Saturday 30 May 2015

Legal E-Books - go ProView

Proview Library
As a solo practitioner, there is not a lot of space (or indeed funding) for an extensive library of printed works. Therefore I have turned to E-Books. An E-Book has many advantages. It is
  • as light as your iPad, 
  • you can carry several at once without a barrister's clerk and trolley, 
  • you can search it quickly and reliably even if they did not employ the best indexer, 
  • you have an inexhaustible supply of marker pens and sticky notes for marking it up, 
  • you can clean up all the pages after a case or revision session without any tears,
  • there are hyperlinks in the best ones to case reports, 
  • the text size is big enough to read,
  • the paper does not tear or prove to be see-through.and 
  • you can print off relevant bits if need be on your own printer without panicing about copyright as you have a licence.
You cannot stroke the binding. Some E-books such as the EPO book I reviewed recently are just pdfs so your ability to read them depends on your pdf application. As you might expect Sweet and Maxwell who publish much of what is most relevant to the IP practitioner offer something better. Their reader is called ProView. Oddly it does not get much publicity and the UK sales teams don't promote it. I asked about it on the Thomson Reuters stand at #INTA15 and was met with a blank look.

Westlaw UK looks like this for some
The application started life in the USA market and I suspect I am not the only English practitioner still using the Westlaw Classic rather than the new tools that others have. Here is a screenshot of the opening screen for modern Westlaw UK for those who have access to it all.

However reading a book is somewhat different from researching a point of law, which is the main delight of the comprehensive Westlaw, and for that purpose the ProView app which you can use on an iPad or a desktop comes into its own. It must be intuitive as no-one has shown me how to use it and I may have missed some of the best bits, so do comment if I have missed your favourite tool.

You download the books you have bought and you can use them on up to four devices, so you can check a reference even if the WiFi is down. Bookmarks and notes don't synchronize across devices. You have a contents bar that opens down the side and you can shut it away if you want to use your whole screen for reading. There is a bar at the bottom with a slider. You can slide it along and flick through the book. Tool-tips let you know how far you have got so its even better than flicking through a hard copy book. The text includes blue hyper linked text which takes you to source material (assuming your have the subscription and an Internet connection). Highlights and bookmarks are easy to add and you have a range of colours and you can label the colours so you know which point of law in your case they relate to.

Somewhat annoyingly the E-Books seem to cost more than hard copy and then they have VAT on too, which would be a bore if you were not registered for VAT. In the case of our beloved CIPA Guide to the Patents Act aka The Black Book the website only offers it in Hardback
but it does seem to exist as an E-Book on the Westlaw interface and I am hoping that I can get it on ProView soon. All that lovely wisdom on my iPad just has to be a good thing. If I were doing my exams now I would really really want to have this tool available to me.

Nobody gave me any discounts for writing this blog, it comes from the heart. Whoever developed ProView you did a good job. I hope I can increase my library.

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