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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

U.S. Research Works Act Leads to Elsevier Journal Boycott: What Is to Be Done?

This January, Silicon Valley got political, and effectively so. The giants of the valley were soon credited with saving the Internet from the threat of Hollywood-inspired legislative clamp-down on online piracy. Google – “End piracy, not liberty” – as well as Facebook and Wikipedia, actively opposed two draconian bills Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) that were seen to pose threats to the free flow of information that opened the door to censorship. The bills were effectively “defeated” by the corporate and non-profit outcry.

However, what was left standing is the Research Works . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Context of Legal Information

What does context mean for legal information? “Context” is one of the latest buzzwords in the world of publishing. In a new online collection of essays, Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto, Brian O’Leary exhorts us to consider context when we are developing content. He defines context as “tagged content, research, footnoted links, sources, and audio and video background, as well as title-level metadata”. Although his focus is trade publishing, his ideas apply to legal publishing as well.

Christine Kirchberger, lecturer and doctoral candidate at Stockholm University, is working on a doctoral dissertation entitled “Legal information as a tool—Where legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Innovation and Case Law Reporting

 Matt Ridley wrote a book titled The Rational Optimist that was published in 2010.

Ridley is an English journalist with an education in science. In his book he is concerned with the origins of the prosperity that exists in the world, arguing that the road to prosperity began with exchanges that resulted in a benefit to both parties, including barter, a method of exchange that can be done without money. In many exchanges both parties may feel that the other is overpaying. Over time increases in exchanges resulted in specialization followed by innovation. Ridley states that the ever-increasing exchange of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

CALL and the Index to Canadian Legal Literature

The 2012 Conference in Toronto will mark the 50th annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries and provide an occasion to highlight many of the accomplishments of the association and its members over the decades since its creation. One of many accomplishment worthy of note is the Index to Canadian Legal Literature for which CALL provided both the inspiration and the support required to create a Canadian publication that met international indexing standards.

The Proposal for a New Index

In December 1983, The Canadian Law Information Council and The Canadian Association of Law Libraries developed a proposal to . . . [more]

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

Surprising Survey Results

Last November, Lexum proceeded to survey the users of its Supreme Court of Canada decisions web site ( The results of such surveys are rarely shared; they can indeed have high commercial value or simply be embarrassing. The ones communicated here are not embarrassing and they are, at times, surprising. At least, they were not the ones Lexum was expecting. For instance, respondents are less eager to access legal content on mobile platforms than Lexum had initially assumed and their appetite for social web-related services appears much more limited than anticipated. In a more foreseeable way, respondents confirmed how the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Another year gone and in the world of legal content / publishing I’d like to suggest it’s been one of the most important we’ve had since the mid 90’s and the advent of the CD Rom.

Although most of 2011 has been fairly quiet with the usual round of product developments, upgrades and rejigs. The last quarter of the year has more than hinted that the upheavals of 2008 / 2009 have now filtered through to the core modus operandi of the companies whose job it is to distribute legal content through to the professions, business, government and the wider . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Attawapiskat and Social Media

You can’t have missed the recent coverage of the housing and governance crisis in Attawapiskat. The story certainly captured my attention. I’ve been watching news of the situation travel over the Internet.

Social media played a key role in the coverage of this story. What particularly interests me is that the quality of some material published about Attawapiskat through social media is as good as or better than high quality legal information available through traditional legal publishing channels. And this caused me to consider again: what is the role of social media in legal publishing?

I first became aware of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Show Us the Numbers: Occupational Results

The tents are gone. The communal food kitchen, the library, the media center, the mic checks, too. Occupy Wall Street has been swept away, from Zucotti Park, off Wall Street, to the Vancouver Art Gallery. The incipient movement is now a matter of sporadic occupations, port blockades, and a media campaign. It may just be me, but the mainstream media attention that has followed in the aftermath seems to reflect a sense of wanting to hold on to this moment.

Certainly, I felt myself wanting to believe that here was a social movement that was showing some promise of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Law and the Cultural Commons

What is the Cultural Commons?

The cultural commons is a vast store of ideas, inventions, and works of art that we have inherited from the past. A commons is a kind of property in which more than one person has rights. A commons is a social regime for managing a collectively owned resource.

In writing about art and ideas, Lewis Hyde, in his book titled, Common as Air (2010) states at page 214 “art and ideas, unlike land and houses, belong by nature to a cultural commons, open to all”.

In Imperial China, 900 to 1800, to copy the work . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Reaching and Retaining Customers

There was a time, not too long ago, when some in legal and professional publishing would refer to their sector as offering “a license to print money”. The highest quality publishers were renowned for the wonderful reputations of their products and services, their market knowledge and intimacy, their relationships and engagement with their customers and, even though prices were high, compared to other forms of information publishing, they were trusted and supported by their markets. Obviously, customer service was always pretty terrible but that was a quaint characteristic which was recognised and accommodated, partly on grounds that true value . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Whether You “like” It or Not…

Lexum has recently conducted an analysis of the underlying technology behind Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet and other “social” buttons. The analysis revealed that, if used in the way prescribed by Facebook, Google, Twitter et al., these buttons create some significant privacy issues for Webmasters and their users.

Before we get to the privacy issues however, it is appropriate to explain how these buttons work. Adding a Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet, Google +1, LinkedIn Share or any other sharing button to one’s Web site is a relatively easy affair. The companies that distribute them have dedicated pages . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Canadian Encyclopedic Digests

The “Great Encyclopedias” of Legal Research – Part III

This is the third of a series of posts that were prepared following a request by Professor Daniel Poulin to explain the nature and purpose of “Halsburys” and the “C.E.D.” to his seminar on legal information at the University of Montreal. The views expressed are the personal opinion of the writer.


The Fourth Western and Ontario Editions of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest are the newest publications to follow the Halsburys Model in Canada. While essentially simple revisions of Titles published in previous editions, the Fourth Editions . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing