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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

The Problem of Change

Several mass media pundits currently argue that change is accelerating and that technology is mostly responsible. Such change is affecting employees and persons about to enter the job market.

I feel that these changes are due in part to the “creative destruction” of the capitalistic system.

Do commercial firms become less efficient as they increase in size and grow older?

I submit that over time a firm is challenged by both growth and technological change. History shows that only a few firms are able to survive these challenges.

The Fortune 500 is an annual list compiled and published by Fortune . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Working the Law Against Its Intent: Policing Access to Research

The current series of legal kerfuffles in scholarly publishing involves property and access rights in an industry that is, for all intents and purposes, moving toward universal open access. Let’s begin with recent moves by Elsevier, the largest of scholarly publishing corporations with over 2,000 journals, and the American Chemical Society, among the richest of the non-profit societies. These two entities have recently been awarded damages of $15 million (June 2017) and $4.8 million (September 2017) respectively by the U.S. courts, in light of Sci-Hub database, (which I have addressed earlier) providing free access to the better part of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing


Trade creates wealth. See Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776). The world’s wealthiest nation, the U.S.A., is the most successful economic union in world history.

Russell David “Russ” Roberts is an economist and a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Roberts states that self-sufficiency is the road to poverty. Roberts in a podcast elaborates on the economic theories of Adam Smith and David Ricardo to explain how specialization and trade creates wealth and how radical self-sufficiency leads to poverty.

Trade restrictions reduce the benefits of trade for consumers. Adam Smith condemned government restrictions that restricted an economic activity . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Then There Were Two

The sale of Wolters Kluwer’s remaining Croner/CCH publishing assets in the UK did not, of itself, significantly affect the bigger picture of law and tax publishing there, primarily because of the residual size and scope of its activities and failure to compete immediately prior to the sale. To some romantics and self-delusionists, it may be thought to be the end of an era, with wistful memories of Croner’s heyday in the last century; to others, for its, at times, unhinged, incompetent (or perhaps worse) and at top level, obscenely and inconceivably justifiable overpaid management and self-serving nitwit advisers and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Earlscourt Legal Press at 20

One that got away

In my time at Carswell (now Thomson Reuters) I took a very aggressive approach to product development and was never very happy when an author signed with another publisher. Even more distressing was a decision by an author to go his or her own way and self publish a title that was originally published by Carswell. I always believed that publishing with an well established major legal publisher was the key to acceptance by the legal community and the key to commercial success. I was wrong.

One request by an author for the return of publishing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The King Is Dead (R.I.P. Content). Long Live the King (Hail Access).

The big news this past summer on my scholarly publishing beat is Elsevier’s acquisition of bepress, which was announced August 2nd, 2017. Bepress began life as Berkeley Electronic Press in 1999, when three economists at Berkeley saw the writing on the screen, at a time when most scholarly journals were being printed and mailed out, and created an online publishing platform. Jump ahead to 2011 and bepress sold off its portfolio of 67 journals to de Gruyter. Now Elsevier, the largest publisher of scholarly journals, has acquired the company itself, which provides a centralized repository service called Digital . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Fall of the Geeks and the Rise of the Nerds

When first it occurred to me to write on the topic in question, its title was to be “From Production to the Rise of the Nerds”. However, when I explained to a friend who for many years has been on the periphery of law publishing, the underlying thesis that power in law publishing has shifted over the years from what used to be editors to what used to be production people (the nerds), she responded with her belief that editors tended also to be nerds (or geeks; I don’t recall). She was, of course, correct, so the title was . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Economies of Southeast Asia and Effects in Canada

China’s life expectancy in 1949 was 36 and in 2012 it was 75. Literacy was 20% in 1949 and it was 90% in 2012. See page 151 of Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos.
China and several other Asian nations experienced an “economic takeoff” in the latter part of the 20th Century that has changed the world.
China with a population of 1.4 billion is the largest economy in southeast Asia.
Here in New Brunswick at Fredericton High School there are 400 foreign students (about 25% of all students) mostly from China. A friend in Toronto told me that there
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing

Information Paywalls and Information Rights: The Link Between News Story and Research Article

Lauren Maggio, Laura Moorhead, Juan Alperin, and I recently blogged a small study on the relationship between health journalism and biomedical research in the digital age of growing open access to research. We scraped those news stories in 2016 that had “cancer” in their headlines and included a link to a research article. The good news is that 67,236 news stories on cancer had such links to 11,523 different journal articles. Since the access to research articles in the days of printed newspapers, as much as I miss that era (having recently cut the paper tie), was essentially zero, this . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Profound Thoughts From a Visionary

It was suggested to me, not unfairly, that I should be more forward-looking when writing on the topic of legal and professional information publishing. The point, though hardly seriously, was put in terms of whether I might personally consider exploring the role of “visionary” for the law publishing business sector, which was coded language for, to date, my being more negative than positive; those who see themselves as insiders are supposed to be upbeat and enthusiastic. In my defence, previous columns have included such dynamic titles as: An Exciting Time for Legal and Professional Publishing; Publish and (Perhaps) Be . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Commemorating Intellectual Property Before It Was Law

Everyone likes an anniversary. It offers a moment of reflection and perhaps a piece of cake. It calls for looking back, if only, in this case, to that afternoon in high school history class in which you were presented with the Protestant Reformation. This is the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther, “Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg,” letting the world know that he intended to defend what has become known as The 95 Theses (actually entitled Disputation on the Power of Indulgences): “52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

“Avalon Sunset” Moments

It is hardly surprising, having penned articles with such titles as Legal and Professional Publishing: Has It Become Desperately Dull?, The End of Legal Publishing? and The Law Publishing Business is Finished, that I am sometimes not filled with optimism with regard to these matters. In fact, I am reminded of a difficulty frequently encountered and described by those who write and dealt with entertainingly by Van Morrison on his album, Avalon Sunset. How to deal with not having anything about which to write is to use that fact as a topic in itself, hence the song . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing