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Law Library News for Feb. 19, 2007

Law Library News Archive

Cheryl Nyberg, editor


Library Lifesavers

The sessions on Tuesday, Feb. 20th will address:

  • Is it on Westlaw? Finding the Right Database
  • Foreign & International Law Basics (Online)

For one time only, Library Lifesavers will be held in Room 133, NOT Room 119. The time has changed: 12:45-1:15pm.

Staying Connected While Travelling

Working outside the United States this summer? Or are you just considering a short trip abroad? Will your cell phone work? If you do not take a computer along, will there be public terminals available? If you do bring your computer with you, what sort of Internet connection will you find? Will you need a transformer or adaptor? The UW Computing and Communications (C&C) has put together a website designed to answer these and other similar questions. [Source: OnTechNews]

Citing Wikipedia? Just Say No

Should you cite to Wikipedia as a source in your law school assignments and papers, law review articles, pleadings, or court briefs?

No.

Except in very specific circumstances (see below), Wikipedia is not a predictably reliable, immutable, and authoritative source.  Why not?

“Wikipedia is written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world. With rare exceptions, its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet, simply by clicking the edit this page link.” [Source]. Do you want to base your argument on an article written by just anyone with Internet access? The content of any article is subject to frequent and sometimes radical revision. Wikipedia authors and editors are not required to cite to sources.

For an example with questionable or biased content, see the article on Tort Reform in the United States. This page includes two warnings:

  • The neutrality of this article's title and/or subject matter is disputed.
  • This article or section does not cite its references or sources.

How many other pages merit these warnings but haven’t been tagged yet? What does Wikipedia say about citing Wikipedia?

As with any source, especially those of unknown authorship, you should be wary and independently verify the accuracy of Wikipedia information if possible. For many purposes, but particularly in academia, Wikipedia may not be considered an acceptable source . . . .

OK. So I have cited Wikipedia to prove that you shouldn’t cite to Wikipedia! And some judges cite to Wikipedia; see the New York Times article and Washington cases cited in Mary Whisner’s Trial Ad Notes blog. For additional discussion, see:

The exception: you may cite to Wikipedia only when the person to whom you are submitting your work has explicitly indicated that citation to Wikipedia is allowed.

[For more on Wikipedia, see the Gallagher page of links on Citing Wikipedia?]

Book of the Week: Intellectual Property, Software, and Information Licensing

by Jonathan Franklin

Professor Gomulkiewicz, along with two coauthors, has written a spectacular new book on licensing. If you plan to practice in the area, you will want it in your library. Weighing in at 5.5 pounds, it is a deeply practical work. After forty pages on the law of licensing, the next thousand pages cover licenses, organized by type. Depending on what you are licensing, just flip to the appropriate section(s).

The sections on different types of licenses mesh practical business advice with law and drafting tips. For example, the section on indemnity provisions in patent licenses covers the industry standard, the major cases in the area that have defined the extent to which certain term are enforceable, and then concludes with some examples of indemnification provisions with commentary on the provisions. The examples are notable because instead of giving just one, the book often offers two or three sections, so depending on which side of the transaction you are on, you can always find relevant language. The comments following the provisions also help frame the world of possibilities for that section, perhaps helping to solve a problem the attorney did not even know existed.

A brief review of this book would incomplete without mentioning the amazingly useful appendices. Appendix C includes over thirty complete examples of different types of licenses. Thoughtfully, these documents are also included on the CD-ROM that accompanies the book. The other three appendices could save a young attorney quite a bit of work, as they summarize and state the trade secret and right of publicity laws for all fifty states. Relevant portions of the federal tax code are also cited. The volume concludes with a table of cases and an extensive index. In summary, even given its substantial weight, for a licensing attorney, it is worth its weight in gold.

Intellectual Property, Software, and Information Licensing: Law and Practice (2006). KF3145.N458 2006 at Classified Stacks.