The limited digital materials produced so far by the commercial casebook
publishers have incorporated DRM—usually by forcing students to go to a
dedicated web site or to use proprietary software to use the materials.
commercial publishers, the desire for such restrictions is understandable. In
the absence of DRM, a single student could purchase one copy of a statute
book and freely distribute it to everyone else.
DRM appears to be disappearing
in the music world. Most commercial music originally was sold online with
signiﬁcant DRM restrictions, but, in the face of pressure from sellers like
iTunes and Amazon, most digital music is now available in a DRM-free
Similarly, some books are oﬀered free in unrestricted digital form in
We are philosophically opposed to digital rights management but
also rejected it for other reasons. We wanted to let students use the digital
statute book in any way they found helpful—cutting and pasting it into their
notes; printing all or part of it; and sharing their annotations. We didn’t
want to force students to go to a protected web site to view materials, to use
proprietary software, or to download plug-ins that disable functions of their
existing software. We also wanted materials to be as portable as possible
(which eliminates the possibility of DRM control that forces students to use
the materials on a protected web site). Finally, since we decided to oﬀer the
materials for frook.
A key goal was to save students money, so cost was an important issue.
We wanted to provide the statutory materials to students for free or, at worst,
for nominal charge. Pricing might have become an issue if we had to license
copyrighted material, but we included no copyrighted material in this digital
statute book. The only cost was our time and eﬀort involved, which was
51. For example, the Thomson West Interactive Casebook series is accessed via a password-
protected web site. See Interactive Casebook Series, http://www.interactivecasebook.com
(last visited June 9, 2009). StatutesOnDemand, Thomson West’s limited experiment with
digital statutes, oﬀers downloadable documents in .pdf format, but those ﬁles are protected
by digital rights management. See StatutesOnDemand,
Default.aspx (last visited June 9, 2009). StatutesOnDemand uses a plug-in for Adobe
Reader; the ﬁles cannot be accessed without that plug-in, which limits transferability. See id.
52. See Kim, supra
53. See, e.g., Cory Doctorow, Giving It Away, Forbes, Dec. 1, 2006, available at http://www.forbes.
html (last visited Feb. 11, 2010).
54. Most of our time and eﬀort was spent ﬁguring out what we wanted to do and how to do it.
That is a nonrecurring cost.
Any formats we considered, .pdf, .doc, or .html, probably would have been
satisfactory, but we ultimately decided to format the digital statute book as a
.pdf document. We chose this format instead of Word for two reasons: We
found it easier to create a hyperlinked index using the Adobe software and
unlike Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word is not free and some students do not
use it. We chose .pdf over .html primarily because we thought it would be
IV. The Experiment: A Digital Securities
We tested the practicality of digital statute books by preparing one for
Professor Bradford’s two securities law classes in Spring 2009—Securities
okers, Mutual F
A. The Two Classes
The Securities Regulation class is a typical introduction to federal securities
law. It covers the regulation of the distribution and trading of securities,
focusing on the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, with minor attention to state “blue sky” laws. Students use a traditional,
problem-oriented casebook—Securities Regulation: Cases and Materials, by James D.
Cox, Robert W. Hillman, and Donald C. Langevoort.
This book, by Aspen
Publishers, includes cases, problems, regulatory releases, textual notes, and
The statutory and regulatory materials needed include the Securities Act,
the Securities Exchange Act, the regulations adopted by the Securities and
Exchange Commission under both statutes, and certain Securities Act and
Exchange Act forms. The class also deals brieﬂy with the Uniform Securities
Act, which is copyrighted. But Professor Bradford’s discussion of the Uniform
Act is minimal and the relevant provisions of the Uniform Act are fully
described or quoted in the casebook. Therefore, Professor Bradford decided
The Securities Brokers, Mutual Funds, and Investment Advisers class
covers three related topics: the regulation of brokers under the Securities
Exchange Act; the regulation of investment companies under the Investment
Company Act; and the regulation of investment advisers under the Investment
Advisers Act. For this class, students needed all statutes and regulations used
55. James D. Cox, Robert W. Hillman, and Donald C. Langevoort, Securities Regulation:
th ed., Aspen 2006).
56. The Uniform Securities Act is available online. See Uniform Securities Act, http://www.
law.upenn.edu/bll/ar(last visited June 9, 2009). In
the future, to facilitate further student exploration of the Uniform Act, we may include a
in the Securities Regulation class, plus the Investment Company Act, the
Investment Advisers Act, and the SEC regulations and forms associated with
those two statutes.
Students in the Securities Brokers class do not use a traditional casebook.
Instead, they use a combination of materials prepared by Professor Bradford
and materials prepared by Professor Larry Barnett at Widener University
entitled “Readings on the Investment Company Act and the Investment
Advisers Act.” These materials are distributed to students in digital (.doc)
format and some students do not print them. This provided a good opportunity
to see how digital statute books interact with digital casebooks, something
that is more likely to occur in the future.
We originally planned to create two separate statutory supplements, one
for each course. However, because the materials needed for the two courses
overlapped, we ultimately decided to prepare only a single supplement for
B. Preparing the Materials
We downloaded .txt ﬁle versions of the federal securities statutes and
regulations from the online U.S. Code
and e-CFR web sites.
Most of the SEC forms were already in .pdf format and needed no further
We edited the rest of the materials in Microsoft Word.
we pasted the source material into Word documents, some of the original
formatting, particularly the indentation of paragraphs and subparagraphs was
lost. Fortunately, we could restore the outline alignment without line-by-line
57. In class, Professor Bradford used the statute book in digital form, but used printed copies of
the course materials. He decided that it would be too hectic to keep track of both the digital
statutes and the digital course materials on his relatively small laptop while simultaneously
running PowerPoint slides oﬀ the classroom computer. Younger faculty members who grew
58. As discussed in section V.C.3 infra, a couple of students complained that the digital statute
book slowed their computers signiﬁcantly. In the future, we might create a separate statute
book for the Securities Regulation course to reduce the ﬁle size of the digital book used in
59. See U.S. House of Representatives, Oﬃce of the Law Revision Counsel, http://uscode.
60. See GPO Access, Electronic Code of F
supra note 28.
62. See Securities and Exchange Commission, Forms List, http://www.sec.gov/about/forms/
63. We decided to make the materials available in .pdf format, but even Adobe recommends
editing pdf documents outside of Adobe Acrobat using word processing software.
See Editing PDFs in the Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro help ﬁles, which suggest users “reserve…
substantial rce application.”
Formatting took two hours or so for each set of regulations and
two to three hours for each statute. Detailed instructions on how to do this
using Microsoft Word are available on Professor Bradford’s web site.
We separately formatted each statute or set of regulations, as well as a title
page. When each Word ﬁle was complete, we converted it into a .pdf ﬁle using
the Adobe Acrobat plug-in in Word 2007. We then merged these individual
.pdf ﬁles into the digital statute book using the “Combine” function in Adobe
The digital statute book includes a hyperlinked table of contents. We used
the Acrobat plug-in for Word to automatically tag section headings. Then,
in Adobe Acrobat, we used those tags to automatically generate bookmarks.
Hereen shot is of the
64. The “we” in this sentence and the next was Mr. Hautzinger. Professor Bradford initially did
reformat the Securities Act of 1933 line by line but that took too much time and eﬀort. Mr.
Hautzinger developed a mord.
65. See http://www.unl.edu/bradford/Dok.html (last visited July 16,
2009). This reformatting may seem to take a lot of time and eﬀort but it is a one-time eﬀort
for the statutes. Once the statutes are properly formatted, the only additional eﬀort required
from year to year is to track and incorporate amendments into the existing materials.
Originally, the plan was to update all the materials, statutes and regulations in this manner,
but we decided this would be ineﬃcient for the regulations, which are amended regularly.
For example, we found 33 ﬁnal rules releases from the SEC in the period May 1, 2008-April
30, 2009. We decided it would be easier to recreate the regulations each year from scratch
than to cut and paste all the changes. The statutes change less often, so we plan to cut and
66. In the Adobe Acr.
The second scr
We cannot fully describe the digital statute book in this article; we invite
readers to review it directly. It is available on Professor Bradford’s web
Anyone may download and copy it, subject to a Creative Commons
cial-Share Alike license.
The digital statute book was posted on Professor Bradford’s web site two
weeks before classes began and students were given the URL. Professor
Bradford also oﬀered to put the statutes on a CD or USB drive, but no
students asked for this. To accommodate students who might not want to use
the digital materials, Professor Bradford suggested a print alternative; this
67. C. Steven Bradford, Digital Securities Law: Statutes and Regulations, available at http://
www.unl.edu/bradford/Dok.html. For a description of Creative
Commons cial-Share Alike license, see http://creativecommons.
oreb. 11, 2010).
book was available in the university bookstore.
Only four students chose the
Some readers might object that the choice between free digital materials
and costly printed materials was unfair. Some students might have chosen
the digital materials because they were cheaper, though they would have
preferred the printed materials.
That objection misses the point; cost aﬀects
people’s choices and to talk about preferences independent of cost is silly. The
important question is whether the less costly alternative performs adequately.
D. Use of the M
We did not publicize the materials to students or faculty outside the
University of Nebraska College of Law. The materials were posted on a public
web site, so anyone who stumbled across them could download and use them.
But we wanted to test them with a small number of students before making
them available nationally. As far as we know, no students or faculty at other
V. Oeriment and
Possible Future Changes
Near the end of the semester, we surveyed the students in both classes to see
if they used the digital statute book, and, if they did, what they thought of the
experience. Twenty-four of the twenty-ﬁve students enrolled in the two classes
The survey form, with a full compilation of all student answers,
is available on Professor Bradford’s web site.
68. The alternative was the 2009 edition of Securities Regulation: Selected Statutes, Rules and
Forms. See supra
69. See Student Survey, infra note 73, Questions 1, 3. As far as we know, none of the students who
used the digital statute book printed it in its entirety. It is does appear, however, that some
70. Not surprisingly, several students indicated that cost was an important advantage of the
digital statute book. See section V.A, infra.
71. Professor Bradford chose his current car rather than a Porsche 911 GT2 primarily because
of the cost of the Porsche. He is reasonably sure the Porsche would be better, but his less
expensive car performs adequately.
72. Eighteen students were enrolled in Securities Regulation and eleven students were enrolled
in Securities Brokers, but a few students were enrolled in both classes, so the total number
available at http://www.unl.edu/bradford/Digital%2
After the exam in each course, we sent a follow-up e-mail asking students
about their experiences using the digital statutes on the exams.
and a compilation of the student responses also are available on Professor
Bradford’s web site.
Twenty of the twenty-four students who responded to the survey used
the digital statute book exclusively. The other four students used both the
digital statute book and the print statute book. Two of those four estimated
they used the digital statute book 50 percent of the time and the other two
used the digital statute book 20 percent of the time.
Of those four students,
three indicated they preferred to use a print book when they were working
on another document on their computers, rather than using split screens or
navigating back and forth. Two of the four indicated that they simply preferred
The students’ overall response was positive. Seventeen students indicated
they preferred the digital statute book to print books they had used in other
classes and only three indicated they preferred print.
Almost all of the students
who used the digital version indicated that they would choose it again if they
had a choice.
One of the survey questions asked students what aspects of the digital
statute book they found most appealing. The leading responses fell into
these categories: the ability to navigate within the materials (11); the ability to
highlight and annotate (9); price (7); portability (7); the ability to copy, cut,
Another survey question asked students what they found least appealing
about the digital statute book. The negative responses were more diverse but
the leading issue was navigation, particularly within subsections of a statute.
Four students complained about some issue with navigation; three of them
noted problems navigating within a section of the statute.
The only other
74. A few of the full surveys were returned after the exams; that is why the full survey includes
comments abook on the exam.
75. See Spring 2009 Post-Exam Student Survey, http://www.unl.edu/bradford/Digital%20
76. See Student Survey, supra note 73, Question 1.
77. See id., Question 9. The four remaining students either expressed no clear preference or
78. See id., Question 11.
79. See id., Question 9.
80. See id., Question 10.
multiple responses were: problems with the computer running slow or freezing
(2); the inability to search (2); and the inability to create more bookmarks
e discussed more below.
B. Professor Bradford’s Experience
Professor Bradford used the digital statute book exclusively.
He used it to
prepare for class, highlighting and annotating the copy on his laptop. He cut
and pasted from the digital statute book when he wanted to include statutory
or regulatory language on PowerPoint slides or in handouts. And he used the
digital statute book for reference as he taught. He took the print copy to class
each day as a backup, but neither Professor Bradford nor any of the students
ever needed it.
Professor Bradford planned to project statutes and regulations in class
directly from the digital statute book. He often projects statutes and regulations
using PowerPoint slides, believing this is an eﬀective way to force students to
grapple with the actual language of the rules. However, the version of the
digital statute book Professor Bradford kept open on his laptop during class
included his own highlighting and annotations, and he wanted students to
analyze the rules on their own. He could have projected a clean, unannotated
version of the digital statute book, but it was easier just to incorporate the
Professor Bradford’s overall evaluation of the experiment was positive
and he plans to continue using the digital statutes. He had two complaints,
each of which was also reﬂected in the student survey responses. First, the
highlighting and annotation features in Adobe Reader can be cumbersome
and slower than highlighting and annotating on a printed copy.
with some students, Professor Bradford found it diﬃcult to navigate within
very long sections during class. It was easier to ﬁnd speciﬁc sections but harder
to ﬁnd material within a long section.
Even when Professor Bradford found
81. See Student Survey, supra note 73, Question 10.
82. A professor could allow her students to use the digital statute book without using it herself.
The professor’s choice need not mirror the students’ choices, but we wanted to test the
83. In addition to the version on his laptop, Professor Bradford installed a copy of the digital
statute book on the classro.
84. On the other hand, one cannot easily remove or edit highlighting or annotation on a printed
book, something that is easy to do in the .pdf version. And, on a digital copy, one never has
85. When using a print statute book, Professor Bradford often provides page numbers so
students can locate a particular section more quickly. That speeds up the use of the print
book, so it is not clear that using the digital book materially changed the total class time
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