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Digital Locks?

Bill C-32, the Act to amend the Copyright Act, has a lot of provisions, mostly aimed at balancing the interests of creators of copyrightable content with those who consume (or work with) that content.

Probably the most controversial provision involves ‘digital locks’, i.e. technical protection measures that are designed to prevent people from using the works in ways that the owner does not want. The Act makes it an offence to ‘break’ those locks for any purpose at all.

Some of the attacks on the locks rule have been a bit exaggerated, claiming that there should be no protection — . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, ulc_ecomm_list

Today’s CLA Judgement Big, but Just How Big to Be Determined

This is an early take on today’s Supreme Court of Canada decision in Ontario (Public Safety and Security) v. Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

The Court unanimously held that the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not violate section 2(b) of the Charter for its failure to offer a “public interest override” of the law enforcement and solicitor-client privilege exemptions to the public right of access to government information. This is the narrowest finding in a judgement that could give the public a new means of accessing government information.

FIPPA gives the public a presumptive right of . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Economics of Digitial Self-Publishing

Aspiring authors with an interest in digital self-publishing would be wise to review this June 3rd article from the Wall Street Journal: ‘Vanity’ Press Goes Digital. One of the big factors driving the viability of self-publication is this month’s changed revenue split with Authors by Amazon – rising from 35% to 70% for e-books priced from $2.99 to $9.99.

The article breaks down a lot of the economics involved, especially for authors with a smaller fan base:

“Some people will be tempted by the 70% royalty at Amazon,” Mr. Nash says. “If they already have a loyal fan base,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

LAWPRO Fraud Alert: Beware of Collaborative Family Law Agreement Scam

The following is the text of a Fraud Alert sent by LAWPRO to Ontario Lawyers today June 17, 2010. Lawyers in Saskatchewan were the targets of this same fraud in May, and I expect lawyers in other provinces are being targeted as well.

Several lawyers have contacted LAWPRO over the last few weeks to advise us they have been the targets of a spousal support collection scam involving a collaborative family law agreement. One Ontario lawyer was successfully duped by this fraud.

We decided to send a warning to the profession as this fraud appears to be targeting many lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Practice of Law: Practice Management

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns 9th Circuit in Privacy Case

The United States Supreme Court released its judgment in City Of Ontario, California, et al. v. Quon et al. today, deciding that when police officer Quon’s employers examined his pager records, they did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights, because although he had a reasonable expectation of privacy, as the jury determined the employer’s examination was for the legitimate, work-related purpose of deciding whether the current character limit in the contract with the provider was adequate.

An interesting excerpt from the judgment of the court, delivered by Kennedy J., which I have not had the time to digest:

The Court

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Privacy in the Cloud: New Google Docs Options

Google Docs has introduced a three-level system of privacy for documents stored in its cloud. Sensibly, the default level is “private,” which means only the account holder can get access to the document.

The next level is “anyone with a link.” This is the novelty, allowing you to share your Google document by sending a link; the system it replaced required you to email formal invitations to particular recipients. Now, as the label indicates, anyone who knows the link can see your document. Google analogizes this to an unlisted phone number, which relies on secrecy for security. Here is where . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

Student Buzz

I am standing at a terminal in the Alberta Law Libraries Legal Research and Training Centre in the Edmonton Courthouse, listening as 40 articling students are given a tour of the facility. They are fresh faced and eager to begin their legal career, even after sitting through lectures on legislation this morning.

The lesson from this year’s Head Start program is that it is good to have a contingency plan.

The first activated contingency plan took place yesterday when we were bumped from the courtroom that we traditionally use was scooped up by the trial coordinator. Imagine, using a courtroom . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD

Good on You Graham

Monday’s release of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in Canberra splendidly elevates Graham Greenleaf to membership in the Order of Australia (General Division). See the Commonwealth Gazette No. S 84, Monday, 14 June 2010

The official announcement cites that it is: “For service to the law through the development of free electronic access to legal information, and as a leader in the protection of privacy.”

Since we neglected to recognize Austlii’s first place showing in the Australia and New Zealand Internet Best Practice Awards, sponsored by auDA and InternetNZ, the Internet domain name administrators for Australia and New . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Iceland Passes Law to Protect Press Freedom

Iceland’s venerable parliament, the Althing, has just passed a law that Wikileaks helped craft. The law creates the Modern Media Initiative and alters a whole set of legal duties and rights in order to encourage freedom of the press, transparency in government and corporate dealings, and reward with a prize akin to the Nobel Prize

. . . those who, through their actions in the past 12 months have most advanced humanity through courageous acts of free expression. It is envisaged that the prize would primarily be awarded to journalists, whistleblowers, human rights activists and publishers.

The aim is . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Demographics and Justice in Rural Canada

The economic sustainability of small communities and rural areas in Canada is of serious concern to those working in government, the private sector and the general public alike. In recent years small communities have undergone significant changes that threaten their future viability, including considerable job loss due to the decline of primary industries and migratory patterns that see increasing numbers of young rural Canadians relocating to urban centres. While public attention tends to focus on employment issues facing industries such as forestry, mining and agriculture, small communities across Canada are also facing serious challenges in regards to the attraction and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues