Monday, June 30, 2008

Statistical Analysis of U.S. and Canadian Supreme Courts

SCOTUSblog, an American blog that specializes in analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court, has produced a statistical package, or End-of-Term Super StatPack that includes "all of our stats, figures, charts, lists, and observations about the just-concluded Term".

For the sake of comparison, last week, the Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court published an analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada's recent activity entitled The Supreme Court in Statistics:
"In his annual review of the Supreme Court, excerpts of which were featured in both the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail, Dean Patrick Monahan pointed to the existence of a number of interesting trends in the character, content and volume of the jurisprudence of Canada’s top court. Among other things, Dean Monahan presented the Supreme Court’s 58 judgments in 2007 — the lowest total since 1975 — as evidence of the existence of a five judge bloc (composed of Chief Justice McLachlin, the now retired Justice Bastarache, and Deschamps, Charon, and Rothstein JJ.) notable for their pragmatic, cost-conscious approach to judicial decisionmaking."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:10 pm 0 comments

Friday, June 27, 2008

Canadian Judicial Council Report on Improving Access to Justice

The Canadian Judicial Council has released a new report entitled Access to Justice: Report on Selected Reform Initiatives in Canada.

According to the Council press release:

"The report, which focuses on the civil and family justice systems, identifies five areas in which significant reforms aimed at addressing the cost of litigation have been undertaken in recent years in various Canadian jurisdictions:"

  • "Proportionality: Targeting proportionality between on the one hand the scale of court proceedings and on the other hand the value of the claim, public importance of the issues and complexity of the case;
  • Experts: Streamlining the use of experts and limiting their number;
  • Point of Entry: Assisting litigants without counsel to obtain information and referrals quickly and effectively on first contact with the judicial system;
  • Discovery: Containing the scope of discovery procedures; and
  • Caseflow management: Expediting the flow of cases through the courts."

"This report (...) is based on records developed at its request for the new Inventory of Reforms created by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice ... The report identifies 60 reforms in the five noted areas covered, ranging from pilot projects to changes that have already become permanent. "

The Canadian Judicial Council is made up of 39 members and is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin.

Council membership consists of the chief justices, associate chief justices, and some senior judges from provincial and federal superior courts across the country.

The federal Parliament created the Council in 1971 to promote efficiency, uniformity, and accountability, and to improve the quality of judicial service in all superior courts of Canada. The Council has authority over the work of more than 1,070 federally appointed judges.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:29 pm 0 comments

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Digital Audio Recordings of US Court Proceedings Online

Five U.S. federal courts have been participating in a pilot project since last summer to make digital audio recordings of their proceedings publicly available online, according to an article in the June 2008 edition of Third Branch, a newsletter of the U.S. federal courts administration.

The 5 courts are:
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court in Nebraska
  • Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama

According to the article:

"The audio files are accessible through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Some 840,000 subscribers use PACER to access docket and case information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts."

"Access to the recorded proceeding is through a one-page PDF document on the court’s docket. During the life of the pilot project—expected to last through 2008—the cost, regardless of the proceeding’s duration, is eight cents to download the entire audio file. "


"One goal of the pilot project is to determine the level of public interest. Early indications suggest there is substantial interest. A second goal is to determine an appropriate charge, based on demands on court staff and technological investments to provide adequate bandwidth."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:06 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Canadian Judicial Council Publishes National Model Practice Direction for the Use of Technology in Civil Litigation

Last week, the Canadian Judicial Council released its National Model Practice Direction for the Use of Technology in Civil Litigation:

"The Practice Direction provides much-needed guidance to trial judges and lawyers with respect to the best practices for exchanging productions in electronic form, as well as handling paperless trials. Counsel will be encouraged to use a format of exchange which reduces the cost of litigation and improves access to justice."

"The Practice Direction is accompanied by a Generic Protocol which can be adapted as a checklist and form of agreement between parties to establish a meaningful and simplified exchange of evidence. By using a Protocol, parties can avoid expensive misunderstandings and incompatibility, without having to buy the same litigation support software."

"In July 2006, the Supreme Court of British Columbia issued a Practice Direction on the use of technology and in September 2007, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench issued Practice Note 14, both of which are consistent with the standard published by Council. It is hoped that Chief Justices of other trial courts will consider implementing their own Practice Directions based on the National Model."

The Canadian Judicial Council is made up of 39 members and is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin.

Council membership consists of the chief justices, associate chief justices, and some senior judges from provincial and federal superior courts across the country.

The federal Parliament created the Council in 1971 to promote efficiency, uniformity, and accountability, and to improve the quality of judicial service in all superior courts of Canada. The Council has authority over the work of more than 1,070 federally appointed judges.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:40 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Making the Switch from Print to Online

A bilbiography of recent material on the transition from print to electronic has just been published on DLIST, the Digital Library of Information Science and Technology.

It is entitled Making the Switch from Print to Online: Why, When and How?:

"This bibliography was created for an ALCTS Collection Management & Development Section program at the 2008 American Library Association Annual Conference. It annotates selected articles published from Jan. 2006 through April 2008."
[Source: ResourceShelf]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:44 pm 0 comments

Role of Public Law Libraries

The most recent issue of the AALL Spectrum features an article about what are called public law libraries which are law libraries that serve the general population, including self-represented litigants.

The article is entitled The Glue that Holds Legal Society Together - Public law libraries forge networks among the courts and judges, the legal community, and self-represented litigants:


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:25 pm 0 comments

Monday, June 23, 2008

Federal Library Web 2.0 Interest Group News

Federal government librarians in Canada recently created a Web 2.0 Interest Group (WIG) to explore ways of incorporating wikis, RSS, collaborative technologies, open source, etc. into their work.

The WIG's first meeting took place June 9 here in Ottawa.

Here is a summary.

Oryst Iwanycky of Industry Canada welcomed the audience of over 40 participants to the inaugural meeting. To date over 60 staff from across the Government of Canada and others have joined the group.

Thomas Kearney from Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) demonstrated the prototype TBS Wiki which was created for use by federal public servants.

The TBS has divided the proposed wiki into 7 main categories for content ("our Dewey Decimal System" he called it). It runs on Mediawiki software (the same as Wikipedia) so no huge development is involved. It will be mostly for policy, with official and unofficial content, complete documents and works in progress.

TBS is attempting to document the costs involved for server hosting, management, and complying with the federal government Common Look and Feel standards. The prototype is now called the Collaborative Library Prototype - TBS is looking for suggestions for a cooler name that works in Canada's both official languages.

The ultimate goal: create a wiki to be offered throughout the government of Canada, as common a tool as your work phone and e-mail account.

Kearney acknowledged that there are mixed messages about interactive Web 2.0 tools inside the government. While TBS is very pro-Web 2.0, Public Works and Government Services Canada objects that it has no policies in place to address Web 2.0 liability issues (privacy, security, confidentiality, official languages, access to information), and procurement policies in the government sector cannot easily handle open source products.

For example, there are no hard and fast rules on official languages for wikis. Digital collaboration, and high-speed broadband were never envisaged back in the 70s when official biligualism was launched. The TBS attitude is that a wiki is like a virtual workplace, where "language of choice" applies: at a meeting, you can speak the language of your choice.

TBS however is developing rules on official languages. For example, it might be a good idea to make bilingualism on the wiki mandatory for broad consultation documents or final drafts. Preliminary discussions could be in any language.

As for access to information legislation, Kearney specified that wiki material will likely be "ATIPable" (it can be the object of an access request under the Access to Information Act). But Web 2.0 creates new situations: who is in charge of handling ATIP requests concerning cross-departmental collaborative docs in a wiki? And since the wiki content changes all the time, what constitutes a "record" for the purposes of the access legislation?

Kearney's overall sense of the situation is that the government is pushing ahead even if no perfect model for Web 2.0 tech exists for the public sector. The federal government machine jumps into permanent beta, in other words.

And, in the spirit of putting your money where your mouth is, everyone in WIG is being invited to join the Ning social network group called Wigwam123 to communicate, interact and collaborate on all issues relating to Web 2.0. Wigwam123 is closed to non-members for the moment.

The next WIG meeting is Monday, July 7.

Earlier Library Boy posts about Web 2.0 in the Canadian government include:
  • Federal Library Community Forms Web 2.0 Interest Group (May 3, 2008): "We are proposing (...) to identify & publish a list of key resources on Web 2.0 specifically for federal libraries; to identify topics of interest in Web 2.0 for discussion, for example, wikis, RSS, collaborative technologies, open source, etc.; to identify departments engaged in Web 2.0 projects and to show the results to the community this fall."
  • Government of Canada: The Web 2.0 Genie Is Finally Out of the Bottle (June 6, 2008): "A contribution today on the FLC/CBF listserv (Federal libraries community/Collectivité des bibliothèques) pointed to examples of implementation of social networking on government Web sites: ... 'A comprehensive system for online collaboration and social networking projects by government departments is in the works. The project involves systems that can provide social networking capabilities for around 250,000 people and will cover 58 government departments. Key technology for this initiative is being provided by Waterloo, Ont.-based OpenText...' ".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:17 pm 0 comments

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yahoo! Pipes Tutorial For Dummies

Steven Matthews has posted a tutorial on on how to use the Yahoo! Pipes tool to mix RSS feeds.
"Yahoo Pipes is a tool that we’ve covered a few times here on Slaw. And having fielded a few questions myself on its use for RSS feed mixing, I thought it might be nice to demonstrate how simple the process is with a tutorial."

"What you’ll find below is pretty granular in detail, with way too many screen captures. But if you like the KISS principle (a.k.a. Keep It Simple for Steve), a little hand-holding never hurts. So ... go over to Yahoo Pipes, create an account, click on the big blue Create A Pipe, and let’s get started!"


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:58 pm 0 comments

Google Scholar Uptake in Research Libraries

Two Rutgers University librarians have written an interesting evaluation of Google Scholar, a free web-based search engine to scholarly literature, (Google Scholar and Academic Libraries: An Update. New Library World 109 (5/6), pp. 211-222).

Websites of 113 Association of Research Library (ARL) members were examined in 2007 to see if Google Scholar appeared on the library homepage, in the OPAC, and on various database lists and subject guides. Data was compared with findings for 2005. Results: the mean number of paths to Google Scholar more than doubled from 2005 to 2007.

From the discussion section:
"In 2007, the presence of Google Scholar on ARL academic libraries web pages is clearly more pervasive than seen two years ago. Partnering institutions are particularly likely to include paths to Google Scholar and the number of partnering institutions has dramatically increased. Alongside this trend, libraries have also seen the emergence of commercial federated search products as well as free competitor search engines."

"Libraries have subscribed to available commercial federated search products (...) in an attempt to provide a one-box 'place to start' for scholarly search from the library web site. (...) Interestingly, in this survey of web sites approximately half of ARL libraries did not appear to be utilizing a commercial federated search product. Is it possible that libraries have decided that Google Scholar is effective enough as a 'place to start' when users are confounded about which database to choose from the long lists on the web site? Haya, Nygren and Widmark’s study of 32 undergraduates’ use, with and without prior instruction, of both Google Scholar and Metalib at Uppsala University showed that Google Scholar 'performed better in almost all measures.' Many students found Metalib’s complexity of use a problem ... It would be valuable to see expanded usability studies comparing Google Scholar to commercial federated search products to see whether Google Scholar could suffice for institutions where subscribed content is able to provide enough full text articles to searchers. Both Google Scholar and commercial federated search products, although different types of products, have value as a more simple 'place to start' for inexperienced searchers, or for those looking for a few scholarly articles on interdisciplinary topics."
The Supreme Court of Canada Library links to Google Scholar through its federated search engine from SirsiDynix.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:35 pm 0 comments

Friday, June 20, 2008

Partial Restoration of Court Challenges Program

The Canadian government announced this week that it is restoring parts of the Court Challenges Program abolished in 2006.

The Program provided funding to minority, women's and other disadvantaged groups to launch "test court cases" challenging laws that may violate equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The government is only reestablishing the official languages minority component of the program, under the name Program to Support Linguistic Rights.

However, funding has not been restored for Charter challenges by other groups such as ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians or people with disabilities.

The new program will focus on "mediation and consensus-based decisions to facilitate amicable agreements (...) The program will also provide funding for court proceedings to focus on linguistic rights under the Constitution of Canada, when mediation efforts have failed and a test case is involved."

This can be read as excluding funding for court challenges under the Official Languages Act or provincial/territorial laws affecting official language minority rights.

Earlier this month, the government reached an out-of-court settlement with the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, ending the francophone lobby group's legal battle to restore the $3-million-a-year Court Challenges Program the Conservative government killed at the end of 2006.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the Court Challenges Program include:
  • Court Challenges Program Challenged? (September 7, 2006): "Newspapers of the CanWest Global chain distributed a Janice Tibbetts article today that claims that the federal government may be considering the elimination of the Court Challenges Program as part of an overall review of government programs (...) The CanWest News Service article entitled Funding for minority groups to challenge federal laws under review reports that the program, first set up under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, 'has been the target of harsh criticism from social conservatives and critics of so-called judicial activism, who assert the initiative is a slush-fund for left-leaning groups to circumvent the will of elected legislators by challenging them in court'."
  • Lawsuit to Reinstate Federal Court Challenges Program (January 8, 2008): "According to [the Osgoode Hall Law School blog] The Court, 'Last month, a coalition of eight organizations representing equality-seeking communities announced that it will file a motion in Federal Court to intervene in a case challenging the decision of the federal government to cut funding to the Court Challenges Program (...) While operating, the program funded cases dealing with issues such as same-sex marriage, accessibility rights for people with disabilities, sex discrimination, violence against women, criminal law provisions regarding the use of disciplinary force against children, and racial discrimination in the immigration system'. "
  • Impact on Language Minorities from Court Challenges Program Cancellation (January 22, 2008): "The most recent issue of the Canadian government's Weekly Checklist of official publications lists the December 2007 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages on the Court Challenges Program."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:32 pm 0 comments

Top Tech Trends for ALA 2008 Conference

The Library and Information Technology Association (part of the American Library Association or ALA) has published a list of top tech trends on its LITA Blog:

"Here is a non-exhaustive list of Top Technology Trends for the American Library Association Annual Meeting (Summer, 2008). These Trends represent general directions regarding computing in libraries — short-term future directions where, from my [Eric Lease Morgan] perspective, things are or could be going."
The LITA Blog has an entire section devoted to tech trends.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:10 pm 0 comments

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Report on Inuit Concepts of Civil Justice

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (based at the University of Alberta) has released a report entitled Justice for Nunavummiut: Partnerships for Solutions that deals with the territory of Nunavut and Inuit living in Ottawa:
"This report is drawn from the Civil Justice System and the Public research data specific to Nunavut and to Inuit living in Ottawa (the largest community of Inuit outside of the territory). The data are based on interviews, community workshops and participant review of draft reports between June 2003 and June 2007. Based on the research findings, the report begins by asking the root question, what is justice in the context Nunavut and Nunavummiut living outside of the territory? In order to examine this question, important issues are considered in providing family, civil and administrative justice that generates respect, harmony, peace and rehabilitation — the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit philosophy of justice and offers related recommendations. The importance of networks and partnerships in generating creative solutions for meaningful change to justice and social systems is discussed. The report concludes by asking how the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice can best support their partners in achieving the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit vision of justice — not only for Nunavummiut, but for all people in Canada."
The objectives of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice are:
  • collecting in a systematic way information relating to the system for administering civil justice;
  • carrying out in-depth research on matters affecting the operation of the civil justice system;
  • promoting the sharing of information about the use of best practices;
    functioning as a clearinghouse and library of information for the benefit of all persons in Canada concerned with civil justice;
  • developing liaisons with similar organizations in other countries to foster exchanges of information across national borders; and
  • taking a leadership role in providing information concerning civil justice reform initiatives and developing effective means of exchanging this information


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:04 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Online Q&A on New Copyright Bill

Earlier today, the Globe and Mail newspaper invited University of Ottawa law professor Jeremy deBeer to participate in an online question and answer session with the reading public about the federal government's proposed new copyright bill.

According to the intro:
"Prof. deBeer specializes in classic and intellectual property law, and the intersection between property, IP and torts, and is a member of the law faculty's law and technology group. He has worked for the Department of Justice and as legal counsel to the Copyright Board of Canada."

"He has written about the constitutional implications of copyrights, the role of copyrights in the music and entertainment industries and the notion of balance in copyright and patent law."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:41 pm 0 comments

Quebec Government Introduces Anti-SLAPP Legislation

Last week, the Quebec government introduced a bill in the National Assembly (provincial legislature) to tackle the issue of SLAPPs.

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs for short, typically take the form of defamation actions brought by large corporate actors in an attempt to shut down criticism by non-governmental organizations or local citizens. The actions are seen by critics as an abuse of process, or a form of legal bullying by interests with deep pockets who try to bankrupt opponents or intimidate them into silence.

Bill 99 will amend the Quebec Code of Civil Procedure to authorize courts to "promptly dismiss a proceeding that is abusive. It specifies what may constitute an abuse of procedure and authorizes the reversal of the burden of proof if the abuse of procedure is obvious."

More context in the Library Boy post of July 22, 2007 entitled Quebec Expert Panel Says Protect People Against Abusive Defamation Suits.

Controversy over SLAPPs started a few years ago in Quebec after one of Quebec's oldest environmental organizations was threatened with imminent extinction because of a multi-million dollar lawsuit from a scrap metal operator.

More than half of the states in the USA have anti-SLAPP laws on their books.

Background on SLAPPs:
  • SLAPPs: Getting Sued for Speaking Out: "George Pring and Penelope Canan [originated the term] after investigating a range of behaviour that led to legal action against activists, including peaceful demonstrators, seeking signatures for petitions, and even reporting corporate breaches of environmental regulation... They suggest that SLAPPs are not intended to reach the courts (where they typically lose) but are designed to silence criticism through legal intimidation. The goal is to limit public debate and to allow corporations to continue their activities without restriction."
  • Defamation and SLAPPs (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, University of Ottawa): "The plaintiff's goal in a SLAPP is not to win the lawsuit, but is rather to silence a critic by instilling fear of large legal costs and the spectre of large damage awards. Despite their right to free speech, critics may be frightened into silence..."
  • Corporate Retaliation Against Consumers: The Status of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) in Canada (Public Interest Advocacy Centre): "The report describes a number of lawsuits or threats of a lawsuit in Canada that fit the definition of a SLAPP. This evidence suggests that SLAPPs are very much a Canadian phenomenon and have been initiated against consumers for public criticism of products or services as well as against individuals for advocating on environmental issues. The report briefly analyses the constitutional questions raised by SLAPPs and draws comparisons to the constitutional and judicial treatment of SLAPPs in the United States."
  • California Anti-SLAPP Project: "the Project is a public interest law firm that provides assistance to people on the receiving end of SLAPPs. About half the states in the United States have enacted anti-SLAPP legislation and the website provides links to case law and statutes for California and other states. As well, the site offers other resources, including a bibliography on the issue (updated to 2003) "
  • SLAPP's in Australia (Center for Media and Democracy Sourcewatch): "The following is the beginning of a list of Australian cases where civil litigation has transformed public debate into legal cases... The Center describes itself as a 'non-profit, public interest organization that strengthens participatory democracy by investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda, and by promoting media literacy and citizen journalism'. Its most well-known project is perhaps the quarterly PR Watch which investigates the public relations or 'spin' industry."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:12 am 0 comments

OECD Statistical Profile of Internet Trends

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released The Future of the Internet Economy: A statistical profile which compares major trends in the diffusion of the Internet across OECD and selected non-OECD countries.

It was prepared for the June 17-18 meeting of OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy in Seoul.

On a related note, last week, Statistics Canada published its Canadian Internet Use Survey 2007.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:03 am 0 comments

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Profile of Digitization Initiative

The most recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research features an article by Brian Bell, co-director of was formed recently through the merger of CIHM (Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions), and the former AlouetteCanada.

As the article explains, the new organization "will help to synchronize the efforts of partners in Canadian libraries, archives, museums and historical societies, as well as Canadian content creators themselves. It is mandated to facilitate long term digitization of Canadian collections and the gathering of metadata for new, born digital content, to coordinate the long term preservation of the digital content, and to enable permanent, open access to that content which is in the public domain or being made available with permission."

I wrote about the merger and creation of in an April 7, 2008 Library Boy post entitled Two Major Canadian Digitization Projects Merge.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:45 pm 0 comments

Monday, June 16, 2008

Use of Amateur Video To Fight Human Rights Abuses

I saw a mention of the organisation on the Smart Mobs website.

According to its mission statement, "uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. We empower people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change."

It works with grassroots partners around the world and uses video:

  • to corroborate allegations of human rights violations
  • as a resource for news broadcasts
  • to catalyze human rights advocacy via the worldwide web
  • as evidence in court and quasi-judicial hearings
  • to complement official written reports of human rights abuses
  • as a deterrent to further abuse was founded by rock musician Peter Gabriel.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the use of video technology for human rights include:

  • YouTube as a Legal Information Tool (January 14, 2007): "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."
  • More on YouTube as Legal Information Tool (March 30, 2007): "This Wednesday, published an article entitled The YouTube Defense - Human rights go viral that analyzes the impact and potential of non-traditional means such as web 2.0 technologies as legal tools: (...) 'Critics pooh-pooh the importance of all of this by pointing to the fact that civil rights advocates have traditionally had a friend in the press. But they're missing the point: YouTube goes where the mainstream media can't or won't go. It's visceral. It's story first, message second. And it gives advocates instant access to an audience in a way that press releases and op-eds never ca' .The Slate article also describes an online video created by a former Marine who paid two friends $800 to waterboard him in his basement."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:16 pm 0 comments

Sunday, June 15, 2008

CBC Tries To Answer Your Copyright Questions

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio programme Search Engine is taking questions from Canadians about the impact of the new copyright reform bill introduced in the House of Commons last Thursday:
"Okay, we know emotions are running high on the new Copyright Bill, but what we're trying to do for our coverage next week is get beyond the anger and focus on some substantive, practical questions."

"To be precise- what exactly will be criminalized if this bill becomes law?"

"We need your cooperation here: submit your scenario, and we'll find out if the new copyright bill makes you a criminal."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:33 am 0 comments

Canadian Human Rights Commission Report on National Security

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has released a new report entitled Human Rights Issues in National Security: An Inventory of Agency Considerations:
"In 2006, the CHRC commissioned research by Wesley K. Wark. His report, National Security and Human Rights Concerns in Canada: A Survey of Eight Critical Issues in the Post-9/11 Environment, examined the application and evolution of national security policy since September 11, 2001 and the key accountability and responsibility mechanisms for those policies. The report recommended that the CHRC consider monitoring legislative changes in the mandate of national security agencies and develop a database of human rights concerns from the public reports issued by the review agencies responsible for national security and intelligence."

"Stemming from these recommendations, this report examines the extent to which national security agencies and their monitors are directed by legislation to consider and report on human rights issues, as defined by the Canadian Human Rights Act. It also explores any statements that consider human rights made by these agencies in reports or parliamentary appearances."

"The research process was initiated by examining the legislation and regulations that generally apply to national security agencies. This legislation and associated regulations were examined for any reference to human rights, whether direct or indirect, including those portions that outline the agencies’ reporting mechanisms. Only those statutes that relate to national security were reviewed rather than those that assign general enforcement power. These findings are outlined in the first section of the report."

"In the second section, each of the agencies is reviewed in turn. Each review begins with the legislation and regulations that create or recognize national security agencies or their monitors. The legislation and regulations are reviewed for any general reference to human rights, whether direct or indirect including those portions that outline any reporting mechanisms."

"The findings from the agencies’ public reports and parliamentary committee appearances are subsequently analyzed. All of the reports submitted to Parliament in the last 10 years by national security institutions were examined to determine their consideration and reporting of human rights issues."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:22 am 0 comments

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Canadian Copyright Bill Introduced - Librarians Unhappy

Boy oh boy oh boy oh boy! Big headaches ahead.

After multiple delays, the federal government finally introduced its much awaited copyright reform bill in the House of Commons yesterday (the LEGISinfo site links to the text of the bill and provides backgrounders from government agencies).

The Canadian Library Association is very disappointed:
"Overall, the Bill is extremely complex and will need more detailed study, but there are many glaring problems. Fundamentally, the Bill circumvents user rights (...)"

"Another example is desktop delivery of interlibrary loan. Bill C-61 ignores the fact that the 2004 CCH Supreme Court Judgment already allows Canadian libraries to do desktop delivery of interlibrary loan. The provisions in Bill C-61 require libraries to lock up interlibrary loan with DRM, something that most libraries would not have the resources to accomplish. This would force many libraries back to delivering interlibrary loan via paper copies."

Other reactions:

  • Reaction to planned copyright law changes (Globe and Mail compilation): "Here is a sampling of reaction to the draft copyright law that Canada's government unveiled Thursday."
  • The Canadian DMCA: Check the Fine Print (Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Law School): "As expected, [federal Industry Minister Jim] Prentice has provided a series of attention-grabbing provisions to consumers including time shifting, private copying of music (transferring a song to your iPod), and format shifting (changing format from analog to digital). These are good provisions that did not exist in the delayed December bill. However, check the fine print since the rules are subject to a host of strict limitations and, more importantly, undermined by the digital lock provisions (...) The education community received several provisions that are largely gutted by the fine print. For example, library materials can be distributed in electronic form, but must not extend beyond five days. In other words, it turns librarians into locksmiths."
  • CIPPIC Disappointed With New Copyright Bill - Proposed Law Adopts Worst of DMCA (Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic): "... the big copyright players, and the American administration, should be thrilled with the government’s draft legislation – they are the big winners here. Losers, unfortunately, include Canadian consumers, security researchers, educators, students, privacy advocates, Canada’s public domain and Canadian innovators and creators ..."
  • Copyright bill: All ours, or a DMCA copy? (Mathew Ingram, Globe and Mail columnist): "It's also worth noting that this copyright legislation is just one of the fronts the government is working on when it comes to protecting the interests of U.S. content companies: there's also the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which is a multi-country effort to create laws that would extend the powers of border guards -- allowing them to seize devices that are suspected of containing copyright infringing materials, for example -- and would also force ISPs to reveal the identities of even suspected infringers without requiring a court order."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:53 am 0 comments

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Updated Research Guide on Drafting History of International Agreements

GlobaLex, the online legal research collection at the New York University School of Law, has just published an update to À la Recherche des Travaux Préparatoires: An Approach to Researching the Drafting History of International Agreements:

"There are at least two good reasons why one would go in search of the travaux préparatoires to an international agreement ... Before we go into those reasons, what exactly are travaux préparatoires?"

"The phrase is of course French and translates literally as 'preparatory works.' Synonymous phrases in English are 'negotiating history' or 'drafting history.' (...) "

"The first reason for seeking out travaux préparatoires can be called the interpretive reason. There is doubt or disagreement about the meaning of an international agreement. Those charged with interpreting the agreement -- it could be a court, or an arbitral tribunal, or anybody who is interested in the meaning of the agreement, including scholars -- will want to consult the travaux préparatoires for insight into the 'common intentions and agreed definitions' of the negotiators (...) "

"There is another reason ... We can call this other reason the genetic reason. There may be absolutely no doubt about the meaning of the treaty text; it is clear to every reader, even to a lawyer. Yet, we may take great interest in how the text of the agreement evolved into its final form. In other words, the evolution of the text has intrinsic historical interest."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:27 pm 0 comments

Law Commission of New Zealand Report on Disclosure of Prior Convictions

The Law Commission of New Zealand today tabled a report in the Parliament in Wellington on the subject of Disclosure to Court of Defendants’ Previous Convictions, Similar Offending, and Bad Character:

"The review flowed from public disquiet expressed in some quarters at the non-disclosure to the jury of previous convictions of two former police officers who were tried and acquitted of sexual offending (...) "

"Although the Commission sees no need for immediate change to this somewhat technical and difficult area of the law of evidence, it has arrived at the view that all is not well with the traditional trial process in New Zealand in relation to sexual offending ... Problems in the system flow from the features of the adversarial system of trial that is, as presently constituted, an essential feature of our system of justice in New Zealand. "

"The Commission’s consultation in the course of this reference sowed the seeds of doubt in our mind regarding the efficacy and fairness of the Westminster style adversarial trial as it applies to unlawful sex cases in New Zealand (...) We are not in a position to make findings about this because it is outside our terms of reference for this inquiry. But we harbour lingering worries. "

"The submission made to us by the Rt Hon E W Thomas, a retired Judge of the Court of Appeal, reinforced our concerns. He told us that the nature and impact of the trial in sexual cases on complainants is a brutalising and distressing experience in which the complainant is effectively put on trial. While we do not adhere to the view urged by some submitters that justice on all sides can be achieved by changing the law of evidence and admitting previous convictions generally in sex cases, we do consider that some further and wider examination of the processes of trial in sexual offending should be undertaken."

The report also examined the practices concerning this question in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the United States, and European "continental" systems.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:07 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Government of Canada Officially Apologizes for Indian Residential Schools Fiasco

Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented a formal apology today on behalf of the Canadian government for the damage done to generations of aboriginal Canadians who went through Indian residential schools.

The apology was read to a packed House of Commons in which many aboriginal leaders had been invited to sit. The apology ceremony was broadcast live on TV, radio, and the Internet.

From the 19th century until very recently, in total, about 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend remote boarding schools run by Christian congregations under government contract. Countless children were abused physically or sexually.

The assumption behind the system was that aboriginal Canadian cultures were unable to adapt to modern industrial society. The schools were intended to aggressively assimilate the children and Christianize them. They were frequently punished for speaking their ancestral tongues and their culture was denied or "beaten out" of them. As the Prime Minister admitted in his apology today, the real goal of the system was "to kill the Indian in the child."

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has produced a very thorough package of resources on the question of residential schools under the title Truth and Reconciliation: Stolen Children.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the residential schools issue:
  • Implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (September 20, 2007): "The federal government announced this week the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Former students who were subjected to abuse in Indian Residential Schools will be able to submit applications for compensation until September 2011. Aboriginal children were often grabbed away from their families to be shipped off to the boarding schools that tried to assimilate them."
  • Ontario Aboriginal Judge To Head Truth and Reconciliation Commission (April 28, 2008); "The Canadian government announced today that Justice Harry LaForme of the Ontario Court of Appeal will head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is to examine the legacy of decades of abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools (...) The Commission's official work of hearing testimony from former students and surviving school staff is to start in June and last 5 years. Its job will be to establish an official historical record of what was done to Native children in the residential school system."
Readers may also want to take a look at the Library Boy post of February 8, 2008 entitled Australian Parliamentary Library Report on Forcible Removal of Aboriginal Children.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:13 pm 1 comments

UK Law Commission Annual Report and Future Programs

The Law Commission in England has just released its annual report for 2007-2008 as well as its Tenth Programme of Law Reform.

New projects for the 2008-2011 period will cover adult social care, intestate succession, level crossings legislation, marital property agreements, consumer protection, simplification of criminal law, treason, public nuisance, ransom kidnappings, unfitness to plead and the insanity defence.

The Commission also has a whole list of ongoing programmes carried over from the Ninth Programme of Law Reform, such as research into the law of bribery, corporate criminal liability, expert evidence and insurance contracts.

The aims of the Law Commission are:

  • to conduct research and consultations in order to make systematic recommendations for consideration by Parliament;
  • to codify the law, eliminate anomalies, repeal obsolete and unnecessary enactments and reduce the number of separate statutes

Canada used to have a Law Commission. Funding for the Commission was terminated by the current federal government in the fall of 2006.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:02 am 0 comments

Do Data Breach Disclosure Laws Reduce Identity Theft?

The answer is: apparently not.

Three Carnegie Mellon University authors have written a paper entitled Do Data Breach Disclosure Laws Reduce Identity Theft?, written for an upcoming Workshop on the Economics of Information Security at Dartmouth University:

"Many US states have responded by adopting data breach disclosure laws that require firms to notify consumers if their personal information has been lost or stolen. While the laws are expected to reduce losses, their full effects have yet to be empirically measured (...) We find no statistically significant effect that laws reduce identity theft, even after considering income, urbanization, strictness of law and interstate commerce. If the probability of becoming a victim conditional on a data breach is very small, then the law’s maximum effectiveness is inherently limited. Quality of data and the possibility of reporting bias also make proper identification difficult. However, we appreciate that these laws may have other benefits such as reducing a victim’s average losses and improving a firm’s security and operational practices." [Source:]

Earlier Library Boy posts on data breaches include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:23 am 0 comments

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Supreme Court Advocacy Institute Helps Lawyers Prepare For Their Big Day In Court

The Globe and Mail features an article in today's paper about the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute, an organization that puts together mock sessions to help lawyers who are about to appear in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Institute organized mock court hearings for 20 percent of all the cases heard last year by Canada's highest court, according to the newspaper. Some of Canada's top litigators volunteer their time to act as judges:

"Like musicologists discussing a classical composition, the 'judges' then take apart a lawyer's arguments and suggest where they may fall flat, distract the judges or try their patience. They also pepper counsel with tough questions, ruthlessly cut off submissions, and even adopt the idiosyncrasies of particular Supreme Court judges."

"Each session is followed by a candid, down-to-earth critique of what worked, didn't work, or just plain bombed - a process that can be as useful to veterans as it is to Supreme Court novices."
The best part of the article is the list of "rules of engagement", or recommendations for how to behave in front of the Justices of the Supreme Court:

  • First impressions are important
  • Avoid talking over the heads of judges who lack background in a particular field
  • All questions from the bench must be answered
  • Not responding at all is better than obfuscating
  • Steer clear of eliciting sympathy for a client or arguing the facts of a case
  • Don't become bogged down in a debate with a single, feisty judge
  • Maintain eye contact with all nine judges, and always try to locate the one who has posed a question
  • The Supreme Court can and will refashion existing law, but it does it in modest, incremental moves
  • Judges do not like being talked down to

Earlier Library Boy posts on the program include:

  • Training Program To Prep Lawyers For Supreme Court (February 6, 2007): "The executive director of Institute explained that 'subjecting novice counsel to the exhilarating, intimidating reality of a top-court hearing will have significant benefits for both novice lawyers and Supreme Court judges who are frequently frustrated by naive or unfocused advocacy'. The Institute will be funded entirely by law firms and law societies. It will have no official ties to the real Supreme Court of Canada."
  • More on Supreme Court Advocacy Training Program (February 11, 2007): "...the program is open to all counsel, not only first-timers; it is available both to the private Bar and government counsel; (...); the program helps counsel prepare for an actual appeal; it is free; the Institute is independent of any private or government organization, and non-partisan; (...); the program is national and bilingual..."
  • Supreme Court Advocacy Institute Launches Website (February 28, 2007)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:36 pm 0 comments

Monday, June 09, 2008

Statistics Canada Report on Hate Crimes

Today, Statistics Canada released a study entitled Hate-motivated crime, 2006:
"Hate-motivated incidents account for a relatively small proportion of both police-reported and self-reported crime. In both cases, race/ethnicity is the most common motivation for these crimes."

"In 2006, police services covering 87% of Canada's population reported 892 hate-motivated crimes, of which 6 in 10 were motivated by race/ethnicity."

"Another one-quarter of hate crimes were motivated by religion and 1 in 10 by sexual orientation. Hate crimes accounted for less than 1% of all criminal incidents reported by police."

"The study (...) showed that half of all hate-motivated crimes reported by police were property-related offences, usually mischief, while one-third were violent offences such as assault."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:01 pm 0 comments

Statistics Canada Report on Adult Correctional Services

At the end of last week, Statistics Canada released a report entitled Adult Correctional Services in Canada, 2005/2006.

Some of the highlights:
  • According to the 2006 Census, Aboriginal people represented 4% of the adult population in Canada, yet they accounted for 24% of adult admissions to provincial/territorial custody, 19% of admissions to remand and 18% of admissions to federal custody.
  • The over 232,800 adults admitted to some form of custody in 2005/2006 represented a 4% increase from the previous year. The increase was driven by a 6% climb in the number of admissions to remand (custody for persons awaiting trial or sentencing) in provincial/territorial facilities, and a 4% increase in admissions to federal custody. The number of admissions to provincial/territorial sentenced custody remained stable.
  • With the exception of conditional sentences which decreased 2%, admissions to all types of community supervision programs increased in 2005/2006. In total, there were 109,539 adult offenders admitted to community supervision programs that year. These include probation (+2%), provincial parole (+6%) and releases from federal custody (i.e., federal conditional releases, day parole, full parole, statutory releases) (+4%).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:55 pm 0 comments

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada Open To The Public This Weekend

The Supreme Court of Canada is participating in this year's Doors Open Ottawa annual celebration of local buildings of architectural, historical or functional significance.

Today and tomorrow, from 10 AM to 4 PM, the Supreme Court building is offering tours to the general public. Admission is free.

It is a gorgeous structure in a late Art Deco mode with elements of the Canadian Chateau style. I still get a thrill every workday morning when I enter the building.

This year, some 112 Ottawa area buildings, most of which are normally not accessible to the public, are participating.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:47 am 0 comments

Friday, June 06, 2008

Government of Canada: The Web 2.0 Genie Is Finally Out of the Bottle

As I mentioned on May 3, 2008 in a post entitled Federal Library Community Forms Web 2.0 Interest Group, members of the federal government library community are eager to start moving ahead on the Web 2.0 front.

The Web 2.0 Interest Group mentioned in the above post is holding its first meeting next Monday, June 9 at the headquarters of Library and Archives Canada and interest is said to very high.

Government can appear to be slow when it comes to the IT cutting edge: IT departments are often wary of anything that is "open source" and are known as "Microsoft shops"; the open and collaborative (therefore uncontrollable) nature of wikis, blogs and other Web 2.0 applications may not make them attractive to higher ups worried about security, privacy and embarrassing info leaks; and who has the time?

Well, it looks like there are many librarians and others in government service who have been waiting for this moment or who have decided to just "do it!" and forge ahead.

A contribution today on the FLC/CBF listserv (Federal libraries community/Collectivité des bibliothèques) pointed to examples of implementation of social networking on government Web sites:
  • Canada embarks on major Web 2.0 initiative (May 28, 2008): "A comprehensive system for online collaboration and social networking projects by government departments is in the works. The project involves systems that can provide social networking capabilities for around 250,000 people and will cover 58 government departments. Key technology for this initiative is being provided by Waterloo, Ont.-based OpenText..."
  • Treasury Board to share wiki success secrets with deputy ministers (June 3, 2008): "Treasury Board Secretariat is getting ready to share some of its early experiments with Web 2.0 technologies with deputy ministers across Canada who may build on them in their own communities..."
The Chief of Technical Services here at the Supreme Court of Canada Library drew my attention yesterday to the use of social bookmarking at NRCan (Natural Resources Canada). NRCan has also been deploying wikis internally. I am sure there are other government departments, agencies and offices who have implemented or are about to implement Web 2.0 applications on a local or wider level.

And a sign that the Web 2.0 genie is definitely out of the bottle in Canadian government circles: Infonex is organizing a conference on Government Web 2.0 and Social Media in Ottawa on June 17 and 18, 2008.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:44 pm 1 comments

New Research Guide on Public International Law

GlobaLex, the international and foreign law research collection that is published by the New York University School of Law, has just released a new research guide entitled Introduction to Public International Law Research:
"Public International Law is composed of the laws, rules, and principles of general application that deal with the conduct of nation states and international organizations among themselves as well as the relationships between nation states and international organizations with persons, whether natural or juridical. Public International Law is sometimes called the 'law of nations' or just simply International Law. It should not be confused with Private International Law, which is primarily concerned with the resolution of conflict of laws in the international setting, determining the law of which country is applicable to specific situations. In researching this field of law the researcher must also be aware of Comparative Law, the study of differences and similarities between the laws of different countries. Comparative Law is the study of the different legal systems in existence in the world, i.e; common law, civil law, socialist law, Islamic law, Hindu law, and Chinese law."


"This guide is intended as an introduction to the topic and to help researchers find the most used sources and materials in the area with a primary focus on electronic research."
The guide was put together by Vicenç Feliú, Foreign Comparative and International Law Librarian at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University Law Library.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:37 pm 1 comments

Thursday, June 05, 2008

New Law Librarians Group at LinkedIn Social Networking Site

Abbie Mulvihill, a U.S. federal government librarian who maintains the AbsTracked blog, has launched a Law Librarians group at the social networking site LinkedIn.

All you have to do to join is click on this link. If you are not a member of LinkedIn, you will be asked to subscribe to the service first.

Close to 100 law librarians have already joined.

Less than a month ago, I blogged about the Law Libraries and Librarians group on the social network Ning.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:14 pm 1 comments

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Proposed UN Framework for Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, a portal that provides coverage of corporate accountability issues, has brought together in one location:
  • the latest report to the United Nations Human Rights Council by John Ruggie, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN for Business and Human Rights, plus companion reports and addenda on the issue of corporate and investor responsibility in relation to human rights violations
  • government, NGO and legal expert responses to the report
Ruggie's report to the Council was presented yesterday and is the final report of his mandate:
"My report last year provided a succinct mapping of current standards and practices governing corporate responsibility and accountability in relation to human rights. It documented that this is a rapidly changing field, ranging from the evolution of international criminal law to innovations in voluntary initiatives. Each of these developments has strengths and weaknesses in reducing the incidence of corporate-related human rights abuses."

"But the overall problem, in my view, is that these measures constitute unrelated fragments of responses. They do not cohere as parts of a more systemic response with cumulative effects; they do not reach a scale that is commensurate with the challenges. This view is widely shared. In our extensive consultations, every stakeholder group, despite their other differences, has expressed the urgent need for a common framework of understanding, a foundation on which thinking and action can build in a cumulative fashion."

"Accordingly, my current report identifies a conceptual and policy framework for consideration by the Council. It is organized around three foundational principles: the state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for more effective access to remedies."
Other Library Boy posts on business and human rights include:
  • Weekly Updates Available from Business and Human Rights Database (March 22, 2005): "Corporate profiles include news stories, items about investigations, lawsuits and enforcement actions, as well as official responses (...) The Centre has also just introduced a new feature, Weekly Updates, which are e-mail alerts with an interesting twist: companies are invited to respond to reports that criticise them, and the responses are included. This is to help keep the updates balanced and encourage companies to publicly address important labour and human rights concerns being raised by civil society organizations such as labour unions, development associations, Third World NGOs, and human rights organizations."
  • Amnesty International UK and USA's Human Rights, Trade and Investment Matters (June 28, 2006): "I picked up a reference to this document at the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. The UK and USA branches of the international human rights NGO Amnesty International released a collection of articles last month that explore the connections between trade, investment and human rights, and consider the potential for integrating human rights into trade and investment agreements."
  • Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Website Relaunched (June 15, 2007): "The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, a research website set up by human rights NGOs and various academic organizations, has just launched its re-designed website.The Resource Centre is an independent non-profit that encourages companies to respect human rights by bringing reports about their conduct - positive & negative - to a global audience."
  • List of Documents Prepared by the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights (January 16, 2008): "A few years ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed a special representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations. That person's job is to identify standards of corporate responsibility; develop materials for human rights impact assessments of the activities of corporations abroad; elaborate on the role of States in effectively regulating corporations when it comes to human rights; and compile a compendium of best practices of States and corporations."
  • Human Rights Watch Report on Business and Human Rights (February 22, 2008): "There are no widely agreed overarching standards for all businesses, but instead many different standards that address select human rights, select companies or industries, or select countries or situations. The result is a messy and inconsistent patchwork of voluntary pledges that have limited application, generally do not fully align with international human rights norms, and in any case are frequently disregarded in practice (...)"
  • 'Corporate Culture' as a Basis for the Criminal Liability of Corporations (March 6, 2008): "The Australian law firm of Allens Arthur Robinson has recently prepared a study for the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights and Business that examines the way different jurisdictions have contemplated the basis for corporate criminal liability (...) Among the jurisdictions compared are: Australia, UK, Canada, United States, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Austria, Belgium, South Africa, and many more."
  • International Investment Agreements and Human Rights (March 20, 2008): "The International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian-based NGO, recently prepared a study for the UN entitled 'International Investment Agreements, Business and Human Rights: Key Issues and Opportunities' (...) 'In the context of the state duty to protect and promote human rights, the most critical issue that arises are the duties to legislate in order to implement international human rights obligations into domestic law and to enforce such legislation. In investment law terms, this relates to what has been described in some texts as the right of host states to regulate. At the same time, however, IIAs limit the right of states to regulate, and these limits may extend to the state duty to protect and promote human rights'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:20 pm 0 comments

50 Tips and Resources to Implement User-Generated Content In Your Library has published a list of 50 Tips and Resources to Implement User-Generated Content In Your Library:
"These days, it’s not enough for libraries to just share information, they must be a part of the creation of new information, too. And in the Internet age, everyone’s a content creator. Embracing the trend of user-generated content allows you not only to spread even more information, but to engage library users as well. Read on to find out how to go about doing this, and pick up some handy resources along the way."
[Source: Smart Mobs]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:06 pm 1 comments

Australian Parliamentary Library Research Paper on Olympic Games

The Library of the Australian Parliament yesterday published a research paper entitled The modern Olympics: an overview:
"This paper provides brief background information for Australian Parliamentarians on the origins of the Olympics and a snapshot of the development of the Games since the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Particular reference is made to the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The achievements of Australian Olympians are also a special focus of the paper."

"The paper also provides an insight into the many social and political dimensions of the Olympics."
Among the political and social issues that are addressed are: amateurism, commercialism, doping, gender, race and political conflict.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the Olympic Games include:
  • International Sports Law Guide (February 17, 2006): "Written by a librarian at Georgetown University, this new International Sports Law guide published on the GlobaLex website looks at key institutions governing international sports and provides information and links to federations governing individual sports at an international level, bodies associated with the Olympic Games and the Court of Arbitration for Sport."
  • New Internet Research Guide for Olympic Studies (April 2, 2008): "Intute, a British university consortium that offers free online service access to evaluated web resources for education and research, has just published a new subject booklet entitled 'Internet resources for Olympic studies'. The booklet describes resources relating to associations, the history of the Olympic Games, past and future Games, athletes, sports research, event management, and legal issues (arbitration of sports disputes, disability sports, gender equity and doping)."
  • China Crackdown on Human Rights Intensifying Before 2008 Olympics (April 7, 2008): "The human rights organization Amnesty International recently published a report documenting the intensifying campaign of repression by Chinese authorities before the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing later this year."
  • Beijing Olympics: Corporate Sponsors Risk Black Eye (April 23, 2008): "The international NGO Human Rights Watch recently published a report on the upcoming Beijing Summer Olympics that states that the 'corporate sponsors of the Olympics risk lasting damage to their brands if they do not live up to their professed standards of corporate social responsibility by speaking out about the deteriorating human rights situation in China'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:56 pm 2 comments

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ontario Targets Criminal Justice Court Delays

The Attorney General of Ontario Chris Bentley announced today that his department is setting targets to reduce court delays and appearances by 30 per cent in routine criminal cases over the next four years.

"To ensure transparency and accountability, the province is also making available criminal court statistics to the public for the first time."

To meet the targets, the province will be expanding 2 initiatives:
  • Dedicated Prosecution: "Under Dedicated Prosecution, small tight-knit teams of Crown prosecutors and support staff are given ownership of cases from the beginning of the court process until the case is resolved, or until it proceeds to trial. Traditionally, several Crown attorneys could deal separately with a criminal case before it is resolved. Each one would need to be familiar with the case file, the accused and their counsel, increasing the time it takes to resolve the case."
  • On-Site Legal Aid: "Once open, on-site legal aid offices will be operating in 26 courthouses serving almost 80 per cent of criminal legal aid clients province-wide. In these locations, an accused person can apply for legal aid on-site and, if successful, could retain a lawyer more quickly. Getting a lawyer on the case faster can help reduce the number of appearances needed to resolve a case, and allow more cases to move through the system more effectively."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:55 pm 0 comments

2007 Annual Report of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, today tabled her 2007 Annual Report in Parliament:

"The year 2007 will no doubt be remembered in the privacy world as the year of the data breach."

"The size of some of the data spills reported around the globe was staggering: An estimated 94 million credit and debit cards were exposed when hackers broke into the system at TJX Companies Inc., the U.S. retail giant which owns Winners and HomeSense stores in Canada. In the United Kingdom, two computer discs holding the personal details of some 25 million child benefit recipients vanished. "

"Those were only the two most high-profile data security disasters. Scores of other major data breaches affecting millions of people around the world were also reported."

"Data breaches here in Canada kept our team extraordinarily busy in 2007."

"Of particular note, we investigated the TJX/Winners breach, as well as the disappearance of a hard drive containing the personal information of close to half a million clients of Talvest Mutual Funds, a subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)."
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an independent ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:44 pm 0 comments

Monday, June 02, 2008

Canadian Judicial Council Inquiry Recommends Sacking Toronto Judge

A panel of inquiry of the Canadian Judicial Council has concluded that there are grounds for dismissing the Honourable Theodore Matlow, of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario.

Under The Judges Act, R.S.C., c. J-1, the Canadian Judicial Council can investigate complaints made against federally appointed judges of the superior courts of Canada.

The panel found that his personal conduct in connection with a neighbourhood dispute made him unfit for office:
"The Inquiry Committee notes Justice Matlow's expressions of regret but concludes that those expressions of regret, because of their limited nature, do not cause the Inquiry Committee to vary its characterization of Justice Matlow's conduct or its conclusions regarding how that conduct has engaged paragraphs (b) through (d) of subsection 65(2) of the Judges Act."

"On consideration of:
  • the breadth and extent of Justice Matlow's failure to conform to generally accepted ethical standards for judges, in the course of the conduct investigated;
  • the several conclusions that Justice Matlow has failed in the due execution of the office of judge, has been guilty of misconduct and has placed himself in a position incompatible with the due execution of the office of judge;
  • Justice Matlow’s currently expressed views as to the propriety of his conduct at the time, and his current views as to conduct appropriate for a judge who becomes concerned about what he or she perceives as misconduct in public office, indicate little or no prospect that Justice Matlow would conduct himself differently in the future; and
  • Justice Matlow’s limited expressions of regret,"
"the Inquiry Committee concludes that Justice Matlow's conduct is so manifestly and totally contrary to the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary that the confidence of individuals appearing before the judge, or of the public in its justice system, have been undermined, rendering the judge incapable of performing the duties of his judicial office. Accordingly, the Inquiry Committee expresses the view that a recommendation for removal of Justice Matlow from office is warranted."
The report now goes to the full council, which has to determine whether to recommend to the federal justice minister that Matlow be removed from the bench.

Matlow had participated in lobbying efforts against a proposed condominium complex near his home in the Toronto neighbourhood of Forest Hill. During the dispute, Matlow accused Toronto city officials of misconduct and is said to have tried to influence media coverage.

He did not later recuse himself from hearing a case concerning a controversial municipal plan to create a dedicated right-of-way for light rail transit along St.Clair, a major artery in Central Toronto. That led city lawyers to lodge a complaint against the judge.

In a May 30, 2008 Toronto Star article entitled Crusading judge unfit for office, probe finds, Matlow's lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo is quoted as saying that the panel took a "very antiquated, almost monastic view" of how judges are expected to behave.

But other legal observers have praised the Council.

In the same Toronto Star article, Osgoode Hall Law School professor Allan Hutchinson said that the council "is finally taking its regulatory role seriously and sending out a message that judicial independence does not mean that judges can do whatever they wish."

The Canadian Judicial Council is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin. Council membership consists of the chief justices, associate chief justices, and some senior judges from provincial and federal superior courts across the country.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:39 pm 0 comments

Supreme Court of Canda Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of May 1st to 31st, 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 1:27 pm 0 comments

Sunday, June 01, 2008

CALL 2008 Conference - Journey of a Judgment

For me, one of the most informative sessions at this year's annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Saskatoon (May 25-28) was Journey of a Judgment on Monday, May 26.

The 4 presenters described what happens to a judgment after it leaves the hands of a judge.

Kate Welsh, Courts Advisory Counsel for the Alberta Courts, explained how the Alberta court system had to develop a process for editing judgments to take into account privacy considerations. There are 16 different protocols that may apply before a judgment makes it to the Internet.

Dennis Berezowsky, Local Registrar, Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan, described the role of court registries as the final repository for official versions of judgments.

Anne Campbell, Manager, Law Reports Group, Canada Law Book, provided a very detailed rundown of all the steps a judgment goes through before it appears in a print digest, a print law report volume, or in electronic format.

I literally lost count of how many steps are involved: reception of cases via download, e-mail or snail mail; dumping everything into a work database for editing; metadata tagging and filtering for publication bans; classification and summarizing (reasons, catchlines, assignment of case treatments); selection of important cases for inclusion in full-text law reports; writing of headnotes for the law reports; researching the accuracy of all citations and authorities; creating entries for cases judicially noted, and for statutes/rules/regs noted; double-checking with counsel for any publication bans, supplementary reasons, amendments or appeals; a final read through before the send-off of full-text judgments to printing and to the E-Products group, etc.

Finally, Ivan Mokanov, CanLII Editor-in-Chief, gave some insight into the workflow involved in publishing a massive free legal information portal like CanLII that handles an average of 3,000 new cases per week.

CanLII has created numerous automated data extraction processes for citations, style of cause, and for inserting hyperlinks for citations contained in the body of judgments. It also creates judicial histories for cases using computer-assisted protocols and runs some fairly complex Boolean searches to find any cases that may be covered by publication bans or that raise privacy concerns. These flagged cases are set aside for editorial review.

In the future, CanLII plans to work on automated case summaries and subject classification and on computer-assisted noting up of words and phrases.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:35 pm 0 comments

CALL 2008 Conference - Practical Applications of Web 2.0

The educational portion of this year's annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (May 25-28, 2008 in Saskatoon) was kicked off last Monday by Darlene Fichter, Coordinator of the Data Library Services at the University of Saskatchewan.

Her presentation was about Practical Applications of Web 2.0 Technology (she made her presentation available online on Slideshare).

Her message can be boiled down to a few principles:
  • learn from others in the profession who are using blogs, wikis, social bookmarking tools
  • mix it up a little - here, she pointed to examples such a LegalPubs that cut and paste RSS feeds from different sources. This can allow for targeting information to specific practice groups in a law firm or professors in academia
  • share what you know via blogging, podcasting or screencasting about what the library does best
  • get involved in librarian online social networks
  • put it in your work schedule to learn and play
[Source: Connie Crosby on]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:19 pm 0 comments

Canadian Study on E-Books in Research Libraries

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) recently published a study entitled E-Books in Research Libraries: Issues of Access and Use.

The report includes:
  • A literature review;
  • A review of e-book licenses and comparisons with print;
  • An examination of differences between access and use of print books and e-books and impact on scholarship;
  • An outline of the issues of access and use of e- books in Research Libraries
It deals with the current instability and confusion in the e-book market, the different access mechanisms, negotiation strategies for libraries, issues relating to ILL and interjurisdictional conflicts, digital rights management, and the impact of e-books on scholarship.

The report concludes:
"There is a danger that research libraries are adding e-books to their collections using agreements that significantly reduce users’ rights. There is some urgency to improve this situation before it becomes a de facto standard. The Task Group on E-Books makes two recommendations to the CARL Copyright Committee: to create or endorse a statement of principles for licensing e-books, and to create a model license for Canadian research libraries."
Among the principles recommended are the following:
  • a guarantee of user rights as permitted under Canadian copyright law;
  • no digital rights management, or limited DRM with circumvention permitted to exercise non-infringing user rights under the Act;
  • the governing law must be Canadian;
  • the ability to audit for price comparison (limited confidentiality/nondisclosure clause);
  • detailed user information and analysis to gauge impact on scholarship;
  • removal of content clause; and
  • permanent copy provisions
CARL is made up of academic research libraries, the Library of Parliament, Library and Archives Canada, and CISTI (Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:46 pm 0 comments

IFLA World Report Series on Freedom of Information and Expression

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has just published its 2007 World Report on libraries and intellectual freedom.

From the introduction:
"In addition to providing library statistics and details about Internet access in libraries, the report also deals with the same issues covered in the 2005 report, namely antiterror legislation, freedom of information laws, violations of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression, the social responsibility of libraries, and ethical issues. These topics are reported on in the individual country reports, followed by an analysis of the data and conclusions that can be drawn."


"The report highlights a number of successes that have been achieved worldwide in terms of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression. It is nevertheless evident that IFLA, FAIFE and the broader library and information community should be very concerned about many of the issues addressed in the report – in each of the sections issues have been identified that need the urgent attention of library authorities and individual library patrons. In this sense we trust that the report will be useful – and a wake‐up call – not only to the library and information community, but also to everyone who has an interest in freedom of access to information and freedom of expression."
Earlier World Reports as well as IFLA Theme Reports can be found on the IFLA website.

IFLA's 2008 annual conference is taking place in Quebec City, August 10-14.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:53 pm 0 comments