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Blog Posts by Subject: Government and Law

Beyond 311: How to Direct Complaints to NYC, State or Federal Agencies

Landlord-Tenant Disputes: Heat and Hot Water, Eviction, Foreclosure Complaints with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTA) Consumer Fraud and "Rip Offs" Discrimination based on Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation Landlord-Tenant Disputes: Heat and Hot Water, Eviction, Foreclosure

Landlord-tenant disputes are a fact that a large percentage of New York City residents must confront at one time or another if they live in this 

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A Closer Look at Jefferson's Declaration

The New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division is honored to safeguard a copy of the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson. Because the Declaration was featured in the Library’s 2011 Centennial Exhibition, it will not be on display in July 2012. However, the occasion offers a chance instead for a closer look at the document through the Library’s website. In the days immediately following its 

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Book Review: Unfair to Genius, by Gary A. Rosen

Did Cole Porter steal the music for some of his most popular songs? Ira B. Arnstein thought so. He took Porter, and several other songwriters, to court for copyright infringement during the 1930s and 1940s.

Unfair to Genius: The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein, by Gary A. Rosen

"Tin Pan 

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Government Information: Guides to U.S. Federal Resources - Past and Present

For a while now, it's been a pretty sure thing: U.S. Federal Government Documents are posted online, for anyone with Internet access to find. Or at least to look for - you can give the U.S. Government Printing Office (which we'll be calling the GPO) website a try. But if you might be researching older documents, you still may have to pay a visit to a U.S. Federal Government Depository Library like SIBL. And to help readers prepare for such a visit, this post will offer information about traditional resources 

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Skype with Retired FBI Author Gary Noesner at the Port Richmond Library

May contains National Police Week (this year, May 13-19). This is only appropriate, since America, as evidenced by the literal plethora of fictional as well as real life crime books and shows, has a fascination with the realm of law enforcement that spans decades.

From the love of British fiction detective Bulldog Drummond books in the 1930s to the 1950s television series Dragnet to Michael Connolly’s current mysteries featuring central characters with LAPD affiliations and the modern television 

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Government Information: A Quick Overview of Core Resources at NYPL

Let's face it; many different research tasks cause people to want, and in a lot of cases need, government information. Government information is on the Internet: result - happiness. Government information disappears from the Internet (or becomes nearly impossible to find, which is sort of the same thing): result - unhappiness. And then there are libraries.

Libraries, and in particular the New York Public Library, have traditionally played a major role in providing government documents and other government information to researchers. NYPL has been a

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How to Research and Employ an Attorney

At some time in their life, most New York City residents will need to employ an attorney. This may reflect the need to make a will, a

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Haiti's Patent Law of 1826 - Solution and Wrap-Up

Last June, I made note of one of SIBL's patent pamphlets cataloged long ago as the Haitian Patent Law for 1826. I had my doubts about it, and wondered if anyone could help. Now, to wrap things up I thought I'd share some of what I learned here... and give an answer to the question "what is it?"

The document's title is Loi sur les patentes. Patente is not French for what in everyday speech we call a patent. As I should have known from seeing it elsewhere, 

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How to Find Free or Low Cost Legal Services in New York City

These services are generally available only to those of limited financial means. However, there are also certain legal services that are available for those of moderate means. If you are a person of limited financial means who faces a civil legal issue — one that is not a criminal offense — certainly the most comprehensive source of information about your legal rights is LawHelp.org. Its assistance is also 

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Legal Resources at NYPL and Elsewhere in New York City

Without a doubt, the best location in the New York Public Library to conduct legal research about legal issues that arise in either the state or the city of New York is the Science Industry and Business Library. SIBL has a selective law library that contains such essential New York legal research tools as McKinney’s Consolidated Statutes of New York (annotated with New York and federal cases and state agencies that cite the 

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Freedom of Information Day 2012 at SIBL — Wrap-Up

Thursday, March 15 was Freedom of Information Day here at SIBL. I would like to offer a big round of thanks (I'd add a round of applause, but don't have the audio file) to our speaker this year, Robert Weissman, president of the advocacy organization Public Citizen. His informative and inspiring presentation was very much appreciated!

With Weissman's permission, I have attached a copy of his PowerPoint slides (with some changes made to pages containing 

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Gilbert King's "Devil in the Grove": Thurgood Marshall and A Cry of Rape

Arguably the most important American lawyer of the 20th century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown versus Board of Education when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life. Author Gilbert King's new book Devil in the Grove, published later this month by HarperCollins, is the definitive 

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I've Got a Secret: The Bureaucrat's Delight

I've Got a Secret. From a simpler time, it's a TV show title — one that, along with To Tell the Truth, becomes a whole lot darker in meaning in many a modern context. The simple, innocent deceptions that amused TV audiences in days of yore have given way to glaring problems in the public forum where stealth can disarm legitimate opposition and carry off the prize.

One reason we observe Freedom of Information (FOI) Day (observed at SIBL on March 15, 2012) is to give ourselves a 

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Sunshine Week at NYPL: March 11-17, 2012

As previously posted, on March 15, SIBL will celebrate Freedom of Information Day (FOI Day) with speaker Robert Weissman from the organization Public Citizen. FOI Day has been the main focus of our annual efforts to highlight the public's right to know. But it need not be NYPL's only activity, and so I offer a suggestion: let's use this as an opportunity to move from one day to an entire week — Sunshine Week at NYPL!

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Freedom of Information Day 2012 at SIBL — March 15!

I am pleased to announce our upcoming Freedom of Information Day celebration at the Science, Industry and Business Library. It will be held on Thursday, March 15, 2012 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Healy Hall (on the lower level), and will feature as guest presenter Robert Weissman, president of the public advocacy organization Public Citizen. This event is free and open to the public. No reservations are required.

A regular annual event here at SIBL, Freedom of Information Day was recognized by a

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Intellectual Property Day at SIBL, November 2011 — Wrap-Up

The Hat - Patents and TrademarksThe talent pool in patents and trademarks at SIBL is deep — which means we're almost always ready to answer IP questions on the spot when they come up. But I've been lucky and have had the opportunity to wear the patent and trademark hat — yes, there is one, it won first place in a contest a few years ago! And among the privileges this brings is the opportunity to invite U.S. Patent and Trademark Office representatives to come to SIBL every couple of years for public and staff 

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Hey Dude! Where's My Company? Stocks from Nonexistent Businesses

An ancient stock certificate found in a drawer after someone dies; selling shares that grandma gave us a long time ago; investment paperwork lost in a move. The stories all seem different, but in each case the question is the same — what has happened to a company since these shares of stock were purchased?

Where can we find the sad stories of the death of companies? Perhaps a company has gone into bankruptcy, succumbed to a hostile takeover, been sold to the highest bidder, changed its ticker symbol, its 

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The Trials and Tribulations of Grand Jury Service

I served on the grand jury of the Bronx County Court House from mid-September to mid-October this year. I have always wanted to serve on the jury, so I was thrilled to do so. I was questioned for possible juror services for a trial jury in Albany, NY in 2002, but I was in library school at the time, so I was glad that I was 

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Trademark — Legal Care for Your Business and Product Name

November 8 is fast approaching, and with it the Intellectual Property day at SIBL, featuring representatives from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This seems like a good opportunity to recommend one of the Library's best sources for information about trademarks, Stephen Elias and Richard Stim's Nolo book Trademark — Legal Care for Your Business and Product Name.

Highly 

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Making Research Less Taxing — A New Resource at SIBL

In polite conversation, it is unusual for people to talk about taxes. In other situations, they may be mentioned or discussed. And as we know, they are frequently a topic for political rants and news.

The majority of people only have to deal with taxes about once a year, when the filing and payment (or refund) season for income tax comes around. Folks who choose to do their tax filing themselves may visit the Library to borrow or consult resources like The Ernst & Young Tax Guide or

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