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Archive for August, 2006

Wikimedia Gets Serious

…gets earnest, might be an even better way to put it. Perhaps stung by the various recent slurs on Wikipedia’s accuracy, the folks at the top have decided to construct the wherewithal for what seems to me will become a self-improving authority machine, harnessing the same distributed, free “improving” urge that got the ‘pedia ballooned to great heights in the first place.

The sharp end of the planned scholar’s movement is Wikicite, the aims of which are to:

  • Facilitate the citation of all factual assertions. Ideally every non-obvious factual assertion should connect to evidence which corroborates it… Most reference
  • . . . [more]
    Posted in: Miscellaneous


    The U.S. College of Law Practice Management has released the inaugural issue of Innovaction, an “e-zine” in pdf. It’s splendidly produced, with lots of dramatic colour and interesting articles, as befits a publication with a name like that.

    Two of the reasons for its success may not be hard to find: just look for the tiny Canadian flags in their lapels. The Editor-in-chief was none other than Jordan Furlong, whose day job is editor of the CBA’s National, and one of the Editorial Advisory Group was Slaw’s own Simon Chester. Simon was also a member of the . . . [more]

    Posted in: Miscellaneous

    Crown Copyright Outrage

    Tomorrow’s Guardian has an amazing story about a British Government’s proposal to charge for access to legal information, when value has been added to the raw text.

    A few juicy quotes:

    Firstly, an astounding Crown copyright notice greets the reader: “The Statute Law Database and the material on the SLD website are subject to Crown copyright protection. The Crown copyright waiver that applies to published legislation generally does not apply to SLD because it is a value-added product. Any reuse of material from SLD will be the subject of separate and specific licensing arrangements. No such arrangements have yet been

    . . . [more]
    Posted in: Substantive Law

    Conducting “safe” Computerized Research

    Last week picked up an interesting item from American Lawyer “Software Glitch May Have Erased E-Mail Text in Enron Suits”. The information in the article is inconclusive as to the extent (if any) of the problem or the resolution.

    News items such as this are a good reminder of the number of human decisions required to create an “automated” collection of information (or knowledge for that matter). I’m guessing it is impossible today to create a large database and actually test it to make sure it is 100% complete and accurate. Whether it is internal system or third . . . [more]

    Posted in: Miscellaneous

    The Potential of Law Wikis

    Stephane Cottin, head of IT and of the registry service with France’s Constitutional Council, has created the tag “wikidroit” (wikilaw) on the social tagging website to compile a list of online collaborative sites (or wikis) on the topic of law.

    By creating an account on, people can assign tags or keywords to websites they wish to bookmark and then share those bookmarks with others.

    One of the sites Cottin references is LawLibWik created by Deborah Ginsberg (Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology) and Bonnie Shucha (University of Wisconsin). It includes a link to a presentation they . . . [more]

    Posted in: Miscellaneous

    US DoC Renews ICANN Contract

    Ahead of the September 30 expiration of the current memorandum of understanding, the United States Dept. of Commerce yesterday announced it has renewed ICANN‘s role in administering the domain name system. According to an ICANN press release and this BBC news report, the new contract is for five years, extending ICANN’s authority to 2011, but is also subject to annual renewal. (I haven’t looked at the contract itself.) As the BBC story points out, this is somewhat disappointing for those favouring a more independent or international authority over domain name administration or, at least, a more transparent . . . [more]

    Posted in: Miscellaneous

    Open Access Law

    “The time has come for legal scholars and scholarly legal periodicals in the United States to join the movement for open access law.” So says Michael Carroll in The Movement for Open Access Law, a paper in the Villanova Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper Series. The paper is available in pdf format via SSRN.

    From the abstract:

    My claim in this contribution to this important symposium is that the law and legal scholarship should be freely available on the Internet, and copyright law and licensing should facilitate achievement of this goal. This claim reflects the combined aims

    . . . [more]
    Posted in: Miscellaneous

    Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques

    The Italian National Research Council houses an Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techiques (L’Istituto di Teoria e Tecniche dell’Informazione Giuridica — hence, ITTIG). ITTIG does research and makes tools available in the area of information technology as applied to law and public administration — an organized Slaw on steroids, perhaps.

    It’s an intriguing site that will probably repay attention from anyone doing research in applied legal informatics, but which seems reluctant to give up much that’s concrete to the casual visitor. That said, there are some articles and PowerPoint presentations available from the recent conference, Legislative XML Workshop

    What . . . [more]

    Posted in: Miscellaneous

    Updates Re CBA Annual Conference in St. Johns

    I had a wonderful time in St. John’s, Newfoundland (my first time to visit there) at the annual conference of the Canadian Bar Association (friendly people, wonderful harbour).

    1) International Development Committee (“IDC”). I was attending meetings of the IDC who continue to do excellent work around the world in promoting the rule of law (based on outside funding; the cost of the work of the IDC is not borne by CBA membership fees). Major current projects are taking place in China (with their criminal bar involving the strengthening of legal aid) and Bangladesh, with past projects including work . . . [more]

    Posted in: Miscellaneous

    Restrictions on Using Public Domain Materials

    Hypothetical: A piece of sheet music is published in the United States in 1911; as such, the work is in the public domain. A published version of the sheet music is held by ABC Library in the Mid-Western US, and they appear to be the only source for the music (other copies have disappeared or have been lost over time or are sitting in someone’s attic and not easily available). You want a copy of the public domain music but ABC Library insists you sign an agreement to not further reproduce or digitize the sheet music (their reason apparently . . . [more]

    Posted in: Substantive Law