recommendations on how key stakeholders in evidence-based policy can make open policy analysis the norm and thus safeguard trust in using empirical evidence to inform important policy decisions.

Declaration on Free Access to Law

“Legal information institutes of the world, meeting in Montreal, declare that:

  • Public legal information from all countries and international institutions is part of the common heritage of humanity. Maximising access to this information promotes justice and the rule of law;
  • Public legal information is digital common property and should be accessible to all on a non-profit basis and free of charge;
  • Organisations such as legal information institutes have the right to publish public legal information and the government bodies that create or control that information should provide access to it so that it can be published by other parties….

This declaration was made by legal information institutes meeting in Montreal in 2002, as amended at meetings in Sydney (2003), Paris (2004), Montreal (2007) and Ithaca (2012).”

Free Access to Law Movement (FALM)

“Welcome to the website of the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM), an international voluntary association which has as its members more than 50 organisations from around the world. FALM members provide and support free access to legal information, consistent with the principles of the Free Access to Law Movement and subscribe to the Declaration on Free Access to Law….”

Caselaw Access Project | Library Innovation Lab

“The Caselaw Access Project is making all U.S. case law freely accessible online.

Our common law – the written decisions issued by our state and federal courts – is not freely accessible online. This lack of access harms justice and equality and stifles innovation in legal services.

The Harvard Law School Library has one of the world’s largest, most comprehensive collections of court decisions in print form. Our collection totals over 42,000 volumes and roughly 40 million pages. Caselaw Access Project aims to transform the official print versions of these court decisions into digital files made freely accessible online….”

Fordham Law Faculty Ranks High on SSRN

“Fordham Law School’s faculty rank among the most prolific and most highly downloaded legal scholarship writers, according to SSRN, a widely used open-access online repository. Fordham Law professors rank 8th all-time among U.S. and international law schools in authors posting papers (245), 18th in papers posted (1,379), and 20th in total number of downloads (335,295), based on figures updated on Jan. 1 listing SSRN’s top 750 law schools. In the past 12 months, Fordham also ranked 22nd in the United States and 27th globally in total downloads (37,113), and 22nd and 36th respectively in number of new papers (85)….”

Blockchains, Orphan Works, and the Public Domain

Abstract: This Article outlines a blockchain based system to solve the orphan works problem. Orphan works are works still ostensibly protected by copyright for which an author cannot be found. Orphan works represent a significant problem for the efficient dissemination of knowledge, since users cannot license the works, and as a result may choose not to use them. Our proposal uses a blockchain to register attempts to find the authors of orphan works, and otherwise to facilitate use of those works. There are three elements to our proposal. First, we propose a number of mechanisms, included automated systems, to perform a diligent search for a rights holder. Second, we propose a blockchain register where every search for a work’s owner can be recorded. Third, we propose a legal mechanism that delivers works into orphanhood, and affords a right to use those works after a search for a rights holder is deemed diligent. These changes would provide any user of an orphan work with an assurance that they were acting legally as long as they had consulted the register and/or performed a diligent search for the work’s owner. The Article demonstrates a range of complementary legal and technological architectures that, in various formations, can be deployed to address the orphan works problem. We show that these technological systems are useful for enhancement of the public domain more generally, through the existence of a growing registry of gray status works and clarified conditions for their use. The selection and design of any particular implementation is a choice for policy makers and technologists. Rather than specify how that choice should look, the goal here is to demonstrate the utility of the technology and to clarify and promote its role in reforming this vexed area of law.