Google Books and Copyright Law : New Feature Creates Word Clouds for Published Materials : The Example of Stars Stones and Scholars by Andis Kaulins

Words. Words. Words.

Google Books has a special page for Legal Analysis relating to Google Books and copyright law.

Our photo shows the sculpture “The Word” at Groote Markt, the marketplace in Sint-Niklaas, capital of Waasland, Flanders, Belgium,the largest such marketplace in the country:


Google Books is a wonderful information resource which can assist greatly in determining whether to buy a book or not.

Google Books has expanded in the course of time to include many new features. Among these new features are word clouds – in a book’s “Overview” section – showing a selection of frequent important terms found in a book. Here is the Google Books word cloud for Stars Stones and Scholars, the Decipherment of the Megaliths by Andis Kaulins.

Common terms and phrases

.cloud9 {color: #7a7777;font-size: 10px;}.cloud8 {color: #7a7777;font-size: 13px;}.cloud7 {color: #646262;font-size: 15px;}.cloud6 {color: #646262;font-size: 15px;}.cloud5 {color: #4f4d4d;font-size: 19px;}.cloud4 {color: #4f4d4d;font-size: 19px;}.cloud3 {color: #393838;font-size: 22px;}.cloud2 {color: #393838;font-size: 22px;}.cloud1 {color: #242323;font-size: 26px;}.cloud0 {color: #191919;font-size: 28px;}.cloud {margin-top: 4px;line-height: 18px;}.cloud a {margin-left: 3px;margin-right: 3px;text-decoration: none;}

Ain Ghazal Ancient Britain Andis Kaulins Andromeda Aquarius Aquila Arbor Low astronomical Auriga Autumn Equinox Barclodiad Y Gawres Bouar Canis Major Carnac Cassiopeia Catal Huyuk Cave Paintings Ceide Fields Celestial Pole Centaurus Cepheus Cetus Clava Cairns Cohen Gadol Coma Berenices constellations Corona Australis Corona Borealis County Sligo Creswell Crags Cygnus Decipherment Delphinus Deneb Dolmen Draco Dschubba Ecliptic Pole Egypt Eridanus Estonia Externsteine False Cross Fowlis Wester Gardom’s Edge Gavrinis Gemini Ggantija Gozo Herefordshire Beacon Hierakonpolis Hyades Hydra Hydrus Kents Cavern Lanyon Quoit Large Magellanic Cloud Lascaux Latvian Leo Minor Magdalenians Malta megaliths Menhir Miami Circle Milky Mnajdra Mulfra Neolithic Newgrange Ophiuchus Ordnance Survey Perseus planisphere Pleiades Pole Star precession Richard Hinckley Allen Rock Drawing Rollright Stones Sagittarius Sarsens Saulheim Scorpio Scotland Serpens Caput Serpens Cauda Silbury Hill Solstice Stonehenge Tarxien Taurus Trethevy Quoit tumuli Ursa Major Ursa Minor Virgo Wayland’s Smithy Yarmukian Zhangye

We are very happy to be part of Google Books and view “word clouds” of our published works to be “fair use”. But is the legal issue here so simple?

Take a look at these word cloudsvia Federal News Service transcriptsregarding the Democratic Party and Republican Party conventions leading to the US Presidential Election of Barack Obama.

It would certainly seem to be the case that a particular design of a word cloud is copyrightable, and since every word cloud has its own design, then word clouds would appear to be subject to copyright protection. But who owns the words in a cloud?

Word clouds are essentially one example ofdata visualization, for which there are numerous programs online.

Is a “word cloud” a derivative use (in which case it belongs to the original copyright holder) or is it a transformative use (in which case it belongs to the transformer). We favor the latter interpretation, but the issue has never been litigated.

As software applications show, “word clouds” appear to have a very “proprietary” character.

Online anyone can generate word clouds for free at WORDLE.net, which, however, claims the copyright to the word cloud image created, licensing it under a Creative Commons license with attribution. Here is a Wordle word cloud of the most recent postings at LawPundit:

Wordle: LawPundit Recent Postings
There is also a free networking site for writers at The Word Cloud.

Standardize Electric Car Batteries so that Drivers can quickly exchange Battery Units at Charging Stations rather than charge a Car’s Own Batteries

Are we missing something?

The main problem with electric cars is the rather ridiculous state of affairs that each car has its “own” set of batteries which have to be recharged at charging stations over a considerable period of time, which greatly limits the mobility of electric cars – and greatly impedes their sale.

The solution is simple. Perhaps others have already suggested this solution, but in this case, this is our idea.

There is no reason for drivers to have to recharge “their” batteries. Rather, what needs to be done is to standardize electric car batteries so that the entire battery unit can simply be replaced at charging stations in a matter of minutes, just like filling the gas tank. When car buyers see that electric cars then have practically no mileage limitations, sales of electric cars will skyrocket.

Day Pitney Unwisely Launches the Dysphemism "Summer Apprentice" for On-The-Job Legal Training to Replace the Euphemistic "Summer Associate"

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and that proverb might be applied in principle to a well-meaning press release issued by the law firm Day Pitney announcing their launch of a “summer apprentice program” to replace the firm’s previous “summer associate program” (hat tip to Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal).

This virtual misnomer appears to us to perhaps be an outgrowth of the current recession in which the value of young law graduates and law student summer associates has been reduced primarily by the flawed financial policies of law firm partners. As usual, it is the people down the responsibility ladder – as always – who have to bear the brunt of an economic downturn which they had no hand in creating.

We can not speak for others, but the term “Summer Apprentice” for law students doing on-the-job legal training appears to us to be an ill-chosen dysphemism when compared to the previous perhaps euphemistic “Summer Associate” label, especially since a “legal apprentice” or “law apprentice” in the English-speaking world has traditionally been a title reserved for persons who embark on a course of legal study without going to law school and who are as a result of that apprenticeship entitled to take a bar exam without having a law school background.

Nostalgically bringing back the terminology and ideology of an apprenticeship system is in our view a crass step backward in legal education and training since it denigrates that which the best law schools attempt to train in their students – the capacity for critical thinking, a skill so badly lacking in modern society, especially in modern America – and replaces that system with an older and less effective learning system, prevalent in lower quality law schools – where rote learning of laws and procedures is preferred to the type of critical thinking which is required in the top legal echelons of any successful institution or nation.

See our posting at Great Law Schools – “Advice” for Law Students – Socratic Method.

When I go to my family lawyer I am not interested that he can recite a specific case or paragraph accurately from memory. That kind of rote learning is the primary purpose of bar exams and similar examinations and it is a complete waste of time – anyone can look up laws and judicial decisions in the nearest law library. What a lawyer’s client requires is someone who can apply a given legal paragraph or case effectively within the legal system – and that is a different kettle of fish. You do not learn that as an apprentice and that is why law schools were created in the first place. Practicing law is not the same as shoemaking – the master/apprentice concept fails.

Although it is of course true that summer associate jobs do in fact give law students practical exposure and training in the law on the legal front lines, this is no reason to call them apprentices, and what a summer associate does in a large law firm is a far cry from the cheap labor supply represented by legal apprentice systems elsewhere around the world.

For example, here in Germany, a legal apprentice is a “Referendar”, and law school graduates have to fulfill a mandatory two-year period of practical State training after their law school studies called a “Referendariat”. As the Wikipedia writes under jurist:

In some of Continental Europe, anyone with a degree in law (e.g., a bachelor or master of laws) may be called a jurist. Such jurists can practice law as employees hired by law firms or legal departments of other business entities. Being a jurist does not necessarily mean that one has the privileges usually attributed to “attorney” or “solicitor”. In Germany e.g. you do a first Examination (“Erstes Staatsexamen”) after four years of University studies. If you pass the Examination you are a “Referendar jur.” (“Jurist”). With this you can apply to a two year post-university education called “Referendariat”. If you do this, you are employed by a German State Government and work in several positions; normally: judge assistant, assistant to an public prosecutor, civil servant and assistant to a “barrister”. Then you have to do a second Examination (“Zweites Staatsexamen”). If you pass it, you are a (“Assessor jur.”) (“Volljurist”). With this title, you can apply as a judge, public prosecutor, civil servant or you can work as a Rechtsanwalt (“barrister”). Independently from this, some German universities offer LLM studies, but they do not give anyone the qualification to apply for one of the jobs mentioned above. Alternatively, the LLM degree taken in the US would provide a German qualified lawyer with the opportunity to become a US Attorney.

Moreover, in spite of the fact that German students can study law straight out of high school – a college degree is required for law study in the United States – for anyone in Germany interested in an academic career or law at a higher level of “higher learning”, by the time a jurist gets his Dr. iur. in Germany (roughly comparable as a doctoral degree to a J.D.), can be in his 30’s and – to my knowledge – it is perhaps a rare law professor in Germany who is hired the younger side of 40. When I graduated from Stanford Law School I was 24 years old and the average age of the graduating class was 28.

The J.D. degree (Juris Doctor viz. Doctor of Jurisprudence), by the way, was developed in the United States as a practical solution to the elevated university education of jurists, a solution which has never been adopted fully in Europe, much to the detriment of legal education in European jurisprudence, which is simply inferior to that practiced in the U.S.A. As the Wikipedia writes under Juris Doctor:

Christopher Columbus Langdell, who served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895, dedicated his life to reforming legal education in the United States. The historian Robert Stevens wrote that “it was Langdell’s goal to turn the legal profession into a university educated one — and not at the undergraduate level, but through a three-year post baccalaureate degree.” This graduate level study would allow the intensive legal training that Langdell had developed, known as the case method (a method of studying landmark cases) and the socratic method (a method of examining students on the reasoning of the court in the cases studied). Therefore, a graduate high level law degree was established, the Juris Doctor, implementing the case and socratic methods as its didactic approach. The J.D. was established as the equivalent of the J.U.D. [Juris Utriusque Doctor] in Germany to reflect the advanced study required to be an effective lawyer. It was not a conversion of the LL.B. degree, though it did replace it at those law schools that initially followed the Oxford tradition and which offered the LL.B. as a second bachelor’s degree. [material in brackets added by LawPundit]

Harvard was first to offer the new doctorate. The University of Chicago Law School was the first to offer it exclusively (i.e., the first to not offer both the J.D. and the LL.B.). While approval was still pending at Harvard, the degree was introduced at many other law schools in the United States.

The result of the highly antiquated and totally inefficient German legal educational system – which is backwardly similar to the same system that the USA reformed over 100 years ago – is that many a jurist is already well along in age and “burned out” from endless years of totally superfluous “training” before he ever starts to practice law or do serious academic research, so that many a jurist’s potentially best years are spent doing junk work or serving as a supply of cheap labor for the legal system.

The current virtually feudal “apprentice-based” German legal system is thus no model for other countries in terms of its legal education or training. It is totally outdated and inadequate for modern law. In What Are Law Schools For?, edited by P. B. H. Birks, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 91, Hans Leser writes via Questia.com about “Legal Education in Germany”, inter alia:

… For the last two centuries the State, not the courts or professional organisations, has monopolised legal education in Germany….

The result of all of this is that German students spend too long at university, on average five to six years including examinations, notwithstanding that legislation prescribes a four year course of study. All current reform proposals seek to address this issue.

Given the above discussion, applying the apprentice label to law school students in summer jobs at law firms is thus simply wrong as a matter of terminology and Day Pitney would be well-advised to reconsider a new name for its program rather than letting it run under this misleading and indeed, backward-oriented, terminology.

You can train seals … in an apprentice-type system.

Lawyers have to be educated.

See also generally, Albert James Harno, Legal Education in the United States.

Law Firms as "Attractive" Investments under the UK 2007 Legal Services Act : Private Equity Funds Consider Investing in BigLaw Starting 2011

The mass of law firm layoffs in the current recession, putting profits before principles, indicates that the practice of law as a profession in the modern era has become more and more a typical “business” and is less and less a noble legal profession conforming to the faulty image of professionally ethical attorneys nostalgically portrayed by the monopolistic bar associations. When push comes to shove in law firms across the nation and the world, attorney colleagues are coldly put out on to the streets to find their sustenance elsewhere under the motto that “someone else can take care of them”. Ours is a hard world which shows no quarter.

Fitting in with this trend is the UK 2007 Legal Services Act which permits investment in law firms. Private equity funds, knowing a good “business” when they see one (as opposed to a “professional” deal), are already considering investing in BigLaw starting 2011, something which is already permissible in Australia.

Lindsay Fortado at Bloomberg.com in Private Equity Considers Investing in U.K. Law Firms (Update1) reports:

Slater & Gordon Ltd., based in Melbourne, became the world’s first law firm to sell shares on a stock exchange two years ago after a similar bill was passed in Australia. The personal-injury firm raised A$35 million ($29 million) from the listing and acquired two law firms….

Read the details about the UK here.

Some law firms are understandably resisting this development, but the march of time is against them.

Hat tip to Martha Neil at the ABA Journal and
Private Equity Funds Ponder Purchase of Up to 20% Interest in UK Law Firms

The Potential Economic Impact of Weather and Climate on the Example of El Niño which is Back in Force for 2009 and 2010

Global warming is one thing but the cyclical El Niño is another.

Michael McCarthy, environment editor at the Independent – via Reddit – informs us that a new El Niño is developing – the second strongest El Niño on record, which means global economic impacts for the world based on weather implications in the coming 2009-2010 period.

The arrival of El Niño was reported at the NOAA, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which has numerous El Niño website pages devoted to “Research, Forecasts and Observations”, where they write:

El Niño is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the Tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather and climate around the globe.

The NOAA writes inter alia about the Economic Implications of an El Niño, pointing to both unavoidable economic losses as well as forecast-based economic benefits:

Implications of El Niño for the Nation’s Economy

Weather and climate sensitive industries directly impacted by weather (such as agriculture, construction, energy distribution, and outdoor recreation) account for nearly 10 percent of GDP. Further, weather and climate indirectly impacts an even larger portion of the nation’s economy, extending to parts of finance and insurance, services, retail and wholesale trade, as well as manufacturing. Some analysts estimate that nearly 25 percent of GDP, or $2.7 trillion, is either directly or indirectly impacted by weather and climate.

El Niño impacts important business variables like sales, revenues, and employment in a wide range of climate-sensitive industries and sectors. Overall, total U.S. economic impacts of the 1997-1998 El Niño were estimated to be on the order of $25 billion….

The Economic Benefits of Better El Niño Forecasts-Improving Economic Decisions

Although all losses cannot be avoided, NOAA’s El Niño forecasts produce economic value by allowing individuals, industries, and public officials to take timely actions based on the forecast to mitigate and reduce losses or to capitalize on the information to improve economic outcomes…“

Take a look at the NOAA article on economic implications in full for more information about this important economic development.

Crossposted to our Private Wealth Blog.