Thursday, April 30, 2020

Supreme Court of Canada Publishes 2019 Year in Review

The Supreme Court of Canada has published its Year in Review for 2019. It is an annual document describing the Court’s activities in the preceding year.

In the introduction, Canada's Chief Justice Richard Wagner writes:
"When I became Chief Justice just over two years ago, I committed to making the Court more open and understandable, and to enhancing access to justice for everyone. In 2019, the Court celebrated some important milestones and made meaningful progress toward these goals."

"In 2019, the Minister of Justice and I signed an Accord to formalize the Court’s relationship to the other branches of the Canadian state. It goes to the heart of our democracy and rule of law. It ensures the Court remains fully independent, and is seen to be independent. This safeguards justice for all Canadians."

"In September, the Court held hearings outside of Ottawa for the first time in history, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During this visit, we spoke with Manitobans, answered their questions, and met with several communities recognized in our Constitution. Hundreds of local people got to see the Court in action, as we heard two appeals — one on the right to a trial in a reasonable time, and another on minority language education rights. I hope we can do this in other cities in the future."

"In 2019, the Court issued an important decision in the area of administrative law. The Court decided as a group that the time had come to bring clarity to this area of law, which affects virtually every part of people’s lives. The resulting decision is meant to make the law clearer and more predictable for everyone. This will have profound effects in the years to come."

"These accomplishments were all part of being more open and accessible. The annual Year in Review is also part of this. In this second edition, we’ve worked to provide more information in an even more engaging and approachable way. We encourage other courts and tribunals to think about ways that they can do this, too."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:25 pm 0 comments

Supreme Court of Canada Calendar of June 2020 Hearings

The Supreme Court of Canada has published its calendar of upcoming appeals that will be heard in June.

As the text explains:
"As stated in the press releases of March 16, 2020 and March 25, 2020, hearings scheduled for the months of March, April, and May were adjourned due to health and safety measures taken in response to COVID-19. A number of these hearings, including a hearing on an application for leave, have now been scheduled for June. They will take place by video-conference." (...)

"The Supreme Court Building is closed to visitors, but remains open for case-related matters."
To find out more about any particular case, click on the docket number in parentheses next to each case name to find docket information, case summaries as well as facta from the parties.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:46 am 0 comments

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

US Supreme Court Rules Georgia Can’t Copyright Annotated Code

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of December 10, 2019 entitled US Supreme Court Hears Case on Copyright Status of Georgia's Official Legal Code.

The government of the state of Georgia was claiming that it owned the copyright over its official legal code. Georgia has a contract with legal vendor Lexis Nexis to publish an annotated version of the code.

Non-annotated codes are available for free but only the annotated commercial version is considered official. That version costs a lot of  money.

Yesterday, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that state governments could not copyright annotated versions of their laws.

The decision is a victory for the non-profit Public.Resource.Org, a group that works to facilitate public access to government records and legal materials.

As Chief Justice Roberts writes:
"Over a century ago, we recognized a limitation on copyright protection for certain government work product, rooted in the Copyright Act’s 'authorship' requirement. Under what has been dubbed the government edicts doctrine, officials empowered to speak with the force of law cannot be the authors of—and therefore cannot copyright—the works they create in the course of their official duties."

"We have previously applied that doctrine to hold that non-binding, explanatory legal materials are not copyrightable when created by judges who possess the authority to make and interpret the law. See Banks v. Manchester, 128 U. S. 244 (1888). We now recognize that the same logic applies to non-binding, explanatory legal materials created by a legislative body vested with the authority to make law. Because Georgia’s annotations are authored by an arm of the legislature in the course of its legislative duties, the government edicts doctrine puts them outside the reach of copyright protection."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:30 pm 0 comments

Monday, April 27, 2020

Spring 2020 Issue of Connected Bulletin on US Courts and Social Media

The Spring 2020 issue of Connected is available online. The bulletin covers news about the impact of social media on courts.

The bulletin is published by the Virginia-based National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.

The NCSC website also has a section devoted to Coronavirus and the courts that tracks how US courts at all levels are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:17 pm 0 comments

Friday, April 24, 2020

Federal Court of Appeal Decides Access Copyright Tariffs Not Mandatory

Earlier this week, the Federal Court of Appeal released its decision on the case York University v. The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency.

The collective licensing agency Access Copyright had sued York University, alleging the educational institution had been improperly reproducing and authorizing the copying of protected works.

This week's ruling can appear to be a mixed bag.

On the one hand, the Court found against Access Copyright on the mandatory tariff issue. That essentially means that educational institutions cannot be forced to accept the collective's licence.

On the other hand, York argued that its copies fell within fair dealing and were therefore did not constitute copyright infringement. The Court disagreed.

Reaction from:
  • Canadian Association of Research Libraries and Canadian Federation of Library Associations: "On the key issue of the case—whether York was obliged to pay royalties to Access Copyright pursuant to the interim tariff—the Court found in favour of the appellant, York. The Court clearly ruled that Access Copyright’s Copyright Board tariffs are not mandatory. This constitutes a major victory for universities, upholding their right to choose whether to obtain a licence from Access Copyright or comply with their copyright obligations through other legal means. 'I conclude that a final tariff would not be enforceable against York because tariffs do not bind non-licensees. If a final tariff would not be binding, the conclusion can hardly be different for an interim tariff' (para. 204) . The decision is not as favourable for universities, libraries, and their users with respect to the second element of the case, fair dealing. The counterclaim by York— that all their copying, by having been compliant with their own guidelines, was fair dealing under the Copyright Act—was dismissed. The Court found that York had not adequately demonstrated that application of the guidelines ensured that all of its dealings were fair."
  • Federal Court of Appeal Deals Access Copyright Huge Blow As It Overturns York University Copyright Decision (blog of Michael Geist, University of Ottawa law professor): "To be clear, the decision does not mean that there is no compensation for authors and publishers nor that their copyrights are unenforceable. Copyright law still grants them exclusive rights over their works subject to users’ rights such as fair dealing. This right includes the ability to pursue infringement claims backed by statutory damages. Rather, users have choice in how they obtain the necessary rights for the works they use. Access Copyright has long claimed there was effectively no choice as its approach was mandatory once copying was captured by the licence. This decision canvasses decades of legislative history to conclusively demonstrate that this was never the case. Instead, the Access Copyright licence – even once certified by the Copyright Board – is an option available to users. However, educational users today have a wide range of alternative options including site licensing, open access materials, transactional licences, and fair dealing. Many institutions now use a combination of these paid and unpaid approach as a better approach."
  • Education is the key : discussion of Access Copyright v. York University (2020 FCA 77) (Fair Dealing in Education blog)


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:30 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 23, 2020

US Institute of Museum and Library Services Presentation on Paper-Based Collections During COVID-19

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a U.S. federal government agency, hosted a webinar recently where specialists from the Centers for Disease Control discussed how libraries, archives, and museums can help mitigate COVID-19 when working with paper-based, circulating, and other types of collections.

A PDF transcript of the presentation is also available.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:18 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Privacy Best Practices in a Public Health Emergency

David Fraser at the Canadian Privacy Law Blog recently published an article about Privacy best practices in a pandemic public health emergency:
"Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, privacy questions have been in the headlines. International media reported stories from Asia about smartphones being used to enforce quarantine orders. In Ontario, Premier Ford suggested using telecom data to track social isolation compliance and more recently the Quebec police announced that it had arrested a woman in violation of a quarantine order by tracking her down via her cellphone."

"Companies are wondering what information they can require from employees about their health, diagnosis or risk factors, and what information they can provide to public health authorities if asked. Companies also have similar questions about customer information."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:51 pm 0 comments

Monday, April 20, 2020

Association for Computing Machinery Guide to Virtual Conferences

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has published a best practices guide on virtual conferences:
"This document is a practical guide to the brave new world of virtual scientific conferences, assembled and curated by members of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Presidential Task Force on What Conferences Can Do to Replace Face-to-Face Meetings."

"With so many conferences going online in a short time, there are many organizers with urgent questions; at the same time, new insights, ideas, and experiences are being generated at a furious rate. We hope that this guide will serve both as a basic orientation for newcomers and as a repository of accumulated knowledge from the community."

"As heavy users of online technologies and as researchers responsible for developing them, the ACM community is especially well-positioned to offer advice that we hope will be helpful to other groups dealing with the same problems."
There are sections on:
  • High-Level Planning 
  • Technology (hardware, internet connectivity, audio/visual support, and specific communication platforms; it includes a large table comparing available platforms)
  • Nuts and Bolts (specific issues related to the different parts of a conference  - plenary and paper sessions, workshops, etc. plus concrete 'bootstrap suggestions' for how to put on conferences of various sizes)
  • Fostering Social Interactions discusses what virtual conferences can do to replace the informal, unstructured interactions that are the lifeblood of physical conferences.
  • Other Resources contains a list of links to interesting documents related to moving events online.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:29 pm 0 comments Article on Trial by Zoom

Last week on the legal website, University of Ottawa law professor Amy Salyzyn wrote about the impact of virtual or online court hearings.

Well worth a read:
"This column considers what our commitment to open courts should look like in a world where virtual hearings are, if not ubiquitous, quite suddenly much more common. I argue that in addition to providing meaningful public access to virtual hearings, courts must also consider important interests, like privacy, and be alert to the possibility that moving court proceedings online can have unintentional impacts on participant experiences and case outcomes. Virtual hearings bring important benefits, but also bring new risks that are worthy of attention (...)

"I should also make clear that the point of this column is not to critique the patchwork of inventive measures that courts have rapidly adopted to deal with operations in the short-term. It strikes me that, generally, many justice stakeholders have worked very hard and cooperatively to make things quickly work in an extremely challenging situation. My goal here is to raise some issues for consideration in the medium to longer term, if we continue to increasingly adopt virtual formats for court hearings."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:37 pm 0 comments

Alberta Law Reform Institute Paper on Police Record Checks

The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI( has published a paper on police record checks in the province:
"To assess their suitability for opportunities, employers and volunteer organizations seek background information on their applicants. One way of obtaining such information is through police record checks. That being so, many employers and volunteer organizations require applicants to request, and share the results of, a police record check. Other organizations, including governments, professional regulatory bodies, post-secondary institutions, and even landlords, also use police record checks as a screening tool."

"Determining what information should be disclosed in the results of a police record check involves balancing public safety interests with an applicant’s privacy and human rights. Across Canada, police services do this balancing in different ways, with little legislative direction."
ALRI conducted some preliminary research to determine whether it should undertake a police record check law reform project. As part of its research, ALRI compared Ontario’s police record check legislation with the procedures from the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP).

ALRI determined that the AACP procedures could be improved, but recognized that they are relatively new and that the AACP is open to revising them. As time may tell whether Alberta needs specific legislation to regulate police record checks, ALRI decided not to proceed with a police record check law reform project now.

ALRI’s paper contains its preliminary research findings. Its publication is intended to promote discussion about police record check practices in Alberta.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:33 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Canadian Bar Association COVID-19 Resource Hub

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has created a COVID-19 Resource Hub:
"The CBA delivers support to its members to help them carry out their essential role. This support is more important than ever. We are committed to delivering current information and relevant support to you and your practice during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The resources on this portal will keep you up to date on what’s happening in the legal profession and justice system and give you tools and tips to keep going professionally and personally."
There are resources related to:
  • Legal and justice system updates
  • Well-being of lawyers
  • Benefits programs, guides, podcasts
  • Professional development webinars
  • Advocacy on legal and professional issues related to COVID-19
  • CBA branch resources

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Future of the Law Library After COVID-19

David Whelan, the director of the Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario, has put together a number of thoughts about the future of the law library.

He breaks things down into a few categories:
  • Rehome the Physical Collection
  • Remote Reference
  • The Collection is Remote
  • Shift the Money

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:20 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Interview With Shannon Salter of British Columbia's All Online Civil Resolution Tribunal

The American court case tracking website UniCourt has published an interview with Shannon Salter, head of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), Canada’s first online court system.
"With the unprecedented spread of a global pandemic, businesses and consumers alike find themselves at an eerie halt – and the legal field is no exception. Courts are closed, deadlines continued, and cases put on hold. People find themselves connecting online, holding meetings and conferences virtually. And right now there is a clear separation between those who are prepared and those who aren’t: courts that have already embraced the virtual realm are able to continue business as usual, while those who haven’t have shuttered their doors."

"Shannon Salter is one of those who is prepared."

"Shannon’s work through the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), Canada’s first online court system, has transformed the way consumers interact with the legal system. As the keynote speaker at the 2020 Legal Services Corporation Innovation in Technology Conference, she said: 'The justice system doesn’t belong to us lawyers and judges. It belongs to the people we serve.' Indeed, the CRT is paving a path for accessibility through online dispute resolution. It provides the access the public wants: it’s simple, intuitive, and free from bureaucratic hurdles."

"We recently sat down with Shannon to learn more about her journey in helming the CRT, the principles that drive her, and her thoughts on how online dispute resolution will transform the legal profession."
Among other things, the CRT handles British Columbia cases involving many motor vehicle injuries. small claims, and condo disputes. For more information, readers can visit the CRT website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:56 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Most Recent Issue of LawNow: Rural Law

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 that look back at  major legal developments over the past 20 years.

There is also a special report on the state of the law in rural communities.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:48 pm 0 comments

Directory of On-Demand Recordings of Webinars from Library Organizations, Vendors, and Others

The website infoDOCKET has put together a Directory of On-Demand Recordings of Webinars from Library Organizations, Vendors, and Others during the COVID-19 pandemic:
"Many libraries, library organizations, and others are offering webinars during the COVID-19 for a variety of reasons including thinking/planning for the future, developing learning new skills, and simply conversing with colleagues."

"Below, find a spreadsheet with links to watch recordings of these webinars and/or information about a variety of webinar series."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:40 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Global Library Reactions to COVID-19

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has created a webpage devoted to COVID-19 and the Global Library Field:
"The information and resources below are provided on a non-exhaustive basis but will be updated regularly. It is based on publicly available information, and that submitted to We welcome additional ideas, references, suggestions and corrections to this address."
The page is divided into sections on topics such as:
  • Understanding COVID-19 and its spread
  • Library closures around the world
  • Managing different approaches to restrictions
  • Staying safe at home and work
  • Providing services remotely
  • Managing remote working
  • Reassigning library resources
  • Actions by Associations, National Libraries and Library Partners

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:17 pm 0 comments

Monday, April 06, 2020

Library of Parliament Publications About COVID-19

The Library of Parliament blog HillNotes has posted a number of articles about the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, there have been texts about:
  • Health Outcomes During Pandemics in Different Population Groups in Canada
  • The Movement of Goods and People In and Out of Canada in a COVID-19 World
  • Human Rights in Emergency Situations
  • Continuity in Canada’s System of Government During a Crisis
  • Income Supports and Labour Protections Available to Federally Regulated Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Federal Authorities During Public Health Emergencies

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:44 pm 0 comments

Friday, April 03, 2020

Law Library of Congress Report on Continuity of Legislative Activities during Emergency Situations

The Law Library of Congress in Washington recently published a report on the Continuity of Legislative Activities during Emergency Situations:
"This report by the foreign law research staff of the Global Legal Research Directorate surveys the law of 36 foreign jurisdictions on the functioning of legislatures under emergency measures, arrangements in legislatures for a designated sub-group to constitute a kind of 'emergency parliament' with devolved powers from the whole legislature, and arrangements made by national legislative bodies to ensure their work during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"In the vast majority of countries surveyed, legislatures have adopted preventative measures in response to the public emergency posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, no country surveyed has explicitly invoked the powers of an “emergency parliament” with devolved power from the whole legislature. However, several countries surveyed give various other emergency powers to the legislature in times of emergencies.  "
Canada is on the countries examined in the report.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:02 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 02, 2020

COVID-19 Reports from Legislative Research Organizations

The US-based infoDOCKET website has posted a list of Reports From the Congressional Research Service and Legislative Research Organizations in Australia, Canada, EU, and UK:
"Below, find a growing list of reports from the Congressional Research Service (U.S) as well as legislative research organizations in Australia, Canada, EU, and UK. We update this page several times a week."
The non-American research organizations referred to include the Parliamentary Library in Australia, the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, the via European Parliament Research Service and the House of Commons Library in the United Kingdom.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments

April 2020 Issue of In Session - E-Newsletter of Canadian Association of Law Libraries

The April 2020 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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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:33 pm 0 comments