French Law 2012-287: Database of Digitized 20th Century Books

Law 2012-287 was published in the Official Journal of France on March 2, 2012. The law, which amended France’s Intellectual Property Code, proposes building a free, public database of digitized books that were published in the 20th Century and are no longer in commercial distribution. The Bibliothèque national de France (BNF) would be in charge of creating and administering the database.

Publishers and rights holders will have 6 months to challenge inclusion of a book in the database. It also appears that after raising a challenge, publishers have three years to demonstrate a market for the book, or that they have created their own digitized version.

I did not see a specific appropriation of funds in the bill, so it is unclear to me how the BNF will finance the project.

Reaction on French law librarian mailing lists and blogs has been positive, but muted. Wait and see seems to be the prevailing sentiment.

Whether this bill leads to a free database or not, let’s hope that it spurs debate in France, Europe, and across the Atlantic, about the role of digitized books in society.

Law 2012-287 relative à l’exploitation numérique des livres indisponibles du XXe siècle.

Full-text of the bill and links to legislative history materials are available at

Some authors’ groups have already criticized the bill for ignoring copyright law. For example, see the petition circulated by writer Yal Ayerdhal:

Additional commentary on the bill from the Rue89 blog

Constitution Explorer Project

Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) and Program on Liberation Technology are creating a database of constitutions searchable by subject. They are working on building a taxonomy and tagging individual articles and sections from foreign constitutions. When the database is finished, it should nicely complement  Hein’s Constitutions of the World Illustrated and Richmond’s Constitution Finder.

If you are in the bay area this weekend and wish to support this project, CDDRL is organizing an International Constitution Day volunteer session on Saturday, November 12th at Stanford.

See the following link for additional information:

Databases and Dynamism

In his article, “Databases and Dynamism,” Michal Shur-Ofry writes: “By highlighting the dynamic dimension of databases, this article calls for a more cautious and conscious approach toward copyright protection of selections and arrangements.  It further hopes to form a starting point for further discussion that will shift at least part of the focus of the copyright-databases debate from access to information to selection and arrangement”

Databases and Dynamism
Author: Michal Shur-Ofry
44 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 315 (2011)


Databases are generally perceived in legal scholarship as static warehouses, storing up valuable facts and information. Accordingly, scholarship on copyright protection of databases typically concentrates on the social need to access their content. This Article seeks to shift the focus of the debate, arguing that the copyright-databases debate is not merely a static “access to information” story. Instead, it is a dynamic story of relations, hierarchies, and interactions between pieces of information, determined by database creators. It is also a story of patterns, categories, selections, and taxonomies that are often invisible to the naked eye, but that influence our perceptions of the world in manners of which we are seldom aware.

Relying on socio-psychological literature and communication theories concerning complexity, categorization, and stereotyping, this Article examines the dynamic dimension of databases. It argues that this narrative should direct legal attention toward the protection afforded by copyright not to contents of databases, but rather to their “selection and arrangement”-an element which has been largely ignored by legal scholarship. While the Article does not advocate a complete expiry of copyright in “selections and arrangements,” it does hope to spark a discussion with respect to their social and economic role, and add a new dimension to the copyright-database debate.

Databases and Dynamism
Author: Michal Shur-Ofry
44 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 315 (2011)



Islamic Law Index Database

The law librarians at the International Islamic University Malaysia have created a nice index of journal articles and book chapters related to Islamic Law. Sadly, no full-text is available. The database includes materials from U.S., European, and Asian publishers. The bibliographic records provide subject headings, and abstracts when available. The majority of records are in Malay or English. Searching is available in English.

Terima kasi temans!

Islamic Law Index Database (select Islamic Law on the right side of the screen)

Normattiva – Database of Italian Legislation

Normattiva Il Portale della Lege Vigente

Normattiva is a database of Italian legislation since 1946 published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale. The databsde provides full-text of legislation and links to subsequent acts that have modified the statute. (click on “aggiornamenti all’atto”). The goal of the database is to provide access to the statute  as originally passed, as it currently stands, and as it read in a specific year.

Con questo termine si intende che le leggi presenti nella banca dati “Normattiva” potranno essere consultate nelle tre seguenti modalità: nel loro testo originario, come pubblicato nella Gazzetta Ufficiale; nel testo vigente, e quindi effettivamente applicabile, alla data di consultazione della banca dati; nel testo vigente a qualunque data pregressa indicata dall’utente.

Please note that these are not official versions:

From the Avviso Legale:

I testi presenti nella banca dati “Normattiva” non hanno carattere di ufficialità.

Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills

From one of the latest issues of the National Diet Library Newsletter (No. 173, June 2010)

In May 2010, the Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills (Japanese only) was renewed.

Along with the Index Database to Laws and Regulations in early Meiji Japan (Japanese only), this database makes searchable information on Japanese laws from the formation of modern nation to the present.

  • Improvements are as follows:
  • ■Texts of the laws and regulations provided by national institutions via the Internet are linked and referable from index information.
  • ■Information on the bills introduced in the Imperial Diet (1890 to 1947) is added.
  • ■Other improvements
  • URL of the index information is fixed, which enables the users to bookmark a specific law or regulation.
  • Link to the Index Database to Laws and Regulations in early Meiji Japan is established.

Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills (Japanese language only)

  • Popular names of laws and regulations and classification of active laws are shown in the search results.
  • FAO Gender and Land Rights Database

    In February the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Gender and Land Rights Database.

    hat tip to Don Ford.

    From the FAO press release:

    The Gender and Land Rights Database produced in consultation with national statistics authorities, universities, civil society organizations and other sources worldwide, offers up-to-date information on how men and women in 78 countries differ in their legal rights and access to land. It can be searched by both country and thematic issues, including national and international legal frameworks, customary law, land tenure institutions, civil society institutions and land-related statistics.

    In most of the world, women lag well behind men in ownership of agricultural land and access to income from land, even though women are major producers of food crops and play crucial roles in providing and caring for their households.

    “Disparity in land access is one of the major causes for social and economic inequalities between males and females in rural areas. It jeopardizes food security at the household and community levels, and has an impact on national food security and development. It is vital information for policy makers. But until now, finding information on this phenomenon in one place has been difficult to come by,” Marcela Villarreal, Director, FAO Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division said as the new database was placed online.

    The new information tool, available to anyone with access to the Internet, provides policymakers and other users with a better picture of the major social, economic, political and cultural factors which affect access to land and enforcement of women’s land rights.

    The database covers both national and customary laws governing land use; property rights and inheritance; international treaties and conventions; land tenure and related institutions; civil society organizations that work on land issues, and other related statistics.

    By searching country profiles, users can find out the answers to specific questions on topics like the total number of land holders, the total number of women land holders and the number of rural households headed by women. They can also call up comparisons on a given topic between two or more countries.

    “Decision-makers at all levels now have, on the one hand, a comprehensive source of information on the more relevant factors affecting the equality of land rights in their countries and, on the other hand, the possibility to make comparisons between trends and situations in their own and other countries,” FAO Gender and Development Research Officer Zoraida Garcia said.

    “They can then use this information to tailor their own decisions and strategies, but also to have a clearer idea of the possible impacts which those strategies might have on the real economic empowerment of women, and on the well-being of rural communities,” she added.

    “FAO had so many requests on a regular basis from member states and others in the international community who wanted to understand how gender disparities affected and were impacted by the land tenure situation. That’s why we developed this tool, to help provide a comprehensive view of the issue,” Garcia explained.

    RUNNERS – TOC service from Ritsumeikan University

    RUNNERS, Ritsumeikan University New Episteme Academic Information Retrieval System, is a free table of contents service for academic journals from around the world. RUNNERS includes journals from many disciplines, so you need to dig to find the legal publications. Author and title searching is also available. Many thanks to the folks at Ritsumeiken Univeristy in Japan for this useful service.


    Sudan Laws Online

    Sudan Laws Online is a database that offers a selection of  full-text Sudenese statutes. All documents and the search interface are in Arabic. The Web site also includes news and some commentary. The database has free materials and also subscription content.

    Sudan Laws Online

    To access the statutes click on

    قوانين السودان.

    Sample Laws available:

    Criminal Code

    Code of Civil Procedure

    Code of Crminal Procedure

    Civil Transactions Law

    Evidence Act

     Labor Relations Act