Canada’s online legal magazine.

Copyright, Melody, and Permutations

I’ve long wondered how song-writers manage it — avoiding tunes that have already been written, that is. The easy answer, of course, is that they don’t, at least not always, as we know most famously from George Harrison’s trouble with “My Sweet Lord” (who turned out both to be and not to be “So Fine”). Putting aside deliberate sampling, which is a recent and overt pushing of legal and conventional limits, the real worry, I suppose, is unconscious plagiarism. What protections against unwitting trespass does the poor composer have?

Three practical “bulwarks” come to mind. The first is pure mathematics . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Human Rights, Google and Internet Explorer…

♫ A moment of despair
That forces you to say that life’s unfair
It makes you scared of what tomorrow may bring
But don’t go giving into fear ..♫

Lyrics and music by: Stone, Greenberg, Daniel Pierre, recorded by Joss Stone.

You may wonder what human rights has to do with Internet Explorer. Prior to the earthquake in Haiti, the news was filled with the cyber-attacks on Google. The latest attacks on Google’s network appear to have originated in China, reported ComputerWorld in a post dated Jan 12, 2010 and were directed at the Google accounts of human . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

ReadWriteWeb Report: The Real-Time Web and Its Future

The value and potential of Facebook and Twitter real-time updates are obvious. So obvious that companies and websites implementing real-time systems for themselves are gaining significant benefits. The report The Real-Time Web and its Future, edited by ReadWriteWeb lead writer Marshall Kirkpatrick, interviews 50 companies, developers and executives leveraging real-time web technology. It also provides insights gained from more than 300 industry leaders that participated in the Real-Time Web Summit in October 2009. The report features best practices and innovation in leveraging real-time, and profiles of 20 people you should know and understand to participate effectively in the real-time . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Practicing Law on the Road: The Role of the Cloud and the Emergence of the Virtual Law Firm

Even as recently as the early 2000’s, the idea of achieving full in-office productivity while traveling on the road seemed difficult to imagine. The laptop, smartphone, cloud infrastructure, and internet access technologies of the day simply weren’t capable or ubiquitous enough to match in-office facilities and resources. But fast forward to 2010, and these ingredients have evolved and shifted significantly.

Firms like Heritage Law are predicated on the reality that any lawyer or staff member can work effectively from practically any remote office on a full time basis with nothing more than a Voice Over IP (VoIP) telephone, a broadband . . . [more]

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

‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, From the British Museum

This may seem like a Friday Fillip, but it’s such an interesting idea that I thought Slaw readers might be interested.

Today, Radio 4 officially launched a major new series ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, written and presented by the Director of the British Museum, Neil Macgregor. In brief segments over the next year, the history of mankind will be discussed by reference to a variety of objects. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Legal Information, Miscellaneous, Technology

Alberta Rules of Court Implementation Date Revealed

The new Alberta Rules of Court will be implemented on November 1, 2010. This is the culmination of a project begun in 2001 to redraft the Alberta Rules.

The Rules have not been significantly revised since 1968. The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) was given a mandate to review the Rules of Court and produce recommendations for a new set of Rules. The project goal was to create rules that are clear, useful and effective tools for accessing a fair, timely and cost efficient civil justice system.

The old rules are available online from Alberta Queen’s Printer. The . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

U.K. Report on Costs of Civil Litigation

Lord Justice Jackson has released his Final Report [PDF] on the Review of Civil Litigation Costs in England and Wales. With an economy that a Laconian might envy, he writes as the whole of his Foreword:

In some areas of civil litigation costs are disproportionate and impede access to justice. I therefore propose a coherent package of interlocking reforms, designed to control costs and promote access to justice.

The rest of the report is some 550 pages of thoroughness, however, exploring the funding of litigation, fixed costs, personal injuries litigation (and other types), and controlling and assessing costs. Jackson . . . [more]

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

This Week’s Biotech Highlights

This week in biotech was all about lines. Not any kind of illicit lines, and not the most direct route between two points, just your traditional figurative delineations:

Line drawn: Since 2004, there have been increasing numbers of instances where pharma companies have compensated generics manufacturers in settlements of patent litigation initiated by the pharmas. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC, tasked alongside DOJ with enforcing antitrust law) in general, and its current Competition Bureau Director in particular, does not like these settlements. This week, the FTC published a report that claims that these settlements result in substantial extra delay . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law, Technology: Internet

New Cornell Customized Google Legal Research Tool

Neil C alerted us three years ago to a tool that our friends in Ithaca were developing to help legal researchers.

In late December, a new version was unveiled which permits three separate or combined searches:

Find Legal Research Guides

Search the Legal Internet

Search academic blawgs

Out of the Jungle has a fuller discussion, but this struck me as having real merit.

. . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Technology

Origins of Anti-French Animus Among English

Most cultural stereotypes have deep cultural roots with significant history, often founded in myth and conflict, and are enormously difficult to erode.

Unlike our neighbours to the south who operate on a melting-pot model, we have the unique challenge of not only tolerating our French minority, but supporting it and ensuring the survival of its culture and language. Doing so would require overcoming historical stereotypes towards the French.

Roman des Frances by Andrew de Coutances, a Medieval-era anti-French poem

David Crouch, a professor of medieval history at Hull University, recently translated a 396-line English poem called “Roman des . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Walking While [X]’ing May Be Dangerous?

Curmudgeon time.

An article with the headline captions:

Driven to Distraction
Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is Risky.

appears in today’s online and print New York Times.

The note at the bottom of the online article is: ” A version of this article appeared in print on January 17, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition.”

The point of the piece is that walking while distracted by reading or using the keyboard or touchscreen may be distracting.

As Homer (Simpson, that is: the other is currently unavailable for comment, at least to me) might say: “D’oh”!

Would . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Legal Information, Miscellaneous

Search Term Selection: Avoiding the Pitfalls

With less than 30 percent of all information ever appearing as ink on paper, the “paper trail” often turns out to be a “bitstream.” This sheer volume of data held by organizations makes it clear that electronically stored information plays an essential part in litigation today. Once the information as been preserved, what’s next? Well, it would make no sense for anyone to read through all of upper management’s e-mails or review all the documents stored on an organization’s network. The solution? Applying search terms to the electronically stored information to identify responsive files and documents.

Successful searches of electronic . . . [more]

Posted in: e-Discovery