Thursday, March 31, 2011

CHECKPOINT for Tax Research

Yes, it’s almost Tax Day.  It happens to be Monday, April 18, this year because Emancipation Day is Saturday, April 16, and therefore celebrated in Washington, D.C. with a day off on Friday, April 15.  If this three-day reprieve is not enough, you can check out the IRS's website on how to get an extension for filing your taxes.

And to help you with your taxes or other research around federal tax, I just wanted to let you know that the Law Library makes available CHECKPOINT, a comprehensive tax research database that you may find to be an easy spot to find various laws, regulations, IRS publications, court decisions, journal articles, financial calculators, and much more.  It is also available to law students if you want to assign a look at tax information or have a tax angle in your scholarship assigned to a research assistant.  To access Checkpoint, start from our list of Online Legal Resources, click on Tax in the left column, then click on RIA Checkpoint.  Take a look at our quick guide to get started using Checkpoint.


As always, you are encouraged to contact me or your librarian liaison with any questions about tax research or using Checkpoint.


Pat Court

Associate Law Librarian  


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Google Books Settlement Rejected

Last Tuesday Judge Denny Chin refused to grant the plaintiffs' motion for final approval of the Google Books Amended Settlement Agreement ("ASA"), finding that the ASA is not fair, adequate, or reasonable.  The opinion is available here, and worth the quick read.  Judge Chin, in analyzing whether the agreement met the requirements of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(e), applied the factors articulated in City of Detroit v. Grinnell Corp., 495 F.2d 448 (2d Cir. 1974).  He found that most of the Grinnell factors favored approval, i.e.:

  • litigation has been complex, expensive, and lengthy
  • the case has been pending since 2005
  • the outcome of the case, were it to go to trial, is in substantial doubt
  • maintaining the class throughout the litigation is risky

One factor however, weighed substantially against approving the settlement: the many negative reactions of class members, which Judge Chin summarized as follows:

  1. Adequacy of class notice. Judge Chin rejected this objection.
  2. Adequacy of class representation.  Judge Chin found there to be an issue regarding the existence of competing interests between class members.
  3. Scope of relief under Rule 23.  The judge found that the scope of the settlement goes beyond permissible bounds in several respects.  First, the settlement reshapes copyright law related to orphan works and affects international copyright law, which are matters more properly determined by Congress.  Second, the settlement goes far beyond the boundaries of the complaint, which was limited to the scanning and display of "snippets" by giving Google the ability to digitize and sell copies of millions of books, including books still protected by copyright.  Third, the interests of some class members have not been adequately represented, such as academic authors who may prefer free access to their copyrighted books and the copyright holders to orphan works, who have a conflict of interest with Google.  Fourth, the agreement violates copyright law by requiring copyright holders to take affirmative action to prevent the scanning of their books.  Fifth, the settlement grants Google a monopoly over orphan books and increased Google's position in the search market.  Sixth, some objectors have concerns that consumers will lose privacy in their reading habits to Google, but Judge Chin rejected this concern due to Google's safeguards.  Seventh and lastly, despite the removal of certain foreign works from the ASA, foreign copyright holders continue to object that the settlement will affect their works and violate the international copyright law.

So what's next?  In closing, Judge Chin informed the parties that he may approve the settlement if it were changed to an "opt-in" agreement from an "opt-out" agreement.  This option is extremely unattractive to Google because it significantly decreases Google's ability to exploit the books it has digitized so far.

So what is next?  A status conference is scheduled for April 25.  Google has not yet publicly responded to the court's decision.  Settlement does not seem very likely.  An "opt-in" settlement agreement accomplishes very little for Google because Google can, and already has, continue to make private agreements with publishers and authors.  Many of us hope that Google will approach Congress to pass copyright reform, such as
this legislation that stalled out in Congress in 2008.

While Congress is the appropriate forum for addressing the issue--and not a far-reaching agreement between corporations and private parties--Congress is notorious for leaving the crafting of copyright legislation to large, wealthy, corporate copyright holders.  The voices of libraries, the public, and people who make use of public domain materials are typically ignored.  So although I have been hoping for the settlement to be rejected so that Congress can tackle the problem, there are some serious barriers to the creation of legislation that does not favor corporate interests.  Google will propose legislation very similar to the ASA, except the Registry will be government run and the ability to exploit orphan works will be opened up to other entities.  Companies like Amazon and Microsoft will not like this because Google has a head start on commercializing orphan works.  Congress will ignore provisions meant to assist libraries in digitizing their collections or helping patrons gain access to orphan and out-of-print works. 

Is there any way to make arguments in support of a robust public domain palatable to Congress?

Iantha Haight

Research Attorney and Lecturer in Law


Friday, March 4, 2011

China Legal Knowledge Database

If you are interested in law from China, you are encouraged to try out China Legal Knowledge Database.   This is the only content officially sanctioned by the People’s Republic of China, and the most extensively used by Chinese attorneys.   CLKD features more than two million records from secondary resources back to 1994—law reviews, journal and newspaper articles, dissertations/theses, and conference proceedings—plus statutes from as early as 1949, and cases from 1979. In addition, laws at both the national and local level are added within days of enactment.

Use it on the web at:

an English interface:

a traditional Chinese interface: 

simplified Chinese interface:

Any of those interfaces lets you easily change over to another.


They planned to give us IP-authenticated access, but I find you need to sign in with:

Username:  cornelllaw

Password:    cornellclkd


Although the journal articles themselves are in Chinese, it has English keywords, abstracts, article titles, journal titles, and authors, which are all searchable and viewable.  The trial runs through April 8, 2011.  Please let me know if you try it out and what you think, to help the library makes its decision to subscribe or not.


Xie xie,


Pat Court

Associate Law Librarian




Tuesday, March 1, 2011

HeinOnline Webinars Rescheduled

The webinars on HeinOnline Searching have been rescheduled for this week on Thursday, March 3, at 10am & 2pm. 

It’s not too late; you can still register for one of these sessions, below. 

Upcoming Webinar:

HeinOnline Searching 101

The Basic Fundamentals



This webinar has been rescheduled for this week:
Thursday, March 3, 2011
10:00am to 10:45am EST
2:00pm to 2:45pm EST

This webinar will focus on basic search techniques and searching options in
HeinOnline. Below is a short snapshot of what we will cover during the session:


• Title Lookup Search 

• Understanding the electronic table of contents and how it can help you
formulate a search 

• Reviewing Field & Advanced Search Forms 

• How to use facets to narrow search results 

• Review of basic Boolean operators (AND, OR) 

• Review of proximity and wildcard searching 


Sign up for 10am at 

Sign up for 2pm at   



Original InfoBrief announcement on February 15, 2011

Pat Court

Associate Law Librarian