Canada’s online legal magazine.

Technology Advances Creep Up on Us

Bill Gates has been quoted as saying: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

To put that in perspective, lets compare some specs. The space shuttles will soon be retired – they were first launched in 1981 – almost 30 years ago.

In 1981 an example of a computer available then was a PDP11. It cost US$110,000, had 192 KB of memory, 5MB disk packs, and the footprint of a large desk.

Today, we buy cellphones for around $200 or so that . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Co-Producing Films in Canada – the Basics

In today’s financing climate, where pre-sales are more difficult than ever to attract and GAP financing requires two or three times coverage, the holy grail of many independent producers has become “soft money”- funds which are generated by means other than sales of a product, such as tax credits, government subsidies and equity investments. Canadians have become very good at chasing soft money, and that’s why Canadians are tops in co-producing.

In the context of reduced financing sources, it stands to reason that if accessing soft money in one country is good, then accessing soft monies from . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law

Lights, Camera… Insurance!

and by Michael Spanier

One of the most important aspects of film and television production is the clearance procedure. A little known fact about entertainment lawyers is that we spend much (okay…some… well, precious little actually) of our day in our offices watching movies. Or cartoons. Or television shows. All in the name of “E&O Clearance Procedures.”

The importance of ensuring that a production is clear from an errors and omissions perspective cannot be emphasized enough. From the day a producer acquires the rights to a script, an underlying novel or a real-life story, the E&O journey begins. Every single . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Practice of Law, Substantive Law

How to Read a Privacy Policy

A New York-based non-profit known as the Common Data Project has published a report about the privacy policies of major Internet sites such as Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Craigslist:

“We realize that most users of online services have not and never will read the privacy policies so carefully crafted by teams of lawyers at Google and Microsoft.”

“And having read all of these documents (many times over), we’re not convinced that anyone should read them, other than to confirm what you probably already know: A lot of data is being collected about you, and it’s not

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

Eady J, Paparazzi and Privacy

Celebrities thrive on the oxygen of publicity. As Wilde put it, “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”. Between the tabloids and the celebrities, goes on a complex galliard of hunt and court. . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Legal Information, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

A Few Comments on Wilson Colony

One of the biggest challenges facing the Supreme Court of Canada in my view is how to address religious claims. In some ways, the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, 2009 SCC 37 illustrates why that is. While the case poses the usual question of what are the limits to the realization of religious beliefs in a pluralist society (rather than the limits to government activity when contrary to the religious beliefs of particular adherents), it is also a good example of how the majority’s and dissenting judges’ characterization of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, the web presence of L’Institut Français d’Information Juridique, is one of the many participants in the glorious global project to make law freely available, as you can see on CanLII’s “international” page. presents a simple, elegant front page, offering you three options: Journal officiel (akin to our Gazette), Codes (where all of France’s legal codes are made available), and Novelles (containing news feeds from a variety of sources having to do with law).

I wonder whether the design effort that produced the attractive front page is continuing, because the design of the rest of the . . . [more]

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

Google Revisited

Many of us think of Google merely as your friendly, neighbourhood search engine. But Google is more than just a home page. Questions are increasingly being raised about Google’s dominance in several areas including on-line advertising, privacy and, more recently, copyright (read: “Google Books”). Google is now coming out swinging even on telecommunications policy matters, having appeared at the CRTC’s recent hearing on ISP Internet tariff management practices (ITMPs). Konrad von Finckenstein, the Chairman of the CRTC, was pleased that Google “as one of the large players on the Internet”, was actively participating in the process. In asking “Is . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law, Technology: Internet

140 Characters of Defamation

[HT to Chicago Bar Tender] Anatomy of a Twitter lawsuit:

  • One 140 character tweet, reading: “You should come anyway. Who said sleeping in a mouldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay”
  • Side note: account in question was public, with twenty total followers.
  • Realty Co. takes exception, and replies with a $50k defamation suit.
  • And… the heavy-handed response goes viral (84 media stories & growing strong) causing more damage than ever imagined.

Chalk up another vote for the “do nothing” response. :) . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Updated List of Most Popular LAWPRO/practicePRO Downloads Just Posted

Having just passed the halfway point of 2009, we crunched the numbers on the most popular year-to-date article and resource downloads from the LAWPRO and practicePRO websites. There are a few new additions to the top ten, and past favourites have swapped places. The updated most popular LAWPRO/practicePRO downloads list appears here.

It looks as if more lawyers are looking at their firm finances, as the always popular sample law firm budget spreadsheet jumps up to become the most downloaded resource over the last six months. The sample law firm business plan came in at #9.

Peg Duncan’s amazing . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Zen and the Art of Legal Research and Texts

I made a comment some time ago on a posting originally made by Ted Tjaden on the nature of legal research. I was very busy at the time and did not take the time I should have to make myself clear. Now that Simon F’s piece on “Tomorrow’s Texts” and the comments on it are open for discussion, they offer me an opportunity to elaborate.

I suggest that, in responding to what Ted said and Simon’s topic, we consider the purpose expressed by Robert Pirsig in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, viz., an inquiry into “quality” and . . . [more]

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