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For All You Do, This Law’s for You

Startling news, to say the least, in the Globe’s Business section today. Telus and Bell paid two lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault to draft a model telecommunications bill that’s been offered to the government as a template for a new Telecommunications Act. You could be forgiven for wondering if the next amendments to the Canada Health Act will be brought to you by RJR Nabisco.

But I think there’s more to it than that. As the article points out, the drafting lawyers are enormously respected and the companies have reportedly had no input whatsoever into the content of the model . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Canadian Study on Digital Rights Management and Privacy

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa has just released a study into the privacy implications of digital rights management technologies (DRM) currently used in the Canadian marketplace:

“Our assessment of the compliance of these DRM applications with PIPEDA [Personal Information Protection and
Electronic Documents Act
] led to a number of general findings:

  • Fundamental privacy-based criticisms of DRM are well-founded: we observed tracking of usage habits, surfing habits, and technical data.
  • Privacy invasive behaviour emerged in surprising places. For example, we observed e-book software profiling individuals. We unexpectedly encountered DoubleClick – an
. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law

Law Library of Congress Website Revamped

A number of library listservs are announcing a revamp of the Law Library of Congress website. The site of course retains GLIN: Global Legal Information Network, along with other useful links for legal research. One interesting current awareness publication I was not aware of is their Global Legal Monitor. The current edition (August 2007) is 51 pages in PDF and contains short summaries of new legal developments in countries around the world. The information in the monitor is well-indexed (yes, there were several entries for Canada involving recent case law on border searches, etc.). . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Devil Made Him Do It

Nebraska state senator sues God: read all about it, here. According to the report, the Deity “is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still.”

Let’s assume God can afford suitable counsel or will be able to find someone prepared to work pro bono for a “good cause”. This lawyer could take the brief even if concurrently working as a Devil’s Advocate, at least so long as there is no conflict. I think it is safe to assume God wouldn’t need to resort to the cab rank rule (if it applies in Ontario). Under . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Digital Law Books in Canada

Although law-related (print) monographs in Canada are far from dead, perhaps we are at a tipping point now on the availability of law-related e-books. I recently made (an extremely) rough count of the number of e-books available through each of Quicklaw, WestlaweCARSWELL and Canada Law Book ((For this study, I am not considering the numerous “black binders” from CCH as “monographs”, although those binders are available online through CCH Online)).

I counted a total of 85 e-books, many of them being major Canadian legal treatises. Examples of an e-book from each of these vendors (where there are also print equivalents) . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing

Gated Communities on the Net

I received a press release today for a lawyer social networking site called LawLink, which apparently aims to be LinkedIn for Lawyers, or maybe Facebook Without the Kids. Free registration allows you to “network with other attorneys, develop new business leads, share information with other attorneys, develop new business leads,” etc. A lawyers’ social network site is a fine idea — although many lawyers are still unfamiliar with or dismissive of LinkedIn/Facebook (according to an article we’ll publish next month), lawyers are networking and gossip mavens at heart, and I do think this will catch on within the profession . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Is Blocking Ads Illegal?

It may be nothing more than idle speculation at this point, but some observers are suggesting that a legal battle may be brewing over ad-blocking software for internet browsers (CNet News and NY Times). The most popular of these, Ad Block for Firefox, allows users to subscribe to a list of items that won’t be downloaded when visiting a website.

I use Ad Block and love it. While I have nothing against text ads, or even static banners, I’ve been driven to distraction one too many times by ads flashing, blinking, beeping or speaking when I open . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Microsoft’s “Ultimate Steal”

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would be offering its Ultimate version of Office 2007 to any college or university students for 60 bucks (or $64 Canadian). In a nod to the reasons underlying their decision, they call their offer “The Ultimate Steal“.

Many students commenting over at suggested they had already perpetrated the ultimate steal and wouldn’t even be interested in paying the low price of $60 for a properly licenced version. Others wrote that Microsoft already had deals with their schools to provide low-price or free access to Office (of course, they typically pay hefty . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Mastodon in the Room

How do you tell when there is a really old elephant in the room – maybe so old that people tend to forget it is there? Here is one way: if someone writes you an open letter notifying you. In the case of open source ILSs, maybe the ILS Customer Bill of Rights was a missed wake-up call. Maybe these were also missed:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Technology

Peer to Patent

There’s a good article in the Economist on the new scheme, Peer to Patent, recently adopted for a trial by the U.S. Patent Office and also placed under evaluation by Britain’s Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office. Devised by New York Law School faculty member Beth Simone Noveck (let’s hear it for law profs!), the process has the patent office submitting about 250 applications in various computer fields to the scrutiny of the public, the thought being that the relevant communities will know more than the patent examiners about such critical matters as “prior art.”

The relevant page . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Yahoo! Mash

Yahoo! have just started a new social networking tool called Mash. Thus far it is calmer and simpler than Facebook, MySpace and the lesser-known Ning.

From the Mash Blog:

We just started inviting our friends outside Yahoo! to join us in testing Mash: a new approach to online profiles. If you’ve used other online profiles before you’ll feel at home in Mash. But there are some new twists that make things a little interesting and, we think, a lot of fun.

1. You can make starter profiles for your friends. Think: “first round’s on me.”

. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology