Yesterday LAWgical, an online marketing company focused on the legal professional market, announced it acquired Legal Talk Network, the legal podcast network. Legal Talk Network, which published over 1,000 podcasts in the past seven years, features broadcast-style podcasts hosted by attorneys and legal professionals. LAWgical operates a network of legal web sites, including ServeNow.com, PInow.com, AboutBail.com, and approximately 20 other legal-related brands (a full listing is available on LAWgical’s web site).
I learned of the suicide of Aaron Swartz via Chris Hayes on MSNBC, who described him as having a brilliant mind and righteous heart. The 26-year-old Swartz suffered from depression and was facing up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines for downloading articles from the online database of scholarly work JSTOR (charged with 13 felony counts, including wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer). Swartz was focused on JSTOR because he was offended it charged large fees for access to articles but did not compensate the authors, denying free access to the scholarship produced by U.S. colleges and universities. In his brief life, however, Swartz made an amazing impact on the world, including a direct impact on some of the issues I discuss here on this blog.
Among his accomplishments, he:
- Co-authored the RSS 1.0 spec (at age 14);
- Built the original Open Library web site, as its engineer technical team lead;
- Founded Infogami, which later merged with Reddit;
- Created the web.py Web application framework;
- Co-founded the advocacy group Demand Progress;
- Involved significantly in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) campaign;
- Downloaded and released 20% of PACER database during a free trial promotion;
- Helped build a free public library at Archive.org; and
- Helped design the code layer to Creative Commons licenses.
Friends and family have issued a statement and created a memorial page.
One of the better end of 2012 posts I have read recently is A Visual Look Back at Digital Publishing in 2012 by Emma Gardner at Lean Back 2.0, which provides powerful visuals to illustrate 10 important trends in publishing. Although the focus seems to on trends impacting general news publications (e.g., newspapers, etc.), there are lessons (and counter-lessons) for legal publishers.
For example, looking at these trends it is very understandable why all publishers (including legal publishers) have gone crazy for anything mobile-related. However, I have always felt assumptions about this new mobile-centered future do not equally apply to all forms of content. A user’s desire to access news, restaurant reviews, or movie showtimes, is not necessarily the same as the desire to access full-text federal regulations or the entirety of the Ohio Revised Code. I think there is a danger for legal publishers to rush headlong into the mobile world by simply making mobile versions of all previously desktop-centric content without sufficient insight into which information is the best fit for mobile.
It is also interesting to see trends (see trend #5 video especially) in which general consumer publishing has moved closer to subscription models being used by legal publishers for many years. For example, it seemed to take too long for the Wall Street Journal to realize that as a specially publisher serving the financial industry (i.e., similar to how legal publishers are specialty publishers serving the legal industry) they could charge for content where other general interest newspapers could not. I’ll try to explore the issue of the artificial silos within which providers of information have placed themselves and the way in clouds there decisions in a later post.
The ABA Journal recently released the winners of the fan favorites voting. I am not a regular reader of the ABA Journal but I am a sucker for “Best of …” lists as a way to discover new and interesting blogs. The ABA post on winners only links to the winner in each of the 14 categories surveyed, but their post back in December provides a full list with descriptions. I have already made a few new discoveries, which I intend to follow.
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is making House bills available for bulk download (in XML format) available through the GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), beginning with the 113th Congress. According to the GPO, it is making the data available at the direction of the House Appropriations Committee and the task force on bulk data (established by House report 112-511). The bulk data on house bills joins other available data, including the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, and related documents of the executive branch. The news release announcing the GPO’s move cited the benefits of bulk XML data “for conversion into ebooks, mobile apps, and other forms of content delivery, including data mashups and other analytical tools by third party providers.” The January 10, 2013, release announcing the GPO’s action is available on its web site.
A while back, I started collecting links to companies, web sites, or other projects involved in the legal information industry in the sidebar of this blog under the heading “Companies and Projects”. However, I decided to reorganize the sidebar links and I decided to put together a larger industry directory page.
I will try to make the directory expansive enough that it will include traditional legal publishing companies as well as software companies, start-ups, academic projects, and nonprofit projects. Basically, any organizations involved in the legal information industry. The current “Companies and Projects” links on the sidebar will slowly disappear as they are added to the new directory.
Today, the 3 Geeks and a Law Blog is reporting that Thomson Reuters has acquired LearnLive Technologies, which “automates the creation, delivery, management, and certification of accredited eLearning programs for professionals including accounting, legal and finance.”
Go to 3 Geeks and a Law Blog to see a short statement from Thomson on the acquisition.
Although the utility of such a tool has now passed, I recently helped design and program the CCH 2013 Fiscal Cliff Estimator with a co-worker, which calculates the estimated tax impact on you under the various proposed tax legislation during the “fiscal cliff” crisis.
I was happy to see that the tool’s release got some attention, with write ups on some prominent news sites (CPA Practice Advisor, Accounting Today, Yahoo Finance), tax-related web sites (Tax Refund 411), blogs (The Byte), and some accounting firms (Holden Moss).
Today LexisNexis announced via email it is acquiring Knowledge Mosaic, a Seattle-based publisher that specializes in federal regulatory and disclosure information, and Thomson Reuters announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Practical Law Company, a UK-based legal publishing company which targets transactional lawyers.