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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Subscribing to Open Access for Research and Scholarship

Among those of trying to imagine an alternative economic arrangement for scholarly publishing that will result in public access to research and scholarship, the journal subscription has become seemingly immovable impediment to the wider distribution of this form of intellectual property. This had led me to do a bit of historical digging into the commercial transaction of the subscription, as part of a larger project on learning’s role in the formation of intellectual property concept over many centuries.

I have come to discover that subscriptions were first used to raise money for scholarly publishing in the early 17th century. The . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Should Judges Be Appointed or Elected?

Ben Franklin thought that judges should be elected. He thought that the voting public would select the best person for the job. See page 455, Benjamin Franklin, An American Life by Walter Isaacson.

Judges are appointed in Canada. In the U.S.A. federal court judges are appointed. Some U.S.A. states elect judges. Many years ago a Denver lawyer told me that Colorado lawyers prefer to elect judges because it tends to make the judges accountable and responsible. In Canada supreme court judges are appointed until age 75. Some appointed judges act irresponsibly. For example, when I was practicing law in New . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Tolley – Cento Anni!

Reflecting on 2016, in many ways a turbulent and distressing year, I was reminded of the centenaries that it marked. Notable ones for me were the momentous Easter Rising in Ireland, the wasteful Battle of the Somme, the birth of my late father and the establishment of Tolley Publishing.

Its parent, Lexis Nexis UK has posted on Tolley’s web site a “100 Years of Tolley Infographic” and has published a book to celebrate its centenary, entitled, thanks to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, “Plucking the Goose”. The title, apparently not some kind of smutty euphemism or double entendre, serves to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Path From Print to Web Has Just Become Much Shorter

If you have print assets that you want to publish on the web, until now you had two options. The first one: the scanned material is OCR-ed, the text is then extracted into an editable text format (Word or XML), formatting and structure are applied throughout, and then the document is converted to a web-friendly format, like HTML. This is an expensive process even if done offshore. The second option: you can simply publish an OCR-ed scanned PDF file and accept that it will be clumsily rendered, not interactive, somewhat searchable, and in the case of large documents, your browser . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Natural Experiment With Intellectual Property’s Original Intent Reaches a Milestone

In 2001, I and an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia started an intellectual property experiment with the original intent of this area of law. I didn’t think of it that way at the time, but now that fifteen years have passed and the results of this imagined experiment could be said to be in, I want to set it out here in those terms (warning: unabashed hubris to follow). What we set in motion in 2001 and have worked on steadily since then is a piece of software. I sketched out workflow and wrote the words, while . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

“Front Door to the Past”

One aspect of having a great affection for law publishing is that I have a tendency to search for its characteristics and qualities elsewhere. For me, it sets a general standard for non-fiction and published information provision. Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, I find myself looking for snippets of law publishing in many unlikely places and am pleased to find it frequently. My enjoyment, not long ago, of Philip Wood’s The Fall of the Priests and the Rise of the Lawyers, in which the author stresses the centrality of law to human survival was, in part, for such reasons. Lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Using Established Legal Information Technologies to Support the Labour Sector

Some would say that in term of access to legal information, the labour sector has somehow been left behind. For sure, you can access labour codes and regulations on CanLII, as well as the latest judicial decisions addressing wrongful dismissal, but other sources are fundamental to the practice of labour lawyers. In a field where much depends on negotiation, collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) – contracts between unions and employers – are as important as any other document. Unfortunately this source of law is not as easy to locate and use online as one could hope.

Typically, the electronic version of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Canadian Open Access Publishing Cooperative Revisited

Since joining this “Canadian cooperative weblog,” as Simon Fodden identified SLAW some years ago, in 2008, I have returned to this theme of cooperation in scholarly publishing a number of times (I discovered doing a search of this well-indexed site).

In 2010, for example, I wrote about an idea that Rowly Lorimer, then director of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing, had for a Canadian scholarly publishing cooperative. This country’s academic journals would be supported by the libraries and funding councils enabling them to share their content openly and freely, without having to restrict access to subscribers. I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

My Ideal Law Publisher

It’s too easy to be negative about almost everything but for the most part it’s a lazy approach that requires little thought and analysis. Particularly when considering and discussing law publishing, the industry’s faults and downsides often come quickly to the fore. Sometimes this is justified. However, for present purposes the objective is to focus on what would be, for me, the ideal law publishing business. By “ideal”, I mean having those characteristics that make its objectives, efforts and results hugely satisfying and rewarding for customers, those working for such a business, its suppliers and in the interests . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Passing of Maritime Law Book – the End of an Era.

While not unexpected, the announcement by Eric Appleby that Maritime Law Book will be closing its doors in November 2016, is still a bit of a shock. No one has done more than Eric and his indomitable team at Maritime Law Book to transform the nature of the case law reporting in this country. Unfortunately, access to free case law online and cost cutting by customers have combined to undermine the business model for Maritime Law Book, making its demise an inevitability.

When simple access was the issue

Few will remember a time when access to case law was extremely . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Sacred Book – Maybe!

The author Naomi Baron in her book “Words Onscreen: The fate of Reading in a Digital World” includes the following quote at page 198:

“The book as such is sacred. One does not throw books away”.

Naomi Baron states that the Germans and the French “don’t throw out …. bread and books.

But consider that many law libraries are now computer rooms. And some libraries are destroying books. A professor at the UNB law school told me that their library has shredded a series of print law reports. Also an Ontario bookbinding firm told me that Queen’s University is now . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Pick Two Cards. Any Two.

It always amuses me when I see light-hearted references to the rather tedious-sounding Project Management Triangle (alternatively called the Triple Constraint or Iron Triangle). Much fun can be made of the idea that in relation to products, services or outcomes, the choice is of quality, speed or price but only any two out of three can be had. For entertainment purposes it can be applied to restaurants, plumbing services, professional advice, airline travel and the like. However, it makes me wonder about the veracity of the notion and whether or not it is applied or applicable in relation to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing