News from the Reference Desk Category: Legal

Copyright Trends: Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Gonzalez

Copyright infringement has been a hot topic since the 18th century for print materials and exceedingly relevant  for digital files since the era of Napster in 1999.  In recent years, entities like copyright trolls and other digital watchdogs are always on the lookout to acquire significant monetary gain through litigious means, even if the accused is not the infringer but unknowingly provides the means to do so.  For example, libraries safeguard against infringement liability by requiring patrons to acquiesce to not partake in ‘Conduct which violates Federal, State, or local law including copyright and licensing infringement. before using our internet services.’  Copyright Trolls frequently win cases against service providers, but a recent ruling is fighting this trend.

On August 27, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) decided that the owner of a senior living home which provides internet service to occupants will not be held responsible for copyright infringement inflicted by an unnamed guest or occupant.  Here is a synopsis by Stanford University Libraries and here is the Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Gonzalez court publication itself. Whether or not the results of this substantial case will make any lasting changes to copyright policy remains to be seen.

Cook County Marriage Applications

Cook County Clerk David Orr recently announced a new online feature allowing soon-to-be newlyweds the opportunity to fill out most of their marriage application license information online.  Illinois law requires that before a couple marries, they must appear before the clerk in the county where they will be married to sign and complete their marriage license application and pay the fee ($60 in Cook County).  In the past the couple had to complete the whole process in the Clerk’s office.  Now they can start the process at home by going to this section of the county clerk’s website.  The process will still need to be completed at the Clerk’s office but with the online application feature the time spent there will be less than 10 minutes.  For more information about marriage application procedures and requirements please go online to the Cook County Clerk’s website.

The Cook County Clerk’s office has also made an index of Cook County marriage records 50 years or older available online at Cook County Genealogy Online.  This is only an index.  You must still pay for a copy of the actual record.  For $16.75 you can purchase a copy of the full record online with a credit card and receive the record immediately as a zip file.  Cook County Genealogy Online also includes indexes of Cook County birth records 75 years or older and Cook County death records of 20 years or older.

Seven Kinds of Easily Accessible Legal Forms

Everyone needs legal assistance at one time or another. Rest assured MPPL has Gale LegalForms resource at the ready.

State-Specific
Gale LegalForms is relevant to Illinois laws. There are categories like divorce, bankruptcy, power of attorney, and incorporation (among others). You simply choose a category and then choose from a list of available forms. Each form gives a full description to help anyone choose what they need. With one click, the form opens with spaces to click and fill in your own information like your name, city, and even case number. Forms are available in a variety of formats, including Microsoft Word, Rich Text, PDF, and sometimes even Word Perfect. The forms included in the database are official forms that law firms use, so you never have to wonder if they will be accepted by the court system.

Highly Searchable
Forms can be keyword searched by category or title too. This makes finding a form by keyword very easy. For example, if you need information about “quit claim deeds” and you didn’t know that was a real estate term, you could just search “quit claim.” The search results include every available form related to those keywords.

Sample Letters
One of the categories provided is “Sample Letters.” There are letters to use for requesting a credit report of a minor, to remove your name from a mail marketing list, employment letters for suspensions, warnings, and disciplinary action, and a sample letter to request an extension on a lease from tenant to landlord. These are just a few of the handy sample letters available.

Tax Forms
There are also links to tax forms available in Gale LegalForms. When you choose a state, the database links you to that state’s treasury department web site. It is a quick, easy way to find the list of available tax forms for your state without having to navigate the whole of the state web site.

Attorney Directory
An Attorney Directory is also built into LegalForms. You can find an attorney practicing in a particular field of law very quickly by browsing the practice area categories. There is a description of the firm under most entries that includes information like when the firm was established, what the firm specializes in, who to ask for, or how many attorneys are practicing there. Once you find a promising entry, you can click on “Start” next to the name and fill out a client intake form that goes directly to the attorney’s office.

Additional Resources
There are external links from LegalForms too.  Here you can find links to places to get vital records, the IRS, or the court system. Again, having these direct links help you find specific agencies of the law quickly and easily. You may not always know what different agencies are called, or what they do, so having direct links brings you  one step closer to the right information.

Easy to Use Interface
The left side menu remains consistent throughout your use of LegalForms. It includes the search box, but also a link to “Definitions.” Within definitions is another search box to search for a specific legal term, or choose from A to Z to browse a list of terms under each letter of the alphabet.

Similar in style to the definitions is a “Law Digest” in that left side menu. This is more of a legal encyclopedia, as it goes into more detail about legal terms than just a definition. For example, the entry on “Environmental Protection Agency” includes articles about the agency’s various activities and even a bibliography with links for further reading.

The third item in the left side menu is a “Legal Q & A” button. Here you can choose a category of the law (like “automobiles – insurance” or “civil actions – liens”) and read questions and answers on that subject.

As you can see, LegalForms contains a wealth of information on virtually any legal topic. You can easily find the right form and open, edit, and save it immediately for personal use. Legal situations can be emotional and overwhelming, so having trustworthy and convenient links to legal information puts everyone at ease. With remote access to LegalForms, you can be assured that your privacy is respected.

LexisNexis Legal Research Training Session May 18

LexisNexis, one of the most popular online resources, is a legal reference powerhouse. A representative from LexisNexis will discuss how to search state and federal cases, statues, codes and regulations, and law reviews and journals. You’ll get a demonstration of the product’s features, discover search strategies, and have a chance to ask questions.

Thursday, May 18, 2017
7:00 p.m. in the Training Room
Please register: Legal Research with LexisNexis

Electronic Legal Resources

The Library has many ways to help you understand and get a grip on your legal needs.

Web Resources: LexisNexis and Westlaw are both similar in that they provide access to U.S. Supreme Court cases, Court of Appeals decisions, Federal and State codes and regulations. Westlaw is useful because it helps you understand what portions of laws are obsolete. LexisNexis lets you email the documents to yourself or others. However, they also both share the stipulation that they can be accessed only through computers within the Library.

Legal Forms: Whether you need Power of Attorney, divorce papers, to write a will, create a lien or a lease, or thousands of other things, we most likely have it in Gale Legal Forms or Westlaw. You can search and download the forms from home from Gale Legal Forms, but for Westlaw you will have to use computers in the Library.

Program: Legal Research with LexisNexis. On Wednesday November 6 from 7 to 8:30p, a representative from LexisNexis will discuss how to search state and federal cases, statutes, codes and regulations, and law reviews and journals. You’ll get a demonstration of the product’s features, discover search strategies, and have a chance to ask questions.

And of course, Library Staff: Our librarians are not lawyers but can offer limited help using the products mentioned above.

Steven Browne, Reference Librarian