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Moritz Law  /  Law Library  /  Opinio Juris  /February 2010

Opinio Juris - February 2010

Scroll down to learn about WestlawNext, FDSys, Archive-It, the Foreign Law Guide, and the Top Ten Worst Proposed Internet Laws.


Thompson Reuters unveiled the highly anticipated WestlawNext system this month. WestlawNext represents a dramatic change from the traditional Westlaw interface. The most significant change involves database selection. Database selection, an integral part of proper Westlaw use, is not required with WestlawNext. Users enter their searches into a Google-like search bar. The search will run through everything in the Westlaw databases and will return results, in order of relevance, from specific group categories (cases, statutes, secondary sources, briefs, etc.) After these initial results appear, users are able to refine their results by choosing to see only certain categories of information (only cases, only statutes, etc.) Users can further filter their results by jurisdiction, court, topic, etc. Reviews of WestlawNext so far have been generally favorable (See Ambrogi, Soloman, Elefant, Bergus). There is an expectation that the product will be particularly well received by law students and newer attorneys who will appreciate the sleek, Google-like search functionality.

WestlawNext will be rolled out on a trial basis at law schools this spring, with a full launch, including law students, possibly as early as the fall. Westlaw is not the only company with a revamped product. Both LexisNexis and Bloomberg will be unveiling new legal research platforms before the end of the year.


FDsys.gov is the U.S. Government Priting Office's new online content management and delivery system. It is replacing the 15-year-old GPO Access website. Migration of content to FDsys.gov is expected to be complete in April, with a full switcher to FDsys expected this summer. The current FDsys inventory of available documents is listed below:

  • Congressional Bills, 103rd Congress (1993-1994) to present;
  • Congressional Calendars, 104th Congress (1995-1996) to present;
  • Congressional Committee Prints, 100th Congress (1987-1988) to present;
  • Congressional Directory, 104th Congress (1995-1996) to present;
  • Congressional Documents, 104th Congress (1993-1994) to present;
  • Congressional Hearings, if available from committee, 105th Congress (1997-1998) to present;
  • Congressional Record (Bound), 1999 to 2001;
  • Congressional Record (Daily), 103rd Congress, 2nd session (1994) to present;
  • Congressional Record Index (Daily), 1983 to present;
  • Congressional Committee Reports, Senate Executive Reports (includes conference committee reports), 104th Congress (1995-1996) to present;
  • History of Bills, 1983 to present;
  • Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives (Hinds, Cannon, Deschler);
  • Public and Private Laws, 104th (1995-1996) to present;
  • Statutes At Large, 2003-2006.


Archive-It is a project of Internet Archive, the non-profit behind the well-known Wayback Machine that allows users to locate older, archived versions of websites. The Internet Archive, while having an extensive collection of web pages, does not have the resources to archive everything that is currently on the Internet. With Archive-It, the Internet Archive is partnering with universities, libraries, governments, and other institutions to archive selected websites. Partner institutions, who pay a susbscription fee to participate, select groups of webpages to preserve, and users are able to search or browse these archives on the the Archive-It website. Examples of collections include 2010 Iranian Blogs (Stanford University), 2008 Elections in North Carolina (University of North Carolina), Flood of 2008 Collection (University of Iowa), and Terrorism in Indonesia (National Library of Australia).

Foreign Law Guide

The Foreign Law Guide provides information on primary and secondary sources of foreign law. While it does not contain the full-text of these sources, it tells users which legal sources exist for a particular jurisdiction and where to find them. It covers nearly 200 jurisdictions from major nations to small semi-independent states. The Guide cites to hundreds of web pages containing reprints or translations of legislation and other legal materials.

The Foreign Law Guide is available from any networked computer in Drinko Hall

Netchoice's Top Ten Worst Proposed Internet Laws

Netchoice has released its updated iAWFUL List of Worst Internet Legislation. The top ten list includes the following:

  1. Expanding Rulemaking Powers of the Federal Trade Commission.
  2. Forcing Advertisers to become Tax Collectors (California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Vermont, and Virginia).
  3. Hotel Taxes on Online Travel Companies.
  4. Expanding Internet Sales taxation, based on inflated expectations and inadequate simplifications.
  5. Restricting Free Trial Offers (Maine and Oregon).
  6. New Taxes on Digital Downloads (Colorado, Indiana, Wyoming, and Vermont).
  7. New Jersey Social Networking Bill.
  8. Security Breach Notice Bills (Illinois and Mississippi).
  9. Maine Predatory Marketing Law.
  10. Right of Publicity Bills (Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts and New York).