Friday, March 31, 2006

New Law Librarianship Articles

Two articles in the most recent issue of Law Library Journal (vol. 98 no. 1 Winter 2006) caught my attention:

1) Law Librarians and Library Design, Construction, and Renovation: An Annotated Bibliography and Review of the Literature: "Librarians involved with the challenges of designing and building new or renovated library space are usually instrumental in seeing that the library’s needs are articulated and protected in the design and build process. However, librarians may be at a disadvantage when it comes time to actively participate in the process if they are unprepared to share visions, discuss issues, or properly communicate with administrators or design professionals. Early in the process justifications must be made for new or improved space, answers formulated for questions about technology in the library, and alternatives to building considered. Librarians also must be ready to talk to designers, architects, and builders in a language they can understand to ensure that the design actually serves the needs of the library and the finished product functions as envisioned. To successfully answer these questions and accomplish these tasks, librarians must be—or quickly become—experts on topics ranging from the future of libraries as institutions and the evolving nature of technology to design vocabulary, space planning, and changes in pedagogy."

The bibliography is broken down into sections on:
  • Starting and reference sources
  • Bibliographies and resource guides
  • To Build or Not to Build? The Library as Place, the Information Commons
  • Impact of Technology
  • Recent Library Building or Renovation Projects
  • Web Sites about Specific Projects
  • Space Planning
  • Building Design and Construction
  • Working with Architects
  • Post-Occupancy Evaluation
2) Evidence-Based Librarianship: Opportunity for Law Librarians?: "Librarians have identified many obstacles to using research in decision making: lack of time, information overload, limited access to information resources, poor quality indexing, poor quality of the evidence base itself, difficulties in finding research that addresses practical workplace problems or that is presented in a way that is easy to understand and apply. However, librarians and information professionals in the health-care field have begun to address these obstacles. They are developing an evidence-based approach to making decisions that affect their daily practice. Why should law librarians care about developments in another sector of librarianship?"

The article offers a brief discussion of the current state of library and information science research and its many weaknesses and then outlines how evidence-based librarianship attempts to solve some of the problems identified. It is topped off by an annotated bibliography.

In the conclusion, the author argues that "(evidence-based librarianship) is still in a formative stage and there is no empirical research to date to indicate that its wide implementation would lead to better dissemination and application of research to the practice of library and information science. Nevertheless, law librarians might find that adopting some of the elements of EBL could be useful in improving decision making, increasing credibility among library users and funding bodies, and providing more opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary activities."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Open Access Publishing and the Future of Legal Scholarship

A few weeks ago, the Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon hosted a conference on open access publishing in the legal field.

"Interestingly, the open access publishing model has not yet become as popular in legal scholarship as in other fields. Why has legal scholarship lagged in the open access publishing movement? Should law schools, who do the most to fund both the production and publication of legal scholarship, push toward an open access publishing approach?"

All the presentations from the conference are available as podcasts. The papers themselves will be published according to open access principles.

The School's Boley Law Library has prepared resources on the topic of open access scholarship.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

2006 Bloggie Awards

For the 6th year in a row, "bloggies" have been awarded to the world's best blogs based on public input.

The winners' identities were made known in mid-March in categories such as:
  • Best Web Application for Weblogs
  • Best Tagline of a Weblog
  • Best Podcast of a Weblog
  • Best Food Weblog
  • Best Entertainment Weblog
  • Best Weblog About Politics
  • Best Computers or Technology Weblog
  • Best Writing of a Weblog
  • Best Group Weblog
  • Best-Kept-Secret Weblog
  • Lifetime Achievement
  • Weblog of the Year

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Computers in Libraries Conference Presentations Available

The presentations from the recent Computers in Libraries conference (March 22-24, 2006 in Washington) are online.

There was also a lot of blogging going on at the conference.

And Meredith Farkas from Information Wants to Be Free has compiled a list of the top 10 things learned at the CiL gathering: one of them is that hanging out at conferences with other bloggers is like "meeting cool cousins you haven't seen in years". Also, apparently, if you blog, everyone seems to think you must be really really tall.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Controlling the RSS Info Flood

RSS was supposed to help control information overload. But, being so convenient and simple, RSS has made it easy for people to subscribe to dozens, if not hundreds, of newsfeeds.

Feeling overwhelmed?

Inter Alia has some tips for Getting Your News Reading Done

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

More on Canadian Telecom Policy Review

This is a follow-up to the March 23 post Canadian Telecom Policy Review Report.

Last week, a federal panel created in 2005 to look into Canadian telecommunications policy published its much awaited report.

The panel called for a major deregulation of the telecom market, a new federal program to get broadband service to all remaining unserved areas of Canada, a new Telecommunications Consumer Agency to handle consumer complaints, and a Telecommunications Competition Tribunal.

Here is a recent column by University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist Canada's Telecom Policy Review: The Rest of the Story:

"Their 127 recommendations centered primarily on the call for a new regulatory approach that emphasizes market independence over government interference combined with a slimmed-down CRTC and list of policy priorities.While those recommendations are obviously noteworthy, there are a series of consumer-focused proposals that should not be overlooked. In fact, having established its market-oriented credentials, the panel proceeded to identify a series of important areas - including network neutrality, ubiquitous broadband access, privacy, spam, and consumer protection - that merit government intervention or support."

On the increasingly contentious issue of network neutrality (which means that broadband providers cannot favour one content provider or application over another), World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee said in an interview published today in the Toronto Star that he fears the emergence of a "tiered Internet".

Under that scenario the phone and cable conglomerates that provide the backbone for the Net would start charging tolls to companies that want assured access to consumers. The little companies, the non-profit websites would get screwed.

"It stops being the Net if a supplier of downloaded video pays to connect to a particular set of consumers who are connected to a particular cable company. It would no longer be an open information space," Berners-Lee is quoted as saying.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Is Podcasting Just a Marketing Gimmick?

LLRX.com recently published 2 features on podcasting (audio feeds distributed over the Internet and that can be used on mobile devices):
Well, along comes LexBlog to ruin all the excitement. Over the weekend, it posted a reference to a study that downplays all of the claims about the advantages of podcast portability. The study found that 80% of podcast downloads are not transferred to mobile devices but are listened to on people's PCs. "Or, worse, never listened [to] or deleted."

As the author Kevin O'Keefe writes, "podcasts do drew attention to your blog, not because people want to listen to the podcast or download it. Podcasts draw attention to your blog because of the buzz you create on and offline by having one".

Of course, O'Keefe is in the business of legal marketing so that may account in part for his take on the issue.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Updated Chronology of Major Data Privacy Breaches

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a U.S. organization, has updated its page that tracks data breaches since the spring of 2005.

These are breaches where "the personal information compromised includes data elements useful to identity thieves, such as Social Security numbers, account numbers, and driver's license numbers".

As the website reports, 22 American states have passed laws requiring that individuals be notified of security breaches.

No Canadian province has yet instituted such legislation, except perhaps for Ontario with its Personal Health Information Protection Act, though the Ontario Privacy Commissioner has called for such a law for all sectors of society and business.

The federal Private Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA), in force since January 2004, requires companies that fall under its jurisdiction to protect so called 'personal information' with security safeguards that are appropriate to the sensitivity of the information. But there is now no legal requirement to report incidents of data breaches or of data theft to affected individuals in Canada.

Interestingly, some commentators have written that blanket notification laws may not be worth it.

Earlier posts on the subject:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, March 25, 2006

BNA Web Watch for U.S. Current Awareness

The American legal publisher BNA offers a Web Watch feature that can be useful for finding online resources dealing with controversial U.S. issues.

"Here you will find links to government, industry, and academic resources on selected topics spanning the breadth of BNA coverage. New subjects will be posted weekly, and new resources will also be added to existing topics."

Recent topics include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Encyclopedia Britannica Strikes Back At Wikipedia Comparisons

Back in December 2005, a study in the journal Nature concluded that articles in the collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to which anyone can contribute, were as accurate as those in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

I referred to the controversy in a December 14, 2005 post entitled Following the Wikipedia Controversy.

The last 2 links in that post were A Vote of Confidence in Wikipedia -- A study by the journal Nature finds that the online encyclopedia is nearly as accurate as Britannica -- and is widely used by scientists (Business Week) and Special Report - Internet encyclopaedias go head to head - Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries, a Nature investigation finds (Nature).

Well, Resourceshelf reports that Encyclopedia Britannica has responded, as explained on the website of the San Antonio Express-News: "Recently, a study in the journal Nature compared the accuracy in science-related articles in both Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, stating that EB's's science coverage was only slightly more accurate than Wikipedia. Wikipedians were ecstatic, but now EB has come out with its own rebuttal."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Telecom Policy Review Report

A federal panel that examined Canadian telecommunications policy released its official report Wednesday. The 3-member panel was announced in the spring of 2005 and its mandate was to make recommendations to "ensure that Canada has a strong, internationally competitive telecommunications industry, which delivers world-class affordable services and products for the economic and social benefit of all Canadians in all regions of Canada".

Its main thrust is a call for large-scale deregulation of the telecom market. It also proposes a comprehensive federal program to deploy broadband service in all remaining unserved areas of the country, a new Telecommunications Consumer Agency to handle consumer complaints, and a transitional joint CRTC and Competition Bureau "Telecommunications Competition Tribunal".

Reactions:
  • CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic): "We are especially pleased with the recommendation for a statutory right to access publicly available content on the Internet, given the potential for ISPs to limit user access to certain sites for self-interested purposes... However, this recommendation does not go far enough toward ensuring network neutrality, since ISPs could still offer different levels of Internet access depending on ability and willingness to pay. We need additional rules prohibiting 'access-tiering'."
  • Telecom Policy Review Panel Calls For Net Neutrality Legal Safeguards (Michael Geist, University of Ottawa): "... the panel is clearly calling for legislated assurances that ISPs will not veer significantly from net neutrality principles.The other two recommendations of note are the retention of privacy within the Telecommunications Act (including the view that the Privacy Commissioner and the CRTC have complementary roles on privacy) and the call for a new national broadband strategy that would target universal broadband access in Canada by 2010."
  • Telecom policy review opens door to deregulation (ITbusiness.ca): "...if the recommendations are rolled into policy, there will be more deregulation across telecom and cable, which is good news for the incumbents, BCE and Telus."
  • Ottawa urged to ease the way to deregulation in telecoms sector (CBC News reprint of a Canadian Press story): "Its long list of recommendations, a year in the making, is built on the idea Ottawa must dramatically deregulate the telecommunications sector... Proponents have argued such a change would mean lower prices for consumers, but critics warn it could also make it impossible for upstarts to enter the market, eventually eliminating competition."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Library of Parliament Mini-Review of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Canada's Library of Parliament periodically publishes Mini-Reviews, which are brief papers on newsworthy events or court decisions.

The most recent Weekly Checklist of government publications from the Depository Services Program includes a number of mini-reviews, including one on mandatory minimum sentences (document PRB 05-53E released in mid-January; available only to depository libraries).

The new Conservative government has committed itself to cracking down on violent crime, starting with new minimum mandatory sentencing initiatives.

According to the mini-review, there are currently 40 offences under the Criminal Code for which a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment must be imposed. They fall into 3 categories: firearms/weapons offences, sexual offences involving children, and impaired driving offences.

The Library of Parliament author writes that mandatory minimums are considered to be "generally inconsistent with the fundamental principle that a sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender" but they are not necessarily unconstitutional.

The document states that studies show that a direct cause and effect relationship between mandatory minimums and a decline in crime rates can not be drawn; as well, given the many factors that can explain crime trends, studies on the effects of such sentences are considered difficult to interpret.

As well, mandatory minimums can have many incidental, or unintended effects: "(the policy) sometimes results in charges being stayed or withdrawn, or a plea negotiation for a different charge, because prosecutors consider the MMS [mandatory minimum sentences] to be too harsh".

And since the accused has no incentive to plead guilty, some fear that mandatory minimums can lead to costly trials.

Finally, the mini-review mentions that slightly over half of judges surveyed have found that mandatory minimums may hinder their ability to impose a "just sentence".

The document refers to a number of more in-depth studies under the auspices of Justice Canada:

Other recent Library of Parliament mini-reviews:

  • Land mines
  • The human genome project and beyond
  • Family-related employment insurance benefits
  • Canada's electoral process
  • The Ethics Commissioner
  • The Gomery Commission report, phase 2 - an overview

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Articles on Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarianship

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Upcoming Law Conferences to Watch

Into the Future - The Agenda for Civil Justice Reform - Montreal, April 30 - May 2, 2006. The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice will be looking at how make the Canadian civil justice system more accessible, effective, fair and efficient

Annual Conference of the Quebec Bar Association - Montreal, from May 11th to 13th. Among the issues to be covered are the impact of the Supreme Court Chaouilli ruling on private health insurance, Anton Piller and Mareva injunctions, commissions of inquiry, administrative tribunals, confidentiality of medical records, and the role of lawyers in media-saturated trials

International Law Association Conference: ILA 2006 - Toronto is hosting the 72nd Biennial International Law Association Conference from June 4 to 8, 2006. Titled "The World is Here", ILA 2006 will include an Indigenous Law Program, Young Lawyers' Program and an Arbitration Program, as well as an address by Lech Walesa, former President of the Republic of Poland and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another Follow-Up on the U.S. Supreme Court Death Threats

This is a follow-up to the 2 recent posts: More on Death Threats to U.S. Supreme Court Justices and Death Threats Against U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

Death threats have allegedly been made against U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and O'Connor because they have argued that the highest court of our neighbours to the South should occasionally take into consideration foreign legal ideas. This openness seems to have infuriated certain "patriots" down there.

The cooperative law blog Slaw today contains a post entitled Comparative Law is a Matter of Life and Death that explores the matter further, comparing American attitudes with those in the relatively more internationalist Canadian and South African legal circles.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Judges Get High Marks in Trusted Professions Survey

According to a recent Léger Marketing telephone survey of 1,500 Canadians, the reputation of judges improved significantly last year, while that of politicians continued its seemingly unstoppable nosedive.

78% of respondents said they trusted judges, up 6 points from last year, thus earning the Canadian judiciary the 8th spot of the 22 occupations included in the survey. The most trusted profession in Canada: firefighters, admired by 96% of the population.

The least trusted group in society, politicians, attracted only 14% support Canada-wide, with a regional low of 10% of Quebecers finding politicians trustworthy.

Many commentators attribute the rise in trust of judges to the huge popularity of Justice John Gomery, the man who led the judicial inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal, and to the educational impact of the media attention devoted to the recent appointment of Marshall Rothstein to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Results are considered accurate within plus or minus 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

More from the Canadian Press wire service.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Internet Libel Cases Database

Last week, the CanWest News Service distributed an article underlining the slow but steady rise in libel suits involving online speech [here is the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix version].

The article quotes Vancouver libel lawyer Roger McConchie as saying "The Internet is the single most important reason for the increase in the number of libel lawsuits in this country."

McConchie, the co-author of a textbook on Canadian libel law, maintains a website that lists Canadian court decisions involving the "publication of allegedly defamation expression via the Internet".

The website organizes the court decisions under the following headings:
  • Jurisdiction (does the court have the power to hear the case?)
  • Notice of Intended Action
  • Limitations Defences
  • Defamation Damage Awards
  • Substantive Defences
  • Miscellaneous Cyber Libel Issues

The CanWest article explains McConchie's view that "most Internet libel cases in which damages are awarded are those in which the person responsible for the offensive material refuses to remove it once they are warned that it may be defamatory... the activist atmosphere of the online world sometimes prevents defamatory posters from backing down."

According to commentators, people with a desire for revenge, who are just malicious, or who think they can't be touched because they are online now have a technological megaphone to amplify potentially libellous rumours that will be picked up and disseminated by search engines.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, March 17, 2006

Real Green Beer on St.Patrick's Day

It's a tradition for some to imbibe industrial quantities of green-coloured beer on this, the national day of the Irish and of all Irish wannabes everywhere. Go figure.

Wired News is reporting on a different kind of "green beer" today.

Green as in environmentally correct beer.

The article tells of breweries that meet their energy needs through wind power and waste cogeneration.

And what does this have to do with law? Hmm. Let me figure this one out and I'll get back to you. But then again, it is Friday afternoon and it is St.Patrick's Day.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

More on Death Threats to U.S. Supreme Court Justices

The JURIST legal news website at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law has more background information on the story that judges from the top court in the USA received death threats after they had apparently angered various Republican Congresspeople by referring to foreign law in their judgments.

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post Death Threats Against U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Death Threats Against U.S. Supreme Court Justices

The beSpacific website points this week to a number of news items concerning threats to U.S. Supreme Court judges that appear to be related to debates over Congressional bills that would prohibit U.S. federal courts from referring to foreign laws or rulings when interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

The debate seems to have encouraged often heated criticisms of the U.S. federal judiciary, both from Republican leaders and from "fringe" groups.

beSpacific also links to reports in the news that a majority of U.S. federal judges have asked for government-paid home protection systems because of concerns over their physicial safety and that of their family members.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Challenged Books in the US and Canada

The American Library Association just published its most recent list of challenged books.

According to the Association, a challenged is "a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The majority of challenges are reported by public libraries, schools and school libraries".

In Canada, various organizations associated with the book trades just marked the Freedom to Read Week. One of the resources produced by the sponsors of the week is a list that provides information on more than 100 books that have been challenged in Canada in the past few years.

Most challenges have to do with sex, homosexuality, religion or race.

Tags: censorship

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Pro Bono Law Blog

probonolaw is a blog on public interest law sponsored by the Atlanta-based Benjamin Franklin Legal Foundation.

The blog focuses on the free volunteer legal work done by lawyers.

The Pro Bono Law of B.C. website has links to major pro bono organizations in Canada and in other countries. The Canadian Bar Association has more on pro bono activities. Law students in particular are strongly represented in pro bono work, with Pro Bono Canada Students chapters at many university campuses.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Federated Search Tool at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada (LAC), which combines the collections of the former National Library of Canada and the former National Archives of Canada, is testing Search All, a federated search tool that allows users to simultaneously query the LAC website, the LAC catalogue and various archival search tools (war diaries, government files etc.). People are encouraged to send comments to webservices@lac-bac.gc.ca

Here is an example for the search "access to information and privacy"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

U.S. Sunshine Week - Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy

This week marks Sunshine Week in the United States, a week-long series of national and local events about government secrecy and the importance of strong freedom of information laws.

The week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and several other partners.

The beSpacific blog has a list of resources about the increasing restrictions on government information in the United States.

And if you think things are just perfect in Canada, many commentators and news media people believe this country may have too much of a culture of secrecy, something documented last year when as part of a Canadian Newspaper Association project on freedom of information, reporters from 45 member newspapers simultaneously visited municipal, provincial and federal government offices across Canada asking for access to information on topics such as class size, police suspensions and restaurant inspections.

As the Ottawa Citizen reported in a May 28, 2005 front page article entitled "A 'culture of secrecy' blocks public access to information: Government data released in just one-third of cases, audit finds": "Reporters found a confusing patchwork of policies across the country, ranging from poor disclosure in provinces such as Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, to a surprising 93-per-cent disclosure in Alberta. Overall, officials handed over records to just one in every three requests made in person. The rest remained locked in government filing cabinets as reporters were told they had to file timeconsuming -- and often expensive -- formal requests under provincial or federal access laws."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Law Day Is Coming

Law Day / La Journée du droit on April 6 is a national event celebrating the signing of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Its goals are to educate and inform the public about the role and importance of the law.

Law Day 2006 marks the 21st anniversary of section 15, the equality rights provision, of the Charter. That is the section that provides that every individual has the right to equal benefit and protection of the law, prohibiting discrimination by government on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, and other grounds.

Here in Ontario, the Ontario Bar Association and other groups are organizing a week of activities from April 3rd to April 7th, including: a Grade 5 poster contest, a photography contest, mock trial competitions for school kids, as well as organized court tours. There are events in English and in French.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Managing Government Information Conference Presentations

The Managing Government Information 4th Annual Forum was recently held in Ottawa and the presentations are available online. One of the major themes of the conference was the application of metadata in content management systems for government information.

The forum was jointly organized by the Council Of Federal Libraries, the Association Of Records Managers & Administrators, and the Records Management Institute.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion

The French law blog Doc en Vr@c mentions La Lettre du droit des religions, a monthly online bulletin on law and religion produced by Sébastien Lherbier-Levy since late 2004.

Each issue includes an editorial comment, a feature article, news items from France and the European Union, case law from the European Court of Human Rights (and domestic case law from French tribunals) as well as a bibliography.

As an example of the type of material covered, the March issue contains an editorial on the legal treatment of "new religions" (cults) under German law, and an article on the Mohamed cartoon controversy and what the relevant jurisprudence has to say about freedom of expression under French and European law. It also reprints decisions and resolutions by European Union institutions defending the right of the news media to publish anti-religious material and it reports on various European Court of Human Rights decisions concerning the Turkish government's banning of the hijab (Islamic head covering for women) in schools and universities.

One of my earlier posts from Dec. 12, 2005 entitled Laïcité 1905-2005: Centenary of the Separation of Church and State in France contains links to other interesting sources on law and religion, in particular:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:09 pm 0 comments links to this post

Complaints About Commercial Legal Seminar Providers

In case anyone has not seen Connie Crosby's March 10, 2006 posting on Slaw.ca entitled "Requests for Legal Seminar Publishers", it is interesting reading.

"I have observed a lot of frustration lately from various quarters regarding legal seminar providers. While my comments below are directed primarily at commercial seminar providers, these comments may prove useful to other organizations who put on legal seminars. These are changes I, and many others, would like to see..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Environmental Law and Policy

American University's Washington College of Law has produced a resource guide based on the university textbook International Environmental Law and Policy written by professors at the School.

The Home page contains links to the book's chapters and annexes. Each chapter refers to websites about treaties, government documents, NGOs, and international agencies. The site is a good resource for seeing what is being done (or not done) by the major UN system institutions, specialized UN agencies and programs, inter-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, and international dispute resolution fora.

Chapters:
  • The Wild Environmental Facts
  • The Root Causes
  • Economics and Sustainable Development
  • A Brief History From Stockholm to Rio
  • International Institutions and Non-State Actors
  • International Environmental Lawmaking
  • Principles and Concepts in International Environmental Law
  • Making International Environmental Law Work: Improving Compliance and Resolving Disputes
  • The Law of Air and Atmosphere
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Freshwater Resources
  • Hazardous Wastes and Materials
  • Wildlife and Biodiversity
  • Protection of Habitat
  • Environmental Law and International Trade
  • Human Rights and the Environment
  • National Security, the Law of War, and Environmental Protection
  • International Corporate Standards
  • Extraterritorial Application of Domestic Environmental Law
  • Environmental Protection and International Finance
[from Issue #225 of the Internet Legal Research Weekly]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, March 09, 2006

From Lawyers' Wigs to Baseball Uniforms

On February 25, 2006, I posted about a recently published British history of the wigs and gowns worn by lawyers and judges.

Well, spring is around the corner, which means that the Gods of baseball are back. And guess what? Someone has created a site devoted to the history of the baseball uniform. It is called Dressed to the Nines: A History of the Baseball Uniform and is hosted by the Baseball Hall of Fame. It covers the history of baseball uniforms from the mid-1800s to today and includes an illustrated timeline, a database of uniform designs, and essays on the evolution of parts of the uniform (like the baseball cap, the jersey, the shoes, etc.)

And in case you were wondering what all this baseball stuff has to do with the law, there is indeed a point to this. The Law Library Journal (American Association of Law Libraries) published Baseball and the Law: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, 1990–2004 in the spring of 2005.

As we all know, fashion and baseball (and just about everything else) always lead back to the law.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

E-Bulletin on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights

In a March 8 posting, Law Librarian Blog draws attention to the E-Bulletin on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights which is put together by the very eminent International Commission of Jurists.

Each issue contains news briefs about anti-terrorism legislation from various regions of the world as well as links to the full-text of reports from commissions, international human bodies and NGOs.

To subscribe free of charge, send an email to icjcounter-terrorism@icj.org with your details (name, organization) and "subscribe ICJ E-Bulletin" in the subject line.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Law Library 'Reference Question of the Week' Blog

Boston College Law Library has been maintaining a Reference Question of the Week blog for some time now.

"For almost five years our weekly law library staff newsletter has contained a column called Reference Question of the Week which was designed as part of our ongoing training for our library staff. Some of the questions illustrate important issues involving library polices, some highlight often over-looked library resources, but the majority are just interesting questions with interesting answers. We thought other members of the law library community might enjoy seeing some of these questions and answers, and might also want to share their approaches to solving these legal research challenges. Thus, this blog."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Stats 1995-2005

The Supreme Court of Canada has posted a special edition of its Bulletin of Proceedings that provides a statistical overview of the Court's work in the decade from 1995 to 2005.

The special bulletin is broken down into five categories:
  • "Cases Filed": the number of complete applications for leave to appeal and notices of appeal as of right filed by litigants with the Court’s Registry each year
  • "Applications for Leave Submitted": the number of leave applications submitted to panels of the Court for decision, the number of leave applications granted and the percentage granted of the total submitted
  • "Appeals Heard": the number of appeals heard each year and the number of hearing days over the year
  • "Appeal Judgments": the number of judgments rendered each year
  • "Average Time Lapses": time lines in the life of a case at the Court

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Perspectives: Legal Research Teaching Materials from West

I've been subscribing for a few months to Perspectives, a free print newsletter published by Thomson West. Back issues are available online.

While the slant is obviously American, the issues are full of insights on how to teach legal research and writing skills, insights that can apply anywhere.

Each issues contains:
  • Feature articles
  • Brutal Choices in Curricular Design: "a regular feature of Perspectives, designed to explore the difficult curricular decisions that teachers of legal research and writing courses are often forced to make in light of the realities of limited budgets, time, personnel, and other resources." The Winter 2006 issue for example deals with "Designing Writing and Research Courses for International Students", many of whom will not have English as a first language
  • Writing Tips, longer pieces on the use of clear language and effective drafting
  • Writers' Toolbox, suggestions on how to teach specific writing skills
  • Teachable Moments for Students: "designed to provide information that can be used for quick and accessible answers to the basic questions that are frequently asked of librarians and those involved in teaching legal research and writing. These questions present a 'teachable moment', a brief window of opportunity when—because he or she has a specific need to know right now—the student or lawyer asking the question may actually remember the answer you provide."
  • Teachable Moments for Teachers: "a regular feature of Perspectives designed to give teachers an opportunity to describe a special moment of epiphany that changed their approach to presenting a particular topic to their students"
  • Legal Research and Writing Resources: "references to books, articles, bibliographies, and research guides that could potentially prove useful to both instructors and students and includes sources noted since the previous issue of Perspectives."

For an idea of what Perspectives contains, you can browse through the Index to Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing Volumes 1–13 (1992–2005).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

AALL Spectrum March 2006 Issue

The March 2006 issue of the AALL Spectrum published by the American Association of Law Libraries contains a number of interesting articles.
  • Assessing a special collection from ground zero: "... due to the realities of budgets, time, and personnel, a special collection can sometimes evolve into an existence of benign neglect. It is usually not a question of having been allowed to fall into disarray and disorder, but rather a situation where the collection is technically maintained but not actively monitored, sometimes for lengthy periods of time. Thus, every once in a while a librarian with no special training in special collections will be called upon to get a collection up and going again and will need to assess the special collection, basically from ground zero." This is often the situation with historical materials.
  • Going Public - How law libraries of all types and sizes serve the general population: "Law librarians provide a wide array of services to the legal community, including reference help, collection development, and technical services. However, one of the most important, albeit one of the most challenging, aspects of our profession is assisting those who may be the true end-users of the information we provide—the public at large. This type of patron, who is typically untrained in the law or legal research, stands to benefit the most from our expertise." The article describes the work done in the United States by state and county law libraries that are open to non-lawyers. There is also another article on the topic entitled The Evolution of Public Law Libraries

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Release of Huge Survey on Ontario Lawyers' Research Needs

LibraryCo, the not-for-profit organization that oversees operations of the County and District Law Libraries in the province of Ontario, recently released the findings of a huge survey of members of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The survey sought information on members' legal research needs, law library use, and expectations for legal information use in future. More than 3,000 lawyers responded.

It found some significant differences among practising lawyers by practice style, region and age. The biggest differences are between sole practitioners and those who practise in small firms (five or fewer lawyers) on the one hand, and those who practise in larger firms (20 or more lawyers) and those who are not in private practice on the other.

There are also fairly consistent differences by region, particularly between the Toronto and East Regions as compared to the remaining regions. There are also differences by age, most notably in the preference for and use of electronic resources.

In order of preference of research tools used, the Internet is perceived by a wide margin to be the most important, followed by Continuing Legal Education. "The library of your firm or office" comes in third, and county or district law libraries are the fourth-ranked choice.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Library Position Paper on Copyright

The Canadian Library Association has released a paper outlining its positions on current aspects of copyright reform.

It was written before Parliament was dissolved for the January 2006 elections.

However, as the Association writes: "While Bill C-60, An Act to Amend the Copyright Act, died when the 38th Parliament was dissolved, CLA believes the principles that underpinned that
legislation remain and some of the specific amendments within it could easily be resurrected in new legislation."

Prepared by the CLA Copyright Working Group, the paper presents thumbnail views on 10 copyright-related issues:
  • Libraries, Archives and Museums: Exceptions for Research and Private Study
  • Fair Dealing
  • Technological Protection Measures
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP) Liability
  • Provisions on contractual limitations on exceptions and uses
  • Materials Publicly Available on the Internet
  • Preservation
  • Exceptions for the print-disabled
  • Copyright and Photography
  • Crown Copyright

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Library Association Conference Program

The Canadian Library Association's 2006 Annual Conference and Trade Show is being held June 14-17 in Ottawa.

The Conference program features world-class keynote speakers, including Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, and his son Avi Lewis, former host of City TV's landmark music journalism show "The New Music", former host and producer of counterSpin on CBC Newsworld, and producer of the documentary "The Take" about factory workers' opposition to globalization in Argentina.

There will be 66 concurrent sessions, three tracks and 26 poster sessions.

There will also be pre-conference sessions on topics ranging from user assessment and training to copyright, as well as a National Summit on Libraries and Literacy on the role of public libraries in meeting the needs of adult learners.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Launch of the New CALL/ACBD Website

The website of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries/Association canadienne des bibliothèques de droit has been redesigned.

The new site includes new features such as:
  • latest news highlighted on the home page
  • members can manage their profile and interests online
  • a search engine for the entire CALL/ACBD site
  • members can login from any page on the site to access improved members resources
  • and more
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 06, 2006

EU Law Blog

I'm giving a training session tomorrow morning on the jurisprudence of the European Union (EU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and noticed that Inter Alia mentioned the EU Law Blog last Saturday.

Anonymously written, it is a "web log about European Union law for students, academics, practitioners and anyone else who may be interested in it".

Other English-language guides to the EU and the Council of Europe (under which the ECHR operates) that I have found useful include:

a) European Union
  • European Union Law: An Integrated Guide to Electronic and Print Research (LLRX.com): covers the treaties establishing the EU, the EU legislative process, case law, secondary literature, and citation rules
  • European Union Research (New York University School of Law): "covers the Law Library's EU depository collection of official documents and publications, plus related books, journals, case reporters, yearbooks, indexes, finding tools, databases, and websites". Note that the guide goes beyond the Law Library's (vast) holdings
  • European Union Law Information Resources (Cornell University): the guide gives a history and introduction to European Union law, looks at the main institutions, sources of EU law and recommended research guides. An interesting addition is its suggestions on keeping up with current developments
  • European Union Internet Resources (University of California at Berkeley): this is essentially a collection of websites about the European Union. Topics include institutions and bodies, business, research centres, documents, journals, and treaties

b) Council of Europe:

  • Guide to Researching the Council of Europe (LLRX.com): the guide begins with a "brief history of the CoE and a table listing its major institutions in comparison with those of the European Union. The bulk of this guide discusses the major institutions of the CoE and their main forms of documentation. The final section lists CoE entities and conventions by broad subject categories"
  • History, role and activities of the Council of Europe: Facts, figures and information sources (GlobaLex - New York University): this guide is slightly more up-to-date than the LLRX.com guide to the Council of Europe. It explains what the Council is, how to avoid confusion between its institutions and those of the European Union and provides a list of organs and websites of the Council by subject category

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, March 03, 2006

Australian Copyright Report Calls for Balance

The Australian House Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has released a report on technological protection measures (TPMs).

TPMs are "components, software and other devices that are used to protect copyright material from being copied or accessed. These measures are increasingly common as a means of self-protection for copyright owners in response to increasing copyright infringement in the digital age."

Companies love'em. Users often hate'em.

LawFont.com explains what is in the report and also links to other commentators (Michael Geist, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Boing Boing, etc.). The author, Kimberlee Weatherall, writes that this is the second Australian government body to have "affirmed that copyright law must be balanced; that anti-circumvention laws should be matched to copyright rights, rather than overly extending them."

The University of Ottawa's Michael Geist provides a Canadian angle:

"This report should obviously be required reading in Canada. In fact, it should be more than just read. It should be matched by a similar process (just as recently occured in the UK) that ensures that Canadian law similarly preserves the appropriate balance should we enact anti-circumvention provisions. The copyright lobby argued that Bill C-60 did not go far enough in protecting TPMs. It seems to me that this report from independent parliamentarians (no pro-user zealots there) confirms that the opposite is true: the bill did not do enough to provide consumers and the marketplace with adequate protections from TPMs."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:45 am 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

France Proposes "Anonymizing" Court Decisions

Last October, my posting Judicial Council Recommends Limited Net Access to Court Records discussed a controversy over proposals by the Canadian Judicial Council to introduce certain restrictions to electronic access to court information.

The Council proposed that personal information be deleted from court documents and decisions made publicly accessible over the Internet (phone numbers, addresses and social insurance numbers, etc.).

French law blogger Emmamuel Barthe reports on a recommendation by France's Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés or CNIL (a national privacy protection commission) that new legislative measures be introduced to ensure that all personal information (names and addresses of parties and witnesses) is removed from court judgments, whether available online for free (official websites) or via commercial databases (subscription or password-protected websites or CD-ROMs).

Anonymization of case law reporting will have obvious consequences for French legal editors, as Barthe notes. They will need to adopt neutral legal citation (Barthe refers specifically to the Canadian Citation Committee's work on the issue) and agree on the use of common tribunal identifier codes and case file numbers.

Already, many European countries anonymize their judgments. The CNIL reported in a January 2006 "bilan" (summary) that this is achieved either through a national law (Czech Republic, Estonia, Sweden) or through a decision by the national privacy protection authority (Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Lithuania).

Other countries, explains the CNIL, decided a long time ago to strip personal identifiers from court decisions no matter what the format: Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Finland, Greece.

And the European Union recently conducted a study of how different member states treat case law databases and websites. The study shows that the remaining states are interested in removing personal information from published court decisions (Romania, Slovakia, Norway, Spain).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Blogs Have Impact on Law Reviews

Kevin O'Keefe at LexBlog has posted a piece entitled Law blogs impacting law reviews : Wall Street Journal.

It discusses how many scholars dissatisfied with the constraints of traditional law reviews have started contributing "relevant and timely commentary" to Internet sites and blogs.

O'Keefe adds that law reviews are also offering original content on the Internet and cites the example of Harvard and Yale that now offer original web-based, or blog-like, supplements to their print publications. The Yale Law Journal offers such a supplement called Pocket Part.

As he writes in his conclusion: "It's no wonder that I was contacted by a large legal publisher late Friday inquiring as to why blogs were drawing so many lawyers looking to publish. Writing a book or chapter for a law treatise or law review was once an honor (was for me), and still probably is, but lawyers get much a bigger and long lasting bang by publishing a blog. And a blog is a heck of a lot easier to write."

O'Keefe adds more in a related posting entitled Law professor blogs : 182 and growing, up 40% in 5 months. He points out that the top-rated U.S. law schools have a very high percentage of law prof bloggers, who may see the new medium as an attractive vehicle for legal discussion and promoting scholarship.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

"The Nation" Commentary on China Internet Censorship Issue

This is a follow-up to the postings Background to the Google Censorship Issue in China (January 31, 2006), More on the Google China Censorship Controversy (February 1, 2006), and More on China Internet Censorship (February 13, 2006).

The New York-based left-of-centre weekly The Nation printed a web-only opinion piece by Harvard Law School Berkman Center for Internet and Society research fellow Rebecca MacKinnon entitled America's Online Censors [Feb. 24].

In her commentary, she sums up the political situation in China and asks:

"The question is not whether the Chinese Communist Party will succeed in hanging on to power. The real question is, For how long? A few years? A few decades? Another half-century? When change comes, will the new Chinese democrats thank companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco for bringing them the Internet as a catalyst for freedom? Or will they curse them for helping a corrupt and unaccountable regime hang on to power longer than it might have, thus ruining a lot of lives that might otherwise not have been ruined? Will the Chinese thank the American people for their support? Or will they mutter under their breath about hypocrites who talked a big game about freedom and democracy--but who weren't willing to forego a cent of profit to help non-Americans realize those ideals?"

She also differentiates between the positions of the large American Internet corporations accused of helping the Chinese authorities crack down on dissent: "It's important to be clear--as many members of Congress at the hearings [Feb. 15, 2006 hearings] did not appear to be--that these four companies have all made different choices about their business practices in China. They fall at very different points along an 'evil scale.' Here's how they shake down."

She slams Cisco, but gives Google "serious points for considering the human rights implications of its business decisions, and for trying hard to be as transparent and honest with the user as possible..."
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:59 pm 0 comments links to this post