[Ads-l] News: Harvard digitizing its entire collection of U.S. case law

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 2 00:45:14 UTC 2015

Thank you very much for your response, Fred.

In the past there have been important proprietary scanning techniques
known to some organizations and not to others, I think. Perhaps that
is no longer true.

For example, the detailed scanning methods used in the Google Books
project were not divulged initially. NPR has an article from 2009
about a Google patent for a book scanning mechanism that employed an
array of cameras which included an infrared camera.


It was not necessary to physically flatten pages because they could be
flattened via mathematical transformations based on the curvatures
calculated from the camera images and the IR data. I do not know if GB
type scanning machines are available to non-Google projects.

Two weeks ago I was in the genealogy section of the main branch of the
Jacksonville, Florida library and they had a simpler version of this
type of scanner. It seemed to have just one camera or multiple cameras
closely spaced. To scan a book you opened it up and placed it on a
contoured plate beneath the camera head. It was not necessary to
completely flatten the pages.

For the GB project a human flips each page, and human hands are
visible in some GB images. Yet, I have seen videos of machines that
are capable of flipping individual book pages. Perhaps, Google was not
satisfied with that technology in the early days of the GB project. I
do not know if this task has been automated in 2015.

Fred, perhaps you could share the methods used at Yale. Do the Google
patents reduce the efficacy of non-destructive scanners that are not
created by Google? Do humans flip individual pages?


On Sun, Nov 1, 2015 at 2:58 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: News: Harvard digitizing its entire collection of U.S. case
>               law
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I would seem to be the person on this list most likely to "have any sway wi=
> th the Harvard [Law Library] digitizers," and I would have zero sway.  What=
>  should I let them know -- that nondestructive digitizing is superior from =
> some standpoints?  They know that, but presumably have chosen destructive s=
> canning because it saves them, or rather saves their startup-company partne=
> r, millions of dollars.  =0A=
> =0A=
> I do have a lot of sway with the Yale Law Library digitizers, in fact I am =
> the Yale Law Library digitizers.  At Yale we (in partnership with a commerc=
> ial vendor) have digitized tens of thousands of primary U.S. and foreign le=
> gal books non-destructively.=0A=
> =0A=
> Note that, in terms of linguistic-database creation, the "Free the Law" pro=
> ject will add little to the corpus already searchable through Lexis and Wes=
> tlaw, although it may add greatly to the searchable material available to t=
> hose who don't have access to Lexis or Westlaw.  (Google Scholar already ha=
> s free searchable case law, but I don't know much about their coverage or f=
> unctionality.)  =0A=
> =0A=
> Fred Shapiro=0A=
> =0A=
> =0A=
> =0A=
> ________________________________________=0A=
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGar=
> son O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]=0A=
> Sent: Sunday, November 01, 2015 12:00 PM=0A=
> Subject: News: Harvard digitizing its entire collection of U.S. case law=0A=
> =0A=
> Here is news of an important new legal and linguistic database under=0A=
> construction. The accompanying video shows pages being cut from=0A=
> bindings.=0A=
> =0A=
> The non-destructive Google Books approach seems to be superior, in my=0A=
> opinion. If you have any sway with the Harvard digitizers please let=0A=
> them know. (Of course, the video may be inaccurate, and the digitizers=0A=
> may think they have the best approach.)=0A=
> =0A=
> Website: today.law.harvard.edu=0A=
> Article: Harvard Law School Launches =93Free the Law=94 Project with Ravel=
> =0A=
> Law To Digitize US Case Law, Provide Free Access=0A=
> Date: October 29, 2015=0A=
> =0A=
> Short link:   https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__bit.ly_=
> 1XIsP0T&d=3DAwIFaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DsRkhHMQo6W5Ird1lkQFqb23bC=
> fSHAR2XjUSUG53db5M&m=3DG8X-U4p4oZh32WvZ_N-TE3RW4-8dDVHVioXKedK91v0&s=3D4CwT=
> -wExr6gx4JPhutY_p1OexNWrSlMXBlJ-uOcBb2Q&e=3D=0A=
> =0A=
> http://today.law.harvard.edu/harvard-law-school-launches-free-the-law-proje=
> ct-with-ravel-law-to-digitize-us-case-law-provide-free-access/=0A=
> =0A=
> [Begin excerpt]=0A=
> Harvard Law School has announced that, with the support of Ravel Law,=0A=
> a legal research and analytics platform, it is digitizing its entire=0A=
> collection of U.S. case law, one of the largest collections of legal=0A=
> materials in the world, and that it will make the collection available=0A=
> online, for free, to anyone with an Internet connection.=0A=
> =0A=
> The "Free the Law" initiative will provide open, wide-ranging access=0A=
> to American case law for the first time in United States history.=0A=
> "Driving this effort is a shared belief that the law should be free=0A=
> and open to all," said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. "Using=0A=
> technology to create broad access to legal information will help=0A=
> create a more transparent and more just legal system."=0A=
> [End excerpt]=0A=
> =0A=
> Garson=0A=
> =0A=
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