Journal of Medical Internet Research – A Study of Publicly Available Resources Addressing Legal Data-Sharing Barriers: Systematic Assessment

Abstract:  Background:

United States data protection laws vary depending on the data type and its context. Data projects involving social determinants of health often concern different data protection laws, making them difficult to navigate.

Objective:We systematically aggregated and assessed useful online resources to help navigate the data-sharing landscape.

Methods:We included publicly available resources that discussed legal data-sharing issues with some health relevance and published between 2010 and 2019. We conducted an iterative search with a common string pattern using a general-purpose search engine that targeted 24 different sectors identified by Data Across Sectors for Health. We scored each online resource for its depth of legal and data-sharing discussions and value for addressing legal barriers.

Results:Out of 3710 total search hits, 2721 unique URLs were reviewed for scope, 322 received full-text review, and 154 were selected for final coding. Legal agreements, consent, and agency guidance were the most widely covered legal topics, with HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 2 being the top 3 federal laws discussed. Clinical health care was the most prominent sector with a mention in 73 resources.

Conclusions:This is the first systematic study of publicly available resources on legal data-sharing issues. We found existing gaps where resources covering certain laws or applications may be needed. The volume of resources we found is an indicator that real and perceived legal issues are a substantial barrier to efforts in leveraging data from different sectors to promote health.

[2208.06178] Mining Legal Arguments in Court Decisions

Abstract:  Identifying, classifying, and analyzing arguments in legal discourse has been a prominent area of research since the inception of the argument mining field. However, there has been a major discrepancy between the way natural language processing (NLP) researchers model and annotate arguments in court decisions and the way legal experts understand and analyze legal argumentation. While computational approaches typically simplify arguments into generic premises and claims, arguments in legal research usually exhibit a rich typology that is important for gaining insights into the particular case and applications of law in general. We address this problem and make several substantial contributions to move the field forward. First, we design a new annotation scheme for legal arguments in proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that is deeply rooted in the theory and practice of legal argumentation research. Second, we compile and annotate a large corpus of 373 court decisions (2.3M tokens and 15k annotated argument spans). Finally, we train an argument mining model that outperforms state-of-the-art models in the legal NLP domain and provide a thorough expert-based evaluation. All datasets and source codes are available under open lincenses at this https URL.

 

Introducing archive@recap.email: The New Way to RECAP | Free Law Project | Making the legal ecosystem more equitable and competitive.

“For over a decade, the RECAP Extensions have liberated documents from the PACER system. One by one, our users have sent us millions of documents, which we have built into one of the largest open databases of federal court filings in the country.

While this system works well, sometimes it didn’t feel like enough. Lawyers and litigants get notification emails from PACER that contain links to download PACER documents for free. Why weren’t we getting those documents too?

Well, today we take the first step in changing that.

Starting today, litigants and lawyers that receive PACER notification emails can add the following email address to their account:

archive@recap.email

Once that email is added to your PACER account, we will get the same notifications you do (yours will be unchanged). When we get the notification, we’ll download the available PDF and add it to our system. It’s that simple. You add it once, we RECAP all your notifications going forward….”

Scholarly Communications and Open Access Librarian, Biddle Law Library (Hybrid Eligible)

“Reporting to the Associate Director for Scholarly Data and Innovation, the Scholarly Communications and Open Access Librarian will serve a critical role in supporting and enhancing the prolific scholarship of the Penn Carey Law faculty. This position oversees digital publication of the intellectual output of the law school on multiple online platforms. The librarian will develop a communication and training plan to counsel and educate faculty and students on topics including: best practices in preparing and submitting scholarship for publication, the benefits of open access publishing, strategies for promoting and publicizing published works, and updating and curating online faculty profiles….”

UPC member states to vote on full access to judgments – JUVE Patent

“On 8 July, the UPC [Unified Patent Court] Administrative Committee will vote on the final draft of the Rules of Procedure, proposing public access to all judgments and orders. …

Participating EU member states first signed off on the Unified Patent Court in 2013. However, ongoing GDPR developments have threatened the transparency of its administration and judicial output. Now a revised final version of the UPC Rules of Procedure stipulates that the public will have access to the content of all decisions and orders.

Judges will remain responsible for redacting any confidential or personal data before formally issuing the decision or order.

The proposals follow multiple professional bodies demanding that, in the interest of transparency, the Rules of Procedure should stipulate full public access to all documents. As such, the committee will consider the Rules of Procedure revisions, along with issues such as which judges will preside over UPC cases, on and from 8 July 2022. All in all, the day will be crucial for the court’s development….”

Compiling Jim Crow laws with Digital Research Services – UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries

“When a high school social studies teacher asked NC Research and Instructional Librarian Sarah Carrier for a comprehensive list of North Carolina’s Jim Crow laws in 2017, Carrier didn’t feel like she had the best answer: “States’ Laws on Race and Color” by Pauli Murray, published in 1951. This left out years of potential legislation — and manually searching through decades of volumes of N.C. General Statutes was no small task. But Carrier really wanted to help this teacher and others who might ask for this information in the future. 

Carrier knew an automated solution was needed, so she worked with her library colleagues in Digital Research Services to find one. Enter Amanda Henley, head of Digital Research Services, who engaged more than 30 people — including librarians, library staff, postdoctoral researcher Kimber Thomas and history professor William Sturkey — in a multi-year project using text mining and machine learning to identify racist language in legal documents. To date, they’ve discovered nearly 2,000 Jim Crow laws in North Carolina. 

“I think the collaborative nature of this project is one of the reasons why the University Libraries is a good home for it,” says Henley, principal investigator on the project. “Because of where we sit on campus, we know what other people are doing and who has different areas of expertise. We also have a broad range of expertise within the libraries. That’s what allowed us to be so successful.” 

In August 2020, the group released the project, called “On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of Resistance,” to the public. Users can search through the laws, download their text files and view all of the North Carolina statues from 1866 to 1967. 

When the Mellon Foundation heard about On the Books, they contacted Henley about expanding it and have since provided additional funding for her team to do so. For the next two years, they will identify Jim Crow Laws within two additional states and will help research and teaching fellows learn how to use these data within their own projects and schools….”

Harvard Lawyers Don’t Think That Piracy is Theft, Research Finds * TorrentFreak

“An in-depth study among 50 Harvard lawyers shows that downloading and streaming pirated content is widely tolerated and even supported by some. It is certainly not seen as a form of theft by these legal experts. Based on these findings, the researchers call for a paradigm shift where entertainment providers focus more on convenience, accessibility and affordability….”

Fairness in digital sharing legal professional attitudes toward digital piracy and digital commons – Ciesielska – 2022 – Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  Contrary to a popular belief of lawyers having the most strict perception of law, law professionals actually strongly skew toward more favorable views of digital sharing. According to our qualitative study, relying on in-depth interviews with 50 Harvard lawyers, digital piracy is quite acceptable. It is considered fair, especially among friends and for noncommercial purposes. We argue that this not only can indicate that the existing law is becoming outdated because of its inability to be enforced, but also that ethically it is not corresponding to what is considered fair, good service, or being societally beneficial. The common perception of relying on a fixed price for digital content is eroding. We show that on the verges of business, society, and law, there is a potential for the new paradigm of digital commons to emerge.

 

Top Harvard lawyers don’t think making and sharing unauthorised digital copies is theft – Walled Culture

“Our study reveals that law professionals, with raised professional ethics standards and expectations toward lawabiding behavior, highly above average understanding of law, and higher than average socio-economic status, do not equate digital piracy with physical theft, and are generally very tolerant or even supportive of it….

There is the shared sense that digital goods differ from physical goods, and that this constitutes a basis for new societal norms to emerge: while they ‘would never do anything illegal elsewhere’ [Interview 36], pirating digital content is treated morally differently and morally acceptable….”

Fed judiciary says yes to free PACER searches. Here are the details so far | Reuters

” Federal judiciary policymakers have approved a plan to eliminate costly fees for online docket searches amid debate in Congress about whether to force the court system to make its PACER electronic court record system free for the general public.

A newly released report on the Judicial Conference of the United States’ closed-door March 15 meeting showed that the policymaking body greenlighted making PACER searches free for non-commercial users in any future overhauls of the system….”

Controlled Digital Lending for resource sharing: Law and policy since 2018. – YouTube

“For more than a decade, libraries have engaged in a variety of digital lending practices that are now described as controlled digital lending (CDL). But only more recently, in 2018, were the foundational law and policy arguments for the practice of CDL articulated in what has become the widely cited White Paper on Controlled Digital Lending of Library books.” Since that time, the law, policy, and practice of CDL have evolved considerably.

In this session, the presenters—Dave Hansen and Kyle K. Courtney, both lawyers, librarians, and authors of the original CDL white paper—explain the basic framework for CDL. They will review recent developments in CDL law and policy, including integration in library norms such as reserves and interlibrary loan. They also will review international developments and the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by the ‘Big Five’ publishers against Internet Archive for CDL. Speakers: Kyle K. Courtney, Copyright Advisor, Harvard University Dave Hansen, Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections & Scholarly Communications, and Lead Copyright & Information Policy Officer, Duke University…”

Public.Resource.Org Can Keep Freeing the Law: Court Allows Posting Public Laws And Regulations Online | Electronic Frontier Foundation

“As part of its ongoing work to ensure that people can know and understand the laws they live under, Public.Resource.org, a nonprofit organization, on Thursday vindicated its ability to publicly post important laws online in standard formats, free of copy protections and cumbersome user interfaces.

The win for Public Resource—represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) with co-counsel Fenwick & West and David Halperin—in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reinforces the critical idea that our laws belong to all of us, and we should be able to find, read, and comment on them free of registration requirements, fees, and other roadblocks….”

Ending a Long Fight, Georgia Makes Annotated Code Free Online | Daily Report

“After years of litigation, the state of Georgia has made its annotated legal code available for free online….

In a 2020 opinion captioned Georgia v. Public.Resource.org, the U.S. Supreme Court held that annotations in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated are not subject to copyright protections….

Hundreds of law students, small firms, sole practitioners and legal educators urged the U.S. Supreme Court to eliminate copyright protection for state annotated codes of law and certain other state and local legal materials. The case was unusual because both parties and all of the friends of the court urged the justices to review it for different reasons.

Georgia focused on the “government edicts” doctrine, a judicially created exception to copyright protection for certain works that have the force of law. The annotated code contains summaries of judicial decisions and state attorney general opinions. The code without annotations was already free to the public.

 

The Supreme Court held that, under the “government edicts doctrine,” the annotations contained in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) were not copyrightable….”

New Project Will Unlock Access to Government Publications on Microfiche – Internet Archive Blogs

“Government documents from microfiche are coming to archive.org based on the combined efforts of the Internet Archive, Stanford University Libraries, and other library partners. The resulting files will be available for free public access to enable new analysis and access techniques. 

Microfiche cards, which contain miniaturized thumbnails of the publication’s pages, are starting to be digitized and matched to catalog records by the Internet Archive. Once in a digital format and preserved on archive.org, these documents will be searchable and downloadable by anyone with an Internet connection, since U.S. government publications are in the public domain….

The collection includes reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, the Department of Interior, and other government agencies from the 1970s to the present. There are also transcripts of congressional hearings and other Congressional material that contain discussion of potential laws or issues of concern to the public, Jacobs said….

Microfiche is not a format that can be easily read without using a machine in a library building. Many members of the public are not aware of the material available on microfiche so the potential for finding and using them is heightened once these documents are digitized. And as the information is shared with other federal depository libraries, there will be a ripple effect for researchers, academics, students, and the general public in gaining access….”

The MIT Press and Harvard Law School Library launch new series offering high-quality and affordable law textbooks | The MIT Press

Together, the MIT Press and Harvard Law School Library announce the launch of the Open Casebook series. Leveraging free and open texts created and updated by distinguished legal scholars, the series offers high-quality yet affordable printed textbooks for use in law teaching across the country, tied to online access to the works and legal opinions under open licenses.