PLOL, or The Slow Death of the Law Review As We Know It:

[I don't think anyone has already posted on this, but apologies if I'm wrong; this seems like the sort of thing VCers would be all over/DavidP]

The directors of many of the leading law libraries (Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Yale, and a number of others) have recently adopted a very important policy statement bearing on the future of law reviews, calling for

". . . all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats."

It's an important development, I believe. It's true, of course, as those of you who have been or are currently in law school know, that law library directors do not have any direct responsibility for law review publication; as a result, the statement is only of significance as an advisory matter, and it can't be implemented without a lot of other things happening and a lot of other people on board. Nonetheless, I think it adds an important voice to the debate about the future of the law review, and another hole in the hull of the law review ship, which has been taking on water for some time now.

The model here is the remarkable (and remarkably successful) Public Library of Science (PLoS), which now publishes 7 different open access journals in biology and medicine. [Full disclosure: I was involved in the formation of PLoS, not through any formal affiliation but because of close ties to one of its founders, my friend and sometime co-author Mike Eisen] Open access in the bio-medical sciences is a big deal, in a way that open access in the legal literature is not; there's a very large amount of money at stake, for one thing, as well as a more direct and obvious link to peoples' health and well-being. Loosening the stranglehold of the print publishers on information in that field is no small thing, and while PLoS hasn't eliminated that stranglehold, it has made serious inroads; it makes me reasonably confident that a true PLoL can't be too far behind. [And no discussion of open access in law should fail to note the many years of hard work by Peter Martin and Tom Bruce, of the Cornell Legal Information Institute, and Mike Carroll of Villanova, in trying to build a true open access platform for law and legal information]

Update: The Open Access Movement is the target of a bill making its way through the House of Representatives; Mike Eisen and Larry Lessig have been leading the charge against it, and I wish them luck - it's nothing short of outrageous that the NIH should be doling out public money for research and NOT making sure that research is available to the public.DavidP