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Archive for ‘Substantive Law’

Facial Recognition Software, for Everyone

Few people probably noticed the changes to one of the software features in Google Pack last month. Fewer still have considered the privacy implications.

Picasa, a photo management and sharing system, launched a facial recognition system. Users tag their photos, and the software searches through pictures to find the same people and place tags on them too.

Google, who owns Picasa, has had these capabilities for a couple years now since they acquired Neven Vision.

Theoretically a user could pick off other people’s photos from Flickr or Facebook, upload them to their Picasa account and tag . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology: Internet

Voting Records of MPs

Michael Lenczner and Craig Davey have launched a site that does one thing very well: OurParliament tells you in French and in English how every MP voted during the 2nd Session of the 39th Parliament.

How’d They Vote? is a similar project that first hit the internet three years ago. It fell out of date, but has recently been updated, and offers more complex information in a somewhat less attractive format. Thus, you can find a list of bills voted on in this session; and the chart setting out the MPs voting record can be sorted by province, type of . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Environmental Investigation Agency

Thanks to a video on the New Yorker website, I’ve learned about the London- and Washington D.C.-based Environmental Investigation Agency. Not a governmental bureau in any sense, the EIA tackles environmental crime through a variety of means, often clandestine or with the efforts of a network of — one hesitates to say spies or moles — people who have day jobs inside government and industry. Currently the EIA has three campaigns, Species in Peril, Global Climate, and Forests for the World.

It’s in connection with this last campaign that Raffi Khatchadourian wrote “The Stolen Forests, The . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Goudge Commission Report on Rogue Pathologist Who Sent Innocents to Jail

The Goudge Commission into the activities of renegade Ontario pathologist Dr. Charles Smith published its much anticipated report today.

In late April 2007, the chief coroner of Ontario published a report that concluded Smith, a former leading Ontario child pathologist, had botched at least 20 autopsies involving the deaths of children.

That announcement cast doubt on 13 criminal convictions based on Smith’s testimony. Courts have since then reviewed a number of those wrongful convictions.

In the report, Mr. Justice Stephen Goudge:

  • found that Dr. Smith “actively misled” his superiors, “lacked basic knowledge about forensic pathology” and “made false and misleading
. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law

The Morality of Plagiarism

Language Log has a good post on the recent Harper-plagiarism brouhaha, which you can read about on Canadian Press or BBC News. The BBC piece republishes the Liberal Party ad that graphically shows the parallels between Harper’s speech and that of the Australian Prime Minister at the time. But Language Log takes the audio feeds and overlaps them so that you can hear the similarity more or less simultaneously. More important, Mark Liberman explores the issue of copying in the political arena and compares it to that in the academic world, finding useful differences. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law

Beer Law

We talk occasionally on Slaw of wine law — and that’s as it should be. But beer is also a tipple close to my heart, and so I was pleased to learn that a brew I like will be available for sale in Ontario’s Liquor Control Board stores, and not just on draught at pubs that are hard to find. The beer in question comes from the remarkable Scotch Irish Brewing Company of eastern Ontario, makers of the wonderfully bitter Sgt. Major IPA (here I forbear from going into a digression on the history India pale ales and their need . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

The Internet and Proof of Foreign Law

Has the Internet changed our practices on the proof of foreign law?

Canadian lawyers and judges are, almost by definition, comparativists. We take for granted from the start of our careers that we may have to look to English law, or American or Australian. Civilistes look at French doctrine, to Planiol, Tunc or the Encyclopedie Galloz.

One doesn’t need to spend much time in Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s wonderful collection at the Supreme Court of Canada to recognize the importance of comparative law to that court. Homage to Claire L’Heureux-Dube.

Our judges would regard as odd the debate between Justices Tony Kennedy . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Canada’s Do-Not-Call System Starts

As the Ottawa Citizen reminds us, the new national do-not-call system goes into effect this Tuesday:

Canadians fed up with unsolicited telemarketers will be able to register Tuesday on a national do-not-call list established by Canada’s telecommunications regulator and operated by Bell Canada… Residents can register their home and cellphone numbers to block unwanted telemarketers…

The number to call is 1-866-580-3625. The CRTC sign-up page for the do-not-call list is here. It will take up to a month for the telemarketers to comply.

Note that, as the CRTC acknowledges, this will only “reduce the number” of calls, because the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

Chilling Effects

I’ve just come across an interesting cooperative enterprise uniting clinical work from seven U.S. law schools ((Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington, and Santa Clara University)) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Chilling Effects Clearinghouse has created a searchable database of cease and desist letters, a significant proportion of which are designed to bring a halt to legitimate online activity. You are invited to submit a C&D letter to the database; and the Chilling Effects team will annotate the letter, translating some of the legalese into intelligible prose. There is also a form to fill . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Banning Spam… Et Al.?

The Conservative Party of Canada has announced as part of the current federal election campaign that if re-elected, it will bring forward legislation to ban spam.

The Canadian Press story mentions this (and a number of other consumer-oriented promises).

Earlier this month the Supreme Court of Virginia, in Jaynes v Virginia [PDF], struck down that state’s anti-spam legislation as unconstitutional, because it was ‘over-broad’. Its rules prohibiting misuse or misrepresentation of IP addresses applied not only to commercial but to all messages, including political or religious ones. This was an impermissible infringement on free speech, said the court. As a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law

Complaint Against McLachlin Dismissed

Readers may remember that in August the Canadian Judicial Council received a letter complaining of Chief Justice McLachlin’s conduct in having chaired the Advisory Council that recommended an Order of Canada for Dr. Henry Morgentaler. The Council received the complaint and set up a review chaired by Manitoba Chief Justice Richard Scott and monitored by Thomas G. Heintzman of McCarthy Tétrault.

The results of the review, dismissing the complaint, have now been made public [PDF].

The original letter of complaint is available [PDF] here. And there is a nice deconstruction of it on The Court.

The dismissal, in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions