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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

A Tale of Two Copyright Inquiries

I wish to consider two copyright initiatives currently underway in Canada and the United States, as they bear on changes in intellectual property law, and hold lessons for my efforts to increase public access to research and scholarship. Researchers are identified as a concerned party in the Canadian instance, while the American example, if tangential to scholarly publishing, still raises questions about copyright today that only serve to encourage my own thinking about copyright reform.

On July 16th, 2021, the Government of Canada issued A Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things on . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

The Deschênes Vision

Soquij and Slaw continue the vision of Jules Deschênes

Legal Separatism in Canada

In 1979 I was introduced by Simon Chester to Jules Deschênes, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec, who wished to discuss the role that English language legal publishers such as Carswell could play in addressing what he called “legal separatism in Canada”.

His thesis was that “Quebec has shown the willingness and the ability to contribute to the building of […] a national scheme of federal law, but the legal community of the rest of Canada has, by and large, closed itself off and away . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Libraries and Justis for Law

The UK-based legal information provider, Justis, as was, but now rebranded vLex, having been acquired by the Spanish-based company of that name, seems to me to be one which has been a model of its kind; the acquisition was made in 2019, using, for the purchase, part of a £4.2m loan. Originated as Context, in the mid-1980s, partly in consequence of Thomson having sold Eurolex to Lexis, it has survived changes in ownership. However, it appears to have retained consistency of purpose, a focus on sophisticated and evolving technology and closeness to core markets around the world. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Open Legal Publishing and the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to how essential many things that we generally take for granted are. I don’t think we’ve ever spoken so much about what we actually need and what we don’t, and it begs the question: what do we all do that is genuinely needed?

In March 2020, we started an internal conversation about what CanLII could do to help ensure that Canadians could access the resources they needed, and how we should respond to the crisis. In the end, we came to the conclusion that while there were particular things we could do, generally we . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Supreme Court Rules on Copyright in the University

On July 30th, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a decision in York University v. Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright) that the university and its students were not required to pay the Access Copyright tariff intended to cover royalty payments associated with the distribution of the “readings” assigned in students’ courses at the university. While I have commented on the case more than once since it originated with Access Copyright’s 2013 suit against York, after the university stopped paying such tariffs, the Supreme Court ruling ended up hinging on an important distinction in the Copyright Act’s handling of collective . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Reopening the Books

We have become accustomed for some time to hearing about new start-ups and initiatives on the technology side of legal information provision. Indeed, some might say that we hear of too many of them and that a percentage of them might disappear into obscurity before long. We read less of fresh ideas and innovation in relation to the provision of actual added-value legal content from law publishers. Perhaps this is not surprising, for obvious reasons.

It is all the more pleasing to observe an exciting fresh start from my friend and law publishing comrade, Jason Wilson, together . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Progress Report on Licensing Copyright Against Itself

In my coverage of intellectual property issues in scholarly publishing, I have made passing reference in this column to my work with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). It represents my more practical and applied efforts to address the intellectual property issues that trouble scholarly publishing. From this perspective, what PKP has been doing for more than two decades now is to test various ways in which copyright can better serve research and scholarship. This turns out to be largely about redirecting copyright against itself.

What this has meant in practice is that PKP develops software for online scholarly publishing platforms . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Maybe, After All, Content Is King

There was a time, for me at least, when it became expedient to appear to join those who would refute the Bill Gates’ “content is king” mantra in favour of something more transactional, like “it’s how you use the content that matters, not the content itself”. It played well, in relation to legal content, to those for whom some of it was too difficult, obscure or specialist and to those who could not otherwise relate to it. It meant that focus could be put on practice and back-office management, on other technology and tools, on marketing, sales . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Comments on the New CJC Guidelines on Bulk Access to Court Information

This post is a joint submission to Slaw, contributed by the following authors: Xavier Beauchamp-Tremblay, Pierre-Paul Lemyre, Sarah Sutherland, Ivan Mokanov

The Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) recently released a report titled “Guidelines For Canadian Courts – Management of Requests for Bulk Access to Court Information by Commercial Entities”.

Over the years, several parties from different sectors have contacted CanLII or Lexum to obtain bulk access to legal decisions from Canadian courts and tribunals. We never believed we had clear permission to redistribute this content and decide who should be granted or denied bulk access to legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

At Last! Action (Sort Of) on Bulk Access to Case Law

What’s the modern equivalent of a “broken record?” How about a GIF or TikTok on loop? Either way, I plead guilty. 

My particular hobby horse (the one I perform on the broken record and video loop) for much of the past decade has been bulk or unbundled access to legal information.

On Slaw alone, I’ve touched or ranted on the topic close to a dozen times. Here are a few of the longer pieces directly on point:

2020 – Lowering the Primary Barrier to Legal Innovation – Access to Good Data

2018 – CanLII’s Future as a Canadian Primary Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Competing Without Trashing

It may indeed be fundamental to the task of competing in commercial markets that providers, for present purposes in legal information publishing, just like European governments squabbling over their respective Covid responses, must not only create value and unique selling propositions for their goods and services, but also seek to destroy those of others, usually existing and long-established businesses. Some criticise whole industries and communities, to help make their own goods and services look better. Some fictionalise the legal publishing industry, simplistically to turn the spotlight on the possibly overstated merits of their own endeavours. However, I doubt . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Right to Research During and After the Pandemic

For all the hardship and tragic loss of human life that the current pandemic has wrought – even as we look for signs of the scourge’s end – it has had, I would hold, a positive effect on science. The last year or so has impressed upon many in the sciences that the more open and collaborative forms of research that mark the fight against Covid-19 will be worth retaining as a better way of doing science across the board. Among the earliest points of this opening, which came before the WHO classified this novel coronavirus, was the move of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing