Monday, July 30, 2018

University of Toronto's LiPaD Project to Digitize Parliamentary Debates

The University of Toronto's UofT News service published an article last week about the LiPaD project at the school.

It is a project to digitize and make public Canada’s federal parliamentary debates going back to the beginning of the 20th century:
"With a click, users can also find more information on parliamentarians, such as their party affiliation and gender. The site is continually adding more information on members, including demographic profiles and election outcomes."

"The process began with Canadiana, a non-profit heritage coalition, which scanned every page of the Hansard and posted them online. But as pictures instead of text, the documents could not be searched with keywords."
The article describes how project participants tackled problems such as bits of dirt or smudges in the print that make optical character recognition difficult.

LiPaD is also adding transcripts of parliamentary committees.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Canadian Federation of Library Associations National Forum Paper on AI and Intellectual Freedom

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations to which the Canadian Association of Libraries is affiliated held its first ever National Forum in Regina, Saskatchewan on May 2, 2018.

Forum participants discussed and helped formulate recommendations for the library community on the two issues of artificial intelligence and intellectual freedom.

On AI, the National Forum Paper stated:
"A clear consensus among working groups was the need for education, AI literacy and awareness among MIS and MLIS students and library staff so that we may be leaders in our own education and the education of our patrons. There is a strong desire for education and a curriculum that includes information on the risks of sharing information, privacy concerns, informed consent, algorithmic literacy, skills training and basics such as incorporating how Facebook uses your information into ‘How to use Facebook’ sessions. Table discussions included calls for position statements and policy positions from CFLA-FCAB to start a conversation about the issues and articulate opportunities and limitations, risks and benefits to inform policy."
On intellectual freedom, the paper recommended:
"The common theme that arose from the table discussions was the need, at all levels from national to local, for all libraries as well as CFLA-FCAB member associations, for a toolkit to deal with both proactive and reactive action on this topic. The toolkit might comprise: 
  • Templates for policy and procedure, going beyond traditional materials reconsideration requests and including programs, room bookings, etc.
  • Media, communications and advocacy training and templates as well as access to expert advice
  • Program and collection development tools to balance controversial expression by facilitating opposing sides and marginalized voices; this may include guidance on conversation programming, on displays, and on collection balance. 
  • Tools for educating staff, public, governing boards, and administrators on libraries’ support intellectual freedom 
  • Guidance and templates on responding to specific challenges, including a mechanism to express national library community support, and sample conversation talking points for acknowledging a complainant’s valid concerns
  • If possible, a dedicated fund to support smaller institutions’ expenses in defending an intellectual freedom challenge."

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

ABA Journal's List of the 25 Greatest Legal Movies

The ABA Journal has a recent feature article on The 25 greatest legal movies:
"Ten years ago, the ABA Journal published a cover story called 'The 25 Greatest Legal Movies,' a roster of top-notch legal-themed films drawn from a panel of judges that included lawyers, law professors and, yes, an actual judge."

"We wanted to update the list this year and decided to broaden the scope to consider films that tell stories outside the typical courtroom drama—films that examine how the legal system intersects with our lives in different ways."

"Once again, we’ve asked a panel to weigh in and recommend their favorite legal-themed films, including those released in the decade since our last top-25 list. The judges voted for many of the classics from our 2008 list, along with some newer films we hope will get you thinking about the reach of the law in new ways."
Judges included:
  •  Michael Asimow, visiting professor at Stanford Law School, co-author with Paul Bergman of Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies, co-author of Law and Popular Culture: A Course Book and editor of Lawyers in Your Living Room! Law on Television
  • Paul Bergman, professor of law emeritus, UCLA, co-author of Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies
  • Ron Klain, former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden and former senior White House aide to President Barack Obama.  
  • Judge Beth Bloom, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
  • William Treanor, dean of the Georgetown University Law Center
  • Kevin Davis, assistant managing editor, ABA Journal, author of The Wrong Man, Defending the Damned and The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America’s Courtrooms
  • Linda Fairstein, former prosecutor

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ode to the Microfilm Reader

A few days ago, The Atlantic published a lovely article entitled Microfilm Lasts Half a Millennium.

Ugly and unloved, the microfilm machine still remains very useful:
"Unlike a computer—even an old one—it was heavy and ungainly. It would not fit into a car, and it could not be carried by two people for more than a few feet. Even moving the thing was an embarrassment. No one wanted it, but no one wanted me to have it around either."

"And yet the microfilm machine is still widely used. It has centuries of lasting power ahead of it, and new models are still being manufactured. It’s a shame that no intrigue will greet their arrival, because these machines continue to prove essential for preserving and accessing archival materials (...)"

"The xkcd comic gets a laugh because it seems absurd to suggest microfilm as the most reliable way to store archives, even though it will remain reliable for 500 years. Its lasting power keeps it a mainstay in research libraries and archives. But as recent cutting-edge technologies approach ever more rapid obsolescence, past (and passed-over) technologies such as the microfilm machine won’t go away. They’ll remain, steadily doing the same work they have done for the past century for another five more at least—provided the libraries they are stored in stay open, and the humans that would read and interpret their contents survive."

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Monday, July 23, 2018

International Plain Language Conference in Montreal in October

Clarity, an international professional association that promotes the use of plain legal language, is holding its 2018 conference in Montreal from October 25 to 27.

Membership includes judges, lawyers, government representatives, legislative drafters, writing instructors, NGOs and business people.

Speakers will tackle topics such as reader-centered communications, approaches to teaching plain language, accessibility in the digital age, etc.

The Chief Justice of Canada, The Right Honourable Richard Wagner, will be the guest of honour and speaker at the opening reception.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

List of Fastcase 50 Legal Innovators for 2018

Fastcase, an American-based provider of electronic versions of U.S. primary law (cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions), has unveiled its list of Fastcase 50 winners for the year 2018.
"Created in 2011, each year the Fastcase 50 award honors a diverse group of lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, judges, law librarians, bar association executives, and people from all walks of life. In many cases, honorees are well known, but in many others, the award recognizes people who have made important, but unheralded contributions."
There are a number of law librarians in the list:
  • Kenton Brice, Director of Technology Innovation, The University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • Femi Cadmus, Edward Cornell Law Librarian, Associate Dean for Library Services, and Professor of the Practice, Cornell Law School
  • Kate Hagan, Executive Director, American Association of Law Libraries
  • Saskia Mehlhorn, Director of Knowledge Management & Library Services, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
Simon Fodden, the founder of Slaw.ca, Canada's preeminent online legal magazine, was recognized as one of the Fastcase 50 in 2014.

Michael Mills, one of the Fastcase 50 in 2012, wrote in 2015 on LinkedIn about how the winners of the previous 5 years had begun to form an ecosystem of innovation:
“They champion transparency—in lawyer/client relations, in government data, policy, and practice, in judicial proceedings, and in legal education. They advocate for access—to the law itself, and to justice. They build structures, systems, and tools for access, quality, economy, and efficiency.”

They also collaborate. A tour of the five classes found time and again 50’s who are working together across organizations and projects, who influence and inspire one another.” [my emphasis]
Using his company as an example, Mills writes that “from any one person among the Fastcase 250, there are lines linking in many directions to many others.”

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Recent Research Publications from Canada's Library of Parliament

The Library of Parliament has published a number of interesting research publications recently:
  • Hate Speech and Freedom of Expression: Legal Boundaries in Canada: "This paper explores the different types of restrictions that have been used in Canada to address the promotion of hatred and other related and potentially harmful forms of expression, such as the glorification of terrorism or the display of an intent to discriminate. It includes information on other ways in which crimes motivated by hatred are addressed in the criminal sentencing process and are tracked by law enforcement agencies. It also reviews some aspects of the debate surrounding ways to address hate propaganda."
  • The Role of Parliamentary Secretaries: An Overview: "Parliamentary secretaries are members of Parliament from the governing party who are appointed by the prime minister to assist Cabinet ministers with their parliamentary duties. Under the direction of these ministers, parliamentary secretaries handle routine matters in the House of Commons, engage in committee work as non‑voting members, and assume some extra‑parliamentary responsibilities. Thus, parliamentary secretaries act as a link between ministers and other parliamentarians. Some may be given special assignments as well. Moreover, the office can serve as a training ground for future ministers or as a way of rewarding members of the government caucus. This provides an overview of the role of parliamentary secretaries and how this office has changed over time." 
  • Taxation and Regulation of Digital Currencies: "Some believe that one day, digital currencies might replace a significant portion of currencies that governments have declared to be legal tender in their country, avoiding regulatory oversight and control. Therefore, the challenge for governments and regulators is to develop a regulatory environment for digital currencies and fintechs that fosters responsible development of these technologies, while protecting consumers, investors, businesses and the financial system. In Canada, legislation and/or regulations related to digital currencies exist with respect to taxation, money laundering and terrorist financing, securities and other financial regulations that affect fintechs."
  • Federal Legislation affecting People with Disabilities: Where We Are Today:"While there is currently no overarching federal disability legislation in Canada, the idea has garnered attention for decades. Many voices, including a parliamentary committee, a federal task force, and advocates have called for legislative action to remove barriers to full participation and ensure the equality of people with disabilities (...) The introduction of federal accessibility legislation ('An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada') is expected to benefit not only people with disabilities but also their caregivers. In a society where approximately 3.8 million Canadians aged 15 years or older have reported living with disabilities that limited their daily activities, any legislative reform is likely to have a major impact from coast to coast to coast."

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CanLII Launches Authors Program

CanLII, the Canadian Legal Information Institute that makes Canadian legal information (caselaw, legislation and commentary) available to the public for free, is launching the CanLII Authors Program:
"Starting today we accept submissions of legal commentary from the legal community. If you are the author of a text that you would like to see on CanLII, whether it was published elsewhere before or not, you can now submit it to us for inclusion in our commentary section."

"We know that the legal community as a whole writes a great deal more valuable content than what can be easily found using existing tools. This may include papers professionals submit when they agree to give a presentation at a CLE event, or long papers that are posted on their firm’s website, etc. We also know that many established authors would rather contribute their work to CanLII for it to be available openly and circumvent closed publishing channels."
CanLII already publishes law reviews, reports, newsletters and case commentaries.

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How to Figure Out the Status of Federal Tax Legislation

SlawTips are a regular feature on the Slaw.ca website. They contain short legal research and writing advice. I often discover something I didn't know.

Last week, Susannah Tredwell, Manager of Library Services at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP in Vancouver, offered tips on How to Figure Out the Status of Proposed Federal Tax Legislation.

It's a quick step-by-step tutorial. 




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Monday, July 16, 2018

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection from July 1 to 15, 2018 is now available on the Court website.

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

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

More Background on US Supreme Court Nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Resources on US Supreme Court Nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh

The Library of Congress in Washington has published a page with resources about US Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh.
The page includes links to articles and books by and about the nominee, to cases decided by him (coming soon), to Congressional materials about his earlier nominations to federal judicial posts, and to web resources.

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Sunday, July 08, 2018

Most Recent Issue of LawNow: Law on Travel and Transport

The most recent issue of LawNow is available online.

The magazine is published by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.

The issue features a series of articles on laws that impact travel and transport (cycling, travel taxes, air passenger rights, etc.) as well as a special report on diversity in the law and the legal profession.

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Canadian Federation of Library Associations Applauds Government Support for Net Neutrality

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations issued a press release last week applauding the federal government’s response to the Protection of Net Neutrality report from the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring some sources or blocking others.

In its press release, the CFLA states:
"The government’s response highlighted its commitment to support principles of net neutrality in telecommunications services, particularly through the Telecommunications Act. The government has also supported motion M-168, which indicated the need to uphold standards of net neutrality that are globally recognized. "

"CFLA-FCAB is also pleased to see the government is committed to ensure that international regimes will not inhibit Canada’s position on net neutrality noting 'The Government of Canada is mindful of the concerns of Canadian enterprises and citizens over the recent changes in the United States (US) to its net neutrality regime and will seek to address with the US any situation whereby a Canadian enterprise is negatively affected by the traffic management practices of a US ISP'."
The CFLA is the national voice of Canada’s library associations.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2018

July 2018 Issue of In Session - E-Newsletter of Canadian Association of Law Libraries

The July 2018 issue of In Session is available online.

It is the monthly e-newsletter of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) and contains news from CALL committees and special interest groups, member updates and events.

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Monday, July 02, 2018

Who Will Trump Select to Replace Retiring US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy?

Last week, US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he is retiring as of the end of this month.

Who might Trump be thinking of as his replacement?

The California-based non-profit Free Law Project has compiled Trump’s Supreme Court List:
"In response to this announcement, President Trump stated that his next Supreme Court nomination would come from his existing list of potential Supreme Court justices."

"In our Judge and Appointment database, we have compiled extensive information about American judges, including their biographical data, the roles they have held before, during and after their time in the judicial branch, their political affiliations, and their campaign finance information (if applicable). The judges are also linked to the opinions they have authored."

"Below are links to every judge in our database that is on President Trump’s list. For a few judges, we have not yet completed this work, and so there’s no link."

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Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection from June 16 to 30, 2018 is now available on the Court website.

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

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