Skip to content

Winter Is Coming…At Least in Westeros

April 28, 2016

This month marks the premier of season six of the wildly popular television series Game of Thrones, based on the fantasy novel series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin.  Our current display, “Game of Thrones and the Law,” highlights some of the legal themes in the series, such as trial by combat, which in the series closely mirrors trial by battle for criminal appeals under English common law.  Another issue analyzed is that of chemical warfare, which was employed during the Battle of the Blackwater and compared to the history of chemical warfare leading up to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Various materials in the library’s collection are also displayed, including The Last DuelLiving Weapons, and our newest addition – Law and Law Breaking in Game of Thrones.

“My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer and I have my mind…and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That’s why I read so much Jon Snow.”

-Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones

World Intellectual Property Day

April 25, 2016
April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day, marking the date when the World Intellectual Property Organization Convention came into force in 1970.  World Intellectual Property Day was established in 2000 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a self-funding agency of the United Nations whose “mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.”  World IP Day offers an opportunity each year to join with others around the globe to celebrate innovation and creativity and how IP fosters and encourages them.

The theme for this year, as announced by WIPO, is “Digital Creativity: Culture Reimagined,” chosen so we may explore the future of culture in the digital age and “how we create it, how we access it, how we finance it.”

Learn more about World IP Day:

WIPO’s World IP Day site includes a global map of World IP Day activities , video interviews with artists and content creators, and articles about IP and digital creativity, such as “The Future of Gaming” and “The Brave New World of Wearable Technology.”

The United States Copyright Office is partnering with the Copyright Alliance to host a program in recognition of World IP Day on Tuesday, April 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (EDT) in the Mumford Room (6th Floor, James Madison Memorial Building, Library of Congress).  “The program will feature remarks from Congressman Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, and Keith Kupferschmid, chief executive officer of the Copyright Alliance,” and “will celebrate creativity as it presents itself in our interconnected digital world.  It also will highlight established creators who have mastered their crafts and who have created innovative revenue streams to pay fellow creators fairly.”

Enjoy World IP Day, and think about our digital future!

Paris Agreement Signing on Earth Day, April 22

April 21, 2016
Paris Agreement

This Friday, April 22, in celebration of Earth Day, leaders from around the world will gather in New York at the United Nations to sign the Paris Agreement.

The signing ceremony takes place on the first day that the Agreement will be open for signatures and marks the first step toward ensuring that the Agreement enters into legal force.  All events will be streamed live on the United Nations Web TV.

The agreement will enter into force 30 days after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by all 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015.

At COP 21 in Paris, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.

The Paris Agreement builds upon the UNFCCC and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake take ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.

The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives.

For additional information about the Agreement, see Paris Agreement FAQs.  For a summary of what happens after the signing, see William Yardley’s article in the Los Angeles Times, “The Paris Climate Agreement Is About to Be Signed:  What Happens Next” (April 22, 2016).  For research assistance in environmental law, see the Law Library’s guide: International Environmental Law Research.

Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week 2016

February 22, 2016



Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, organized by the Association of Research Libraries,  is “an annual celebration of the important doctrines of fair use and fair dealing.”  Events are coordinated around the world.

Participate in a virtual Q&A event this week, hosted by the Organization for Transformative Works.  Ask OTW your question by emailing:

On Tuesday, February 23, noon-1:00pm ET, MIT and Harvard University are hosting a panel discussion, “Fair Use and Scholarly Journal and Book Publishing.”  Join live streaming of this event.


Black History Month & the Voting Rights Act of 1965

February 11, 2016
Voting Rights Act Display
In recognition of Black History month, our new first floor display “Celebrating Black History Month and Protecting Voting Rights” focuses on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A landmark piece of U.S. federal legislation passed during the Civil Rights Era, the Act prohibits racial discrimination in voting by outlawing the voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War. The display features a variety of monographs from our collection about the Act, its jurisprudential evolution and its effect on minorities.
Volumes in our collection in this area include both positive and critical commentaries as well as historical overviews. Free at Last to Vote: The Alabama Origins of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, by Brian K. Landsberg, expands on several key cases in Alabama that paved the way for this landmark legislation. In When the Letter Betrays the Spirit: Voting Rights Enforcement and African American Participation from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama, author Tyson D. King-Meadows criticizes the use of executive and judicial discretion that he believes facilitate violations of the Act. The display highlights the book, Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression, written by GW Law Professor Spencer A. Overton. Professor Overton’s scholarship focuses on voting rights and campaign finance. He teaches Race, Racism and American Law as well as the Public Law Seminar on Elections. The display also includes a copy of the signed Act from the National Archives Center for Legislative Archives and a photo of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Act with Martin Luther Ling Jr. in attendance.
Check out “Celebrating Black History Month and Protecting Voting Rights” to discover the wealth of resources available to the GW Law community about the Voting Rights Act of 1965, past, present and future.

Lawlapalooza 2016 – A Winner!

February 8, 2016

On January 27, despite the inclement weather, the Burns Law Library’s 7th annual legal research fair, Lawlapalooza 2016, took place as scheduled.  GW Law students got to meet with exhibitors from online research services and learn about the many services and resources they offer.  The Library’s reference librarians were there as well, providing demonstrations of the research guides

and services that they provide to the GW Law community.  In addition to learning about the research sources available to them, students who spoke to multiple exhibitors got pizza, and those who spoke with six or more vendors were entered in a prize drawing for a $25, a $50, and a $100 Visa gift card.  The lucky winners are:

  • Candice Bang – $25 Visa Gift Card
  • Wendy Simon-Pearson  – $50 Visa Gift Card
  • Doris Yeun – $100 Visa Gift Card

We’d like to thank all the exhibitors, GW Law staff, and of course the GW Law students who made Lawlapalooza 2016 such a success!


Illustrated Law Books

January 5, 2016

The most recent display mounted by the staff of the Jacob Burns Law Library offers examples of illustrated law books. The display, “Picturing the Law,” features items published as early as 1500 and as recently as 2006. It includes two examples of the very important Arbor Consanguinitatis, which was used for centuries to dictate inheritance rights and familial limitations for marriage—one a manuscript commonplace book written around 1470, and one a book printed in Vienna in 1500. The stories of notorious trials often have included illustrations, and the display offers an artist’s conception of the murder of Phillip Barton Key II, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, by Daniel Sickels, a Congressman from New York, in Lafayette Park.

The Burns Law Library is able to create these displays in its new case made possible by a generous gift from an alumnus, Robert Emery.






Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 548 other followers