Thursday, July 30, 2020

Papers from Conference on Artificial Intelligence: Thinking About Law, Law Practice, and Legal Education

As F. Tim Knight, librarian at the Osgoode Hall Law School Library, wrote earlier today on
" 'Artificial Intelligence: Thinking About Law, Law Practice, and Legal Education' was a two-day conference which covered topics 'ranging from autonomous vehicles to robotic surgery, and from smart phones to smart speakers.' Presenters included legal educators, practitioners, policy makers, and computer scientists. The speakers addressed the many ways that the development of artificial intelligence is affecting the legal profession, legal education, law and society."

"Jan M. Levine, Professor of Law and Director, Legal Research & Writing Program at Duquesne University School of Law, provides more information in his foreword to the Duquesne University Law Review issue featuring papers from the symposium."
The conference took place in 2019 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. 

The complete list of papers is available on the conference website.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Presentations on Civil Law for a Common Law Audience

 The American Association of Law Libraries Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (AALL FCIL-SIS) recently organized a Workshop: Demystifying Civil Legal Systems for a Common Law Audience.

The different presentations will be summarized on the DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog.

The first recap is for The Role of Cases in Mixed and/or Civil Jurisdictions: Historical Traditions and Modern Developments, a presentation by Xavier Beauchamp-Tremblay, President and CEO of CanLII.

In his talk, Beauchamp-Tremblay shared the results of a study he conducted:
"He sampled 400 cases from each year between 2003-2017 and measured the average length (in terms of number of characters) of the opinions. He also tracked 'citation density,' the average number of cited decisions in the opinion, over the same period of time."

"The findings of this study were quite impressive: the length of decisions in Québec’s lower courts increased by about 40% and in the appellate court by 20%. Citation density in the courts’ decisions also showed a marked increase over the same period. A similar study by Antoine Dusséaux of French courts produced similar results. Judicial opinions in these two civil law jurisdictions were getting longer and including more citations in support of legal arguments – characteristics traditionally only seen in opinions authored by common law judges."

"The data collected by both Beauchamp-Tremblay and Dusséaux suggests that something is having an effect on the length and density of judicial opinions in both Québec and France. Beauchamp-Tremblay concluded his presentation by proposing several possible reasons for these changes, including increased access to the law, more complex legal and evidentiary issues in the cases, and judges writing more of their own opinions."

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UNESCO Database on National Laws for the Protection of Cultural Heritage

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has brought a number of improvements to its NATLAWS Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws. It is a tool for combating the illicit traffic in cultural property.
"In the event of a legal question about the origin of an object (which may have been stolen, pillaged, or illegally exported, imported or acquired), it is useful to have rapid access to the relevant national laws."

"The UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws allows the following to be consulted: 
  • national laws currently in force related to the protection of the cultural heritage in general;
  • import/export certificates for cultural property (available on request);
  • official or unofficial translations of national laws and certificates;
  • contact details for the national authorities responsible for the protection of the cultural heritage;
  • addresses of the official national websites dedicated to the protection of the cultural heritage."
The database gives access to more than 3000 laws, decrees and amendments that cover areas such as monuments, archaeological sites, paintings, coins, archaeological objects, shipwrecks, underwater cities, etc.

Enhancements include the scanning of existing documentation in high-definition, improving the quality of the documents and transforming its interface making it more accessible to users.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

LawBytes Podcast on Supreme Court of Canada Decision on Genetic Anti-Discrimination Law

In his most recent LawBytes podcast, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist looks at the Battle for a Genetic Anti-Discrimination Law in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada recently upheld the validity of the federal Genetic Non-Discrimination Act passed in 2017:
"As the broad availability of genetic testing has mushroomed over the past two decades, privacy and potential discrimination concerns associated with testing results has increased. Until recently, Canada lagged behind other countries in this regard with no specific national legislation. That changed in 2017 with the enactment of the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act. The Act was quickly challenged on constitutional grounds, but earlier this month a divided Supreme Court of Canada upheld its validity."

"The law underwent a remarkable parliamentary journey featuring opposition from successive governments, lobbying against the bill by the insurance industry, passage in the House of Commons despite objections from then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and a court challenge in which the government supported the effort to declare the law invalid. Senator James Cowan, who was the lead proponent of the legislation, joins me on the podcast to discuss what prompted him to take on the issue and the unlikely path of Canada’s genetic non-discrimination law."

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Indigenous Law Centre Gladue Awareness Project Final Report

The Indigenous Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan has published the final report of the Gladue Awareness Project.

It looks at the crisis of Indigenous over-incarceration in Saskatchewan and the justice system’s response:
"The Gladue Awareness Project has aimed to foster greater knowledge of the Gladue decision and its implementation in Saskatchewan. The Gladue decision was released by the Supreme Court of Canada approximately twenty years ago to address what judges must consider when sentencing Indigenous people. The Supreme Court took it as an opportunity to clearly acknowledge the disproportionate rates at which Indigenous people are sentenced to prison in Canada and interpret Parliament’s response to this crisis through a 1996 amendment to the Criminal Code. The Court also took note of how Indigenous over-incarceration has been linked to the systemic discrimination that Indigenous people face throughout Canada’s criminal justice system, as well as the complex and devastating intergenerational legacies of the residential school system and settler colonialism faced by Indigenous peoples across the country (...)"

"The primary focus of this project has been on sharing information about the Gladue decision and the unique considerations involved in the sentencing of Indigenous people with all those who work in or are exposed to the criminal justice system in this province. This final report not only summarizes the work completed through the project to date but may also provide a baseline for future research and education in the area. Among other things, it introduces sections 718 and 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code and summarizes how reported cases from Saskatchewan have engaged with, discussed, and applied the Gladue decision and related case law from the Supreme Court of Canada. By raising awareness and sharing information it is hoped that this project will assist others in their own work addressing Indigenous over-incarceration in Saskatchewan."

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

World Health Organization Database of COVID-19 Legislation Around the World

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the COVID-19 Law Lab in association with other major international organizations:
"The COVID-19 Law Lab is a database of laws that countries have implemented in response to the pandemic. It includes state of emergency declarations, quarantine measures, disease surveillance, legal measures relating to mask-wearing, social distancing, and access to medication and vaccines. The database will continue to grow as more countries and themes are added."
"It will also feature research on different legal frameworks for COVID-19. These analyses will focus on the human rights impacts of public health laws and help countries identify best practices to guide their immediate responses to COVID-19 and socioeconomic recovery efforts once the pandemic is under control."
There are legal documents from over 190 countries.

In addition to the WHO, the project involves the United Nations Development Programme, yhe UN Programme on HIV/AIDS and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

REALM Project Test 2 Results for COVID Virus Survival on 5 Library Materials

This is a follow-up to the June 24, 2020 post entitled REALM Project: COVID Virus Undetectable on Five Highly Circulated Library Materials After Three Days.

Research conducted as part of the  REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project has been testing how long the virus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 remains detectable on various library surfaces and materials.

In a second phase of testing, the Project looked at:
  • Braille paper pages
  • Glossy paper pages from a coffee table book
  • Magazine pages
  • Children's board book
  • Archival folders
According to the research:
"The evaluation demonstrates that standard office temperature (68°F to 75°F) and relative humidity conditions (30 to 50 percent) provide an environment that allows for the natural attenuation of SARS-CoV-2 present on these materials after two days of quarantine for archival folders and four days of quarantine for the book pages. Compared to the results of Test 1, the results of Test 2 indicate that a slightly longer quarantine time for some types of cellulose-based paper materials sitting in a stacked configuration may be required to render SARS-CoV-2 undetectable."
REALM is a collaboration between OCLC, an international library services cooperative, the US government agency Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle, an R&D organization.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:15 pm 0 comments

COVID-19 Safer Libraries Guide from the UK

The architecture firm IF_DO, in partnership with Libraries Connected and the UK library association CILIP, has developed a COVID-19 Safer Libraries Guide, available for free download.

It looks at issues such as:

  • staff safety
  • ventilation
  • safe materials borrowing and return strategies
  • seating
  • décor and signage

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Monday, July 20, 2020

Library Return on Investment - Report from International Federation of Library Associations

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has just published a document on Library Return on Investment - Review of Evidence from the Last 10 Years:
"Over the last few decades, libraries have been exploring various ways to assess and demonstrate their value and contribution to users and societies at large. One of the approaches libraries have taken is examining the monetary value of their services to measure their outcome and assess the impacts of their work ..."

"Among such studies, Return on Investment assessments are a commonly used approach. At its simplest, an ROI assessment determines the ratio of net gains (monetised benefits) to the costs of an investment (...)"
The publication looks at a number of different studies from around the world that have evaluated the ROI of major public library systems, academic libraries and special libraries (government, health, law and corporate).


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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Accessibility Toolkit for Library Programs and Meetings on Virtual Platforms

The Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies, a division of the American Library Association, recently published a toolkit on virtual accessibility:
"Beginning in spring 2020, the number of libraries offering live meetings and programs through online virtual platforms has increased tremendously. It is essential to ensure that library events are welcoming and accessible for everyone who is interested in participating or learning with others in their communities. When online programs and classes are planned with accessibility in mind, it is possible for many people who have previously found barriers to enjoy and benefit from the opportunities their libraries provide."
There are tips for:

  • Video Meetings and Presentations
  • Webinars
  • Group Discussions
  • Accessible Documents


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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

CLEO Discussion Paper on Community-Based Access to Justice

CLEO, the Community Legal Education Ontario, has published a discussion paper on Community Justice Help: Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice.

It looks at the kinds of help frontline workers in community organizations can offer Ontario citizens with low incomes and other social disadvantages when they face law-related problems:
"The significant contribution of community workers to improving access to justice has been recognized more in recent years, prompting us to explore how their work could be better enabled and supported. In this paper, we propose a framework that describes the key elements of good quality community justice help. The framework includes three key features: community justice helpers have the knowledge, skills and experience they need; they work within a not-for-profit organization and an ethical infrastructure; and, they provide holistic support to meet clients’ multi-dimensional needs. The framework also includes markers or indicators for each feature."

"We recommend that this framework be supported by providers of community justice help, as well as by other partners, including licensed legal service providers, funders of community-based access to justice programs, the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) and other bodies that regulate or support legal, social, community or other relevant services (...)"

"In addition to reviewing relevant literature, we conducted interviews with key staff from community-based organizations on their practices. We are grateful to all of them for their time and effort and their willingness to share their experiences openly with us. We also benefited from the feedback of colleagues in the academic, justice and not-for-profit sectors, and appreciate their time and engagement. We have not attempted to represent the diversity of opinions we heard in this paper. Its views and analysis are our own and we are responsible for any errors or omissions. Finally, we are grateful to a number of students at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law who provided research assistance..."


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Monday, July 13, 2020

Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario - Re-opening and Recovery Resources for Law Firms

The Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario has shared a series of resources to help law firms plan their reopening:
"These guides and checklists cover practical return to work considerations from physical distancing and PPE to employee accommodations and communications. As well, we’ve included links to a few recent articles that provide some food for thought on the potential redesign of law firm offices and legal practices in a post-pandemic world."

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Thursday, July 09, 2020

LawBytes Podcast on Supreme Court of Canada Uber Ruling

In his most recent LawBytes podcast, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist looks at the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision in Uber Technologies v. Heller:
"The Supreme Court of Canada recently released its much anticipated Uber Technologies v. Heller decision, a landmark ruling with significant implications for the validity of online contracts and for employment relations in the gig economy. The court rejected an arbitration clause in an Uber contract with its drivers, finding the clause unconscionable."

"The decision unsurprisingly quickly caught the attention of many in the legal, technology, business, and consumer advocacy communities. Professor Marina Pavlovic is a friend and colleague at the University of Ottawa, who appeared before the Supreme Court representing the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic as an intervener in the case. She joined me on the podcast to discuss the decision and to explain why she believes it is an earth shattering ruling for online contracts in Canada."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:23 pm 0 comments

Law Library of Congress Report on Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19

The Law Library of Congress in Washington recently published a report on Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19:
"This report surveys the regulation of electronic means to fight the spread of COVID-19 in 23 selected jurisdictions around the globe, namely Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, England, France, Iceland, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, the Russian Federation, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the European Union (EU) (...)"

"Many governments have turned to electronic measures to provide information to individuals about the COVID-19 pandemic, check symptoms, trace contacts and alert persons who have been in proximity to an infected person, identify 'hot spots,' and track compliance with confinement measures and stay-at-home orders. Dedicated coronavirus apps that are downloaded to an individual’s mobile phone, the use of anonymized mobility data, and creating electronic databases are the most common measures. However, it is unclear whether such digital solutions by themselves are sufficient to contain the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using digital proximity tracking only as a supplement to other measures such as increased testing and manual contact tracing."

"Most of the surveyed jurisdictions have developed one or several dedicated coronavirus apps with different functionalities, such as general information and advice about COVID-19, symptom checkers, and contact tracing and warning. In order to be effective and provide accurate information, the applications need enough data, meaning enough people need to download the app. Some countries had low download rates, or, as in the case of Norway, only initial high enthusiasm. Other problems observed were technical glitches in computer systems that led to false information being reported, which happened in Russia, where people were erroneously fined or fined several times. In the UK, there were reports that the app was unable to work properly if another app was being actively used."
The Law Library of Congress is the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over 2 and a half million volumes from all ages of history and virtually every jurisdiction in the world.

Over the years, it has published dozens of comparative law reports which are a treasure trove for legal research on a huge variety of issues.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

July/August 2020 Issue of AALL Spectrum

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Monday, July 06, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic and Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Library of Parliament has published an analysis of The COVID-19 Pandemic and Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
"The COVID-19 pandemic presents multiple risks to the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities."
"Approximately 6.2 million Canadians over the age of 15 live with one or more disabilities. Although definitions vary, the Accessible Canada Act indicates that a disability exists when a person’s impairments interact with barriers in a way that hinders full and equal participation in society."
"Persons with disabilities are a diverse group with a wide range of abilities and needs. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) – which Canada ratified in 2010 – guarantees their enjoyment of such rights as those to 'full and effective participation and inclusion in society' and to 'the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination.' In situations of risk, member states also have an obligation under Article 11 of the Convention to take 'all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities'."
"These and other rights found in the Convention and in domestic human rights laws are threatened by the pandemic in several ways. This HillNote outlines some of the challenges facing persons with disabilities in Canada during the pandemic, and the potential impact on the health-related and inclusion-related rights of such persons. It will also highlight some positive measures that have been identified both in Canada and internationally to help fulfill state obligations, including Canada’s COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group."

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

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

The July 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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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Journal Special Issue on History of Canadian Library Associations

The features section of the most recent issue of Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research is devoted to the history of many of Canada's major library associations.

Articles include:
  • Shift Happens: The Recent Evolution of Canadian Library Associations, Susan Cleyle, Suzanne van den Hoogen
  • From the Canadian Library Association to the Canadian Federation of Library Associations: A Confluence of Evolution and Circumstance, Marie DeYoung
  • Leading Change and Restructuring the Manitoba Library Association, Alix-Rae Stefanko
  • The Fédération des milieux documentaires (FMD): a federation of associations and institutions, Lionel Villalonga, Réjean Savard
  • The CARL Portage Partnership Story, Charles Humphrey
  • “Spinning In”: The Merger of with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network / Réseau canadien de documentation pour la recherche, Jonathan Bengtson, Carol Shepstone


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