On behalf of trees everywhere I have made an initial inquiry with the powers that be asking why the weekly paper part of the Ontario Reports is not distributed only in digital format.
Although this issue may of less interest to those outside of Ontario, it does raise questions that are regularly discussed on SLAW.
Background: Members of the Law Society of Upper Canada receive a weekly paper part of the Ontario Reports as part of their membership fees. It contains (in this order): a Table of Contents with brief details of typically 5 to 7 cases per weekly edition; advertisements for new publications, seminars and announcements; job ads for lawyers, law clerks and assistants; and finally, the typically 5 to 7 important recent Ontario cases, with headnotes. For the larger firms in Ontario, this means receiving sometimes 300 or more weekly paper parts. Most firms pay a separate fee (I believe $285 per bound volume that I believe has the equivalent of 10 paper parts) to get bound versions of just the cases that get shelved in the library (the bound versions do not contain the ads). I assume most lawyers discard their weekly paper parts (I do, although I also tear out cases of interest or ads for new book titles).
What is unknown to me is whether this is a revenue generator for the Law Society (the publication is actually published on contract with Butterworths). I assume it is. I had heard the cost of a one page ad is quite expensive (at least in my mind).
Although the print weekly part is convenient and has its advantages, I wonder if the time has come for the Law Society to advance beyond the Gutenberg technology of the mid 1400’s by going digital.
Here are some advantages of going digital:
1) Saving trees/paper.
2) Reducing costs to LSUC (and to LSUC members) and (potentially) lessening reliance on third-party publishers.
3) Making it more interactive for LSUC members (e.g., notices of new court rules could link to the applicable court rule).
4) There is a delivery mechanism in place (via “blast” emails to LSUC members)
5) The online version could still contain advertisements through a clickable table of contents or menu, a feature many members would likely enjoy reviewing online as they do in print
6) Links to cases: I am assuming every decision in the current Ontario Reports is also available on CanLII and an online version could simply link to the CanLII version of a case. I realize the headnote would be missing – this could be offset by also providing a link to the LexisNexis Quicklaw version, if desired, which would contain their headnote (assuming there was still a contract with that publisher; the link could just as easily be given to the WestlaweCARSWELL version).
Rise up members of the Law Society! Save the trees!
Prediction: print case law reporters will cease to exist by 2012, if not earlier.