February 02, 2018
January 08, 2018
The top 11 "most downloaded" law authors in the last 12 months are eleven tax professors who co-authored two papers on the recent tax overhaul, which garnered a prominent mention in The New York Times, leading to more than 70,000 downloads in the last month. For 10 of these 11 tax professors, these two NYT-plugged papers constitute 95% or more of all their downloads. The traditional #1 in downloads among law professors, Cass Sunstein, is now a mere 12th! This has happened before with SSRN, but usually involving one author (e.g., Christopher Fairman, or Daniel Solove). Farewell to SSRN downloads as a metric of any interest for at least a year!
October 18, 2017
April 03, 2017
Mary Bilder (Boston College) wrote an opinion piece for the Boston Globe about originalism and Judge Gorsuch. This elicited the following astonishing reply from originalist Larry Solum (Georgetown) on his usually benign and informative Legal Theory Blog. Some of the questions might have made sense were Solum the referee for a scholarly article making some of these claims; as a response to an op-ed, they are almost comical overreactions. Take just Solum's first intervention:
Question One: You wrote the following:
Today, most originalists contend that a judge should abide by the text’s “original public meaning” — a term of art that originalist scholars have written thousands of pages trying to explain.
What is the basis for the page count? Which articles by which originalists scholars are you discussing? I am very familiar with the theoretical literature on original public meaning, but if this claim is correct there is a large body of work that I have missed entirely.
The basis for the "page count"? Seriously? One can look just at Solum's own SSRN page to find at least 400 pages of writing on this topic. And that's just one author. Add in Randy Barnett, Keith Whittington, the late Justice Scalia, John McGinnis, Michael Rappaport, Larry Alexander, Will Baude, and Stephen Sachs, and "thousands" seems like a plausible off-the-cuff estimate. But why quibble about nonsense like this?
I would advise Prof. Bilder to let these questions pass in silence.
UPDATE: Prof. Solum replies here; I will give him the final word on this matter!
February 02, 2017
This is classic:
Courts of equity have a tradition of aiding the helpless, such as infants, idiots and drunkards. The average security holder in a corporate reorganization is of like kind.
This comes from "Some Realistic Reflections on Some Aspects of Corporate Reorganization," 19 Virginia Law Review 541, 569 (1933). (I owe the reference to a working paper by my colleagues Douglas Baird, Anthony Casey, and Randy Picker.)
January 03, 2017
December 27, 2016
December 06, 2016
My former Texas colleague Mark Lemley (now at Stanford) kindly gave me permission to share this little story he posted on Facebook:
I have an article with the (admittedly extremely boring) title "Rethinking Assignor Estoppel" coming out in the Houston Law Review. It has been on SSRN for nine months. I have posted about it twice on Facebook and Twitter, and it has shown up in all the SSRN journals. In that nine months it has garnered 982 views and 172 SSRN downloads.
Late Friday afternoon, prompted by some friends teasing me for the boring headline, I posted the exact same article, with the exact same abstract, but with a new, click-baity title: Inventor Sued for Infringing His Own Patent. You Won't Believe What Happened Next. I did this in part as a joke, and in part as an unscientific test to see how susceptible law professors were to clickbait.
The answer is, quite susceptible indeed. In less than two hours on a Friday night the number of views for this "new" article surpassed the old one. In 26 hours, by late Saturday, more people had downloaded the new article than the old one, even though before downloading you are exposed to the same old boring abstract. And by the end of the weekend, the article had been viewed nearly six times as often as the original and downloaded three times as often as the original.
The article will soon appear in the Houston Law Review under its old, boring title. But it sure looks like titles matter.
This will remind long-time readers of the late Christopher Fairman's article "Fuck," an even bigger download sensation (see here, here, and here). Of course, a download surge due to a "clickbait" title doesn't necessarily mean additional actual readers.