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Archive for April, 2008

Librarian Goes Head to Head With Rowling – Everybody Cries

The New York Times has a story on the copyright infringement lawsuit by J.K. Rowling against the proposed publisher of a Harry Potter Lexicon, created by Steven Jan Vander Ark, a librarian. Unable to resist some of the stereotypes associated with librarians (e.g. the very opening line: “Shhh! The librarian at the heart of…”), the Times reports that Rowling got emotional enough to cry during testimony Monday, and Vander Ark wept yesterday.

And in case you’re interested, it comes from the horse’s mouth that the “unlocking spell” Alohomora! does not come from Aloha, as Vander Ark had surmised, but rather . . . [more]

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

Oregon Claims Copyright Over Laws

Boing Boing gives us Carl Malmud’s report that U.S. free access sites Justia and Public.Resources.Org have received take-down letters from the Oregon Legislative Counsel in connection with their publishing of Oregon’s laws. Apparently West Publishing, which has also reproduced Oregon’s laws without a licence from the state, will not receive a similar demand.

I know that Canada and Ontario claim Crown copyright in our laws but explicitly permit copying if the material is reproduced accurately and that copyright is acknowledged. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law: Legislation

Computer-Generated Literature?

Like all of us, I sometime lament the state of legal writing, particularly of the academic sort. It is often so laden with detail (each one meticulously footnoted) that the reader can’t find the main point. But I think I may finally have stumbled on the culprit.

Philip Parker, a business professor, has developed a computer program that crawls through the internet gathering information from publicly available sources, and puts the information into book form. He then prints the books on demand and sells them through So far he’s generated more than 200,000 books.

Not surprisingly, the reviews . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

Harvard College Thesis Repository

Not long ago we reported Harvard faculty’s important decision to make all their members’ research open access. Now some students are joining the movement. The Harvard College Thesis Repository, just established, allows those undergraduate students who wish to upload their senior theses to a database accessible by everyone. At the moment there are perhaps a dozen theses there all told; but I imagine that in time this could prove to be a useful source of research in a variety of academic fields (none of which is law, strictly speaking). If you haven’t read a senior thesis from a good . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Neuroethics and Law

Adam Kolber, who teaches law at the University of San Diego School of Law, and who is currently teaching at Princeton University, studies neuroethics. You might well ask. Well, folks have always been trying to mess with our heads one way or another — just ask any of my students — and now there needs to be some greater discussion of ethical standards to hamper, if not to restrain, some of the more enthusiastic and direct neural intruders. And we need to think about how to understand and use what we’re learning about neural functioning.

His blog, the Neuroethics . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Substantive Law, Technology: Internet

June Callwood Lecture: Justice Denied

June Callwood was a prominent journalist, author and social activist. The 2nd annual June Callwood Lecture in her memory is coming up in Toronto as follows:

Friday, April 25, 2008
7 p.m.
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge Street

Justice Denied: the Wrongfully Convicted in Canada
Guest Speaker: James Lockyer,lawyer and social justice advocate

James Lockyer is a founding director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), a Canada wide organization which advocates for the wrongly convicted. Called “a tireless defender of the underdog,” Lockyer has been involved in exposing many wrongful convictions in Canada, including the

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

The Future of Legal Academic Publishing

What is the future of legal academic publishing in Canada? I ask for two reasons. First, as the leading publisher of Canadians legal casebooks I’d rather be on the cutting edge than on the trailing edge of new developments in publishing. I’d like even less to fall off the edge! Smart companies must anticipate changes in the marketplace and position themselves accordingly. That means, not being too far in front (remember, it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese) and not being too far behind. Secondly, as a law professor I reflect often on how to improve the student learning . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

Cornell Fillip

This is my last working day at Cornell. I’ll continue to post next week on a few more of the outstanding aspects of this law library that I’ve had a chance to see close up, but I thought a bit of a fillip might be in order. So here are some interesting quirks and bits I’ve discovered at Cornell:

The faculty was established with the start of the university in 1886, and the law building was erected in 1932. It is a charming and imposing structure, incorporating a variety of scales and degrees of formality. The main building has been . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Napoleonic Series

What appears to be a personal effort by Robert Burnham, the Napoleon Series website offers some legal material from around the turn of the 18th century that will be of interest to historians and and others perhaps. On the Government and Politics page, for instance, there are links to essays on diplomatic missions and treaties, plus translations of select treaties, declarations and conventions written between 1799 and 1815, essays on some laws passed by the British Parliament during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Eras, and the whole Napoleonic (i.e. Civil) Code in a 1805 translation. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law

SharePoint and XMLaw

I am always leery of using SLAW to mention the services or product of a particular company, but I have been impressed with the earnestness at which XMLaw focuses on delivering practical solutions for law firms in delivering Intranet solutions to their users using the SharePoint platform (I am currently attending a conference they are sponsoring in Boston for their [primarily) law firm customers; my positive comments on their company have nothing to do with the boat tour of Boston Harbour and the open bar they just sponsored . . . .).

They seem to “get it” by their focus . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Technology

File Conversion With Zamzar

You may find it handy to be able to convert a file from one format to another using an online service, Zamzar. You can go from any of 16 different types of document file, for instance, to half a dozen or more alternative types. So, for example, you can convert a PDF file into a .doc file, or a .docx file into a .odt (OpenDocument text document) file, etc. Zamzar works as well with image, music, video and compressed formats.

Files are converted when Zamzar has the time, although my test files all were cooked within two hours; you . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology