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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

“Only a Fool Would Make Predictions—Especially About the Future”

I’m hesitant about trying to predict the future and would be aligned with those with those who have written:

Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window

and

The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.

both by Peter Drucker

or Samuel Goldwyn, providing the title above.

That said, I’m occasionally asked for views on trends and evolution and to squint into the future, while retaining loyalty to the anti-futurists.

Many see technology and social media . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Patent Incentives, the Universities, and the Public Availability of Inventions

I have been working over the last few years on what I feel is a latent distinction within our concept of intellectual property. This distinction sets apart the properties produced in educational institutions from commercial properties. The “intellectual properties of learning,” as I term them, often have, if inconsistently, a distinct economic and legal status to them, whether in copyright or patent law, tax-exemption or incentive. The distinctions made around the public good of learning have a long history, dating back in the West, I am finding, to the medieval monasteries, but they hit the headlines last week.

On June . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Selection of Cases for Publication in Print

Prior to the existence of the Internet there was a long standing debate respecting the volume of cases that were being published by legal publishers. Some lawyers and judges claimed that too many cases were being published because most cases apply well settled principles. Others claimed that the application of old principles to new facts was worthy of publication. The new facts result from an evolving and changing world. Some judges have tried to limit the publication of their decisions.

In 1979 there was no provincial case law reporter for Saskatchewan and Maritime Law Book was preparing to start a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

E-Reader Roundup

E-books and e-readers are constant topics of discussion. Every new device released results in a flurry of activity; one only needs to think of the recent press around the new iPad 2 and the Blackberry PlayBook. Tablets and iPads are frequent topics here on Slaw. And in May, Amazon reported that since April 1, 2011, sales of Kindle books had exceeded the sale of print books. 

When I was at CALL recently, a show of hands indicated that more than half the audience owned at least one e-reader. Everyone I spoke with was enthusiastic about their e-reader or tablet of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

PUNY LAWYERS. PUNY LIBRARIANS. HULK SMASH! a Brief Comment on Fighting Words & Legal Publishers

You can’t swing a dead cat [Fn. 1] on the Internet these days without hitting a lawyer or law librarian complaining about the never ending escalation of prices for legal content (print or digital), the unscrupulous business practices of certain legal publishers, and the ineptitude of member associations to address these problems (and more). [Fn. 2] And while all of this may seem new, it isn’t.

I don’t know when the distrust between lawyers and law librarians and legal publishers actually began, but the late Professor Roy Mersky once stated that lawyers’ displeasure with the tools . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Happy Hamsters Are Back on Their Wheel

There’s been a good couple of years since the credit crunch kicked in that Law Librarians News and House of Butter have really quite enjoyed reporting the business of legal publishing.

Revenues & profits down at the duopoly, talk of Google Law and more; as well as a host of new ideas and concepts for the future of legal publishing. OK some of those ideas were either over ambitious or a little bit crackpot, but fun to investigate and report.

At least though, it felt for a glorious 18 months or so that change was in the air.

And change . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

When Free Access Publishing Leads to Hong Kong

The Law via the Internet 2011 International Conference will be held at the University of Hong Kong on June 9 and 10. This will be the eleventh international gathering of promoters of free access and innovation in legal publishing.

This year’s meeting will give a new opportunity to assess if Free Access to Law is here to stay? The published program seems to reveal expansion. No one can say for sure about the long term sustainability of free access, but after 20 years the number of countries where the approach is used continues to increase. The growth is especially important . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

I’ve been staring at the horizon again. It’s not hard to see that change to our legal system is on the way. Everywhere we turn we encounter reports of things broken or in disarray. 

For instance, access to justice is a pressing concern. Chief Justice McLachlin speaks about it frequently, as does British Columbia’s Chief Justice Finch (see here). They do important work identifying that access to justice has become a privilege of the wealthy. They applaud the pro bono work of the legal profession, and encourage us to work towards innovative solutions.

Meanwhile, legal aid coverage is shown . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Google Books, Stymied by the Courts, Infiltrates Researcher’s Work

I would like to weigh in on Judge Denny Chin’s U.S. District Court decision on March 21, 2011 to dismiss the amended Google Book Settlement, but I am blinded by something like prejudicial gratitude. Google Books, even in its current legally encumbered state, has over the last year insinuated its way into how I work. I believe the work is better for it, and this sense of the difference that Google Books is making on learning and scholarship has played little enough part in discussions of this decision. 

At the same time, I support Judge Chin’s decision because it speaks . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

My Heroes List

Hero defined: a man of distinguished courage or ability or a man who has acquired wisdom and virtue.

I have kept a list of heroes for many years. I suspect that the list reveals a good deal about my views on several subjects. The list is as follows:

1. Cecil A. Wright (1904-1967)

Wright was known to all as Caesar. Wright earned a Ph.D. in law from Harvard in the 1920s. He later taught and became Dean at Osgoode Hall Law School when it was located in downtown Toronto. In 1949 Osgoode was the only law school in Ontario. In . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Round of Applause for the Middle Men and Women of Culture!

There’s a tendency, and I can be more guilty than most, to moan about how awful can be the major international professional information providers. Yet, compared to so many other sectors that affect our private, community and working lives, they’re, in relative terms, harmless and not especially evil. It’s not that they’re the oil polluters, the auto industry, the military-industrial complex, the tobacco industry and the like. Law publishing causes few deaths, helps professional advisers to perform valuable work and is generally on the positive side of the balance between democracy and totalitarianism.

So, for a change, I’d like . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Remixing Legal Content: A Way Forward

Roberta Shaffer, the Law Librarian of Congress, recently gave a keynote to the American Association of Law Librarians Vendor’s Colloquium in Chicago, and during that presentation made a number of observations about socio-info, law practice, legal research, and legal publishing trends [Fn. 1], two of which I found particularly important to highlight. First, she said that legal publishers can find lawyers to update existing content, but are having problems getting lawyers to write new treatises. Second, she said our vocabulary has changed, specifically that we are using shorter sentences and shorter words to help us cope with information overload. [Fn. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing