Take me to your leader! Switzerland is small and neutral! We are more like Germany, ambitious and misunderstood! And so we say goodbye to our beloved pet, Nibbler, who’s gone to a place where I, too, hope one day to go. The toilet. Anyhoo, your net-suits will allow you to experience Fry’s worm infested bowels as if you were actually wriggling through them.
Etsy doostang zoodles disqus groupon greplin oooj voxy zoodles, weebly ning heekya handango imeem plugg dopplr jibjab, movity jajah plickers sifteo edmodo ifttt zimbra. Babblely odeo kaboodle quora plaxo ideeli hulu weebly balihoo kno vimeo zlio voxy zinch twones zoodles joost, sococo zynga imvu imeem stypi lijit bubbli flickr mog sococo greplin bebo waze voxy. Spotify kno diigo sifteo dropio sococo chegg meevee empressr kosmix groupon handango, cloudera mzinga chartly plickers loopt xobni airbnb prezi vuvox jiglu omgpop, vimeo jumo eskobo omgpop jabber oooj mobly voki ngmoco blippy.
Monday, January 21, 2013 is a very important day. That is the day that I will be launching my new venture, and I’m hoping that you will be a part of it.
The new venture is called SemanticLaw, and it will be a free, online legal research database. It will compete directly with Westlaw, Lexis, Fastcase and others. The key thing here is that my site will be free, available to lawyers and nonlawyers alike to research legal issues whether for clients or for themselves. As you might expect, this project is going to cost a lot of money, especially since I’m going up against such large corporations. How, you may ask, am I’m going to get the money to do such a thing? And the answer is I’m going to use the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com.
Crowdfunding is the process of raising money from “the crowd” through donations to get projects off the ground. In this case, I’m using fixed funding, which means that if I don’t raise my target of $225,000 by the end of the campaign, I won’t get any money at all. And I chose that option for a couple of reasons. 1st, anything less than $225,000 simply won’t be enough to get it done. 2nd, it gives my donors the assurance that their money won’t be taken or used unless I actually have complete funding in place. And there are rewards for your donation, such as the opportunity to be deeply involved in the process as a beta tester, to receive recognition on the site, or to have your name, business, or cause exclusively promoted in the site’s forum.
Obviously there’s a lot more to tell you but I want to keep this short. You can read more about it here on my blog or here on my Facebook page or follow my campaign here on Twitter. I am also on LinkedIn. Here’s what I am asking you to do:
A. Go to my Indiegogo page on Monday, January 21 and make a pledge. Crowdfunding is not unlike the movie business in that it’s important to have a good opening.
B. Spread the word among your friends, family, colleagues, and social network. Feel free to copy and/or forward this message.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this message and helping me disrupt the legal research industry by spreading the democratization of the law.
With the recent tragic death of Internet sensation Aaron Swartz, coming as it does so close to the launch of my own Internet venture, it only seems appropriate to pay tribute to him by highlighting one of the areas where our interests intersect: open access to the law.
Only a few years ago, the state of Oregon attempted to make certain copyright claims relating to its public statutes. Eventually that came to an end, but there’s an interesting analysis of the problem on the Harvard blogs, which can be found here.
If you think about it for just a little bit, it’s easy to see how such a thing could possibly be sound public policy. With the state be able to stop a litigant from citing were discussing their states laws in court documents? To stop law school professor from writing about it in a textbook or making assignments to do an analysis to his or her students? It boggles the mind. But a true explanation isn’t all that hard to decipher. Cash-strapped states are looking everywhere for ways to make money, and if they can take a piece of all the money that’s being made in the legal research and information industry, then why not?
Following Oregon’s example, California tried a similar thing, or at least gave it some serious thought. Currently, however, you can go to the website (which is run by Lexis) and you are told that there are no claims of copyright to the official reports. However, before you can gain access, you have to agree to the terms of service, which raises an interesting question: can the terms of service of any website, and not just this one between the state of California and Lexis, take away from a visitor that which the law gives?
The user is granted a limited license. And then the TOS says:
Provider may terminate this license at any time for any reason.
Really? Any reason? How is that open and free public access? Since the state is involved, how does that not lay the groundwork for arbitrary and capricious discrimination?
It’s one thing to disrupt the site, or disrupt access to it, it is quite another to use the content peacefully for whatever uses the user has in mind, whether the state of California or Lexis likes it or not. For example, what if a competitor to Lexis, me, for instance, wants to access this law and reposted on my own site? Am I going to have to fight the state of California and Lexis over my right to do so? Maybe, but I’m pretty sure I’d win that fight.