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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Online University Courses

Are online courses changing the teaching structures of the traditional university?

The traditional university instruction model is perhaps best represented by Cambridge and Oxford in the UK. There, the teaching involves a mixture of lectures and tutorials (or supervisions). Typically the tutorials are hour long sessions in which the students meet weekly with a member of the teaching staff. The relative importance of these methods varies according to the needs of the subject.

It is intellectually enriching for most students to be in the same room with a stimulating teacher. And it is equally important for most students to be . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Status of Online Statutes

If the maxim Ignorantia juris neminem excusat (“ignorance of the law excuses no one”) means something in a society governed by the Rule of law, legislative materials ought to be made available in a manner that makes the most out of current information technologies. Before the invention of the printing press, such technologies included a stone stele put in a public place in ancient Babylonia or parchment documents issued in several handwritten copies to English medieval barons. Up until 15 years ago, the most efficient technology to disseminate Acts, regulations and related proclamations to wide audiences has been printed sessional . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Reality Check

Fact, Fiction, and Case Citations

The time is approaching for work to begin on the new edition of the Canadian Guide to Legal Citation. The next edition could prove to be a breakthrough edition if the editors choose to end the fiction that print law reports still matter in legal research.

Just as the current edition took a major step forward by elimination of the heretofore sacrosanct, but totally useless period, in legal citation, the editors of the Guide to Canadian Legal Research are able to introduce reality into the practice of citing court decisions by a few simple . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The LN Sale Rumour Rollercoaster Rolls On

Well, well…what a surprise. The LexisNexis sale rumours have raised raised their ugly head above the parapet again. This time after a report authored by Ian Whittaker of Liberium Capital ( published in early July. Obviously this report that won’t make many employees at LN feel particularly comfortable about how long they’ll have a job at the company

Whitaker’s report suggests that the days of Reed being one large publishing conglomorate are numbered and that one of the first sensible steps for splitting up the company would be to sell off the Lexis Nexis division.

We’re not sure . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Moving Our Course Readings Beyond the Fair Use Exception

The course reader, that photocopied bundle of readings for a course, and now its more recent iteration, the digital e-reserves, have proven to be hot spots for “fair use” legal entanglements with copyright law in the United States. In the 1990s, the big cases were Basic Books Inc. v. Kinko’s Graphic Corporation (1991) and Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Service (1996) which put an end to royalty-free photocopying for class use of copyrighted materials, for, the courts rule, the course readers were being sold for a profit and were competing against the original books (with 5-30% of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The End of Legal Publishing?

It’s not hard to find those who argue that the end is nigh for legal and professional information publishing. The security and strength of “need to know” and “have to have” information appears to have diminished, with content seeming to be down to “prince” or an even more lowly status in the monarchical hierarchy. Those who argue in those directions do so effectively, showing how the Internet, changing profitability and competitive models and the shift in favour of workflow solutions render the publishing component no longer core. Informed commentators see the current fortunes of the main professional publishers, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Death to Loose-Leaf?

The future of loose-leaf legal publications is a recurring theme here on Slaw. Ruth Bird, Susannah Tredwell, and I have each written about this topic over the last couple of years. So the tweets from the recent CALL conference proclaiming “Death to Loose-leaf” really caught my attention.

The tweets expressed the need for different formats and the hope for different content (commentary only), different format (bound instead of loose-leaf, or online with links to primary law). One alternative identified was commentary only plus research training for users in updating legislation and case law. Unbundling commentary out of loose-leaf . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Choice Architects

Persons who design and arrange the shelving of items in a supermarket or in a cafeteria or books in a library can affect the choices people make. Such persons are choice architects and they have the opportunity of nudging people to make choices that may be good for them. The position of items can affect the choices that people make.

Whenever choices are made by individuals there is an opportunity for choice architects to affect individual decisions. For example, in organ donation some nations have a very high participation rate by requiring a negative choice on drivers’ licences. That is, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Listening to Law Librarians…Listening to Customers

Listening to law librarians at their recent annual meetings, it is apparent that online services are now seen in the same light as loose-leaf services. Both are sources of increasing consumer frustration that is triggering the cancellation of services that were once seen as essential to the practice of law.

The fall from grace

In their prime, online services and loose-leaf services were each seen as the panacea for all that was wrong in the world of legal research. Given the inflated expectations as to what each format could deliver, a fall from grace was inevitable.

It is hard to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The West’s Way: From a Ladies’ Room and Sheep’s Skins to Suffering Stress Toys

My involvement in law publishing spanning now over 15 years, it was difficult to resist a title like “How West Law Was Made: the Company, its Products, and its Promotions” (Ross E. Davies, Charleston Law Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 231-282, Winter 2012; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-34. Available at SSRN: Who in this industry is so distracted by their daily toil so as to neglect reading a paper promising to share such an important piece of wisdom? How indeed was West Law made? Maybe some know, but I didn’t. So when I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Failures and Metal Postcard

Initially I was going to write about the latest publishing developments and products post the easter break. But as most of you will know a bombshell hit the legal world earlier in the month: the collapse of Dewey in the US will, I suggest, have long term ramifications for both major publishers in the US market, particularly if partners and employees are owed large sums by the firm. We imagine there are more than a few unpaid bills that will remain unpaid or will be paid back on Greek terms over a very long period of time to publishers, content . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The New Mega-Journal

The scholarly journal is a form of publishing valued for being tradition-bound rather than path-breaking. The Philosophical Transactions of the 1665, which saw the very launch of this genre in England, is not all that far removed from the Philosophical Transactions A and B today (volumes 370 and 367 respectively). Certainly, in the early years, editor Oldenburg may have handled peer review with less formality, the references in an article may have amounted to referring to a letter from a friend, and the cover may have immodestly referred to its content as that of the ingenious. Yet for all of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing