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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Begins In July: PACER Training Pilot Project From Admin. of U.S. Courts, GPO, AALL

From an Announcement by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts:

A pilot project aimed at having public libraries enhance the public’s knowledge and use of the federal judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service begins July 1, 2011.

Two libraries – the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia and the Law Library for San Bernadino, California – will kick off the pilot, but up to 50 additional public libraries may join them in future months.

PACER allows users to obtain case information from federal courts without having to visit the courthouse. The service allows an Internet user to request information about a particular case or party, and makes the data immediately available for printing or downloading at a cost of 8 cents per page.

In the pilot project, libraries will conduct at least one training class for the general public every three months, and offer training or refresher opportunities for library staff at least one a year. Those staff members, in turn, may assist library patrons in the use of PACER. For participating libraries, the first $50 of PACER use fees each quarter will be waived.

The pilot is a joint undertaking of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Government Printing Office, and the American Association of Law Libraries.

(via INFOdocket.com)

How a Public Law becomes a U.S. Code

What happens after a bill becomes a law, by Daniel Schuman, Open House Project, May 14th, 2009.

Many people remember from middle school the movie on how a bill becomes a law, but few civics courses teach about what happens afterward. On Monday, John, Josh, and I sat down with members of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel. Their job, in short, is to consolidate and codify laws passed by Congress based upon their subject matter — without making any substantive changes to the law — and to prepare the revised code for enactment into “positive law.”

Race and Law Wiki at Syracuse

The H. Douglas Barclay Law Library at the Syracuse University College of Law has created a Race and Law Research Wiki that it hopes will be a valuable inter-disciplinary resource for researchers.  The topical organization is based on a Race and Law course syllabus and textbook.  For each topic, researchers will currently find bibliographies and research guides; web resources and databases; and legislative and administrative material.  The wiki also includes sections on statistics, how to find books and articles, and suggestions for relevant news sources and blogs.  Emphasis in all categories is on electronic resources; however, some references to print sources have also been included.  Anyone interested in contributing to the wiki can contact the librarian in charge here.

New Law Library Blawg from the AALL

The Washington Affairs Office of the American Association of Law Libraries has just announced the launch of its new blog. The blog, named AALL’s Washington Blawg, will highlight bills that the AALL is tracking in Congress, Action Alerts, news, resources, events and more. The blog will will cover legislative, judicial and regulatory activities on the state, national, and international levels and address important topics such as access to government information, digital authentication, copyright, and open government issues. The WAO is located at the Georgetown University Law Library in Washington, D.C., a location that allows them to work closely with the three branches of government. They are involved in several active coalitions, including the Library Copyright Alliance, OpenTheGovernment.org, and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. You can keep receive regular updates by subscribing to the RSS feed, signing up for email updates, or by visiting the blog for the latest news.

Citizen Media Law Project legal guide

The Citizen Media Law Project states that "knowing your legal rights and responsibilities is important for anyone who publishes online" in the its announcement about its Legal Guide project.  The CMLP’s legal guide addresses the legal issues you may encounter as you gather information and publish your work. The guide is intended for use by citizen media creators with or without formal legal training, as well as others with an interest in these issues.  While a work-in-progress, the Legal Guide already provides useful information in its fairly detailed articles. You can browse the Legal Guide section-by-section or search it.  
The same group has an online Legal Threats Database: which contains lawsuits, cease & desist letters, subpoenas, and other legal threats directed at those who engage in online speech.  You can view, search, create, and comment on entries in the database.