Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 List of Banished Words

Lake Superior State University in Michigan has just published its 2009 List of Banished Words, aka the "34th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness".

The list started in 1976 and is based on submissions by the general public.

Among this year's list are:
  • "green" anything
  • carbon footprint and carbon offset
  • maverick
  • bailout
  • Wall Street vs. Main Street (I suppose the Canadian equivalent "Bay Street vs. Main Street" would also qualify)
  • iconic
  • game changer
  • it's that time of the year again (for making lists?)
The previous lists are archived on the university website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Ten Library Stories of 2008

LISNews, the library and information science news service, has listed its Ten Stories That Shaped 2008: lawsuits and censorship, the Google copyright settlement, e-books and Kindle, Wikipedia and video games.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Impact of Forensic Neuroscience on Criminal Justice

The most recent issue of LLRX.com features the article Neurolaw and Criminal Justice:
"Rapid advancements in forensic neuroscience are having an impact on criminal justice. The use of neuroimaging has emerged from medical analysis identifying abnormalities and dysfunctions to delving into lie detection and decision making. The courts are facing evidence about what the brain's form and function can reveal about human behavior and knowledge (...)"

"This article highlights selected recent publications, news sources and other online materials concerning the applications of cognitive research to criminal law as well as basic information on the science and technology involved."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:51 pm 1 comments links to this post

Do People Trust Web-Based Surveys Enough to Participate?

The most recent issue of Current Cites, an online bibliography of IT-related material hosted by OCLC, lists the article Effects of innovativeness and trust on web survey participation from the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

More and more, libraries are using web-based surveys to evaluate user responses to services and products.

The article examines how people react when they encounter an online survey, taking into account 2 factors: trust in the sponsor of the survey, and the user's comfort level with web-based technology ("personal web innovativeness").

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Australia Will Implement Law Reform Commission Proposals on Sedition

It is nice to see that law reform commissions have influence on policy.

Last week, the government of Australia announced that it accepts some of the major recommendations of the 2006 Australian Law Reform Commission report Fighting Words: A Review of Sedition Laws in Australia.

According to the Commission press release:
"The basic thrust of our recommendations was to create a bright line in the law between free speech—however robust, confronting or unpopular—and conduct calculated to incite violence in the community, which properly should be regarded as criminal activity."

"The law also has to be clear enough to ensure that media commentators, satirists, artists and activists are not only safe from criminal prosecution, but also from the 'chilling effect' of uncertainty."

"Context is critical in these circumstances, so the courts should be required to take into account whether the conduct in question was a part of artistic expression; or genuine academic or scientific discussion; or a news report or commentary ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Law Commission of New Zealand Paper on Suppressing Names

Yesterday, the Law Commission of New Zealand released a discussion paper entitled Suppressing Names and Evidence that seeks to encourage public discussion of sections of the country's Criminal Justice Act 1985 that allow for exceptions to the open courts principle:
"The principle of public access to the courts is an essential element of our system of justice. The principle requires, as a general rule, that the courts conduct their business publicly unless this would result in injustice. Open justice has been regarded as an important safeguard against judicial bias, unfairness and incompetence, ensuring that judges are accountable in the performance of their judicial duties (...)"

"But the principle of open justice is not absolute. There are exceptions to it, which result from an even more fundamental principle that the chief object of courts of justice must be to secure that justice is done. Situations sometimes arise in which doing justice in public would frustrate justice itself. In Scott v Scott, the House of Lords stated that it was generally for Parliament and not the courts to determine the exceptions to the open justice principle, but exceptions have in fact been developed by both the courts and the legislature (...)"

"The question of suppression is of particular interest to members of the media, who have expressed concern about a number of matters, including a perceived increase in the use of suppression orders (in District Courts in particular), problems in getting access to the terms of suppression orders, and in the way those orders are sometimes framed, and inconsistencies in media standing to challenge orders. In recent months, the way in which the Internet affects suppression orders has also been the subject of some high-profile decisions. The aim of this Issues Paper is to elicit comment and submission as to whether the suppression provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1985 are appropriate: do they impinge too far on the principle of open justice, or do they not offer enough protection when risks to the interests of justice arise?"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 22, 2008

RSS Feeds for Reference Questions Handled by Quebec Law Libraries

I found out today that it is possible to subscribe to RSS feeds from CAIJ (the Centre d'accès à l'information juridique or Legal Information Access Centre, a library network associated with the Quebec Bar Association). The feeds were launched in November.

All the material is in French.

The CAIJ network is composed of a few dozen courthouse libraries, regional libraries, and local service points throughout the province of Quebec.

There are RSS feeds for new library acquisitions, for legislative updates, and for news by topic.

The most interesting RSS feed for me is the one for new reference questions added to the JuriBistro Topo collection. Launched 2 years ago, JuriBistro Topo is a massive knowledgebase containing thousands of legal research questions along with their answers based on the queries local CAIJ outlets receive annually from lawyers across Quebec.

A typical answer will include links or references to the appropriate legislation or regulations, jurisprudence, textbooks and periodical articles, and may provide links to related JuriBistro Topo topics.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:11 pm 1 comments links to this post

Guide to the Google Library Project Settlement

The LLRX.com site has published an article by Jonathan Band that explains how libraries will be affected by the October 28, 2008 settlement of the copyright dispute between Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers.

Here is some background on the dispute in an earlier post.

It is not yet clear how the settlement will ultimately affect Canadian institutions.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Canadian Association of University Teachers on Copyright Fair Dealing

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has released an Intellectual Property Advisory on the issue of fair dealing which is "the right, within limits, to reproduce a substantial amount of a copyrighted work without permission from, or payment to, the copyright owner. Its purpose is to facilitate creativity and free expression by ensuring reasonable access to existing knowledge while at the same time protecting the interests of copyright owners."

The text looks at the current copyright legislation and its judicial interpretation by Canadian courts, the criteria for determining fair dealing, and the areas that require legislative clarification. It also includes an appendix that offers a fair dealing checklist for academics specifically, but that can help other researchers.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Association of Research Libraries Report on Law Library Statistics 2006–2007

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published the ARL Academic Law Library Statistics 2006–2007, which presents data that describe collections, expenditures, personnel, and services in 75 law libraries at ARL member institutions throughout North America.

Highlights:
  • Out of 113 ARL university libraries, 74 responded to this survey.
  • Law libraries reported median values of 332,247 volumes held and 8,399 gross volumes added. Also, these libraries employed the full-time equivalent of 2,201 staff members in the fiscal year 2006–2007.
  • Reporting libraries employed 2,201 FTE staff.
  • They reported total expenditures of $ 208,820,262 (US dollars).
  • Expenditures for materials and staff accounted for the bulk of total expenditures, at 47% and 45% respectively.
  • Law libraries reported a total of $ 17,259,064 on electronic resources, or a median of 18.52% of their total materials budgets. This includes a total of $14,864,912 on electronic serials.
University of Alberta and McGill completed this survey in the past, but chose not to complete this survey in 2006–2007. Canadian ARL members participating in this most recent ARL survey include Université de Montréal, Queen's, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Comparison of U.S. Legislative Resources on Government and Non-Government Web Sites

GPO Access, a U.S. federal service that provides free electronic access to government information, has produced a comparison of American legislative resources available on various government and non-government websites.

The analysis compared the availability, scope and coverage of legislative resources on 4 government websites (GPO Access, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Congressional site THOMAS) and on 4 commercial services (CQ.com, HeinOnline, Lexis-Nexis Congressional, and Westlaw):
"The comparative analysis yielded the following key findings:
  • GPO Access has the largest total number of legislative resources among those evaluated.
  • All Government Web sites, with the exception of GPO Access, utilize at least some external content by linking to other Web sites.
  • On House.gov and Senate.gov, most of the legislative resources link to other Web sites to supplement their information.
  • House.gov and Senate.gov mostly link to GPO Access rather than THOMAS to supplement their information, and in some cases link to both external services.
  • THOMAS links to House.gov for a very small amount of resources.
  • The scope (number of years covered) of most resources on GPO Access is exceeded by the following: House.gov;THOMAS; Lexis-Nexis; HeinOnline; CQ.com
  • Non-Government Web sites possess their own content, but in a very small number of cases will supplement that information with a link to GPO Access, and in one case, a link to a Library of Congress site.
  • Lexis-Nexis, CQ.com, Senate.gov, and THOMAS offer a significant amount of additional legislative resources and features not offered on GPO Access."
[Source: beSpacific]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Key Ontario Players Onside to Speed Up Mega-Trials

According to the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly, there is broad agreement in Ontario on how to implement the recommendations of the recent Code-Lesage report on criminal trial reform in the province.

The article, entitled Key players buy-in to criminal reforms, quotes report co-author Michael Code:
"We have had remarkably good feedback — I think we’ve pushed the justice system to its tolerance points and everybody recognizes it’s time to think seriously to make it more efficient and effective ..."
Code,a University of Toronto professor, and former Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Patrick LeSage were asked in early 2008 by the provincial Attorney General to propose ways to address delays and costs in large and complex criminal cases.

According to the article, the report, which was unveiled in late November, recommended:
"standardized disclosure to the defence; implementing vigorous case management by experienced judges to focus the issues of the case, especially at the pre-trial stage; reforming Legal Aid’s budget-setting practices, including paying senior barristers substantially more to handle complex cases, and rigorously overseeing less experienced counsel who are handling long, complex cases, and; advising, directing, and, when necessary, disciplining, individual Crown counsel and defence counsel who are uncivil in the courtroom, or who otherwise fail to properly conduct long, complex cases ..."
The report as well as background information on the issues can be found on the Ontario Attorney General website.

Earlier Library Boy posts on reforming the Ontario criminal justice system include:
  • Ontario Launches Review of Complex Criminal Cases (February 25, 2008): "Patrick LeSage, former chief justice of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, and Michael Code, a University of Toronto law professor, have been assigned by the Ontario government to lead a review of large and complex criminal case procedures."
  • Government May Consider Radical Reforms To Fix Broken Criminal Trial System (April 8, 2008): "At a recent University of Ottawa conference, University of Toronto law professor Michael Code warned that 'unprofessional conduct' by defence and Crown attorneys in large criminal cases has governments contemplating far-reaching reforms to make the trial process more efficient (...) some of the changes being debated behind the scenes include: '(...) expanding the power of judges to vigorously manage the seemingly endless pretrial motions; restricting the timing, procedure and form of disclosure; expanding legal aid officials’ ability to oversee and restrain the legal aid budgets of long criminal trials, and restructuring the legal aid tariff to economically reward brevity and efficiency and deter inefficiency; and adding jury alternates to ensure that long, arduous trials don’t end in mistrials because jury members have dropped out'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Canadian Journal on Elder Law

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law has released the first issue of the Canadian Journal of Elder Law.

It describes itself as the first Canadian peer-reviewed journal focused on elder law issues.

The Centre was established in 2003 by the British Columbia Law Institute.

[Source: Courthouse Libraries BC]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

Updated Research Guide on Australian Law

The GlobaLex website at New York University has published an updated version of its Guide to Online Research Resources for the Australian Federal Legal System.

The Guide is written by Petal Kinder, Court Librarian at the High Court of Australia.

It covers the structure of government and of the judicial system, the law reporting system, methods for locating case law, legislation, parliamentary documents, legislative histories, treaties, and secondary sources.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Foreign Law Sources at the Supreme Court

Last week, Rosalie Fox, director of the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada, presented a paper at the European Legal e-Access Conference in Paris that used citation analysis to, among other things, look at the use of foreign sources in the Court's decisions for 2006 and 2007. (The conference website has details about the rest of the program.)

Originally, the data was compiled to study the degree to which cited material was available locally in the Court's own print and electronic collections. But it was also used to determine the extent to which the Court used foreign legal sources:
"Whereas in the 50 years between 1944 and 1993 the Supreme Court cited to foreign court decisions (UK, US and other countries) 34.59% of the time, by 2006 and 2007 the percentage had dropped to 9% and 13.7% respectively. Cases from the UK, followed by the US, still predominate. We are starting, however, to see an increase in the importance of Australia, the European Court of Human Rights, the South African Constitutional Court and the Israeli Supreme Court."

"But far from seeing a decline in the influence of international law on domestic law, judges and legal scholars alike agree that globalization has had a profound effect on judging. Globalization in judging means that courts now look all over the world for sources of persuasive authority, particularly in the areas of human rights law, trade, terrorism, extradition, and intellectual property, to name just a few (...)"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Law Commission of New Zealand Report on Organization of Statutes

Today, the Law Commission of Law Zealand tabled its report on the Presentation of Statute Law in the national parliament.

According to the foreword:

"The New Zealand statute book is both massive and unmanageable."

"The New Zealand statute book has no index. This report recommends one. It is difficult to navigate one’s way around the New Zealand statute book. It is easy to overlook important provisions because they are not where they may be expected to be."

"Now that all New Zealand statutes are accessible on-line free of charge to everyone, things are much better than they were. But the new technology allows us to make more improvements still. We need to do better in arranging our statute book so that people who need to use it can find their way around it more
easily. We need to have better ways of weeding out outdated legislation that is no longer used. "

"We also have a bad habit in New Zealand of passing big amending Acts, sometimes on several occasions. This has the consequence of rendering incoherent the statute as a whole. It would be better in many instances to start again and re-enact the whole thing rather than adopt a sort of cut and fill approach."

"This report contains some quite far-reaching recommendations. It recommends an index to New Zealand statute law so the law can be found. It recommends a programme of weeding out statutes that are out-of-date. It recommends a systematic programme for revising statutes in a way to ensure that they are user-friendly. It recommends that the historical statutes that are in danger of self-destructing be saved. "

"The New Zealand statute book is perhaps the most important part of New Zealand’s legal infrastructure. We did a far better job 100 years ago of arranging our statute book, revising it and keeping it up-to-date than we do now. It is time to recapture the best of our old traditions and pay attention to something that really does matter."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Protecting Privacy and the Fight Against Terrorism

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights recently published an issue paper entitled Protecting the right to privacy in the fight against terrorism:


"The issues addressed in this paper (...) touch, on the one hand, fundamental values of a democratic society, raising serious constitutional questions in many States. On the other hand, they relate to a phenomenon - terrorism - in response to which States feel entitled, even obliged, to take the most drastic action."

"Terrorism, however defined, is not a passing phenomenon. While wars or other public emergencies generally have a more or less clear end (even if this can be much delayed), there is no end in sight to the fight against global terrorism. Even at the national level, anti-terrorism legislation tends to become semi-permanent."

"Terrorism, and measures against terrorism, therefore pose a long-term, engrained threat to the fundamental values of the Council of Europe and its Member States. One particular area at risk concerns the collection, storage, analysis, sharing and use of personal data. Data protection is often seen as an obstacle to effective anti-terrorist measures - and thus as a prime area in which basic international commitments are ignored. Yet data protection is crucial to the upholding of fundamental democratic values. It is this tension between strong opposing forces, the desire to prevent terrorism and the importance of protecting human rights, that makes this a matter of pressing concern."
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 for the purpose of promoting the rule of law, pluralist democracy and common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights.

It has 47 member countries and 5 observer nations, including Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 15, 2008

Juristat December 2008 Issue

The most recent issue of Juristat is available on the Statistics Canada website.

Juristat is produced 5 times a year by Statistics Canada. The journal provides analysis and detailed statistics on a variety of justice-related topics and issues, including crime, homicide, the court system, and correctional services.

This issue includes articles on:
  • The changing profile of adults in custody
  • Motor vehicle theft in Canada
  • Private security and public policing
  • An international perspective on criminal victimisation

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

Prorogation Debate Continued

The debate about the recent prorogation of the Canadian Parliament has been continuing in the blogosphere.

A selection:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Research Guide on European Union Travaux Préparatoires

The Globalex website at the Hauser Global Law School at the New York University School of Law has just published European Union: A Guide to Tracing Working Documents:
"In legal research, particularly in international and comparative law, it is often necessary to trace working documents, or 'travaux préparatoires,' in order to get a clear view of how negotiations have affected the original draft of a document. The status of these documents varies greatly between different countries and organisations - while governments in some countries have long had a culture of openness, others have always preferred secrecy. Reports or articles may often refer to documents to which the author has had privileged access; often the sources are not indicated and this can be very frustrating for researchers (...)"

"The situation in the European Union is further complicated because some of the working documents involved originate in the European institutions, while others come from individuals or governments in the member states. In the formative years of the European Communities, which later evolved into the European Union, documents had a relatively informal status. Although many documents relating to the early treaties have been deposited in the official archives, they are not generally available in any other form. Because the proceedings of the institutions and of legislative or treaty negotiations have always been multi-lingual, many documents will only be available in French or German, although official documents were often translated into English even before the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community in 1973."

"Success in tracing working papers depends to a great extent on how complete a reference has been given and whether a document has ever had an official status. Many papers presented at conferences or meetings will have been circulated previously, but the discussions will generally only be summarised at a later date and are unlikely to be publicly available. As working papers generally relate either to the legislative process or to policy development, they will frequently be allocated multiple references, depending on the context, and this can cause confusion (...)"

"This article aims to clarify some of the distinctions between different categories of working documents and provides details of some of the databases and collections which are essential for research into the workings of the European Union."

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

Sunday, December 14, 2008

National Journal and Government Executive Team Up for Obama Transition

The two U.S. publications National Journal and Government Executive have launched Lost in Transition: Helping You Navigate The Presidential Handover.

It offers news and analysis of the Obama transition.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Library of Parliament Publication on Federal Lobbying System

The most recent Weekly Checklist of Government Publications lists The Federal Lobbying System, written by Nancy Holmes of the Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Library of Parliament:
"Until July 2008, lobbying at the federal level in Canada was governed by the Lobbyists Registration Act, which came into force in 1989 and established a registration system intended to foster the public’s right to know and to be informed regarding who is trying to influence government policy in this country."

"In December 2006, the Federal Accountability Act made substantive amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act, including renaming the law the Lobbying Act, presumably because it seeks to regulate the activities of lobbyists, rather than simply monitor them by means of a registry system. The Lobbying Act came into force on 2 July 2008. This paper will review the legislative history of the Lobbying Act as well as outline the changes to the lobbying system brought about by the Federal Accountability Act."
The document describes the role of the Commissioner of Lobbying, an independent Officer of Parliament; the disclosure requirements for lobbyists who communicate with federal public office holders on behalf of a third party; offenses and sanctions; and the new lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

The Weekly Checklist includes a listing of book and serial titles which have been released during the previous week by the Parliament of Canada, federal departments, and Statistics Canada.

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

How Much Influence Do Law Clerks Have on the U.S. Supreme Court?

There is an article in the current issue of the DePaul Law Review entitled Law Clerk Influence on Supreme Court Decision Making: An Empirical Assessment.

In it, Todd C. Peppers (Associate Professor of Political Science, Roanoke College) and Christopher Zorn (Professor of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University) describe the results of their empirical study into the potential influence that U.S. Supreme Court law clerks may have on how cases are selected and decided:
"Drawing upon original survey data on the political ideology of 532 former law clerks, we evaluate the extent to which both the Justice’s personal policy preferences and those of his or her law clerks exert an independent influence on the Justice’s votes. While our results are preliminary, they nonetheless support the contention that — over and above 'selection effects' due to Justices choosing like-minded clerks — clerks’ ideological predilections exert an additional, and not insubstantial, influence on the Justices’ decisions on the merits. In Part II, we first present a short overview of the evolution of the rules and norms surrounding the hiring and utilization of law clerks at the United States Supreme Court, paying special attention to the job duties of clerks on the current Supreme Court. Drawing upon principal-agent theory, in Section II.B, we then discuss the dynamics between law clerks and Justices and the conditions that must be present before law clerks can wield influence. Finally, in Parts III, IV, and V, we propose and empirically test a model of Supreme Court decision making that includes the preferences of law clerks as a separate independent variable."
On December 8, 2008, the New York Times discussed the Peppers-Zorn study.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 11, 2008

British Columbia Statutes and Regulations Available for Free in 2009

The government of British Columbia announced this week that the province's statutes and regulations will be available online for free as of January 1, 2009:

"Free access to up-to-date statutes and regulations is made possible through a partnership between the Ministry of Attorney General, Queen’s Printer, the Law Society of British Columbia and the Law Foundation of British Columbia. The current legislation can be located on the Queen’s Printer website, www.BCLaws.ca, starting Jan. 1, 2009."

(...)

"The redesigned website allows the public to access up-to-date statutes and regulations previously only available by subscription to QP LegalEze ..."

"As part of this initiative, B.C.’s statutes and regulations will also be published on the Canadian Legal Information Institute website at www.canlii.org. Known as CanLII, this non-profit organization’s goal is to make Canadian law accessible for free on the Internet. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Australian Law Reform Commission Review of Secrecy Laws

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released a consultation paper on Secrecy Laws.

In the accompanying press release, the Commission President David Weisbrot is quoted as saying:

"The federal statute book has become riddled with secrecy provisions, which make unauthorised disclosure of government information a criminal offence. So far the ALRC has identified over 370 distinct secrecy provisions scattered across 166 pieces of legislation—many more than we expected to find. "

"Some of these laws relate to matters of national security or other classified or sensitive information, and seem appropriate. However, we're less sure about the need for secrecy provisions in such laws as the Dental Benefits Act, the Dairy Produce Act or the Port Statistics Act. "

"A threshold question is whether we should ever charge someone with a crime for disclosing information that a citizen has the right to obtain under Freedom of Information laws? And how do we reconcile the increasing need of public officials to share information with each other and with the private sector to tackle the big issues facing us, such as terrorism, climate change and dealing with the global financial crisis?"

"We seem to be caught in a time warp, between an old culture of secrecy in government and more modern ideas about the fundamental importance to democracy of ensuring openness and accountability."

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Amnesty International Canada is inviting people to get involved by participating in Write-A-Thon events taking across in hundreds of locations across the country.

More background:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:30 am 0 comments links to this post

New LexisNexis Supreme Court of Canada Newsletter

LexisNexis has announced the launch of a new Newsletter on Quicklaw: the Supreme Court of Canada NetLetter.

"Issues will be added on Thursdays and/or Fridays if and when the Supreme Court of Canada releases judgment(s) and/or ruling(s) for leave to appeal."

"Users can read individual issues or perform targeted searches of the entire collection of case law digests reported in the NetLetter. All case law citations are hyperlinked to full-text cases on Quicklaw and to QuickCITE™ Case Citator records."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:04 am 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Opportunities For Commercial Legal Publishers

This a follow-up to the Library Boy post of December 2, 2008 entitled Ontario e-Laws Now Official Source of Legislation.

Yesterday on slaw.ca, Gary P. Rodrigues wrote about the possible consequences for commercial legal publishers now that Canadian jurisdictions are starting to declare that the online versions of their statutes have official status:
"At some point, one can anticipate that one or more commercial publisher will take the next step and combine their existing annotated statutes with new content online to create a comprehensive collection of 'Statutes of Canada Annotated' or the Statutes Annotated of a province. Existing content could be used as a base on which to add annotations to the remaining statutes in stages."

"At the very least, one can expect that commercial publishers will seek to make arrangements with governments to make the official content available online to their subscribers. Licensing the official content at little or no cost from governments should provide an opportunity for the commercial publishers to reduce costs while enhancing the authority of their content offering. While the quality of the commercial databases is at least equal to that of the various governments, they can never be 'official'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:14 am 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 08, 2008

New Evaluation of Google Scholar

Peter Jacso of the University of Hawaii has recently published SAVVY SEARCHING - Google Scholar revisited in the Online Information Review, Vol 32, Issue 1 (2008) - reprinted on his own website.

Google Scholar is a "federated search engine" that searches across multiple databases offering scholarly content. Access to the full-text depends on a particular institution's subscriptions but it is a useful finding tool.

Jacso analyzes the pros and cons of the popular tool:

"Its content has grown significantly - courtesy of more academic publishers and database hosts opening their digital vaults to allow the crawlers of Google Scholar to collect data from and index the full-text of millions of articles from academic journal collections and scholarly repositories of preprints and reprints. The Google Books project also has given a massive and valuable boost to the already rich and diverse content of Google Scholar. The dark side of the growth is that significant gaps remained for top ranking journals and serials, and the number of duplicate, triplicate and quadruplicate records for the same source documents (which Google Scholar cannot detect reliably) has increased."

"While the regular Google service does an impressive job with mostly unstructured web pages, the software of Google Scholar keeps doing a very poor job with the highly structured and tagged scholarly documents. It still has serious deficiencies with basic search operations, does not have any sort options (beyond the questionable relevance ranking). It recklessly offers filtering features by data elements, which are present only in a very small fraction of the records (such as broad subject categories) and/or are often absent and incorrect in Google Scholar even if they are present correctly in the source items."

Earlier Library Boy posts about Google Scholar and other federated search tools include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Computers in Libraries 2009 Conference Program Available

The program for the 2009 Computers in Libraries conference is up on the Web.

The conference takes place March 30 - April 1, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 06, 2008

FINTRAC 2007-2008 Annual Report on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

The Canadian government has tabled the 2007-2008 Annual Report of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

The report outlines financial transactions the Centre suspects would be relevant to investigations of money laundering, terrorist activity financing or other threats to the security of Canada.

Last tear, the Centre provided intelligence to law enforcement agencies in more than 200 criminal investigations, including the case of an international criminal gang producing and trafficking methamphetamine ("crystal meth").

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Legal Publisher 2009 Price Trends

The Vendor Liaison Committee of the Canadian Association of Law Librarians (CALL) has compiled some preliminary information about price trends for Canadian law publications in 2009.

The information is not on the committee website but was made available to CALL members last week.

Here is a run-down of what is in store next year:
  • Emond Montgomery Publications: marginal price increases. The backlist had a small increase.
  • Irwin Law: no major increases planned. Backlist pricing has remained stable.
  • Carswell: price increases will be proportionate to anticipated increases in costs such as but not limited to, editorial, materials, production, and labour. They continue to closely monitor freight rates, occasional fuel surcharges and other levies passed along to them by the major carriers. If the current lower fuel prices remain in effect for the mid to long term, they commit to reviewing and responding in an appropriate manner.
  • CCH: Legal/Business subscription products will be increased to reflect the rising cost of doing business, therefore increase range will be in the 5-11% range. Some products will see a more modest increase of 3% while certain selected products that have received significant investment in substantial enhancements, will receive slightly higher increases. The price increase for books should be in the 5% range. Online products price increase is in the range of 4-5%. Shipping and handling will remain the same.
  • Canada Law Book: 4% to 6% price increase across products with some products seeing higher increases, or no increases at all. Subscription based titles will vary based on the number of releases and the change in content. Online resources are anticipated to have no price increases for 2009, unless the content of the product changes significantly. Customers may see a standard 3% to 5% increase for shipping and handling in 2009.
  • LexisNexis: Print products will increase on average in the range of 4-6% next year. Online pricing increases will be in the range of 3-6%. No plans yet to reduce shipping charges.
  • SOQUIJ: average of 2.5% increase on publications; for online services, an increase in the range of 2.5% to 4% is expected.
  • Wilson & Lafleur: Subscription renewal increases will be in the range of 1.5 to 2%. Current titles will be holding at 2008 prices. New edition titles will be comparable to last year.
  • Éditions Yvon Blais: 4-5% tentative increase. The price for online services is still being reviewed.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 05, 2008

40% Off Information Today Book Titles During Holiday Blowout Sale

U.S.-based library and information sciences publisher Information Today is offering 40% off book orders placed online during the holiday season.

"The discount applies to the regular retail cover price of each book and cannot be combined with other discounts. Directories and periodicals are excluded from this offer. Standard shipping rates apply. For international orders please email our customer service department at custserv [AT] infotoday.com for shipping costs."
There are some 150 titles available from CyberAge Books, American Society for Indexing, American Society for Information Science & Technology, and Plexus Publishing.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

More Obama Presidential Transition Resources

On November 22, 2008, LLRX.com published The Government Domain: Tracking the Transition:

"Everyone wants to know who’s who, or who will be who, in the Barack Obama administration. Luckily, there is no shortage of free online presidential transition trackers."
This is a follow-up to earlier posts:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Call for Nominations: Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL / ACBD) has opened the nomination period for the 10th Annual Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing.

The award was created:

"as a means of acknowledging the work that is done by publishers to provide the legal profession with high quality materials for use in understanding and researching the law".

"The award may be given for a wide variety of publishing endeavours - a specific book, series, service, or a particularly innovative publishing venture or body of work. All formats are eligible, including print, electronic and audio-visual. English and French-language publications will be considered. The intent is to recognize excellence in any form."
The deadline for nominations is January 14, 2009. Nominations, either in English or French, will be considered by the Award Committee in early 2009.

All nominations should include the name of the publisher, the title of the publication and the reason why it is worthy of consideration. In addition, the names of 2 additional CALL/ACBD members who will support the nomination need to be included.

Submissions should be sent to the Chair of the Selection Committee:

Johanne Blenkin
Executive Director
Courthouse Libraries BC
800 Smithe Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2E1
Tel: 604-660-2409
email: johanne.blenkin [AT] bccls.bc.ca

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Arbour Winner of UN Human Rights Prize

The Honourable Madam Justice Louise Arbour, who was a judge at the Supreme Court of Canada from 1999 to 2004, has been named one of the recipients of the 2008 United Nations Human Rights Prize.

Madam Arbour also served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2004 until 2008 and as Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, in which capacity she indicted former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

5 other individuals as well the NGO Human Rights Watch are also recipients of this year's prize.

The UN General Assembly established the prize 40 years ago. It recognizes "outstanding achievements in the field of human rights."

The awards will be presented at a ceremony in New York on 10 December to mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:06 pm 1 comments links to this post

Law Commission of New Zealand 2007-2008 Annual Report

The 2007-2008 annual report of the Law Commission of New Zealand is available online:

"[A]t the beginning of the 2007/08 financial year the Commission carried over nine projects which were ‘work in progress’ from the 2006/07 work programme plus one new project, a review of the Land Transfer Act 1952. The eleven projects were as follows:

  • Search and surveillance powers
  • Criminal defences – provocation and insanity
  • Review of the law of privacy
  • Simplification of criminal procedure
  • Admissibility of previous convictions
  • Review of maximum penalties
  • Review of the law relating to public inquiries
  • Tribunals reform
  • Presentation of New Zealand statute law
  • Review of the Land Transfer Act 1954
  • Development of the inaugural sentencing guidelines in the Sentencing
  • Establishment Unit "

"In September (...) a further seven reform projects were added to the 2007/08 work programme:

  • Review of the Civil List Act 1979
  • Review of the Statutes Drafting and Compilation Act 1920
  • Review of the law relating to private schools
  • Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975
  • Review of Part 8 of the Crimes Act 1961
  • Review of prerogative writs
  • Review of the War Pensions Act 1954"

"The Commission was also invited to participate in the following work being progressed by other agencies, including:

  • Review of the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966, with the Ministry of Health
  • Further reform of habeas corpus procedure with the Crown Law Office
  • Reducing the level and impact of organised crime in New Zealand, with the Ministry of Justice. "

"In January 2008 (...) the Commission received a reference from Government to consider and report on whether existing legislation should be amended to cover the conduct of individuals that creates risk to or public concern about the preservation of public safety and security. The public safety and security project will concentrate on the state of New Zealand’s existing domestic law, particularly the offences contained in the Crimes Act, Arms Act and Terrorism Suppression Act."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Privacy Commissioner of Canada 2007-2008 Annual Report to Parliament

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada today tabled her annual report to Parliament.

In the accompanying press release, the Office of the Commissioner explains:

"The Commissioner’s latest Annual Report to Parliament on the Privacy Act, which was tabled today, describes how privacy and security problems in Canada’s passport operations added up to a significant risk for Canadians applying for passports."

"The annual report also highlights the Commissioner’s concerns that the online posting of personal information by some federal administrative and quasi-judicial bodies does not strike the right balance between the public interest and privacy rights (...) "

"The Commissioner agreed that the 'open court' principle is an important part of Canada’s legal system, but noted there is a crucial distinction between the courts and the bodies the OPC investigated: The Privacy Act does not apply to the courts, but it does apply to many administrative tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies."

"In order to respect their obligations under the Privacy Act, the Commissioner recommended, among other steps, that the bodies reasonably depersonalize decisions posted online by replacing names with random initials. However, the Commissioner noted that, where there is a genuine and compelling public interest in such a disclosure, these bodies have the legal authority under the Act to exercise discretion in disclosing personal information."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of November 16th to 30th, 2008 is 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 loan to authorized libraries.

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

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:44 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Can the Governor General Do?

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:39 pm 1 comments links to this post

Web 2.0 at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK government has created something called Global Conversations, a site that allows members of the public to send questions about British foreign policy to the government.

The questions are posted online and citizens get to vote to determine which ones they want answered. Video responses to the questions by senior Foreign office officials (including the minister David Miliband) are posted online.

[Source: Intute]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:10 pm 0 comments links to this post

New York Times Magazine Profile of "Google Gatekeepers"

According to an article in the most recent issue of The New York Times Magazine, Google's legal team has extraordinary power to decide which videos can be seen by audiences around the world on sites it owns such as YouTube.

The article, Google's Gatekeepers, was written by George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen, author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America.

In the piece, Rosen examines the dilemmas Google faces when confronted by government requests to censor or take down material considered illegal or "offensive" to national feelings or traditions:

"Today the Web might seem like a free-speech panacea: it has given anyone with Internet access the potential to reach a global audience. But though technology enthusiasts often celebrate the raucous explosion of Web speech, there is less focus on how the Internet is actually regulated, and by whom. As more and more speech migrates online, to blogs and social-networking sites and the like, the ultimate power to decide who has an opportunity to be heard, and what we may say, lies increasingly with Internet service providers, search engines and other Internet companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook and even eBay."

"The most powerful and protean of these Internet gatekeepers is, of course, Google. With control of 63 percent of the world’s Internet searches, as well as ownership of YouTube, Google has enormous influence over who can find an audience on the Web around the world. As an acknowledgment of its power, Google has given Nicole Wong [deputy general counsel at Google] a central role in the company’s decision-making process about what controversial user-generated content goes down or stays up on YouTube and other applications owned by Google, including Blogger, the blog site; Picasa, the photo-sharing site; and Orkut, the social networking site. Wong and her colleagues also oversee Google’s search engine: they decide what controversial material does and doesn’t appear on the local search engines that Google maintains in many countries in the world, as well as on Google.com. As a result, Wong and her colleagues arguably have more influence over the contours of online expression than anyone else on the planet. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

More on Free Access to English Reports 1220-1873

This is an update to yesterday's Library Boy post entitled English Reports 1220-1873 Now Free Online.

Today, I received an e-mail update about the decision to make the entire collection of English Reports available for free on CommonLII (Commonwealth Legal Information Institute).

The e-mail was posted on an international law librarians listserv by Professor Graham Greenleaf, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales and Co-Director, Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII):

"The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) is very pleased to announce that last night (1 December) Justice Michael Kirby of Australia's High Court launched a new service, free access to the English Reports 1220-1873 ."

"The English Reports are located on the Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (CommonLII). The data has kindly been provided by Justis as part of its cooperation with AustLII in an Australian Research Council Linkage grant. "

"The English Reports database contains 124,882 cases from 1220-1873."

"The full text of the Reports are searchable, using AustLII's SINO search engine. Users are then provided with the original image of a case when it appears in the search results, sorted in likely order of relevance (date ranking may also be used). The cases are may also be browsed by year or alphabetically."

"The English Reports are searchable either as a separate database or in combination with all of the other databases from common law jurisdictions available via CommonLII (in cooperation with other legal information institutes in the Free Access to Law Movement)."

"All reports have been given an additional citation of the style '[1869] EngR 69' in addition to their original ER and nominate reports citations."

"The English Reports have not previously been available for free online access."

"At the launch, Justice Kirby spoke eloquently of the continuing relevance of the English Reports to today's law, mentioning numerous recent High Court decisions where reasoning found in the English Reports was important. Mr Masoud Gerami, Director of Justis, the suppliers of the digitised copies, spoke (by video) of the value of cooperation between commercial and free access publishers. Ms Shirani de Fontgalland, Head of the Criminal Law Section of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, welcomed the addition of the English Reports to CommonLII on behalf of the Secretariat."

(...)

"To see how the English Reports effect general common law searches, just search from the front page of CommonLII
for anything concerning, say, one of the forms of action (eg 'detinue near (ship or vessel)'), then display the results By Database."

"The new service was developed as part of an Australian Research Council Linkage grant concerning improvements to online case law involving seven industry partners including four courts and tribunals and two legal publishers ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:06 pm 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

English Reports 1220-1873 Now Free Online

CommonLII, the Commonwealth Legal Information Institute, started providing free access this week to the English Reports 1220-1873.

CommonLII provides access to free legal databases from 59 Commonwealth and common law countries and territories and is part of the Free Access to Law Movement.

The English Reports are a reprint in 178 volumes of English judgments from various Courts from the Middle Ages to the 1860s.

Searchable PDFs of the cases contained in the English Reports are also available in the subcription HeinOnline collection.

[Source: slaw.ca]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Ontario e-Laws Now Official Source of Legislation

As of November 30, 2008, electronic copies of Ontario statutes and regulations on the e-Laws website are considered official copies of the law in the province:

"Ontario is one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to recognize its legislation website as an official source of law (...)"

"Both of the following are official:

  • An on-screen display of a statute or regulation viewed on, or downloaded from, the e-Laws website
  • A printout of a statute or regulation viewed on, or downloaded from, the e-Laws website. "

"This applies to the Source Law, Current Consolidated Law and Period in Time Law databases on e-Laws."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:10 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 01, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada Facta Publicly Available as of January 2009

As of January 2009, electronic facta filed in cases before the Supreme Court of Canada will be available on the Court's website. The facta should appear in the Cases Information section of the website.

More details will be forthcoming but here are some essentials:
  • this will cover facta going forward in time; the project does not involve any retrospective publication of facta from older cases
  • initially, the facta will be those of appellants and respondents; intervenor facta are not covered
  • format will be PDF
  • the onus will be on the parties submitting the facta to redact the contents to mask any sensitive personal data

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:20 pm 0 comments links to this post