Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for April, 2010

The Cost of Free Google Searches

Almost exactly a year ago, Google held a gathering for “leaders of the IT industry” — the Efficient Data Center Summit — where they explored the steps the company takes to reduce resource use and energy consumption in particular. And although most of what went on is so technical as to be land law to a layman, I thought you might like to learn some of the more intelligible highlights of Google efficiency. After all, in practice or at play, we call on Google daily; and the absence of great clanking noises and bursts of steam when we do, can . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Jury Confirms Novell Owns Unix Copyrights – Linux Remains Free

We have not heard much about this lately, partly because a summary judgment in 2007 stated that Novell owned the Unix code. A jury confirmed last week that SCO had not acquired the copyright to Unix from Novell in an asset purchase agreement.

The significance of this to the world at large is that Linux was derived from Unix. SCO launched a long standing battle claiming it owned Unix, and thus had rights to certain code within Linux, and thus the right to be compensated for Linux use. 

Apparently, SCO is not yet giving up though – there is some . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Law Not Yet in Force

I happened to be looking at currency dates for a section of the Criminal Code today and saw a big bold New heading. To my glee the New heading prefaced a note about shading on the Department of Justice Laws website. The site has a new feature showing provisions that are not yet in force as shaded. Well done DOJ!

The frequently asked questions page describes it like so:

What does the shading of provisions mean?
A new feature has been added to the consolidated Laws on the Justice Laws Web site: provisions in original enactments that are not

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Legislation

“The Times” to Disappear Behind Paywall

Sadly, what I recently learned from Times columnist, Richard Susskind, is indeed the case: The Times, TimesOnline and the Sunday Times will begin charging for online access. Presented by the publisher as the advent of something new and better — “timesplus” — the wall will go up around the garden at some near but as yet unidentified time. In the meantime, you’re invited “register for our exclusive preview” and they’ll get in touch when it happens.

The economic plight of newspaper organizations has been in the news for years now, so this attempt to monetize internet access . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading, Technology: Internet

Nomus: A New Canadian Caselaw Search Engine

Here’s a turn-up for the books: there’s a new entry in the Canadian legal search engine market. CanLII notwithstanding, Kent Mewhort, a McGill law student and experienced software engineer, has launched Nomus, a free search engine for Canadian legal decisions.

This is no Google-based amateur effort, but rather a serious tool running with at least one interesting algorithm and one valuable additional feature. I’ve had a small exchange of emails with Mr. Mewhort, and some of the material in this post comes from that.

First the scope: the database is drawn from publicly available, i.e. governmental, sites . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Technology: Internet

The Five Dysfunctions of a Law Firm?

I just finished reading the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, which is written as a “leadership fable” – a story of a struggling technology start up company.

The central premise of the book is that creating a strong team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to organizations. Functional teams make better decisions and accomplish more in less time. Talented people are less likely to leave organizations where they are part of a cohesive team.

Politics is defined as when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Practice of Law

This Week’s Biotech Highlights

This week the biotech world was consumed with questions about genes, and patents, and patents on genes.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet issued a summary judgment ruling (pdf) that Myriad Genetics’ patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were invalid, as were the patents on Myriad’s tests using those genes. Meh. The commentary (including here at Slaw) has been interesting and the public airing of patent policy is much needed and generally productive; but I don’t think the ruling is that big a deal.

In a case of superior serendipity, last week also marked the ten-year anniversary . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology

On Not Trusting Automatic Recommendations From Amazon

Before we leap to the assumption that advanced analytic programmes can really help suggest what we should be reading, I reproduce without sarcastic comment an email I got this morning:

“Dear Amazon.ca Customer,

As someone who has purchased or rated Knowledge Management and the Smarter Lawyer by Esq., Gretta Rusanow or other books in the Law Practice General category, you might like to know that Set-Off Law and Practice: An International Handbook will be released on April 11, 2010. You can pre-order yours at a savings of 16% by following the link below.

Set-Off Law and Practice: An International Handbook . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Publishing

Fingerprint Evidence Needs New Tools

The New Scientist carried an article recently on how courts’ use of fingerprints “is on the cusp of a much-needed revolution.” First used to obtain a conviction in Argentina in 1892, fingerprint evidence has long been the paragon of forensic science. Typically, experts will testify that prints taken from a suspect are “a match” with those found at the scene of a crime, offering, however, no “error rate” to accompany their statement, as would be the case if, say, DNA evidence were given. Yet, as the article shows, significant errors are indeed possible.

The problem is not so much one . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

The Heather Robertson Settlement and Legal Publishers

A recent notice from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency indicates that the deadline to make a claim for compensation under the class action lawsuit on behalf of freelancers and other contributors to online databases launched by Heather Robertson has now passed.

According to the notice, the class action alleged that the creators were not properly compensated for the electronic reproduction of their works in online databases. The notice advised that Thomson Reuters, CTVglobemedia, and The Gale Group, agreed to pay $11 million to settle the lawsuit, while making no admission of wrongdoing. No reference was made to any other legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

SharePoint Summit 2010 in Montreal

I noticed there is a SharePoint conference coming up in Montreal later this month, SharePoint Summit 2010, April 12-14th. While the sessions are not specific to law, I am pleased to see the depth being given to these topics:

  • taxonomy and metadata
  • information architecture
  • what one speaker is calling social computing (microblogging, blogs, wikis, mobile social clients)
  • archiving of content
  • enterprise search
  • migrating to SharePoint 2010

There are many more subjects covered in 6 tracks of sessions over 3 days, so lots for anyone from beginner to advanced. If you are managing a SharePoint initiative in your organization, or . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Office Technology

Google to Address Buzz Privacy Concerns

Connie Crosby previously outlined some of the privacy concerns surrounding the use of Google Buzz.

Following its launch, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Google in a San Jose Federal Court, as well as a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission by the Electronic Privacy Information Center which stated that Google had engaged in unfair and deceptive practices.

Google responded to the feedback (read complaints) with a number of changes to Buzz, including a shift from auto-follow to auto suggest, ability to block users, and better inbox controls.

Some time today Google is expected to . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet