Posts Tagged ‘research guide’

Iceberg, right ahead!

The Titanic disaster of 1912 has long fascinated the American public, spawning thousands of historical books and documentaries, and providing the setting for a plethora of fictional stories on page and screen. But have you ever thought about all of the legal ramifications of the disaster? Here’s a look at some of the ways law has played into the Titanic story.

A print of the alleged iceberg in question

The alleged iceberg in question,

The earliest cases to appear in United States courts are admiralty petitions, merely captioned “The Titanic.” One from 1912 was involved with settling the estate of a passenger who went down with the ship (204 F. 295). Two more, from 1913, dealt with technical questions regarding the tonnage of the ship and the possible limitation of liability for the White Star Lines. The question of tonnage was an issue at British law, not United States law, and the judge in that case declined to declare the tonnage (204 F. 298). In the second case, the judge declined to limit White Star’s liability (209 F. 501). Exciting – such is the stuff movies are made of! Hm, or not.

Believe it or not, there is much more recent litigation involving the doomed ship. The more recent cases tend to deal with salvage issues, raised by the “salvor,” R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. Since the ship’s resting site was identified in the 1980s, rights to the property have been at issue. In 1998 R.M.S. Titanic, Inc., tried to prevent anyone else from visiting & photographing the wreckage. While the lower court’s opinion was affirmed in part, and remanded, the Fourth Circuit reversed the District Court “insofar as they purport to prohibit the visiting, viewing, searching, surveying, photographing, and obtaining images of the wreck or the wreck site.” 171 F.3d 943 (4th Cir. 1999). A 2002 case, also in the Fourth Circuit, held that the salvor of the items did not have the right to sell them. (R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. v. The Wrecked and Abandoned Vessel, 286 F. 3d 194 (4th Cir. 2002) (see the gift shop at the R.M.S. Titanic, Inc., web site, featuring “artifact replicas,” “replica china” and “authentic coal”). While probably any authentic artifacts from the Titanic would sell at a huge price, some of what went down was already priceless. For more about the international aspects ownership of art and cultural property and salvage, see the PCL’s Art Law research guide.

Titanic on the Ocean Floor

Titanic on the Ocean Floor, from National Geographic

In addition to the maze of case law surrounding the Titanic, there were of course Congressional publications. Hearings were held in April and May, 1912 – totaling nearly 1200 pages of text, maps and tables. Six weeks after the sinking, a much shorter Senate Report investigating the tragedy was published, and includes lists of the crew and passengers, as well as speeches by two Senators. And on June 4, 1912, the captain and crew of the rescuing vessel Carpathia were officially thanked by Congress (H.rp.830), and given medals of honor (62 H.J.Res.306).

This is only a taste of the many official documents involved with the legal aspects of the Titanic disaster. Because remember – for each action, there is an equal reaction!

Libguides in the Limelight

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

What is a Libguide? LibGuides is the amazingly popular, easy-to-use, web 2.0 library knowledge sharing system. The PCL is beginning to use Libguides as a means to create attractive multimedia content, share knowledge and information, and promote library resources to the Wake Forest community. Specifically, we are taking our static, out-of-date research guides and transforming them into an interactive learning module for a variety of topics. We are hoping to provide Wake Forest School of Law faculty, staff and students an excellent starting point for all of their law school research and library needs at the stroke of a key.

When would you use a Libguide?  You might want to use our Citation 101 Libguide when you’re writing a paper, because this Libguide breaks down the Bluebook rules into a workable, easy-to-understand format.   Or maybe, you are looking for study aids that you can borrow from the library.  The PCL has two Libguides that you can reference – Help for First Year Courses and Law Study Aids.  If you’re writing paper on a North Carolina legal topic, or have to complete a North-Carolina specific assignment for a drafting class (i.e. drafting a pleading or memorandum), look to our Libguide on North Carolina Legal Research.  The North Carolina Legal Research Libguide is designed to provide you the context and foundation necessary to complete your North Carolina specific legal research, whether it be common law, statutory code, administrative regulations, practical forms, secondary sources, journals, or municipal ordinances.

What are some of the best features about Libguides? Libguides allows for student, faculty and public users to interactive with the web interface, meaning the users can actively view multimedia right off of the website.  For example, we have integrated relevant podcasts into subjects so that you can hear experts discuss that topic while you are researching on your own.  Additionally, our Libguides link directly out to the library catalog so you can quickly locate books and other materials within the PCL’s collection.  We also have search boxes that allow you to search GoogleScholar, GoogleBooks, the PCL catalog, and the ZSR journal databases.  All of these features are in the works, so go now and try Libguides out on your own.

Dictionaries – word nerd fun continues: Everybody Researches

September 2, 2011 1 comment

Words, like laws, are not static.  New words are unofficially being added to our vocabulary all the time and are considered “official” when added to an actual, publisher-edited dictionary. Many dictionaries send out annual updates to let the public know what are the newest official additions.  While the massive Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is one of the most, if not the most, highly regarded dictionary, the more concise Oxford American Dictionary (OAD) is also reliable and focuses on U.S. English.  The OAD releases a list of its recent additions in the fall, and the 2010 words have been official for almost a year.  If you enjoy word games, you might like to take a look at the list of words below to see if you know what they mean, and if you can correctly guess which ones have made the cut to becoming “real” words according to the new Oxford American Dictionary before checking your answers in this article from Vanity Fair introducing the OAD changes for 2010. If you are in a hurry,  just click-through to make sure that you are informed about what’s new in the U.S. vocabulary.

Which of these were included in the dictionary*?

  •  bromance,
  •  hater
  • chu doing
  • hockey mom
  • tramp stamp
  • hashtag
  •  truthiness
  • Snooki
  •  Tumblr
  •  the new black
  • green-collar
  •  Trig
  •  what’s not to like?
  •  share a moment
  •  blerg
  •  vuvuzela
  • GTL

Those more “experienced” staff members and professors, and any non-traditional students, should make sure that you know about the Urban Dictionary.  It is a particularly good idea to have it readily available if you have children and you would like to know if they are saying “sure, whatever” in teen-speak or if they are telling you to do something biologically impossible.  Like Wikipedia,  this “ultimate slang dictionary”  is authored by the public so some of the definitions can be coarse and vulgar.  If you are wondering if you really need to subject yourself to some of these words, consider the following: Do you think that PITA is someone with Caps Lock problems writing about  bread or perhaps an animal rights group?  If so, you might want to explore the Urban Dictionary.   While the Urban Dictionary can be very helpful for immediate slang edification, you need to keep in mind that anyone can submit a definition.  Therefore, you might want to read two or three options before using a word.  If you demand more reliability for you slang definition needs, you can consult The Dictionary of American Slang by Robert L. Chapman which is considered to be “the standard printed work for American slang.”

Even two blog posts cannot cover the myriad types of dictionaries available.  In law, there are many topic specific dictionaries for areas such as tax or environmental law.  To see what is available in our library visit Professor Johnson’s research guide  Legal Dictionaries and Thesauri .  There are also picture dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, dictionaries about cats, chocolate, and brain tumors, and even a dictionary of mountain bike slang; all of which are online.  To view these more unusual dictionaries visit the Free Dictionaries Project or browse the “dictionary” search results on OneLook.  With all the options out there, you are bound to find a dictionary that meets your particular needs.

* Two words that were not include in the article, GTL (did not make the cut) and green-collar (now an official word).