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Dance of Faith: The Copyright Contest Over Gypsy

February 15, 2018
Gypsy Display

The Law Library’s current display, “Dance of Faith: The Copyright Contest Over Gypsy,” highlights the career of Faith Dane, who first came to widespread fame acting as Mazeppa in the stage and screen versions of the musical Gypsy.  Faith’s Mazeppa had an act that included blowing “Reveille” on a military-style bugle while doing her “bumps and grinds.”  On the Broadway stage, she leaned far forward and blew the horn between her legs.  According to contemporary accounts, the 45 second number was a show stopper.  For the film version, the director feared the signature move was too lurid, so Faith was told to execute a deep backbend instead.

Faith had developed the original routine during her own years on the burlesque stage, so it chafed when the director and choreographer received all the credit and royalties.  Faith sued, but Justice Aurelio of the New York Supreme Court found that the “story” of Mazeppa’s failed to warrant copyright protection because it did not “tend to promote the progress of science or the useful arts,” and that “You Gotta Have a Gimmick!” succeeded “only through talent and ingenuity of the song writer” (Dane v. M & H Co., 136 U.S.P.Q. 426 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1963). In Choreographing Copyright: Race, Gender, and Intellectual Property Rights in American Dance, a book in the Law Library’s collection, author Anthea Kraut finds that this attitude represents the diminishment of the so-called lower arts as well as of women’s contributions to choreography.

The display also mentions two legal news sources to which the Law Library provides access — Law 360, which provides news about more than twenty legal practice areas, and the Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, which includes comprehensive news about important intellectual property cases, statutes, and trends.  Our Copyright Law research guide is part of the Library’s expanding collection of guides to help you research the law.

As a bonus, the display includes a trumpet as a tribute to Faith, who lives in DC, and two LPs: one the Gypsy Broadway cast recording and the other the Gypsy film soundtrack.

Lame Duck Sessions and the Twentieth Amendment

January 22, 2018
20th Amendment

The Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified on January 23, 1933, set the end dates for terms of elected federal officials and the beginning date for each Congressional session.  Terms for President and Vice President end at noon on the 20th day of January and for members of Congress at noon on the third day of January.  Terms for successors begin then.

One purpose of the amendment was to limit lame duck sessions–the period after November elections for out-going office holders to have a say in passing legislation–by changing the starting date of Congressional terms from March to January.

The Amendment also established a succession process if a President elect shall have died prior to taking office.

The Egolf Patent Collection Exhibit

November 22, 2017
Patent Model

Christopher Egolf, Law School class of ’75, passed away in 2016.  Armed with his law degree and a background in chemical engineering (B.S. and M.S. from MIT), he had a very successful career as a patent attorney.  He also was an avid collector of anything dealing with patents.  In 2017, his son generously donated his amazing collection to the Jacob Burns Law Library.  Comprising thousands of items, including American and foreign patents, brochures, correspondence, realia, books, and photographs, the collection is still being processed by the library.  It offers fascinating insights into the development of the American patent system and the practice of patent law in the 19th century.

The exhibit features a few of the fascinating items in the collection.  Stop by the library to view a Presidential Patent, signed by Thomas Jefferson, amongst other interesting selections .

Display Case Ellsworth Patent Attorneys

We’ll Always Have Paris

October 17, 2017

“We’ll always have Paris.”  It is a famous line from the movie Casablanca, the title of a Star Trek Next Generation episode (1998), title of a book by Ray Bradbury (2009), and a song by the Commander Venus band (1997).  Paris, a wonderful place for many things, including a chance for me to further my professional development by presenting a paper at a library conference.

Earlier this month, (October 4-6th), the International Interlending and Document Supply (ILDS) division of the International Federation of Libraries Association (IFLA) held its biannual conference in Paris, France at the Bibliothèque universitaire des langues et civilisations (BULAC).  The theme this year was “No Library Left Behind: Cross-Border Resource Sharing.”  Attendees came from Australia, Canada, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Nepal, Netherland, Norway, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.  We came together to hear about topics ranging from international resource sharing, tools and methods of sharing, open access, staff development, technology and the networked world, special libraries and case studies of in the field implementation.

My presentation and paper, “Open Access and Hidden Factors: interlibrary loan of open access documents may not be as easy as it seems” discussed the use of open access  (OA) in document delivery workflow.  Specifically, I talked about how the factors of copyright, licensing, versions of record and ethics, though known in other aspects of interlibrary loan, are overlooked in the context of open access documents.  Overlooked because too many think that open access is synonymous with “free.”  However, once we look at the publisher’s role in OA, authors having various iterations of the same paper and pirate sites, “free” has definite restrictions.

The paper is forthcoming, to be published by ILDS in the conference proceedings.  I want to give special thanks to the Law Library Society of DC (LLSDC) for a grant which paid for my registration at the conference.  All other expenses were borne by me, as I had no other monetary assistance, so their generous grant helped to defray the cost.

**This post was authored by Lesliediana Jones, Research Librarian and Head of Document Services

Constitution Day, September 17

September 12, 2017
U.S. Constitution

The Constitutional Convention was initially convened by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation.  Under the Articles, the new government had quickly come to somewhat of a stalemate between the northern states and those in the south.  The 55 convention delegates included Benjamin Franklin, Gen. George Washington, James Madison, Gouverneur Morris, James Wilson, Roger Sherman and George Mason.

Rather than revising the Articles, the convention took a turn with the recommendation to draft an entirely new document, based on the Virginia Plan.  The Virginia Plan was developed by Madison, Morris and Wilson and took a more nationalistic view of the new government than that of the Articles of Confederation.  Several compromises were reached by the delegates, including:  the Connecticut Compromise (representation by population in the House of Representatives and representation by state in the Senate); the veto power by the President which could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of Congress; and the Three-Fifths Compromise over slavery.

The new document was endorsed by 39 of the delegates on September 17, 1787 and sent to the Congress of the Confederation, which then submitted it to the states for ratification.  When 11 states had ratified it, the Congress called for the states to hold elections for offices under the new Constitution.  It then dissolved itself on March 4, 1789, the first meeting day of the new Congress.  Following the elections, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President on April 30, 1789.  The first Congress quickly passed legislation to set the new government into operation, including the Judiciary Act of 1789.

A notable objection to the Constitution was that it lacked a bill of rights for citizens.  Madison drafted the first ten Amendments to the Constitution to answer that objection.  The first of these was ratified in 1791.

The Thirteenth Amendment finally abolished slavery in 1865, with the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 granting citizenship to former slaves.  The Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 prohibited the use of race, color or former servitude to determine who could vote.  It wasn’t until 1920, however, that women were given the right to vote under the Constitution with ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.


Caffeine & Study Snacks Fuel Your Brain

August 30, 2017

Did you know caffeine is considered a brain food that can help you focus?

There are plenty of coffee and food spots within walking distance of the Law School.  So grab a cup of joe or other brain food and head on over to the Law Library to get your study on.  Drinks and food are allowed in the library – you just need to Find The Library Zone that suits your study needs:  will it be collaborative, quiet, or social?


Local Food & Drink

Starbucks (next to the Gelman Library)
2130 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

Juan Valdez cafe
1889 F St NW
Washington, DC 20006

Greenberry’s Coffee & Tea
1919 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20006

Uptowner Cafe (located in Lisner Hall at GW Law)
2023 G St. NW
Washington, DC 20052

District House (next to Marvin center)
2121 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
Eateries include:
Chick Fil A
GRK Fresh Greek
Peet’s Coffee
Sol Mexican Grill
Wiseguys Pizza

Shops at 2000 Penn (entrance on H Street, N.W.)
2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C., DC 20006
Eateries include:
Au Bon Pain
Paul Bakery & Café
The Perfect Pita

1928 I Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20006

Penn Grill
825 20th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20006

Roti, Circa Bistro, Whole Foods and Sweet Green
Located on I Street, between 21st St & 23rd St, near Foggy Bottom Metro Station

New research guides available to help you!

August 29, 2017

The Reference Librarians at the Burns Law Library have created research guides for the following required 1L classes: Civil ProcedureConstitutional LawContractsCriminal LawProperty, and Torts. Each guide includes links to helpful study aids, casebooks, hornbooks, and treatises, and where you may find them in the Library or access them online. Other guides recently created by the Reference Librarians include State MaterialsPublic International LawFederal Grant Law Research, and Internet Law. If you have a question about any of the guides or a source listed in one of them, please contact the Reference Desk.

These research guides are part of the Library’s expanding collection of guides created to help you succeed. The collection covers a wide range of topics; in addition to guides on selected legal topics, the Library maintains guides concerning library information and services and instructional technology. Be sure to visit our Research Portal and let us know how we can help you!