beSpacific - Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Subscribe to beSpacific - Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002 feed
Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 2 hours 21 min ago

How Patent Abuse Could Hurt the Fight Against the Pandemic

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 22:31

Slate – Scientific research that is funded by the public should be available to the public. “Scientific research that is funded by the public should be available to the public. That commonsense principle is no more apparent than in the middle of a public health crisis. And for the most part, researchers and journal publishers are doing what they can to make papers related to COVID-19 available to the public. Several countries have committed to making the coronavirus-related research they fund available to the public. Even the big academic publishers—notoriously reluctant to adopt open access policies—are making COVID-19-related research available to the public without the embargo period allowed under current law…Over the past decade, new rules at the federal and state level have guaranteed that the bulk of government-funded scientific research is available to the public that paid for it (albeit with that pesky one-year embargo period). But over that time period, universities and other government grantees have ever more aggressively filed patents on that same body of research. And unfortunately, some of those patents have fallen into the hands of bad actors. Even as open access has made strides toward becoming the default for government-funded research, patent trolls have made it more difficult for practicing companies to use that knowledge…”

Categories: Law and Legal

FHFA Announces Tools to Help Renters Find Out if They are Protected from Eviction

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 22:20

“To help renters find out if they are protected from evictions during the COVID-19 national health emergency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) have created online multifamily property lookup tools.  The property lookup tools allow renters to find out if the multifamily property where they reside has an Enterprise-backed mortgage. Under the CARES Act, renters living in a property with an Enterprise-backed mortgage are covered by a temporary eviction moratorium. Landlords with Enterprise-backed mortgages can enter forbearance if their tenants cannot pay rent due to COVID-19 loss of income…”

  • See Fannie Mae’s Multifamily Loan Lookup Tool here.
  • See Freddie Mac’s Multifamily Loan Lookup Tool here​.
Categories: Law and Legal

Here’s how lockdowns have improved air quality around the world

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 21:54

World Economic Forum: “…Two weeks after the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 23 in the UK, NO₂ pollution in some cities fell by as much as 60% compared to the same period in 2019. NASA revealed that NO₂ pollution over New York and other major metropolitan areas in north-eastern USA was 30% lower in March 2020, compared to the monthly average from 2015 to 2019. Most NO₂ comes from road transport and power plants, and it can exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma. It also makes symptoms worse for those suffering from lung or heart conditions. NO₂ emissions have been a particularly thorny problem for Europe, with many countries in breach of EU limits…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google Lens can now copy and paste handwritten notes to your computer

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 21:28

The Verge: “Google has added a very useful feature to Google Lens, its multipurpose object recognition tool. You can now copy and paste handwritten notes from your phone to your computer with Lens, though it only works if your handwriting is neat enough. In order to use the new feature, you need to have the latest version of Google Chrome as well as the standalone Google Lens app on Android or the Google app on iOS (where Lens can be accessed through a button next to the search bar). You’ll also need to be logged in to the same Google account on both devices…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The First 100 Days of the U.S. Government’s COVID-19 Response

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 21:00

“The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has compiled a day-by-day timeline of the first 100 days of the U.S. federal government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in late 2019 and became a global pandemic. The timeline begins with the glimmers of initial international awareness of this virus that causes COVID-19. But, for the purpose of assessing the U.S. federal government’s response to COVID-19, Day 1 is the first day in which there is public information that a cabinet official was made aware of the outbreak: January 3, 2020…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How quarantine makes the case for house arrest as an alternative to prison

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 20:47

ABA For Law Students: “…I hope in light of this quarantine—and everyone experiencing a mild form of house arrest—more people will see the validity of house arrest as a real alternative to incarceration. As in my case, this solution can alleviate not just the financial burden of mass incarceration, it can also benefit the inmate, the inmate’s family, and society as a whole.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New website to report COVID-19 treatment adverse events

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 23:07

PHARMAField: “A new online reporting site, dedicated to reporting any COVID-19 treatment adverse events, including suspected side effects from medicines, future vaccines and incidents involving medical equipment relating to COVID-19 treatment, has been launched. The new and tailored Yellow Card COVID-19 reporting site makes it quicker and simpler for healthcare professionals, patients and carers to report side-effects or incidents. The site has been developed as part of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) work to protect the public through enhanced COVID-19 vigilance and in preparation for large-scale use of potential new or repurposed medicines, medical devices, diagnostic tests and  future vaccines…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Facebook uses 1.5bn Reddit posts to create chatbot

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 22:59

BBC News: “Facebook has launched a new chatbot that it claims is able to demonstrate empathy, knowledge and personality. “Blender” was trained using available public domain conversations which included 1.5 billion examples of human exchanges. The social media giant said 49% of people preferred interactions with the chatbot, compared with another human. But experts say training the artificial intelligence (AI) using a platform such as Reddit has its drawbacks. Numerous issues arose during longer conversations. Blender would sometimes respond with offensive language, and at other times it would make up facts altogether. Researchers said they hoped further models would address some of these issues…”

Categories: Law and Legal

NOAA exploring impact of COVID-19 response on the environment

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 22:43

NOAA: “The coronavirus pandemic response has reduced pollution from a large number of sources across many geographic regions. NOAA has launched a wide-ranging research effort to investigate the impact of reduced vehicle traffic, air travel, shipping, manufacturing and other activities on Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. NOAA scientists are using the most advanced atmosphere-ocean models to look for changes in atmospheric composition, weather, climate, and precipitation over weeks to months. This research will provide important evaluations to improve weather forecasting and climate projections going forward…”

Categories: Law and Legal

What U.S. States Are Ready To Test & Trace Today?

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 22:28

#TestandTrace: “Test and Trace is a classic public health approach for containing diseases. It means identifying people who have come into contact with an infected person (contact tracing) , testing them, and then isolating them if they’re sick. This is proven to quickly limit the spread of a deadly disease like COVID-19. Here’s a basic outline of how Test and Trace works:

  1. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, you must find out who they’ve had recent close contact with. This can be done by interviewing them, automatic digital tracing (a recent, modern development), or with public service announcements.
  2. Next, notify all of these people (by phone call or text) and have them get tested immediately, even if they don’t have symptoms. They should stay at home until they can get tested.
  3. If any of these exposed people test positive, they have to either completely isolate themselves or be isolated at a government facility. This dramatically limits the spread of the virus and asymptomatic transmission…”
Categories: Law and Legal

How My Boss Monitors Me While I Work From Home

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 22:20

The New York Times – As we shelter in place in the pandemic, more employers are using software to track our work — and us: “…With millions of us working from home in the coronavirus pandemic, companies are hunting for ways to ensure that we are doing what we are supposed to. Demand has surged for software that can monitor employees, with programs tracking the words we type, snapping pictures with our computer cameras and giving our managers rankings of who is spending too much time on Facebook and not enough on Excel. The technology raises thorny privacy questions about where employers draw the line between maintaining productivity from a homebound work force and creepy surveillance…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Work From Home Is Here to Stay

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 21:58

Vanity Fair – The future of jobs after the pandemic is a blurry mix of work, life, pajamas, and Zoom. “…. While working remotely confers some mental-health and other benefits, the “job” as we know it might never be the same. Conferences, in-person meetings, and even handshakes might be deemed not worth the risk of infection. What might emerge is a future in which results-oriented introverts prevail while those who thrive on face-to-face interactions and office politics fumble. In the post-pandemic workplace, nerds may get their revenge…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Finding Solace, and Connection, in Classic Books

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 21:52

The New York Times Coronavirus Notebook: “…In this time of crisis, we are reminded that literature provides historical empathy and perspective, breaking through the isolation we feel hunkered down in our homes to connect us, across time zones and centuries, with others who once lived through not dissimilar events. It conjures our worst nightmares (Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” Katherine Anne Porter’s “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”). And it highlights what we have in common with people in distant cultures and eras, prompting us to remember that others have not only grappled with traumatic events that slammed home the precariousness of life, but have also experienced some of the same things we are dealing with today. Writers, chronicling the plagues that repeatedly afflicted London in the 17th century, remarked on the silence that descended upon the city (Pepys noted in a letter that “little noise” was to be heard “day or night but tolling of bells” for burials); the shuttering of businesses, theater and sport events; and nervous efforts to use weekly death counts to try to ascertain whether the disease curve was flattening or ascending…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Global health crises are also information crises: A call to action

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 21:43

Xie B, He D, Mercer T,et al. Global health crises are also information crises: A call to action. J Assoc Inf Sci Technol.2020;1–5.  “In this opinion paper, we argue that global health crises are also information crises. Using as an example the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) epidemic, we (a) examine challenges associated with what we term “global information crises”; (b) recommend changes needed for the field of information science to play a leading role in such crises; and (c) propose actionable items for short‐ and long‐term research, education, and practice in information science.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New Search Engine for State Legislation

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 21:13

BillTrack50 offers both a free and a paid service. Our genuinely free service allows citizens to search by keyword or bill number to discover and review an unlimited number of state and federal bills. Unlimited free access to bill data is fundamental to the working of our sharing tools and is fundamental to our mission. It won’t be going away. BillTrack50 does not sell your data to third parties or accept paid advertising. We make our money from our subscription services…”

Categories: Law and Legal

ABA Legal Fact Check explores legal workplace issues arising from COVID-19

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 21:07

“A new ABA Legal Fact Check posted today examines how COVID-19 is raising questions — and legal challenges — to employers’ actions related to keeping their workplace safe and to workers’ rights to seek reasonable accommodation under federal and state law. Employers, for example, can now require workers to have their body temperatures taken before punching the time clock every day; previously only physicals could generally be required as a condition of work. While employees have some rights under federal law dealing with a safe workplace, disabilities and age discrimination, the common law doctrine of employment-at-will, which allows an employer to terminate an employee for any reason other than those prohibited by statute, remains in effect during a pandemic. Also, U.S. Supreme Court and other decisions provide limited guidance during this unprecedented pandemic crisis….”

Categories: Law and Legal

2020 Library Systems Report

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 21:04

American Libraries – 2020 Library Systems Report: “The library technology industry took some significant turns in 2019. Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, acquired Innovative Interfaces and shifted the balance of power, strengthening Ex Libris’s position in technology for academic libraries and propelling it as a major player in public libraries. This move narrows the slate of competitors in an industry already offering few viable options for many libraries…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Adapting to Remote Law Practice through the Pandemic

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 23:05

Cunningham, Lawrence A., Adapting to Remote Law Practice through the Pandemic: Essays from the GWNY 2020 Business Lawyering Class (April 20, 2020). GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-22; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2020-22. Available at SSRN: or

“The coronavirus pandemic requires law schools to train students in the new art of remote legal services, to anticipate how this will change the practice of law and what it means to be “practice ready.” The accompanying essays, by students caught in the middle of the epidemic during an immersive training program, offer reflections and visions. Written by students at the end of their spring 2020 semester in George Washington University’s New York City (GWNY) business law program, the students explore how they must adapt their competencies accordingly.”
Categories: Law and Legal

EU – States of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 23:02

European Parliamentary Think Tank – “With the first case of unknown pneumonia reported in the province of Wuhan (People’s Republic of China) on 31 December 2019, within few weeks the coronavirus (Covid-19) was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 30 January 2020. Since then it has spread to most corners of the globe. While the health threat it poses and the challenge it represents for human health is paramount, no less important is the strain it puts on the legal order. For most of the affected countries, in particular in the EU, this outbreak is posing unprecedented institutional challenges and has obliged institutions and governments to adopt strict measures affecting citizens’ rights in a way unparalleled since the Second World War. While some Member States’ constitutions include mechanisms allowing for recourse to a ‘state of emergency’ or the entrustment of special powers to specific institutions, other Member States’ legal orders do not, either for historic reasons or owing to institutional tradition. Crucial aspects of the exercise of public powers under a pandemic threat include not only the extent of the measures adopted, but also their legitimacy, raising the question of their duration and of the degree of parliamentary oversight…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google and the Cost of ‘Data Voids’ During a Pandemic

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 22:50

Wired – “Was a Nazi slogan brandished at a Reopen Illinois rally? The answer depends on what you search, and when you search for it….”

Categories: Law and Legal