Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PBS TV Series on History of the U.S. Supreme Court

Tonight, the U.S. public television network PBS will start the broadcast of a series on the history of the American Supreme Court.

The website for the series comes with a timeline, video excerpts, quizzes, discussion guides, lesson plans for teachers and more.

Law.com has more on the 4-part documentary series in an article entitled PBS Series Spotlights the Supreme Court's Past and Present Personalities:

"It is a must-see series that takes the viewer back to the pitifully weak early days of the Court, then all the way forward to its current incarnation as a center-of-the-universe powerhouse. It perfectly tees up the current air of anticipation over just how conservative the new Roberts Court is -- or will be, with another vacancy or two".
Most Canadians with cable can receive the PBS signal.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:25 am 0 comments links to this post

Updated Country Profiles from UN Human Rights Commissioner

UN Pulse, a service of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York, reported on Monday that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has updated its country pages:

"Each page has information about a country's status of ratification for various human rights instruments, its reporting status, and any special procedures, as well as the most recent concluding observations from the human rights treaty committees".
Here is what the page for Canada looks like.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:12 am 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Using Blogs Instead of Casebooks in Law Courses

On the Law Librarian Blog, there is a post today about the use of a blog in a course on the death penalty at the Moritz School of Law (Ohio State of University). The blog is being used by professor Douglas A. Berman instead of the traditional casebook as a means of gathering together class readings.

Berman, a regular contributor to the Law School Innovation blog, explains the idea there.

Also on the Law School Innovation blog, one can find mention of other law profs using blogs as a teaching tool.

The Death Penalty Course blog is open to the public.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Newest Issue of AALL Spectrum: Marketing, Preservation and Katrina

The February 2007 issue of the AALL Spectrum (American Association of Law Libraries) is available online.

Among the offerings are:
  • Public Relations: Marketing Inspiration - How to move the law library to the center of your organization’s culture: "I consider myself a natural marketer. I see opportunities everywhere I look. However, Jill Stover, undergraduate services librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the blog, Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book (http://librarymarketing.blogspot.com), puts me to shame. Not only does Stover find inspiration in the most unlikely places, but she also finds it right at the source."
  • Practicing Law Librarianship: Preserving a Special Collection - Ten things you can do when you're on your own: "Preservation is always an important consideration in libraries, but especially for special collections. And small special collections can be particularly troublesome. Small collections usually do not fall under the purview of a special collections librarian, but instead become just one tiny part of a regular librarian’s duties. And most likely that librarian, although having a bona fide interest in special collections, won’t have any particular training or expertise (...) So how does a librarian who is not trained in preservation issues assess the preservation needs of a special collection? What do you do when you have a special collection with special preservation needs, but you’re on your own?"
  • After the Storm - New Orleans law libraries' long and continuing recovery from Hurricane Katrina: "New Orleans is the legal capital of Louisiana. It was the seat of state government during Louisiana’s first decades, and its Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit are both here. The commercial importance of the major port near the mouth of America’s largest river ensures that the biggest law firms in the state have their main offices in New Orleans and that many firms around the country and the world also have a presence in the Crescent City. The two law schools in Louisiana with the most students, Tulane and Loyola, are also in New Orleans. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina breached the ineptly designed and constructed flood control system that was supposed to protect New Orleans. In our nation’s history, only the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 devastated a major American city more. The law librarians at the courts, firms, and law schools in New Orleans, like everyone else, have been dealing with the consequences of Hurricane Katrina, both personally and professionally, ever since."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:22 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 29, 2007

How Far Should Judges Go In Researching Science?

In a recent article, Jacqueline Cantwell, who works at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Law Library in the U.S., raises some important issues about how much independent research judges should be allowed to conduct when trying cases involving complex scientific evidence.

The article is entitled Nature vs. Nimmer: Access to Scientific Research Sources for Judges and starts on page 22 of the Winter 2007 newsletter of the State, Court and County Law Libraries Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries.

As Cantwell writes:

"The nature of our legal process limits the judge’s ability to research. The advocates are supposed to research the facts and criticize each other’s arguments. The jury is supposed to evaluate facts. The judge’s role in a case is to interpret law. The judge should not do independent research. What is considered independent research has been a point of contention, but it is generally agreed that judges may research legislative history or consult a treatise".
Despite different rules, the situation in Canadian courts is likely not very different. The problem is, of course, that many judges are not very familiar with the most up-to-date scientific concepts, which can increase the possibility of wrong decisions, especially in cases with contradictory expert testimony.

In that context, what guidelines, ethical and technical, should judges follow in researching outside of the boundaries of traditional legal literature? Cantwell refers to literature showing that the American judiciary appears divided on how much independent research may be done.

More importantly, in terms of the role of libraries, she writes that:
"None of the authors discuss how court administrations and their libraries could support judicial continuing education in science after a judicial seminar (...) Our library use has changed; it may be that the materials judges need has changed also. Until the question of judicial research is better answered, how much we librarians can assist in developing research portals is unclear. At this point, we do not know what scientific research judges are doing. There is concern that judges may be doing googling research. Google is not evil, but it is not comprehensive or reliable. I would argue that it would be better for the courts to face this dilemma openly. The courts are already providing CLE classes. Court libraries should be working with court administrations to develop in-house research sources on science."
Earlier Library Boy posts on science and the law include:

  • Allan Legere Digital Archive - 1st Serial Killer Convicted by DNA Typing (April 24, 2006): "The Gerard V. La Forest Law Library at the University of New Brunswick yesterday launched a digital archive of documents and images related to the crimes, capture and trial of Allan Joseph Legere (...)His trial in 1991 was the first in which the new science of DNA typing was used to obtain a criminal conviction in Canada and was therefore a landmark in Canadian legal history"
  • Science and Law Resources (August 21, 2006): "Last week, the Science & Law Blog was launched. In the introductory post, the authors, all law professors, explained that their blog is devoted to 'the single question of how does, and how should, courts and policy makers use the more or less certain findings (or lack of findings) from science when making decisions'."
  • Update on Science and Law Resources (August 26, 2006): "A recent article from LLRX.com - It’s Not Rocket Science: Making Sense of Scientific Evidence - explains how common web search engines as well as specialized engines that explore the 'Deep Web' can be used to find material on the reliability of scientific evidence in the legal context."
  • Articles on Scientific Evidence in Newest Issue of Judicature (December 5, 2006): "The most recent volume of Judicature, the journal of the American Judicature Society, proposes a series of articles on how courts should deal with issues relating to scientific evidence."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

College Profs Bar Students From Citing Wikipedia

According to Inside Higher Ed, the history department at Middlebury College voted recently to bar students from citing material found on the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia as sources in academic work.

"The department made (...) a consensus decision on the issue after discussing problems professors were seeing as students cited incorrect information from Wikipedia in papers and on tests. In one instance, Wyatt said, a professor noticed several students offering the same incorrect information, from Wikipedia".
Interestingly, Wikipedia agrees with the policy decision. Sandra Ordonez, a spokeswoman, is quoted as saying:

"Wikipedia is the ideal place to start your research and get a global picture of a topic, however, it is not an authoritative source. In fact, we recommend that students check the facts they find in Wikipedia against other sources. Additionally, it is generally good research practice to cite an original source when writing a paper, or completing an exam. It’s usually not advisable, particularly at the university level, to cite an encyclopedia".
The debate over the accuracy and appropriateness of Wikipedia and similar sources has been brewing in academic and librarian circles for quite some time.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:

  • Following the Wikipedia Controversy (December 14, 2005) : "As many people are aware by now, controversy over the biography of John Seigenthaler Sr. on the collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia has triggered extensive debate over the reliability of Wikipedia, and more broadly, over the nature of online information (...) The entry on Wikipedia falsely suggested that Seigenthaler may have had a role in the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. The error stood for months before it was revealed and removed."
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Strikes Back At Wikipedia Comparisons (March 23, 2006) : "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."
  • Wikipedia in U.S. and Canadian Case Law (June 28, 2006): "The Tech Law Prof Blog had a post last week about some of the recent credibility problems of online collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia. As explained, 'The Wikipedia founder says that he regularly gets about 10 email messages from students per week saying they cited Wikipedia as their source and got Fs on their papers'."
  • The Great Wikipedia/Traditional Encyclopedia Debate: Another Episode (September 13, 2006): "Wikipedia, the community-edited online encyclopedia, has blossomed. It has thousands of volunteers that have created more than five million entries in dozens of languages on everything from the Elfin-woods warbler to Paris Hilton. But the popular site has also been dogged by vandals and questions about its accuracy (...) Can Wikipedia's everyone's-an-editor approach produce a reliable resource tool without scholarly oversight? Are traditional encyclopedias like Britannica limited by lack of input?"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 27, 2007

How Accurate Are Tech Trend Predictions?

Well-known professional librarian Walt Crawford, now at the library service and research organization OCLC, has looked at the tech predictions of the past 2 years from a number of sources in order to try to establish some sort of scorecard.

He also comments on some current predictions.

Earlier Library Boy posts about tech trends and predictions include:
  • Information World Trends to Watch in 2007 (January 9, 2007): "On publisher Information Today's website, veteran commentator Paula Hane has an article summing up information industry news from 2006 ('The Year of 2.0') and looking ahead to 2007 (...) She also links to a number of other perspectives on what was important in 2006 and what should be on people's radar screens for 2007."
  • 2007 Technology Trends (January 22, 2007): "The American Library Association (ALA) is holding its midwinter meeting this week in Seattle. At every ALA conference, one of its subdivisions, the Library Information Technology Association or LITA, organizes a panel on 'Top Technology Trends'."

Additional texts on emerging tech trends I would suggest:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:38 pm 1 comments links to this post

Book Snobbery - People Lie About What They Read To Appear Sexy

So, brains are sexy.

Earlier this week, Resourceshelf reported on a study by the U.K. Museums, Libraries and Archive Council according to which "A third of British adults have lied about reading a book to appear more intelligent according to a new survey".

As well:

"One in ten men said they would fib about reading a certain book to impress the opposite sex according to the poll of over 4000 bookworms conducted by the Museums, Libraries and Archive Council (MLA)".

"Most people expand on their literary repertoire to impress a new date, 15 per cent have lied about the books they have read to a new colleague and five per cent have told porkies about their reading habits to their employer".

The Council even compiled a list of the top ten books our friends across the Ocean lie about having read:

  1. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien
  2. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  4. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray
  5. 1984 – George Orwell
  6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone – J.K Rowling
  7. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  8. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  9. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  10. Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank

It would be fun to know what a Canadian list (broken down into English and French groups) would look like. I bet Margaret Atwood and Michel Tremblay would be near the top. And Marshall McLuhan - I never could figure out what he was nattering on about exactly, but I am sure he saved many a date on a cold January evening from disaster.

In a Library Boy post from April 5, 2005 entitled Great Books I Have Not Read, I commented on a related phenomenon:

"There is a twisted theory that publishing may in fact depend for its survival on printing 'famous' books everyone feels obliged to buy but that no one really ever reads or finishes." (...)

"It's gotten to the point that a fellow in Vienna one day decided to create a Library of the Unread Book. Julius Deutschbauer figured that the number of books unread probably exceeds that of the number actually read. Wise calculation, no doubt. He collected more than 400 books, all donated, that all share one thing in common: their owners would have liked to have read them, but never got around to it".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:31 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Customized Search Tool for Reference Sites

Bill Drew of the Morrisville State College Library has created a custom search engine that aggregates content from more than 200 reference sites.

The sites are those included in the 1999-2006 annual lists issued by the Best of Free Reference Web Sites Committee of the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of American Library Association (wow - I wonder what the committee president's business card looks like!).

The search engine is built using Google Custom Search Engine.

Earlier Library Boy posts that discuss custom search engines include:

  • New Search Engine for Library Blogs (October 29, 2006): "LisZen is a new customized search engine that searches the content of more than 500 library-related blogs."
  • Customized Search for Intergovernmental Organizations (November 16, 2006): "The people at Indiana University Libraries in Bloomington, Indiana have developed customized search tools for IGOs - intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank, the European Union and the UN."
  • Blawg-Finding Tools (November 22, 2006): "Well, the Law Dawg Blawg, created by law librarians at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, describes 'New Tools for Finding Blawgs' in a post from November 18, 2006.The post describes 2 finding aids: the refurbished blawg.com site (...) and the search engine BlawgSearch." The search engine on blawg.com is based on the Google custom search technology.
  • Customized Search For French Legal Material (December 15, 2006): "More and more libraries and individuals have been using tools such as Google Coop to build customized topical collections of searchable online material.The French blawg Doc en Vrac has a recent item about a number of searchable collections, including French-language blogs and legal material from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:45 pm 1 comments links to this post

Upcoming Library and Infoworld Conferences in Canada

Here is a list of upcoming conferences that may be of interest:
  • Superconference 2007 (Ontario Library Association) - Toronto, Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2007: "MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, Flickr, YouTube, LibraryThing, BoingBoing are just a few of the hundreds of social networking sites that are a global phenomenon attracting tens of millions of visitors every month. Whether or not we are users of one or more of these sites, we cannot escape hearing and reading about them. And whether we like it or not, social networking is influencing how we think about our users and the services we offer them.How are librarians and libraries incorporating social networking into their realms? What is the future of libraries, library services and librarians in such a rapidly changing landscape? What can we learn and take from the success of social networking?"
  • Canadian Association of Law Libraries CAPITALizing on Change Conference - Ottawa, May 6-9, 2007: "A key theme of our conference is change, and how law librarians and their organizations can meet the challenges of the next 10 years. The advent of the web and self-service legal research tools have put answers at the fingertips of our traditional clients, changing the sort of guidance and assistance they expect from their librarians. We are beginning to see implications -- and opportunities -- in some of the new technology-driven social networks that are now evolving so quickly. Questions that we will be asking ourselves at this conference will include how to reinvent ourselves; and how to get in front of these trends, and use them to our advantage to better serve our organizations."
  • Canadian Association for Information Science - Montreal, May 10-12, 2007: "With focus on innovative research and on information science as an evolving field, the conference will provide information scientists with a forum for presentation on four areas that form the conference program theme." The four areas are 1) Context, Environment and Profession; 2) Human-Information Interaction; 3) Technology and Tools; and 4) Management, Analysis and Organization of Information
  • Corporation des bibliothécaires professionnels du Québec - Gatineau, May 16-18, 2007: the conference will look at the future of the profession, the internal organization of libraries in the context of technological change, the impact of open access and digitization, etc.
  • Canadian Library Association National Conference - St.John's, May 23-26, 2007: "Our profession's greatest resources are our human resources. Recent Canadian research ("The Future of Human Resources in Canadian Libraries" ["The 8Rs Report"]; "Training Gaps Analysis: Librarians and Library Technicians" by the Cultural Human Resources Council) demonstrates the need for the profession to examine the future of human resources in Canadian libraries and information services: what we have, what we are going to lose, what we will need, and how to ensure there are skilled people in place for the foreseeable future. Delegates to 2007 National Conference will come away with conceptual and practical tools for improving their libraries through focusing on people: professional librarians, paraprofessionals, other library workers, volunteers, friends and other stakeholders."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Freedom to Read Week Next Month

Freedom to Read Week will be taking place once again all across Canada from February 25th to March 3, 2007.

The website contains a calendar of events, resources on censorship in Canada, news and resources.

The Week is organized by the Freedom of Expression Committee, a committee of the Book and Periodical Council, which is an umbrella organization for associations involved in the writing and editing, publishing and manufacturing, distribution, and selling and lending of books and periodicals in Canada.

Related material:

  • Professional Readings: On "Libricide": reviews of 3 books - Burning Books by Haig Bosmajian, Burning Books and Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction by Rebecca Knuth and Libricide: The Regime-Sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century also by Rebecca Knuth
  • Book Burning: website of the American Library Association (ALA). Every year, the ALA also organizes a Banned Books Week.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic of banned or challenged books include:

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

Supreme Court Image Trademark-Protected

The supervisor of the Canadian law blog The Court is reporting the editors felt it was necessary to change their logo because the original image of the Supreme Court of Canada building they had been using in their header was covered by trademark.

"It turns out that the sketch we made from a photograph we made produces nevertheless an image trademarked by the Supreme Court, and so we were required to take ours down (...) The Trade-Marks Journal, Vol. 44, p.163 (August 13, 1997) contains four images tradmarked by the SCC".

"It’s unclear from this whether any photograph or drawing of the building, recognizable as the Supreme Court, would be considered to fall under these trademarks. Rather than flirt with that possibility — one takedown message from the Supreme Court of Canada is... interesting; two would be unfortunate — The Court simply moved to a more neutral, shall we say subtle, icon. We hope it serves".
It is indeed a very nice-looking and elegant new logo.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Comparative Family Law Guide

GlobaLex, an online research collection published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at New York University School of Law, recently released a research guide on Transnational and Comparative Family Law: Harmonization and Implementation:

"This guide points researchers to significant electronic and print sources in transnational and comparative family law. For a general guide to the major international conventions in this area, including aspects of the rights of the child, please consult sources cited in Raisch, Marylin J., International Family Law: A Selective Resource Guide (...); the purpose of this complementary guide is to indicate how these international conventions are implemented in selected jurisdictions and an indication of how to locate substantive national law under these same international regimes."
The document is broken down into 4 sections:
  • Major international agreements
  • Civil and common law approaches to family law
  • An illustrative list of national constitutions and legal sources for family law
  • A selection of relevant articles and books

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:10 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Five Things You Didn't Know About Me

I should have gotten around to this earlier. In early January, Connie Crosby tagged me to play a game called 5 Little-Known Things About Me.

This has been circulating in blogland for a while. The idea is to reveal 5 pieces of information that people might not know about you and then to "tag" someone else to contribute.

I think I will tag: David Fraser of the Canadian Privacy Law Blog.

Here goes:

1) I am related to the Belgian royal family (at least in a Six Degrees of Separation kind of way):

During the Second World War, my father was taken in, hidden and adopted by a family of the village of Merelbeke, in East Flanders after the Germans arrested and deported his parents. The daughter of that family essentially became his elder "sister". She and my dad have remained in touch for more than 60 years. After the war, she married a resistance member (who survived deportation for his activities as liaison officer with the pro-London "Secret Army" underground movement). They had a daughter who grew up to be a historian of the role of aristocratic circles in the Belgian resistance. That daughter married a cousin of the woman who became The Duchess of Brabant, when that woman married the heir apparent to the Belgian throne, HRH Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, son of Albert II, King of the Belgians. Which practically makes me royalty (or close enough in a 6 degrees of separation kind of way). So, there you have it: I am related to someone whose daughter married someone related to the person who married the heir to the Belgian throne. The story is lots of fun at parties.

2) my mother was an opera singer:

And no, it was not fun growing up with a singer in the household. Yes, it is true she did not sing lullabyes, she sang arias to get us little ones to go to sleep. But, when you have to listen to a soprano practice hitting those high notes 500 times in a row until she gets them right, you quickly start to hate music. For a long time, opera felt like the equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard. In recent years, I have discovered I actually like opera. As my mother once explained to me: opera has murder, love, hate, betrayal, passion, more murder, jealous rages, double-crosses, yet again more murders, wars and horror. It's like gangsta rap but with weirder costumes.

3) I was once a guinea pig in a sports medicine experiment:

When I was in my teens, I was recruited to be a subject in an experiment at the Sports Medicine lab at the Université de Montréal. It had to do with how different kinds of muscle tissue in the legs would adapt to a variety of training regimens that involved running around a track according to a very detailed program of sprints alternating with longer distance jogs. The good doctors also stuck all sorts of needles into various parts of my anatomy, had me run on treadmills, did ECGs, and just about measured everything that can be measured.

4) I was on a TV scholastic quiz show:

In high school, I was part of my school's team on a Radio-Canada TV show called "Génies en Herbe". That would be the equivalent of the CBC show "Reach for the Top", a scholastic quiz show. Our team won the championship.

5) I can curse and converse in many languages:

Over the years, I have taken classes in Latin, German, Italian, Flemish, and Spanish. I can even remember quite a bit of each.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 22, 2007

2007 Technology Trends

This is a follow-up to the Information World Trends to Watch in 2007 post of January 9, 2007.

The American Library Association (ALA) is holding its midwinter meeting this week in Seattle. At every ALA conference, one of its subdivisions, the Library Information Technology Association or LITA, organizes a panel on "Top Technology Trends".

It is possible to follow some of this year's preliminary discussion on the LITA Blog. For past technology trends, there is the official LITA website.

If search technology predictions are your thing, check out John Battelle's Predictions 2007. Battelle is the author of The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

More on Data Security Breaches in Canada

This is a follow-up to the January 19, 2007 post entitled Recent Rash of Data Security Breaches in Canada.

University of Ottawa law prof Michael Geist has chimed in with his comments on the recent data security breaches at Winners and CIBC that may have jeopardized the private credit information of millions of consumers.

Entitled Privacy Breaches Expose Flaws in Law, Geist's text analyzes some of the reasons why Canada currently lacks a data security notification law. Such a law would require organizations that suffer a security breach putting personal information at risk to notify affected individuals.

Geist points out that industry groups appearing in front of a parliamentary committee late last year looking into the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act have come out strongly against a notification law.

He also writes:

"the current complaints-driven privacy law framework is ill-equipped to adequately address security breaches. Individuals must be aware of an alleged privacy violation in order to file a complaint. In the case of a security breach, unless the organization notifies their customers, individuals typically only become aware of the situation once their credit cards become overdrawn or their bank account is cleaned out".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Survey Results: Web 2.0 Tools in Special Libraries

Amanda Etches-Johnson of McMaster University Library has posted the results of a survey she conducted about the use of 2.0 tools in special libraries.

These tools include blogs, wikis, RSS, instant messaging, and social bookmarking.

There were 68 responses.

The survey shows the following:
  • Blogs are used by 60% of respondents
  • Wikis - 46.7%
  • RSS - 73.3%
  • IM - 26.7%
  • Social Bookmarking - 33.3%

Among the uses to which these technologies have been put:

  • Internal blogs to share research information, and "What's New in the Library" blogs
  • Embedding federal government RSS feeds into resource guides
  • Social bookmarking for internal reference stuff
  • IM for collaboration
  • Using a wiki for reference service or for compiling results of large group research projects

The survey also asked people what implementation issues they had faced. These issues broke down into 4 major groups: "little/no staff buy-in, firewall/security issues, other IT/computing issues, and corporate issues".

The most interesting consideration was perhaps the one about "how can we deal with these barriers to implementation...". Some of the ideas included:

  • "identify the 'low-hanging fruit': pick the technologies that are the easiest to implement & use, and get your colleagues (and manager) hooked! "
  • "...operate under an 'ask for forgiveness, not permission' MO - do as much as you can without having to involve the IT department..."
  • "the management/staff buy-in issue is bigger than the IT issues. Why? Because once you have buy-in (particularly from management), there isn’t much IT can do to block your ideas/projects. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, January 19, 2007

Recent Rash of Data Security Breaches in Canada

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of January 10, 2007 entitled Paper on Data Security Breach Notification.

That post discussed a white paper released by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa that called on the federal government to enact a data security breach notification law:

"Such a law would require organizations, government agencies and businesses to notify individuals when their personal information is exposed to potential theft and misuse due to a computer security breach."
Well, this week, we saw a CIBC security breach when a backup computer file with information relating to 470,000 current and former mutual fund client accounts went missing.

And then we found out that millions of credit card holders may have been exposed to fraud because of a breach at discount retailer TJX Cos., the U.S. parent of the Winners clothing retail chain.

More from:
  • Canadian Privacy Law Blog - Incidents: Rash of info breaches with Canadian connections: "This has been a crazy week for privacy breaches in Canada and the week isn't over yet. I can't recall the last time I had so many media inquiries. In addition to those below, I've been asked about two other incidents that will likely break in the next few days. (Since I heard about them from journalists, it would be rude to scoop them on the blog.)"
  • CBC Online - CIBC loses data on 470,000 Talvest fund customers: "CIBC Asset Management says a backup computer file containing information on almost half a million of its Talvest Mutual Funds clients has gone missing (...) The information may have included client names, addresses, signatures, dates of birth, bank account numbers, beneficiary information and/or Social Insurance Numbers."
  • CBC Online - Owner of Winners, HomeSense says hacker stole customer info: "Millions of credit card accounts may have been compromised after hackers stole customer information last year from computer systems of TJX Cos., the U.S. parent firm of Canadian retailers Winners and HomeSense (...) Citing unnamed sources, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday that two million Visa credit card accounts in Canada and 20 million Visa cards globally have been affected."
  • CBC Online - Be vigilant against credit card fraud, consumer group urges: "The privacy commissioner of Canada on Thursday announced she is launching an investigation into a CIBC personal information breach involving nearly half a million people (...) The commissioner said she has reasonable grounds to investigate whether the bank violated the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Stoddart's office also said Friday it is checking to see if TJX Cos., the U.S. parent firm of Canadian retailers Winners and HomeSense, was in compliance with private sector privacy laws after the company acknowledged Thursday that customer information has been stolen from its systems."
  • Globe and Mail - Probes launched into data security breaches: "Identity theft experts said the two cases should serve as a wake-up call for Canadians, and perhaps make them more vigilant about checking their statements and credit reports for signs of improper activity (...) The recent security breakdowns at CIBC and TJX Cos. exposed thousands of Canadians to potential damage from unauthorized release of their personal data. But these incidents are only the latest in a long series of similar breaches..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

10 Best Intranets According to Nielsen

At the Supreme Court of Canada library, we are in the process of doing a quickie redesign of our Intranet. Essentially, we have decided to pare down things, go for a minimalist design, break content into smaller chunks, create a very simple navigation scheme (we hope!). We should be done by April.

In the meantime, I have been reading up on the topic. And whenever you say "redesign" or "usability", the name of usability guru Jakob Nielsen is sure to pop up in the conversation.

Well, on his Alert.box newsletter this week, he just happens to have written an article entitled 10 Best Intranets of 2007 (I didn't know the year was already over, but anyhow...):

"This year's winners emphasized an editorial approach to news on the homepage. They also took a pragmatic approach to many hyped 'Web 2.0' techniques. While page design is getting more standardized, there's no agreement on CMS or technology platforms for good intranet design."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What Will The Big Issues of 2007 Be For U.S. State Legislatures?

In early January, the National Conference of State Legislatures south of the border released its Top 10 Policy Issue Forecast.

Among the debates that may resonate on this side of the frontier are those on standardized ID documents, sex offender laws, greenhouse gas regulations and auto emission standards, privacy issues and identity theft, and trans fat.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Osgoode Hall Launches Supreme Court Blog

Slaw.ca reported yesterday that Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto has launched a new blog devoted to coverage and analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Called The Court, it "will provide information, critique, valuable resources and the opportunity to engage in debate about our highest tribunal and the case law that it makes".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Podcast on Teaching Legal Research

Jim Milles, director of the Law Library at the University of Buffalo Law School, is teaching a course this spring entitled Teaching Legal Research.

The lecture for his first class was yesterday and is available in the form of a podcast.

Milles will be podcasting all of his lectures in the class.

On their own, I don't think podcasts make for effective teaching tools because a large part of the learning experience involves interaction, reading, etc.

It appears though that the intention is for the site to include links to teaching materials in other formats such as PDF. I hope that the various student projects as well as course handouts will also be added to the website.

But this class is an interesting experiment in its attempt to show how podcasts can be incorporated as an additional dissemination tool. And Milles is certainly the person who can make it work.

He is a pioneer in law library podcasting and his podcast Check This Out! is already up to its 56th weekly episode.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Profile of New Federal Justice Minister

The Lawyers Weekly has a profile of the new federal justice minister Rob Nicholson: New justice minister guided by faith and family (vol. 26, no. 34)

The article essentially says we should not expect any significant changes in policy.

"Much has been made of Nicholson’s and [predecessor Vic] Toews’s different personal styles – Toews can be caustic and abrasive while Nicholson tends to be low key and non-confrontational – but they share a similar conservative social and religious world view that is pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage".

"Nor will Nicholson have qualms about taking over as point man for the government’s many 'tough-on-crime' measures that must still be stick-handled through the minority Parliament".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Copyright Law 2007 Lookahead

Howard Knopf, a lawyer with Macera & Jarzyna, LLP in Ottawa, is a regular visitor to the Supreme Court of Canada library and I always enjoy talking with him when I'm at the reference desk.

He is also a blawger and has just posted his What to look for in 2007 in Canadian Copyright on his blawg Excess Copyright.

This upcoming year will see Canadian authorities deal with many issues, from packaging for chocolates to K-12 user fees and from ring tones to the possibility of a new federal copyright reform bill. Lots of fun awaits us all.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 15, 2007

UK Government To "Free Its Data" For Public Use and Re-Use

The BBC has a very eye-opening article on recent changes in the way Her Majesty's government in the United Kingdom makes its vast amounts of data available to the public.

Not only has the government decided to make its huge new Statute Law Database freely available to the public.

But many commentators think the launch may indicate "a sea-change in the general thinking about the way government information becomes available", according to one government official quoted in the BBC report, as it appears the British government may soon remove restrictions such as heavy fees on the re-use of public information by third parties.

And that would be "a huge victory for campaigners and websites keen to exploit the vast resources of government databases".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

U.S. Senator Proposes National Standards for Data Security Breaches

This is a follow-up to the January 10, 2007 post entitled Paper on Data Security Breach Notification.

That post discussed a recent proposal from a University of Ottawa research group to create a federal data breach notification law in Canada. Such a law would require organizations, government agencies and businesses to notify individuals when their personal information is exposed to potential theft and misuse due to a computer security breach.

Similar laws exist in a number of U.S. states.

And U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has reintroduced a pair of bills that would attempt to set national requirements for consumer notification in the event of data security breaches.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

More on Wikinomics and the Impact of Mass Collaboration

This is a follow-up to the January 2, 2006 Library Boy post entitled How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.

That post dealt with the launch of the book Wikinomics by co-authors Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William.

Blawger Connie Crosby covered the launch of the book at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto (OK, she basically crashed it - no one can keep a truly determined blawger away - way to go Connie!) and the Globe and Mail's technology writer Matthew Ingram also wrote up the event in his January 13, 2007 post entitled Wikinomics pushes Web 2.0 mainstream.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:02 pm 1 comments links to this post

CALL 2007 Ottawa Conference Program Now Online

The draft program for the 2007 conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries is up on the association's website.

The event takes place in Ottawa from May 6 to the 9th, 2007 at the Fairmont Château Laurier, located just east of Parliament Hill.

Conference topics include:
  • Managing the impact of technological change in law libraries
  • Change management case studies
  • Developing a Core Foreign and International Law Collection
  • The Ultimate End-User: the Public's Access to Law Libraries and Legal Information
  • The Trail of a Trial
  • Leveraging Library Skills and Competencies to Promote Knowledge Management Initiatives
  • Are we becoming a secret society? Press Bans, Privacy and Access to Information
  • Managing and Providing Access to eResources
  • National Digital Preservation Strategies for Legal Information
  • The Intelligence Behind CI
  • Set up and use of RSS feeds, a step towards Web 2.0
  • The CHARTER @ 25: Where have we come from and where are we going

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Analysis and Critique of Apology Laws

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of November 19, 2006 entitled Apology Acts - Saying 'Sorry' Without Incurring Liability.

That post discussed Canadian and American statutes that "allow individuals and corporations to offer a sincere apology as part of their dispute resolution process without fear of legal liability".

Marlynn Wei of the Yale Law School has just published an article in the Journal of Health Law, 2007 entitled Doctors, Apologies, and the Law: An Analysis and Critique of Apology Laws (available for download via the Social Science Research Network):

"This article analyzes and critiques apology laws, their potential use, and effectiveness, both legally and ethically, in light of the strong professional norms that shape physicians' reaction to medical errors. Physicians are largely reluctant to disclose medical errors to patients, patients' families, and even other physicians. Some [American] states have passed so-called apology laws in order to encourage physicians to disclose medical errors to patients. Apology laws allow defendants to exclude statements of sympathy made after accidents from evidence in a liability lawsuit. This piece examines potential barriers to physicians' disclosure of medical mistakes and demonstrates how the underlying problem may actually be rooted in professional norms - norms that will remain outside the scope of law's influence. The article also considers other legal and policy changes that could help to encourage disclosure".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

YouTube as a Legal Information Tool

The free online video site YouTube is perhaps most well-known for its many clips of Brazilian supermodels, people's pet bunny rabbits, excerpts from The Colbert Report and Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, and every teenager from Melbourne to Montevideo playing air guitar along with Van Halen.

Well, it now looks like the legal world has discovered the potential of using this hugely popular site.

The Parisian daily Le Monde reported last week that lawyers representing an individual being detained by U.S. authorities at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp have produced a video posted on YouTube.

The January 11 article ("Les avocats d'un détenu de Guantanamo plaident sa cause sur Internet" = Lawyers for a Guantanamo detainee plead his case on the Net) provides a link to the 9-minute video entitled Guantanamo Unclassified.

YouTube is also starting to be used by law professors and law librarians. For instance, the Law Librarian Blog contains a January 12, 2007 post about a 3-minute movie called Legal Research: The Movie that has been posted on YouTube.

Doing a search on the YouTube site using keywords such as "library" or "librarian" will pull up more material.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:31 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 11, 2007

RCMP Drug Situation Report 2005

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police published its Drug Situation Report 2005 on Tuesday:

"The Drug Situation Report — 2005 provides a strategic overview of the illicit drug trade in Canada. In the past few years the problem of illicit synthetic drugs has evolved from a concern for Canadian law enforcement to a national priority. To accurately reflect the ever growing role that Ecstasy, methamphetamine and chemical precursors play in the Canadian illicit drug trade, a full section has been dedicated to each of these commodities".

"This year, a section on prosecution of the illicit drug trade cases was also added to examine the extent of charges related to drug incidents, as well as the results of court proceedings".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federal Justice Reforms Criticized, Stalled

Thanks to an Access to Information request, the Toronto Star got its hands on an internal analysis conducted last year by Correctional Services Canada of the impact of the federal Conservatives' law and order agenda.

In particular, the federal correctional agency appears to be concerned that the get tough on crime policies could lead to a major increase in the prison population, disproportionately affect aboriginal people, and have little deterrent effect.

The Conservative justice platform includes things such as:

  • mandatory minimum prison sentences
  • restrictions to statutory release of inmates
  • consecutive sentences for multiple violent or sexual offences
  • automatic "dangerous offender" designation for anyone convicted of a third violent or sexual offence

The Star article ("Jailers fear PM's justice overhaul") outlines the criticisms of many of those proposals by Correctional Services officials.

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly (vo. 26, no. 33) reports in an article entitled Conservative justice agenda undone heading into new year that there are "11 justice-related bills stuck at first reading and awaiting critical appraisal by the opposition-dominated Commons Justice Committee".

Related Library Boy posts:

  • Library of Parliament Mini-Review of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (March 22, 2006): "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... And since the accused has no incentive to plead guilty, some fear that mandatory minimums can lead to costly trials."
  • Tougher Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun Crimes (May 4, 2006): "Today, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Vic Toews introduced bills to increase mandatory minimum penalties for gun crimes and to restrict conditional sentences for violent offenders."
  • Reverse Onus for Gun Crimes (November 26, 2006): "The federal government's proposed new gun crimes legislation would put the burden on serious gun crimes suspects seeking bail to show cause why they should not stay in custody... On January 2, the Globe and Mail, in an article entitled 'Targeting gun offences presents legal quagmire', quoted various legal experts as saying it is a 'total crap shoot' whether reverse onus would survive a constitutional challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Paper on Data Security Breach Notification

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa released a white paper yesterday that calls on the federal government to enact a data security breach notification law.

Such a law would require organizations, government agencies and businesses to notify individuals when their personal information is exposed to potential theft and misuse due to a computer security breach.

Such a law was proposed by a number of groups that appeared in 2006 in front of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Ethics and Privacy during the statutory review of PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act).

From the introduction of the CIPPIC White Paper:

"In 2005, Phonebusters, a Canadian organization which studies and reports on identity theft, collects data, educates the public and assists Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies in consumer fraud cases, received over 12,000 complaints from victims of identity theft. The associated losses were an estimated $8.6 million. By October 2006, Phonebusters had received fewer complaints than in the previous year, but total losses had risen to almost $15 million".

"In the U.S., identity theft has topped the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) list of consumer complaints for years... In 2005, losses to victims and businesses were an estimated $56.6 billion".

(...)

"Recognizing that individuals need to know when their personal information has been put at risk in order to mitigate potential identity fraud damages, most states in the U.S. now have laws requiring that organizations notify affected individuals when a security breach exposes their personal information to unauthorized access. In contrast, neither the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) nor corresponding provincial statutes include an explicit security breach notification requirement".

"This White Paper considers the need for an explicit obligation in Canadian privacy law to notify affected individuals of a breach in an organization’s security that places those individuals’ personal information at risk. The Paper begins its analysis with a review of the existing Canadian legislative framework relating to security breach notification. It then analyzes security breach legislation in the United States, where over half the states have enacted a mandatory security breach disclosure requirement and where several federal bills are currently pending. The Paper then considers justifications for, and objections to, such legislation, before concluding with a series of recommendations for enacting an effective statutory obligation of security breach notification in Canada".

In the United States, the National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a collection of state Breach of Information Legislation. The U.S. Consumers Union has published resources as part of its Financial Privacy Now campaign. And the NGO U.S. PIRG has also put together many resources about identity theft protection, including a Summary of State Security Freeze and Security Breach Notification Laws .

For a critical overview of what is being done south of the border, I can suggest the article Industry, Government Fret Over Tactics for Fighting Data Theft (National Law Journal), published on the law.com website

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Net Neutrality Panel Discussion - Ottawa - Feb. 6th

Thanks to Danielle Dennie who is helping to organize a panel in Ottawa early next month entitled Net Neutrality: A Public Discussion on the Future of the Internet in Canada:

"Please join us for a an important public discussion on the future of the Internet in Canada. Network neutrality recently became a major issue in the United States when telecommunications companies issued public statements asking for the ability to charge Internet content-providers for preferential access to Internet users. That meant that big corporations, especially media conglomerates, would get to Internet users fastest while smaller ones, which would be unable to pay the 'tolls', would be left trailing. Meanwhile, Internet users could be restricted from using certain applications, and would likely have to pay more to access content of providers that weren’t part of the telecommunications company’s exclusivity deals".

"Net neutrality has been an issue in Canada for at least two years, but the release in March 2006 of the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel’s Final Report renewed both corporate and public interest in the topic. In the United States, net neutrality is currently on hold as legislators debate the issue; in Canada, the federal government is considering major changes to telecommunications regulation and its commitment to network neutrality is uncertain - hence the need for public debate before more decisions are made".
The discussion will take place at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library (main auditorium), Feb. 6th at 7PM.

Participants include University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, Electronic Frontier Foundation Policy Coordinator Ren Bucholz, and Andrew Clement, Professor, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto.

Earlier Library Boy posts concerning net neutrality include:
  • Canadian Telecom Policy Review Report (March 23, 2006) : "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'."
  • More on Canadian Telecom Policy Review (March 28, 2006): "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."
  • Canada Ahead of U.S. On Net Neutrality Issue? (July 8, 2006): "According to Kevin O'Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs, Canadian law bloggers have been much more aggressive in defending the concept of Net neutrality than their counterparts in that big Republic south of our borders."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:44 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Information World Trends to Watch in 2007

On publisher Information Today's website, veteran commentator Paula Hane has an article summing up information industry news from 2006 ("The Year of 2.0") and looking ahead to 2007.

Among the issues she has highlighted:
  • Continued growth in wikis as collboration tools
  • More interesting and useful mashups (combinations of tools and contents from multiple sources)
  • Ubiquitous applets providing easy desktop access to useful tools, functions, and content
  • An accelerating pace of change
  • Video will continue to be a big deal
  • We will continue to grapple with the Google effect. It's still a disruptive force in most business markets
  • Increasing emphasis on participatory sites in news production and dissemination
  • Copyright issues could come to a head in 2007

She also links to a number of other perspectives on what was important in 2006 and what should be on people's radar screens for 2007.

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

Law Journal Issue on Open Access Publishing and Legal Scholarship

The latest issue of the Lewis & Clark Law Review is being promoted on the Lewis and Clark Law School library blog.

Last year, the Portland, Oregon law school hosted a conference on open access publishing in the legal field, with all of the presentations available as podcasts.

Among the articles in the Review are:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:44 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: December 2006 Acquisitions

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of December 1-31, 2006 is now available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loans to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 07, 2007

'Plutoed' Voted Word of the Year by American Dialect Society

In its 17th "word of the year" contest, the American Dialect Society chose "plutoed":

"To pluto is to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet."
The 117-year-old organization includes linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, and independent scholars.

There were a number of law-related terms considered for this 2006 edition, including:
  • data Valdez: an accidental release of a large quantity of private or privileged information. Named after the 1989 oil spill by the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska.
  • waterboarding (winner in the most euphemistic category): an interrogation technique in which the subject is immobilized and doused with water to simulate drowning; reported to be used by U.S. interrogators against terrorism detainees.

Earlier Library Boy posts about word lists include:

  • "Podcast" Named Word of the Year, "Blog" Chosen as Word to be Banished (December 12, 2005): "The Oxford American Dictionary has selected podcast as their word of the year. Among the runner-ups were: bird flu, IDP (internally displaced person), IED (a kind of bomb), persistent vegetative state, rootkit, and sudoku."
  • Banished Words List 2006 (January 2, 2006): "Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie (Michigan) is continuing its tradition of compiling an annual Banished Words List, or 'List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness' first launched in 1976'."
  • American Dialect Society Words of the Year 2005: Legal Expressions 'Patent Troll', 'Extraordinary Rendition' Make List (January 11, 2006): "A few other law-related terms scored highly in the 'most euphemistic' category (hmmmm, I wonder why): 'internal nutrition: force-feeding a prisoner against his or her will' and 'extraordinary rendition: the surrendering of a suspect or detainee to another jurisdiction, especially overseas' (in order to be tortured by a friendly dictatorship with less regard for the niceties of courts and a legal defense)."
  • Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2006 (December 12, 2006): " 'Truthiness', a term coined by the American satirical TV show The Colbert Report, has been chosen as the word of the year by dictionary maker Merriam-Webster. Truthiness is defined as 'truth that comes from the gut, not books", or "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true'. It was the American Dialect Society word of the year in 2005."
  • Banished Words List of 2006 (January 1, 2007): "It has been a tradition since Jan. 1, 1976 for Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie, Michigan to publish its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness. The list is published every New Year's Day... Among the choices for 2006 are: Combined celebrity names like Brangelina; Awesome ; Gone missing ; Now playing in theaters; We're pregnant; Drug deal gone bad; i-Anything"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Year's Resolutions from the Blawg World

Yesterday, blawg.com published a post entitled The Blawgosphere Offers Its New Year Resolutions:

"It is the first Saturday of the New Year and the health clubs of the world are bursting at their seams as we all start anew with our New Year Resolutions. And, as you might expect, the microcosm of the larger world that is the blawgosphere, is also abuzz with 'resolution talk'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 06, 2007

UK Judges Throw Off Their Wigs

The question of whether judges and lawyers in the UK should keep their famous wigs has been a hot topic of debate across the pond in the past year.

Yesterday, The Guardian reported in an article entiled Civil court judges prepare to cast aside their wigs after 300 years that a consensus seems to have emerged that civil court judges will abandon their head coverings.

However, wigs will remain de rigueur fashion in the criminal courts, at least for now:

"Criminal court judges and barristers argued that the horsehair headgear confers a degree of anonymity, protecting them from confrontations outside court with criminals, and adds to the dignity of court proceedings, helping to keep order".
The issue of wigs has been under review by the United Kingdom's lord chief justice since he took over as head of the judiciary under constitutional reforms in the spring of 2006.

Earlier Library Boy posts about British legal fashion oddities include:

  • Why Do Lawyers and Judges Wear Funny Robes and Wigs? (February 26, 2006): "If you have ever wondered about the origins of court attire in the common law jurisdictions, especially the United Kingdom, there is an interesting book out that is also available in PDF format: Legal Habits: A Brief Sartorial History of Wig, Robe and Gown. Published by Ede and Ravenscroft, suppliers of wigs and robes to the British legal profession for a few hundred years, this small volume by Thomas Woodcock covers the history of judges’ robes, barrister’s gowns and wigs."
  • More Court Changes in the UK (April 7, 2006): "The Judiciary of England and Wales has launched a new website that includes current court rulings, judges' speeches, court reports on legal issues, information on what UK judges do, and quizzes to educate the public on how the UK court system works... And yes, the website even has lots of materials on why UK magistrates have to wear those funny looking wigs."
  • Oh No: UK Judges To Lose Their Wigs! (October 3, 2006): "Apparently, according to The Times, there is lots of pressure from different quarters to get rid of the headgear that goes back to the Restoration Era of the late 17th-century. I say: No, No, No! ... The role of the Brits on this planet is to preserve silly old traditions. Give up the wigs? What's next? Driving on the right side of the road? The tabloids becoming respectable? Edible cuisine? Republicanism? "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Decrease In High Court Rulings Not Confined to Canada

This is a follow-up to the December 30, 2006 Library Boy post Supreme Court of Canada 2006 Year-End Review.

That post looked at a Globe and Mail article on the all-time record low established in 2006 by the Supreme Court of Canada for the number of judgments rendered.

Last year, Canada's highest court published 59 rulings. The average over the past decade was in the range of 85 to 90 judgments per annum. The number has been as high as 144 in 1990.

The JURIST Paper Chase legal news blog picked up the story yesterday and remarked that "[T]he decrease in Canadian high court opinions parallels analogous decreases in both the US Supreme Court and the UK House of Lords in recent years".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Recent Library of Parliament Report on Elections Act Reform

The Parliamentary Information and Research Service at the Library of Parliament in Ottawa recently made public a number of reports and studies, including Bill C-31 An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act:

"The bill proposes various amendments to Canada’s electoral law and related amendments to another piece of legislation. The changes proposed in the bill are a response by the government to a series of recommendations proposed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in its 13th Report in June 2006, entitled Improving the Integrity of the Electoral Process: Recommendations for Legislative Change. The Committee developed its recommendations in conjunction with its review of the recommendations for legislative reform contained in the Chief Electoral Officer’s report on the 38th general election pursuant to section 535 of the Canada Elections Act, tabled in the House of Commons on 29 September 2005".

(...)

"The amendments proposed in Bill C-31 touch on diverse aspects of election management and conduct, and affect many disparate parts of the Canada Elections Act including: data collection for the purpose of maintaining the National Register of Electors; registration of electors; identification at the polls; access to voting opportunities; and campaigning."

There is more about the progress of the bill as well as background information on the Library of Parliament's LEGISinfo website.

Earlier Library Boy posts on elections and electoral law include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Legal Research Resources from GlobaLex

GlobaLex, an online research collection published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at New York University School of Law, recently released a series of new legal research materials:
  • Immigration Law – A Comparative Approach Guide to Immigration Law of Australia, Canada and the United States: "For each country, this guide will identify key government bodies involved in administering immigration law and organizations involved with immigrants and immigration policy. The guide will also identify select legislation, regulations, case law, secondary sources, fee-based databases and research guides relating to each country’s immigration law and policy. It will report whether each country has acceded to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, two key international conventions concerning refugees. The guide will provide online and print resources for each country’s legislation, regulations, and case law relating to immigration, when available. It will also provide links to select resources relating to refugees for each country. Because of the breadth of the subject area, this guide is not comprehensive but selective. It provides an overview of the resources available and aims to serve as a starting point for those interested in conducting in-depth research in this area. "
  • UPDATE: Basic Guide to Researching Foreign Law: "This guide describes basic strategies for finding the laws of countries other than the U.S, primarily in English. The emphasis is on codes and laws rather than cases. The guide will also help you find secondary materials that describe other countries' laws. It includes links to websites and to other guides. "
  • UPDATE: Researching the United Nations: Finding the Organization's Internal Resource Trails: "The United Nations is such a massive organization that its wide array of processes and products require enough reference sources to warrant a map and compass for navigation. As a map, here are suggested search techniques for several standard types of queries and, as a compass, here are the U.N.'s many diverse search tools organized into resource types." The standard queries include finding people in the U.N. system, issues handled by the U.N., the work of one U.N. entity and treaties. The research tools covered include glossaries, operating documents, topical search guides, system-wide databases, database training manuals, and directories.
  • UPDATE: A Guide to Fee-Based U. S. Legal Research Databases: "This guide is designed primarily for non-U.S. legal researchers. It describes several providers of legal research databases, focusing on fee-based sources."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

The Globe and Mail has been running a series of articles by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, co-authors of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, a book being published this week.

Here are the parts in the series:
  • Peer Pioneers - A new world: Get your mass collaboration road map set (December 26, 2006): "So pervasive and enduring has the hierarchical mode of organization been that most people assume that there are no viable alternatives. That is, until a new generation of user-friendly collaboration tools unleashed a new force on the world. It's like someone uncorked the bottle of human ingenuity. Empowered by the growing accessibility of information technologies, millions of people already join forces in self-organized collaborations that produce dynamic new goods and services that rival those of the world's largest and best-financed enterprises. Though it is unlikely that hierarchies will disappear in the foreseeable future, it's clear that the traditional business enterprise is no longer the sole engine of wealth creation in the economy."
  • Ideagoras - Web's greatest asset: A new marketplace for ideas (December 27, 2006): "The late-19th century chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur famously said that chance favours the prepared mind. The same could be said of innovation. Companies face tough dilemmas every day for which there is a uniquely prepared mind somewhere in the world that possesses the right combination of expertise and experience to solve that problem. Conventional wisdom says firms should seek to hire such people and retain them within their boundaries. After all, such uniquely prepared minds outside your company can be illusive. But today, thanks to the Web, a new marketplace for ideas, innovations, and uniquely qualified minds is changing everything."
  • Prosumers - 'Second Life' is a signpost for the future: Fabricated online environment an exciting, long-term engine of change, innovation (December 28, 2006): "In 1999, Philip Rosedale invented a business that most of us would only dream of. The peculiar part is that in Rosedale's business, customers do 99 per cent of the work. His 'product' is a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG, for short) called Second Life, a fascinating world where more than 400,000 participants socialize, entertain and transact in a virtual environment fabricated almost entirely by its users... Some analysts have written about Second Life -- but all have missed the most important point. Players like Anshe Chung and indeed all players in Second Life, are not just consumers of game content; they are at once developers, community members and entrepreneurs. This means Second Life is no typical 'product,' and it's not even a typical video game. It's created almost entirely by its customers -- you could say the consumers are also the producers, or the 'prosumers'. "
  • The New Alexandrians - Lessons learned from the ancient Greeks (December 29, 2006): "The Alexandrian Greeks were inspired by a simple, but powerful idea: Collect all of the books, all of the histories, all of the great literature, all of the plays, all of the mathematical and scientific treatises of the age and store them in one building. In other words, take the sum of mankind's knowledge and share it for the betterment of science, the arts, wealth, and the economy. The Alexandrians came very, very close to achieving that goal. At the collection's crowning glory, estimates suggest they had accumulated more than half a million volumes."
  • Platforms for Innovation - Smart companies lay their cards on the table (December 30, 2006): "Conventional wisdom says that 'being open' is rather like inviting your competitor into your home only to have them steal your lunch. But in an economy where innovation is fast, fluid, and distributed, conventional wisdom is being challenged. A growing number of smart companies are learning that openness is a force for growth and competitiveness. As long as you're smart about how and when, you can blow open the windows and unlock the doors to build vast business ecosystems on top of what we call 'platforms for innovation'."
  • The Global Plant Floor - China's motorbike industry's decentralized model holds lessons for all manufacturers (January 1, 2007): "The characteristics that make the Chinese motorcycle industry competitive also make for a particularly fascinating tale of how mass collaboration has the potential to reshape even the most stodgy manufacturing firms. Unlike traditional manufacturing industries, where tightly regimented production hierarchies spit out end products under the command of a single leader, the Chinese motorcycle industry consists of hundreds of different companies that collaborate on motorcycle design and manufacturing. "
  • 'Us' power (January 2, 2007): "But if an army marching in lockstep to tightly arranged military music is a metaphor for yesterday's workplace, the workplace of the future will be more like a jazz ensemble, where musicians improvise creatively around an agreed key, melody, and tempo. Mass collaboration is already transforming the way goods and services are created throughout the economy, and it is now becoming a growing force in today's workplace, including a few of the world's largest companies. Much of this is due to a younger generation of workers that embraces new Web-based tools in a way that often confounds older generations but promises real advantages for companies that adapt their style of working."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:54 pm 1 comments links to this post

Conference on 25th Anniversary of the Charter of Rights

The McGill Institute for the Study of Canada is hosting a conference from February 14 to 16 entitled The Charter @ 25.

"Our goal is to assemble a broad cross-section of people who can offer unique insights into the changes that have been effected by the Charter and offer a glimpse into the future. The Institute’s approach is unique such that the conference is not designed as a mere celebration of the anniversary of the Charter but rather as a ‘cerebration’, a reflection on the past, an analysis of the present and an anticipation of future developments."

Further details:

Library and Archives Canada has also prepared an online exhibit for the anniversary.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 01, 2007

Banished Words List of 2006

It has been a tradition since Jan. 1, 1976 for Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie, Michigan to publish its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.

The list is published every New Year's Day.

As usual, this 32nd compilation has been put together from the thousands of nominations received from the general public.

Among the choices for 2006 are:
  • Combined celebrity names like Brangelina
  • Awesome
  • Gone missing
  • Now playing in theaters
  • We're pregnant
  • Drug deal gone bad
  • i-Anything

Earlier Library Boy posts about word lists include:

  • "Podcast" Named Word of the Year, "Blog" Chosen as Word to be Banished (December 12, 2005): "The Oxford American Dictionary has selected podcast as their word of the year. Among the runner-ups were: bird flu, IDP (internally displaced person), IED (a kind of bomb), persistent vegetative state, rootkit, and sudoku."
  • Banished Words List 2006 (January 2, 2006): "Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie (Michigan) is continuing its tradition of compiling an annual Banished Words List, or 'List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness' first launched in 1976'."
  • American Dialect Society Words of the Year 2005: Legal Expressions 'Patent Troll', 'Extraordinary Rendition' Make List (January 11, 2006): "A few other law-related terms scored highly in the 'most euphemistic' category (hmmmm, I wonder why): 'internal nutrition: force-feeding a prisoner against his or her will' and 'extraordinary rendition: the surrendering of a suspect or detainee to another jurisdiction, especially overseas' (in order to be tortured by a friendly dictatorship with less regard for the niceties of courts and a legal defense)."
  • Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2006 (December 12, 2006): " 'Truthiness', a term coined by the American satirical TV show The Colbert Report, has been chosen as the word of the year by dictionary maker Merriam-Webster. Truthiness is defined as 'truth that comes from the gut, not books", or "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true'. It was the American Dialect Society word of the year in 2005."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Collection of "Best of 2006" Lists

The website Fimoculous brings together a wide-ranging and very eclectic collection of "best of" lists for 2006.

It has everything from Best Book Covers (Bookslut) to Worst Movie Trailers (iFilm) and from Top 100 Wines (Wine Spectator) to Sexiest Man Alive (Salon) and ranges through the worlds of advertising, architecture, art, automobiles, books, comics, DVDs, films, food/drink, gadgets, games, ideas, media, music, online, paranormal (!), people, photos, sports, tech/science, theatre, toys, travel, TV, videos, words and miscellaneous.

Other lists about events in 2006 can be found in various locations on the Net. Resourceshelf lists many of them in its Year-End Wrap-Ups category.

Related Library Boy post:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:40 pm 0 comments links to this post