Are You a 1L and Anxious About Finals? Check Out the BLS Library Study Aid Collection

Are you feeling nervous about exam preparation?  Come to the library and take a look at our 1L study aid collection.  Along with your own class outlines, these study aids can be very helpful with exam preparation.  Our collection includes Examples & Explanations, Nutshells, Understandings Series, and more.  Most of our study aids are on reserve behind the circulation desk.  See any member of our circulation staff to check out a study aid.

Want more information about the BLS study aid collection?  Visit our 1L Resources, Tips, and Tools legal research guide here:

Also, even though classes are over, keep in mind that reference librarians are still available at the reference desk to answer any of your research questions.

From all of us at the BLS library, best of luck on your exams!


Copyright and “We Shall Overcome”

Earlier this month, a class-action complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in the case of We Shall Overcome Foundation v. The Richmond Organization, Inc. (TRO Inc.) et al. addressing ownership of “We Shall Overcome,” the unofficial anthem to the civil rights movement and a song the Library of Congress called “the most powerful song of the 20th Century”.  According to the late folk singer Pete Seeger, the song became associated with the Civil Rights Movement in 1959, when Guy Carawan sang it  at Highlander, which was then focused on nonviolent civil rights activism. Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies.

The copyright dispute against the two music-publishing companies, Ludlow Music and the Richmond Organization, seeks a judgment from the court declaring that the defendants’ copyright claim is invalid and ordering the defendants to disgorge previously collected licensing fees. According to the complaint, defendant TRO filed copyrights for “We Shall Overcome” in 1960 and 1963 and has collected millions of dollars in fees over the decades. The law firm for the plaintiff is Wolf Haldenstein, which was involved in the recent successful challenge to Warner/Chappell Music’s claims that it owned the copyright to “Happy Birthday to You.”

The filing argues that TRO-Ludlow’s copyright claims were invalid for several reasons: because it had not been renewed (as required by United States copyright law at the time), the copyright of the 1948 People’s Songs publication containing “We Will Overcome” had expired in 1976. Additionally, it was argued that the registered copyrights only covered specific arrangements of the tune and “obscure alternate verses”, that the registered works “did not contain original works of authorship, except to the extent of the arrangements themselves”, and that the registered copyrights stated that the works were derivatives of a work entitled “I’ll Overcome” which did not exist in the database of the United States Copyright Office.

music businessThe Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection several items related to copyright and music. See for example All You Need to Know about the Music Business by Donald S. Passman (Call # ML3790 .P35 2015) which is on Course Reserve at the Circulation Desk. For more than twenty years, this book has been universally regarded as the definitive guide to the music industry. Now in its ninth edition, this latest edition leads novices and experts alike through the crucial, up-to-the-minute information on the industry’s major changes in response to today’s rapid technological advances and uncertain economy.

Prince’s Legacy of Music, Copyright Law and More

The artist Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) leaves behind, not only a legacy of music and pop culture, but also a legal legacy dealing with contract law, copyright litigation, and the law related to name changes. Prince’s famous name change in the 1990s during a contractual fight with Warner Brothers is legendary. He changed his name to a glyph that merged the symbols for man and woman and was also the title of his most recent album. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the fourth-boldest career move in rock history. Frustrated because Warner Bros. refused to accommodate his prolific ways, he took to appearing in public with the word slave written on his face. After the name change, he no longer considered himself a slave, and released the album Emancipation that he said was based on his studies “of the Egyptians, the building of the pyramids and how the pyramids were related to the constellations. They were a message from the Egyptians about how civilization really started.” The name change had Warner Brothers scrambling to send out font software so reporters could incorporate the symbol into stories. Many of those writing about the musician just found it easier to speak about him as “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Years later, Prince reclaimed his name and began a series of dealings with various record labels and in 2014 struck a landmark deal with Warner brothers regaining control over his back catalog. The effort was in large part aided by an aspect of copyright law that allows authors to grab back rights from publishers after 35 years.

Internet searches for classic recordings like Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day and Sign o’ the Times yield few results whether on top streaming venues like Spotify and Rhapsody or other outlets like Tidal that boast an extensive catalog. This scarcity is a testament to the fierce and independent nature of this musician. When Napster appeared on the scene and more recently, Prince was so protective of his music copyrights that he wanted to change the law to stop other artists from covering his songs. When another artist who uploaded to YouTube a 29-second clip of her infant dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” he directed Universal Music, pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to send a takedown notice to YouTube, which led to a lawsuit in 2007. In 2015, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use when sending takedowns. See Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., 801 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2015). In 2014, his efforts to protect his music copyrights led to his suing 22 Facebook users for linking to bootlegs of his recordings. The lawsuit was withdrawn as he later explained to the BBC, “Nobody sues their fans … I have some bootlegs of Lianne [La Havas] but I wouldn’t sell them. But fans sharing music with each other, that’s cool.”

DigitalSee the Brooklyn Law Library item Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet by Jessica Litman (Call # KF3030.1 .L58 2001) which tells how copyright lobbyists succeeded in persuading Congress to enact laws greatly expanding copyright owners’ control over individuals’ private uses of their works. The efforts to enforce these new rights have resulted in highly publicized legal battles between established media and new upstarts. The author, a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School, argues that the 1998 copyright law as an incoherent patchwork and that there is a needfor reforms that reflect common sense and the way people actually behave in their daily digital interactions.

Chief Justice Earl Warren Biography

Today marks 125 years since the birth of Earl Warren, the 14th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, in Los Angeles, California. Warren’s tenure on the Court was from 1953 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated him until his retirement in 1969. Earl Warren had enormous impact on the political and legal landscape of twentieth century America. In his long public service, Warren pursued a Progressive vision of ethical and effective government that brought moral integrity to the nation’s public policies, especially in the fields of racial relations, criminal justice, and freedom of marital association. Warren’s path-breaking approach to legal writing and his management of the responsibilities of the Office of Chief Justice encouraged public understanding of and support for the work of the Supreme Court.

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he was elected district attorney of Alameda County in 1925 and continued to be reelected through 1938, when he was elected Attorney General of California. In 1942, Warren ran successfully for Governor of California as a Republican and was reelected in 1946 and 1950. He ran for Vice President of the United States in 1948 on the Republican ticket with Thomas Dewey, who lost to Harry Truman, the Democratic incumbent.

The Warren Court issued a host of notable decisions including decisions holding segregation policies in public schools (Brown v. Board of Education) and anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional (Loving v. Virginia); ruling that the Constitution protects a general right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut); that states are bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court and cannot ignore them (Cooper v. Aaron); that public schools cannot have official prayer (Engel v. Vitale) or mandatory Bible readings (Abington School District v. Schempp); the scope of the doctrine of incorporation in state criminal matters (Mapp v. Ohio, Miranda v. Arizona) was dramatically increased; reading an equal protection clause into the Fifth Amendment (Bolling v. Sharpe); holding that the states may not apportion a chamber of their legislatures in the manner in which the United States Senate is apportioned (Reynolds v. Sims); and holding that the Constitution requires the states to provide defense attorneys to criminal defendants charged with serious offenses (Gideon v. Wainwright).

Warren wasWarren Chair of the Warren Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. Serious lapses in judgment and uncritical deference to authority regarding national security issues in the report have clouded his legacy. The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection Earl Warren and the Struggle for Justice by Paul Moke (Call # KF8745.W3 M65 2015), a highly readable biography that offers an updated and balanced appraisal of Warren’s leading social justice decisions and a liberal critique of his failings that provides new insights into Warren, the man, the jurist, and the leader.

Library Hours & Study Room Reservations: April 27 – May 15

exam timeLibrary hours for the reading and exam period, April 27th – May 12th, are 8:00am – 2:00am.  The circulation desk will close at 12 Midnight every night during this period.

On Friday, May 13th the Library will be open  8:00am – 10:00pm.

During the reading and exam period study room reservations are mandatory.  All study rooms will be locked beginning at 8:00am on Wednesday, April 27th and students must go to the circulation desk at the time of their reservation to pick up the key to the room.  Please remember the following about the use of the study rooms during the reading/exam period:

  • Study rooms are for the use of groups of two or more students.
  • Study rooms may be reserved for the current day and three days ahead.
  • Study room reservations may be made in time slots of 60 minutes.
  • Students may book up to 4 time slots per day.
  • The link to the study room reservations is on the library homepage under “Related Links.”

Please note that the Library will be open 9:00am – 12Midnight on Saturday & Sunday, May 14th & 15th for the Writing Competition weekend.

Good Luck on Your Exams & Have a Great Summer!


The BLS Library Celebrates National Library Week

National Lib. Wk.National Library Week is a national observance sponsored every April by the American Library Association.  National Library Week was first begun in 1958 and its goal is to promote and support library use throughout the country.  Libraries, whether academic, public, school or special, celebrate this week each year.

Here at the Brooklyn Law School Library we are having a “National Library Week Quiz” from Monday through Thursday, April 11 -14. The quiz contains ten short questions about the library.  You can pick up a copy of the quiz at the first floor reference desk, fill in the answers on the quiz sheet, and then return the quiz to the “answer bowl” at the reference desk.  You have until 12:00 Midnight on Thursday, April 14th to return the answer sheet.  The winner will be drawn from those sheets with the correct answers. The winner will be announced and notified on Friday, April 15th.  The lucky person will receive a $25.00 gift card.

Since everyone can’t be a winner, Monday through Thursday afternoons of this week we’ll put a bowl of chocolates at the circulation desk.  Help yourself to some candy!


Presidential Elections: Resources at the BLS Library

Image result for presidential election

With the New York primary fast approaching on April 12, you might want to learn more about the law and history of presidential elections.  The library has over one hundred resources on the subject.  Highlighted below are a few.  To see the complete list of resources on U.S. presidential elections, search the SARA catalog for the Library of Congress subjects, Presidents—United States—Elections.

Alan D. Hertzke, Echoes of Discontent: Jesse Jackson, Pat Robertson, and the Resurgence of Populism (1993).

Hertzke examines the 1988 presidential campaigns of Jackson and Robertson, showing how the messages of both political-religious figures echo an enduring tension in American life between Christian, communal ideals and a materialistic, fragmented society.

Alexander S. Belenky, Understanding the Fundamentals of the U.S. Presidential Election System (2012).

The book discusses how the use of some election rules embedded in the U.S. Constitution and in the Presidential Succession Act may cause skewed or weird election outcomes and election stalemates. The book argues that the act may not cover some rare though possible situations which the Twentieth Amendment authorizes Congress to address. Also, the book questions the constitutionality of the National Popular Vote Plan to introduce a direct popular presidential election de facto, without amending the Constitution, and addresses the plan’s “Achilles’ Heel.”  In particular, the book shows that the plan may violate the Equal Protection Clause from the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Numerical examples are provided to show that the counterintuitive claims of the NPV originators and proponents that the plan will encourage presidential candidates to “chase” every vote in every state do not have any grounds. Finally, the book proposes a plan for improving the election system by combining at the national level the “one state, one vote” principle – embedded in the Constitution – and the “one person, one vote” principle. Under this plan no state loses its current Electoral College benefits while all the states gain more attention of presidential candidates.

Charles L. Zelden, Bush v. Gore: Exposing the Hidden Crisis in American Democracy (2010).

The book distills the events, issues, and voluminous commentary relating to Bush v. Gore into a sharply insightful and nonpartisan account of a remarkable election, the crisis it produced, and the litigation that followed. Ultimately, it shows that both the election controversy of 2000 and Bush v. Gore signaled major flaws in our electoral system that remain with us today.

Edmund F. Kallina, Kennedy v. Nixon: The Presidential Election of 1960 (2010).

Based upon research conducted at four presidential libraries – those of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon – Kallina is able to make observations and share insights unavailable in the immediate aftermath of one of the closest races in American presidential history.

George C. Edwards, Why the Electoral College is bad for America (2004).

Drawing on systematic data, Edwards finds that the electoral college does not protect the interests of small states or racial minorities, does not provide presidents with effective coalitions for governing, and does little to protect the American polity from the alleged harms of direct election of the president. In fact, the electoral college distorts the presidential campaign so that candidates ignore most small states and some large ones and pay little attention to minorities, and it encourages third parties to run presidential candidates and discourages party competition in many states. Edwards demonstrates effectively that direct election of the president without a runoff maximizes political equality and eliminates the distortions in the political system caused by the electoral college.

New Study Room Reservation System

studyroomBeginning March 30th, 2016, the Library is using a new study room reservation system.  The link to this new system is on the library webpage and in BLS Connect.

  • Study rooms are now grouped by number of seats:  Small (2-4 people), Medium (6-8 people), and Large (10-12 people).
  • You must use a BLS email address to book a room.
  • Student reservations are limited to 4 hours per day.
  • You may remain in your room after the end of your reserved time if no one else has scheduled the room.
  • During the reading and examination period, the study rooms are locked and you must obtain the key to the room at the circulation desk.

We hope you find this new system easy to use and please let us know if you have questions or comments.

50 Years Ago, BLS Alum Helps Overturn Poll Tax

jordanJoseph A. Jordan, was born in Norfolk Virginia and was a Brooklyn Law School graduate.  He was a veteran, paralyzed from the waist down during World War II and confined to a wheelchair.

As an attorney, Jordan and his firm, Jordan, Dawley & Holt, fought civil rights cases across the South during the 1960’s.  One such case made constitutional history,

In November 1963 Jordan filed suit on behalf of Mrs. Evelyn Thomas Butts to have the state’s poll tax declared unconstitutional. The poll tax was a tax levied on individuals as a prerequisite for voting. Although levied on all voters regardless of race, the tax effectively disenfranchised the poor, including many African-Americans. The tax was outlawed nationally in January 1964 by ratification of the 24th amendment, but it only addressed federal elections and remained silent on state and local applicability.

Jordan’s suit was defeated nine times by local and state courts before finally working its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In March 1966 the case became part of the landmark decision, Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections.   Only six years out of law school,  Jordan argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that Virginia’s poll tax should be struck down.  The court agreed and ruled it unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Joseph A. Jordan went on to become the first black elected to the Norfolk City Council since 1889. He served three terms on the council, including two years as vice mayor. In 1977, he was appointed to Norfolk’s General District Court and retired in 1986.

Spring Break Hours: March 19 – 27, 2016

Spring-BreakThe Library hours for the BLS spring recess are:

Saturday, March 19:  9am – 10pm

Sunday, March 20:  10am – 10pm

Monday – Friday, March 21 – 25:  9am – 10pm

Saturday, March 26:  9am – 10pm

Sunday, March 27:  10am – 12am

For future Library hours, be sure to check our daily calendar which can be found on the Library homepage, in the lower right corner.

Enjoy your spring break!