The Pricing of Legal Information – Slaw

There is a good reason why lawyers need to get retainers: unlike a house, the products they provide can’t be repossessed, and it’s difficult to know how much they are worth. Lawyers aren’t selling a win, they are selling information, advice, and services which aim to optimize the outcome based on the situation. Improved information is worth a great deal to clients in aggregate (I have done some research into the value of improved information for parties to litigation here), but it’s difficult to know how much particular information will be worth in a particular situation before it is acquired.

This leads to difficulties in how to price legal services, because lawyers want to make a good return on their labour and expertise, and clients tend to want to pay less than their services may be worth because they are informational in nature. Given this dynamic, it makes sense that lawyers would look for a mechanism like the billable hour to quantify the value of the work they deliver.

In turn, the work publishers and libraries do is also difficult to price. Large commercial legal publishers are well known for not disclosing the prices associated with their sales contracts and a large part of this is because they are trying to harvest as much value as possible from each customer. Different areas of practice are more or less profitable and different people value particular research tools differently, which means that they have different willingness to pay.

By charging everyone different rates, the publishers aim to get the maximum value customers are willing to pay….”

Living in Denial: The Relationship between Access Denied Turnaways and ILL Requests: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Access denied turnaway statistics are provided to libraries to help with serials collection development, but very little research about turnaways is available. This article examines the relationship between access denied turnaways and interlibrary loan (ILL) requests at one institution in an attempt to deepen our understanding of turnaways. The study showed that there is a moderate correlation with an overall ILL requests to turnaways ratio of 11.4%. The strength of the relationship and the ILL requests to turnaways ratio do vary depending on the publisher/provider. The article also discusses potential explanations and implications as related to the relationship.”

Paywalls block scientific progress. Research should be open to everyone | Jason Schmitt | Education | The Guardian

“Academic and scientific research needs to be accessible to all. The world’s most pressing problems like clean water or food security deserve to have as many people as possible solving their complexities. Yet our current academic research system has no interest in harnessing our collective intelligence. Scientific progress is currently thwarted by one thing: paywalls.

Paywalls, which restrict access to content without a paid subscription, represent a common practice used by academic publishers to block access to scientific research for those who have not paid. This keeps £19.6bn flowing from higher education and science into for-profit publisher bank accounts. My recent documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, uncovered that the largest academic publisher, Elsevier, regularly has a profit margin between 35-40%, which is greater than Google’s. With financial capacity comes power, lobbyists, and the ability to manipulate markets for strategic advantages – things that underfunded universities and libraries in poorer countries do not have….”

The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam – POLITICO Magazine

“Every day, dozens of hungry reporters lurk inside something called PACER, the online records system for America’s federal courts. These days, they’re mostly looking for the latest scraps of intel on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian inference into the 2016 presidential election. And everyone, from lawyers to researchers to activists, uses the system to find similar criminal cases, track the latest arrests of terrorism suspects or argue for sentencing reform.

But I’m here to tell you that PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records—is a judicially approved scam. The very name is misleading: Limiting the public’s access by charging hefty fees, it has been a scam since it was launched and, barring significant structural changes, will be a scam forever….

The U.S. federal court system rakes in about $145 million annually to grant access to records that, by all rights, belong to the public….”

The judiciary’s PACER paywall to access public court records makes millions.

“[On this podcast] the hosts will discuss PACER, the federal judiciary’s electronic records system, which has been raking in millions in fees to give people access to public court records. They’ll be joined by Deepak Gupta, an attorney who is leading the class-action lawsuit against PACER that alleges the system grossly overcharges.”

Thousands of scientists run up against Elsevier’s paywall

“Researchers at German institutions that have let their Elsevier subscriptions lapse while negotiating a new deal are hitting the paywall for the publisher’s most recent articles around 10,000 times a day, according to Elsevier — which publishes more than 400,000 papers each year.

But at least some German libraries involved in negotiating access to Elsevier say they are making huge savings without a subscription, while still providing any articles their academics request.

A major stumbling block to getting deals signed is institutions’ desire to combine the price they pay for subscriptions to pay-walled journals with the cost that libraries and researchers pay to make articles open-access….”

Academic Paywalls Harm National Security – Defense One

“If Harvard University cannot afford access, then it is certainly too pricy for defense consultants, businesses (especially small ones), and think tanks. A previous employer of mine, a consultancy that supports senior national security leaders, gave up its academic journal subscriptions in the wake of price hikes. Some military research centers simply make do with minimal access. The high cost of academic articles has even dissuaded defense companies, from time to time, from turning concepts into reality.

But perhaps you doubt that scholarly journals offer extensive benefits to national security. To illustrate these benefits, I will focus on three: informing policy, skill and capability building, and technological insight….”