Why commenting law?
JUSLINE´s Open Law Commentaries provide the opportunity to make a contribution to the general public ("Open Content") with a minimal investment of time and to call attention of experts and persons seeking legal assistance.
You can actively participate in the legal development!
Many authors analyse certain judgements or laws in order to criticise or to promote the legal development, in any case to influence it. Another ambition is to advance your own career and to call attention of experts or potential clients.
The professional reputation of an author is expressed by the number of readers or how often the contribution is cited in other articles. Empirical studies show that Open Access considerably increases the frequency of the reading and citing of an article (for example "The Open Citation Project", a bibliography of American studies). One reason for this development is the fast linking and distribution via "Blogs" respectively "blawgs".
For this reason Open Law Commentaries are the ideal platform for specialised legal publications, especially for lawyers, jurists and juridical interested people who don't have the chance to contribute to a printed law commentary due to their limited time budget or the "closed-shop-character" of traditional publishing houses.
This project also aims to overcome the frustration of the fast obsolescence of traditional law commentaries caught between two printed editions. New judgements and doctrines can only be incorporated after many years.
Who should contribute?
Usually the collaboration on Legal Commentaries is reserved to a small group of authors. As a result of the small number of specialised publishing houses there exist only few commentaries on laws and consequently only a small number of authors.
This is regrettable because a large part of the available potential of creativity, experience and knowledge gets lost:
Many jurists or judges give innovative judgements which receive no public attention because they are not rendered by court of ultimate resort.
Statements of lawyers questioning accepted theories are not adopted by courts or not taken into account by legal publications.
(Young) lawyers shape up new perspectives for which they can't find an appropriate platform and which are ignored by leading commentators.
Everybody can contribute to the Open Law Commentaries! Judges, lawyers, administrative jurists, inhouse counsels, lecturers, students at Law Schools as well as retired lawyers may join the Net-community to collaborate voluntarily on this joint project.
But you don't have to be legal practitioner to contribute to the Open Law Commentaries. If you receive for example a judgement which throws a new light on a legal provision you can write a contribution as well as a person who browses the Internet for judgements or other legal information with the aim to incorporate them into an Open Law Commentary.
Frequently people external to the subject are those who formulate questions unconventionally and initiate new theoretical developments. Albert Einstein was seeking the contact with young students who confronted him with - at first view - simple questions, whereas the answers opened on occasion unexpected and in this respect even for the celebrated scholar advanced perspectives.
The "social control" by the JUSLINE-community which carefully examines, discusses and if necessary modifies contributions finally provides a favourable result for everybody. Furthermore all former versions of the commentary are saved and made accessible as to enable the users to control each contribution and its modifications.
Open Content are texts, pictures, data bases and other contents for which an author can claim protection of intellectual property (in particular copyright), but which are freely accessible via Internet and may be copied and distributed and partly modified by everybody. The rules of use are summarised in Open Content Licenses which base on licenses originally made for the free circulation of software (Open Source Software). For the simple use of a creation, for example reading a text, there is no license necessary, this authorization results from legal provisions.
The beginning of the Open Content movement was characterised by the altruistic idea that software should circulate freely as expression of opinion. Open Content projects are also characterised by the wish to facilitate the exchange of knowledge. The distribution of information which is important for society but not state-aided should be made available free of charge in the framework of voluntary cooperations. The content of those data-bases is regularly updated through contributions of third persons.
Open Access characterises the aim to make scientific literature and materials free accessible (free of charge and without license restrictions) in the world wide web. Valuable sources are made freely available by their authors on servers of free internet-journals, specialised servers or at their own homepages. Thereby state-aided results of research of universities is made freely accessible instead of being sold costly.
A milestone in the Open Access movement was the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities" from October 2003. Many other international organizations as OSI, SPARC and CERN joined this appeal.
Open Law Commentaries as Open Content
Open Law Commentaries are provided by JUSLINE as Open Content. Open Content is characterized by the granting of comprehensive rights of use but also by assumption of obligations. Who acquires rights by writing or modifying a contribution has to submit these rights under the Free JUSLINE License which means that he has to permit third persons the use of the new version according to the provisions of the JUSLINE License. The Open Content License protects the licensor and the general public against a subsequent restriction of use by third persons. This is provided by the so-called "copyleft-effect" which ensures that a creation (including all modifications) subordinated under an Open Content License may be only used according to the provisions of the license.
Directly linked to the right of modification granted to third persons is the right of authors and holders of the exclusive rights of use on naming. An Open Content License aims generally to protect the interests of authors and holders of rights as far as possible. The naming of authors and holders of exclusive rights is compulsory, partly already in the heading, partly in the chronology.
The Free JUSLINE License
The contents of JUSLINE's Open Law Commentaries are subject to the Free JUSLINE License which follows the provisions of the GNU Free Documentation License which was developed for free software respectively manuals for free software. This means that everybody may freely copy, distribute and modify the content of the Open Law Commentaries stating the origins and the individual authors and administrators. Texts derived from the Open Law Commentaries have to be free in the same manner.
Intention of the Free JUSLINE License is to make the Open Law Commentaries freely accessible i.e. to allow everybody to copy and to distribute them with or without modifications. The license is addressed to people who want to make available their achievements without the requirement of obtaining the permission for use or modifications. Thereby the Free JUSLINE License provides the drafting and distribution of Legal Commentaries by any number of persons who don't have to be connected institutionally.
The interests of authors of contributions to Open Law Commentaries are protected by the Free JUSLINE License and it is intention of this license to properly protect and adequately appreciate the creative work of authors and other ancillary copyright legitimated people. The author should be associated with his contribution by naming him or - in case that his contribution was modified by other persons - adding a notice to him in the chronology. Thereby it is assured that authors and administrators are gaining compliment for their creation without being liable for modifications of others.
Basic Information on Open Content and Open Access Projects
Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities
Björk, Bo-Christer, Open access to scientific publications - an analysis of the barriers to change. Information Research, January 2004
Doherty, Sean: The Law and Open Source Software
Gomulkiewicz, Robert W.: How Copyleft Uses License Rights to Succeed in the Open Source Software Revolution and the Implications of Art. 2 B
Laurent, Andrew M. St.: Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing
McGowan, David: Legal Implications of Open-Source Software
Moglen, Eben: SCO Scuttles Sense, Claiming GPL Invalidity
Sédallian, Valérie: Garanties et responsabilités dans les logiciels libres
Sim, Deborah; Clayton, Monifa; Boyer, Brian: Legal Research on Open Source Software
Other Links to Open Access
Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.
SPARC Open Access Newsletter & Forum
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Open Access News by Peter Suber
Open Content Licenses
Free JUSLINE License
GNU Free Documentation License
Open Publication License
Creative Commons Licenses