Author: Maryanne Daly Doran

Introducing Westlaw Precision!

Westlaw homepage

As you are returning for the Spring semester, you may notice some changes when you log into Westlaw.  Westlaw Precision is now integrated right into Westlaw Edge.  Your account will automatically convert to this update and will include a new interface and 6 new features.  The underlying content of the subscription (secondary sources & primary law) will remain the same. 

A major difference you will notice on the homepage is the Precision Research feature.  Otherwise, you will see the same content categories available. 

Westlaw Precision allows you to search and filter by legal issue and outcome, fact pattern, motion type and outcome, to quickly find a core set of highly relevant cases.  

 Other highlights include: 

  • KeyCite Cited With: Shows related cases that have a pattern of being cited together even if neither cites the other.  
  • KeyCite Overruled in Part: Indicates, via a new red-striped flag, that a case has been overruled in part and enables navigation directly to the language in the case discussing the point of law that has been overruled. 
  • Graphical View of History: Displays a graphical visualization of research history, mapping out each step and highlighting the searches and documents with more research interaction.  
  • Keep List/Hide Details: Allows users to save cases of interest and hide cases they have determined are not relevant to current research.   
  • Outline Builder: Enables users to organize research by dragging and dropping text into a customizable outline. Linked and formatted citations and KeyCite information integrate automatically, and the outline can be exported to begin drafting a brief.  

      Want more info?  Check out the YouTube tutorials below: 

        Let us know if you have any questions at refdesk.lawlib@uconn.edu, and happy researching! 

        It’s a Wonderful Life….How a Copyright Glitch Created a Christmas Cult Classic

        It's a Wonderful Life movie posterThe 2022 holiday season marks the 76th Anniversary of It’s a Wonderful Life.  Based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story The Greatest Gift, the 1946 Frank Capra film tells the tale of a despondent man (James Stewart) who contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve.   His guardian angel grants him a chance to see what life for his friends and family would be like if he had never been born.   Although a now a holiday favorite, the film was a box office flop and a major blow to director Frank Capra’s reputation.

        Indeed, this movie might have been a forgotten footnote in film history if not for a filing error with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Then-copyright owner Republic Pictures missed filing the renewal application, causing the film to lapse into the public domain.  This oversight enabled TV networks, who were looking for cheap holiday-oriented content, to program it heavily for more than two decades without paying any royalties to its producers. It was during this near-constant airplay that the film was rediscovered by the American public – earning its status as a holiday classic.

        So how did this happen? The The US Copyright Act of 1909 governs copyrightable works created before 1964. The Act created two distinct copyright terms for each individual work: a 28-year initial term and a 28-year renewal term. The initial term applied automatically, but the copyright owner had to file a renewal application with the U.S. Copyright Office to acquire the second term. If the owner failed to file a renewal application before the first 28-year term expired, the work automatically entered the public domain. This was the case in 1974, when 28 years had passed, Republic Pictures failed to file a renewal for the film’s copyright protection. The upshot of this was that since the film was in the public domain,  anyone could show the film without obtaining permission or paying royalties.

        However, in 1993, Republic Pictures claimed that although they had failed to renew copyright over the film in 1974, they still retained rights to the original story, The Greatest Gift, (available in most public libraries) upon which the screenplay for It’s a Wonderful Life is based.  As a backup, in 1993, it purchased the rights to the film’s musical score by Dimitri Timokin from his family, which had been copyrighted separately.  Relying on the Supreme Court case Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207 (1990), which held that only the copyright owner of a story has the right to exploit derivative works such as films, Republic Pictures regained control of the picture.

        Equipped with the Supreme Court decision concerning the underlying story and with the copyright in the music for the film’s soundtrack, Republic Pictures alerted all television networks to stop playing It’s a Wonderful Life without the payment of royalties. They then entered an licensing arrangement with NBC, where It’s a Wonderful Life is shown a few times each December.  Others may also license the film for broadcast. On the local front, you can catch a viewing on the big screen at Cinestudio, located on the campus of Hartford’s Trinity College from December 19th – December 24th.

        The film’s days of 24 hour free programming may be over, but thanks to the film’s revival from those those decades of repeated airplay, It’s a Wonderful Life gained a new cult status.  It is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime, making it poised to capture the next streaming video audience.  The film’s message of kindness, community and hope is timeless. Thankfully, a new generation can now receive Capra’s message anytime, on demand.

        Happy Halloween! Legal-Themed Costumes for You and Your Pet

        I was going to write this blog post about spooky laws, like whether or not you have to disclose that your house might be haunted when you're selling it (short version: in some states, yes, in others, no), but that seemed boring.  Instead, I decided to focus on costumes.  Did you know that there might be local laws about when and where you can wear your costume?  For example, in Walnut, California, "No person shall wear a mask or disguise on a public street without a permit from the sheriff," and no, there is no exception for Halloween.  In Oakland, California, you need a written permit from the Chief of Police, unless you are taking part in a carnival (which may or may not be on Halloween).

        In Dublin, Georgia, no one is permitted to wear “a mask, hood or other apparel or regalia in such manner as to conceal his identity,” except for “children sixteen (16) years of age and under who may participate in traditional Halloween activities on the evening of the last day in October of each year, and who may be garbed in the usual or customary children's Halloween costumes.”  They have an even stricter age limit in St. Clair, Missouri, where no one over 12 is permitted to wear a mask or disguise on Halloween.  Closer to home, until 2020, New York had a state law prohibiting masks that was used over the years primarily to suppress protests against injustice, but had the additional effect of preventing most people from wearing masked costumes on Halloween.

        And, because I can't do anything with some fun animal pictures, here are some awesome legal-themed costume ideas for you and your pet:

        Elle Woods and Bruiser from Legally Blonde

        Of all the "classic" law school movies, this one might be my favorite.  I saw it not long before I took the LSATs, so I didn't like it at first, but in retrospect, it was pretty funny, and I strongly support law students who are advocating for positive change, particularly if their pets will agree to wear matching clothes.  So, grab a pink outfit, a blonde wig, and a UConn sweater for your pet, and off you go!  This was my attempt (although my cat, Bigfoot, was unfortunately not very happy about participating):

        Tanya with a Cat

        The I'm Not a Cat Filter Lawyer

        We all remember that Texas lawyer who got stuck on the cat filter on Zoom.  Why not commemorate that entertaining event by creating a costume?  You could wear some cat ears and put your cat in a suit.  Or you could just hold your cat up in front of your face for as long as they'll tolerate it.  Just make sure you say "I'm not a cat" at regular intervals.  (I wanted to include of picture of Bigfoot here, too, but she was less than cooperative.)

        Zoom Lawyer Cat

        The Supremes

        Pick a justice or nine and get some robes!  This costume would be especially fantastic if you have nine people/pets who can each dress up as a different Justice, but at that point, you'd have to reenact full arguments John Oliver style (and please record every minute of it!).  In the alternative, it's perfectly ok to pick a favorite.  This dog dressed as Ruth Barker Ginsberg (or perhaps Ruth Bader Ginsbark) will probably always be my favorite.

        Dog dressed as supreme court justice

        Last but not Least:  Pirates!

        You, too, can say Arrrr!  Because there are lots of laws about piracy and my conure, Blip, makes a great teaching assistant, here's what my costume could be this year:

        Tanya dressed as pirate with bird on shoulder

        Make sure you check out the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund's Halloween Photo Contest, and if you decide to use one of these ideas, please send me a picture!

        -Tanya Johnson

         

        LGBTQ+ Rights: New Hein Database!

        In honor of Pride Month, head over to HeinOnline to see its LGBTQ+ Rights database, the newest addition to the Social Justice Suite. This collection charts the gay rights movement in America, showing the civil rights codified into law in the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as the inequalities that still exist today.

        All titles in this collection have been assigned one or more title-level subjects relating to their scope, and are further divided into six subcollections, whose areas of focus constitute Marriage and FamilyEmployment DiscriminationMilitary ServiceAIDS and Health CarePublic Spaces and Accommodations, and Historical Attitudes and Analysis. The database includes an interactive timeline, as well as court cases, scholarly articles, books, pamphlets, and reports.

        To learn more about the newest database check out HeinOnline’s blog here and for additional research, check out Uconn Law’s Research Guide, Sexuality, Gender Identity and the Law.

        screenshot of a webpage introducing HeinOnline's LGBTQ+ Rights

        Summer and Post-Graduate Access to Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg, and Other Library Databases

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        Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis and Westlaw all have summer access provisions and usage policies for continuing and graduating students.  Read below for more information!

        Westlaw

        Returning Students

        You may use your Westlaw account through the summer for noncommercial research, such as law school activities, research assistant assignments, work for a nonprofit, or in an unpaid internship.

        Graduates

        Graduates can register for Westlaw’s Graduate Elite Program, which provides for six months of access after graduation.  Graduates also have access to the Knowledge Center eLearnings and tutorials for 18 months after graduation.

        In order to extend access you will need to opt into GRAD ELITE by logging into www.lawschool.tr.com. Use the drop-down menu by your name to go to GRAD ELITE Status or go directly to https://lawschool.westlaw.com/authentication/gradelite.

        Lexis

        Returning Students

        Lexis access continues through the summer with no restrictions on time or usage.

        Graduates

        You will have access to Lexis until December 31, 2022, with no registration required, or restrictions.  Use the same Lexis account log on credentials you used in law school.  If you are working for a nonprofit organization, you may be able to extend your access even longer through the ASPIRE Program

        Bloomberg Law

        Returning Students

        Bloomberg access continues through the summer subject to yearly individual Docket allowance.

        Graduates

        2021 graduating students will have unrestricted access to Bloomberg Law for 6 months with no special registration required (if students register for Bloomberg Law access before graduation)

        Other Library Databases

        Returning Students

        Returning students have full access to all of our databases, such as Hein and Proquest throughout the summer.

        Graduates

        Alumni are always welcome to use the library and seek research help from the reference librarians.  If you stay in the area as you begin your legal careers, remember that the majority of our electronic resources can be accessed by any patron from within the library, including Westlaw.

        Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis and Westlaw all have summer access provisions and usage policies for continuing and graduating students.  Read below for more information!

        Westlaw

        Returning Students

        You may use your Westlaw account through the summer for noncommercial research, such as law school activities, research assistant assignments, work for a nonprofit, or in an unpaid internship.

        Graduates

        Graduates can register for Westlaw’s Graduate Elite Program, which provides for six months of access after graduation.  Graduates also have access to the Knowledge Center eLearnings and tutorials for 18 months after graduation.

        In order to extend access you will need to opt into GRAD ELITE by logging into  www.lawschool.tr.com. Use the drop-down menu by your name to go to GRAD ELITE Status or go directly to lawschool.westlaw.com/authentication/gradelite.

        Lexis

        Returning Students

        Lexis access continues through the summer with no restrictions on time or usage.

        Graduates

        You will have access to Lexis until December 31, 2022, with no registration required, or restrictions.  Use the same Lexis account log on credentials you used in law school.  If you are working for a nonprofit organization, you may be able to extend your access even longer through the ASPIRE Program

        Bloomberg Law

        Returning Students

        Bloomberg access continues through the summer subject to yearly individual Docket allowance.

        Graduates

        2021 graduating students will have unrestricted access to Bloomberg Law for 6 months with no special registration required (if students register for Bloomberg Law access before graduation)

        Other Library Databases

        Returning Students

        Returning students have full access to all of our databases, such as Hein and Proquest throughout the summer.

        Graduates

        Alumni are always welcome to use the library and seek research help from the reference librarians.  If you stay in the area as you begin your legal careers, remember that the majority of our electronic resources can be accessed by any patron from within the library, including Westlaw.

        Public Laws & Proclamations – Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2022

        Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage MonthAsian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, celebrated in the month of May, originated in 1978 when Congress passed a joint resolution that became Pub. L. 95-419. This law directed the President to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. Pub. L. 95-419 was amended in 1990 by Pub. L. 101-283  which expanded the observance of Asian/Pacific American Heritage week to the month of May in 1990. Finally, in 1992, Congress passed Pub. L. 102-450 which permanently designated May of each year as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”

        Pursuant to Pub. L. 102-450, American Presidents have annually issued proclamations designating May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month”. President Biden issued A Proclamation for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2022 which can be found here.

        Presidential Proclamations are policy statements issued by the president to the public. Although often ceremonial, they can have legal effect (examples are proclamations regarding national emergencies, foreign policy, and federal land management). An example of this would be President Biden’s Proclamation 10315 (revoked on December 28, 2021) which suspended entry of certain individuals in countries where the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had been detected.

        This informative CRS Report Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Speech Resources: Fact Sheet provides excellent summary of both Public Laws and Proclamations pertaining to Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. Also by CRS, the publication, Presidential Directives: An Introduction, discusses the differences between presidential directives.

        The Law Library display features an assortment of academic and leisure reading books selected in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month for 2022. Be sure to stop by and check one out for summer reading!

        New State Legislation Restricting Books in Libraries and Schools

        Book Ban Legislation: the latest entry from The Pocket Part

        The recent introduction of state legislation targeting books available in public and school libraries has resurfaced the idea of banning books. Several states have pending legislation that would prohibit libraries from carrying certain books in their collection, or even prosecuting librarians who included materials determined to be offensive or obscene.

        Conflicts over the content of books available in libraries, however, have been happening for decades. The Bible, The Merchant of Venice, Catch-22, and Harry Potter have all been the subject of litigation related to book challenges in school and public libraries. The American Library Association tracks the most frequently challenged book each year. In 2020, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison were among the top ten most challenged books.

        The American Library Association began advocating for the freedom to read in the 1980s with the introduction of Banned Books Week, which is celebrated every year in libraries across the country. UConn Law Library’s Banned Books research guide provides information on frequently challenged books, major cases on challenged books, and pending legislation.

        Precursor to Public Service: University of Connecticut Law Wives’ Legacy

        Silver Punch BowlThe silver punch bowl and ladle on display in the law library was given to the School of law for the dedication of the new law building on May 1, 1964.   Engraved “From the Law Wives, May 1, 1964”, this set was a gift from the University of Connecticut Law Wives club. Formed on September 20th, 1961, University of Connecticut Law Wives club’s mission was to educate the law wife in the “problems and responsibilities of the profession her husband is about to enter” and to sponsor a yearly scholarship benefiting a “needy law student”. 

        Initially founded to provide educational, social and civic activities for wives of students, activities later evolved to include bloodmobiles, food drives and children’s holiday parties.  Funds raised for scholarship and books funds benefited law students, families, and ultimately, clients of these newly minted attorneys. The club was renamed “University of Connecticut Law Partners” in 1973 to reflect the changing demographics of the law school student body.

        The invariable signs of “wear and tear” on this silver bowl reflect the many occasions this bowl has made a cameo appearance at

        Archive papers

         staff retirements, baby showers, and notable events commemorating the life and career events of UConn Law’s students, faculty and staff.  This gift provides a lens to a past era which highlighted altruism and public service, and inspired the public service opportunities  available to law students today.  These include UConn’s not-for credit Pro-bono pledge program ,  for-credit clinics and field placements, and the Public Interest Law Group (PILG),  a student organization developed to encourage UConn law students to perform work in the public interest field during their education and into their professional careers. 

        Although UConn Law Wives Club is no longer in existence, the initial mission of dedication to scholarship and philanthropy was the precursor for the school of law’s present commitment to social activism.  It continues to serve as a tribute to the legacy of UConn Law Wives and reminder of its pioneering dedication to volunteerism and good works.

        Database Spotlight! NAACP Papers

        This February, in honor of African-American History Month , UConn Law Library is featuring 3 important digital resources: the NAACP Papers as produced by ProQuest.  The collection is organized into the following groups:

        NAACP Papers: The NAACP’s Major Campaigns – Education, Voting, Housing, Employment, Armed Forces

        Major campaigns for equal access to education, voting, employment, housing and the military are covered in this module. The education files in this second module document the NAACP’s systematic assault on segregated education that culminated in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Files from 1955 –1965 focus on the NAACP’s efforts to implement the Brown decision as well as to combat de facto segregation outside of the South.  Click here to go to the LibGuide page for this module

        This NAACP module consists of the working case files of the NAACP’s general counsel and his Legal Department staff for the period from 1956 to 1972. The files document the NAACP’s aggressive campaign to bring about desegregation throughout the United States, particularly in the South.  In total, this module contains over 600 cases from 34 states and the District of Columbia. The cases in this module pertain to school desegregation, abuses of police procedure, employment discrimination, freedom of speech, privacy, freedom of association, and housing discrimination.  Click here to go to the LibGuide page for this module

        One of the highlights of this NAACP module are the records on the Scottsboro case, one of the most celebrated criminal trials of the 20th century. This module also contains the key NAACP national office files on the campaign against lynching and mob violence, and NAACP efforts to fight against discrimination in the criminal justice system. Click here to go to the LibGuide page for this module

        The NAACP Papers contains excellent material to support the law school community’s research projects on social justice and civil rights topics. If you have any questions about this content, contact our reference team!

        Back in the Stacks! UConn Law Library Reopens!

        We’re back in business! 

        The UConn Law Library will reopen with the start of in-person classes on Monday, January 31. The hours will be as follows:

        Library Hours

        Monday – Thursday 8:00am-10:00pm*

        Friday 8:00am-5:00pm*

        Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm*

        Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm*

         *Law Husky ID card access only after 7:00pm, and all day Saturday & Sunday.

        When we reopen, we will be fully enforcing masking rules in all of our spaces per the University’s campus guidance.

        Questions?  You can contact any of the reference librarians during normal reference hours.  

        Still have questions? Send us an email at lawlibrary@uconn.edu and we will do our best to help you!

        See you all back in the stacks!  Welcome Back!