Tracking State Legislation

The Sunlight Foundation has launched Open States. This service allows you to track bills and search for upcoming legislation for all states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and access campaign and contact information for state legislators.

As noted here previously, the Sunlight Foundation also supports Scout—offering free searching and customized alerts for federal and state legislative action (including bills & speeches) and federal regulations.

Banned Book Week 2012

It is the 30th Anniversary of Banned Books Week—an annual event launched by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom to “promote awareness of challenges to library materials and celebrate[s] freedom of speech.”

The Banned Books Week Website includes a variety of information, including top ten lists of challenged books from the past decade. The 2011 list includes the legal classic To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Federal Courts have struck down a variety of efforts to ban access to books.  A list of some of these cases is available on the ALA website here.


Tragedy in Norway: Breivik Sentenced

Just over a year ago, I shared information here about the tragic events in Norway and the legal process that would follow. Today the Norwegian court found Breivik sane and therefore legally responsible for killing 77 people. This decision will keep Breivik in prison for a least 21 years but likely more, as this maximum punishment under Norwegian Law may be enhanced if he is deemed a danger to society.

Interested in locating international news sources about this or other topics?  One option is a Google “news” search. GMU patrons also have access to several news databases, including NewsBank which includes several hundred international newspapers, news services and broadcast media


Happy Law Day 2012

President Obama followed a tradition established by President Eisenhower by proclaiming May 1, 2012:  Law Day.  In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day, 36 U.S.C. § 113.  Each year, the American Bar Association selects a theme for the Law Day celebration.  This year’s theme is:  No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.

For more information about Law Day, please see the ABA’s Law Day Page.

World Intellectual Property Day 2012

Since 2000, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has designated April 26 as “World Intellectual Property Day.”  This year’s theme is “Visionary Innovators”:

Behind every great innovation, either artistic or technological, is a human story – a tale in which new pathways open as a result of the curiosity, insight or determination of individuals.

The WIPO is an agency of the United Nations focused on “developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system.”  It administers a number of international treaties focused on copyright and related rights.  World Intellectual Property Day was established to increase public awareness and understanding of the significant role of IP in fostering “music, arts and entertainments” and “all the products and technological innovations that help to shape our world.”

Resources on the WIPO website include an overview (including links to PDFs) of United States IP-related statutes and regulations, and WIPO-administered treaty membership.  Please consult the law library’s Intellectual Property Research Guide to locate additional useful resources related to copyright, trademark, and patent law.

It’s Opening Day in DC!

In honor of the Washington Nationals home opener and National Library Week, today’s blog entry will highlight some print titles about baseball available in the law library:

For more titles related to Sports and the Law, please consult the law library catalog.

Wikipedia Fades to Black

The English edition of Wikipedia will be blacked out tomorrow. According to a press release, the blackout is to protest two bills pending in Congress focused on piracy and copyright violations by websites based offshore:  the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) (S. 968).  The Wikipedia community asserts that this “legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States.”

Several other websites— including BoingBoing and Reddit—are also participating in the blackout.  Google, Facebook, and Twitter are not blacking out their sites but have expressed opposition to SOPA and PIPA in a letter to Congress printed in the New York Times.

Human Rights Day Event Will Focus on Women’s Rights and Opportunities

The Library of Congress is holding its 2011 International Human Rights Day event.  Here are some details from the library’s press release:

A group of distinguished speakers will discuss women’s rights and opportunities at a panel held in honor of the international Human Rights Day at the Library of Congress at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9. The event will be held in the Mumford Room, located on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Law Library of Congress, the presentation is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.

The speakers include Sharon Hrynkow from the U.S. Department of State, Steven Shapiro from the American Civil Liberties Union and Graciela Rodriguez-Ferrand from the Law Library of the Library of Congress. The panel discussion will be introduced by Law Librarian of Congress Roberta Shaffer.

More information about International Human Rights day is available here.