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Archive for January, 2009

Fair’s Fair

Language Log, that wonderful blog I mention on Slaw from time to time, has a recent post and a spate of comments on the English word “fair.” The matter was prompted by some writing by experimental economist (yes, Virginia, there are such things…) Bart Wilson, who has been working with “a pie-splitting problem known as the Ultimatum Game.” Lawyers might be interested in the matter of dividing up a pot, something that happens regularly in practice, albeit not in such a pristine fashion. But the real interest in this particular post lies in the examination of the simple word . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Move to Standards…

♬ Oh we make the standards and we make the rules
And if you don’t abide by them you must be a fool…♬

Words and music by Paul Weller, recorded by The Jam.

One of the issues in moving to a paperless law office is the inherent difficulty of accommodating older and different proprietary file formats. Even within the same product family, for example Microsoft Word, which was first released in 1983, Wikipedia reports that there have been 5 distinct file formats. This presents huge difficulties. Imagine that you have been dutifully backing up your networked . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Some Canadian Law Books on Google

I’ve done a quick search of Google Books (“Canada” + “law”)(“canadian” + “law”) and have created a library of some of the resulting material. I chose books published in this century that had a limited preview available and came up with 57 volumes. As you’ll know, I’m sure, Google Books has four degrees of accessibility online: no preview available, snippet view, limited preview and full preview. Those in the last category tended to be the oldest material, typically published in the 19th century.

The books I’ve identified have what I believe is a substantial proportion of their text readable . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information, Reading, Technology: Internet

Today Is Data Privacy Day

Fellow Slawer David Fraser points out that today is Data Privacy Day, being celebrated in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries.

Intel’s privacy day page says:

Designed to raise awareness and generate discussion about data privacy practices and rights, Data Privacy Day activities in the United States have included privacy professionals, corporations, government officials, and representatives, academics, and students across the country.

One of the primary goals of Data Privacy Day is to promote privacy awareness and education among teens across the United States. Data Privacy Day also serves the important purpose of furthering international collaboration and . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Airbrushing History

Kalev Leetaru and Scott Althaus, of the Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois, have written a report that I thought others here would find interesting. The report is called “Airbrushing History, American Style: The Mutability of Government Documents in the Digital Era,” and puts one in mind of the Ministry of Truth imagined by George Orwell in Nineteen eighty-four: a novel (London: Secker & Warburg, 1949). . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Future of Social Networking

This is a live blog from an INSEAD lunch on the power of social networks built on Matthew Fraser’s book Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom.
Fraser is an ex Post editor who’s fascinated by the 3 revolutions that he sees emerging from the phenomena of social networking.
Social networking
Politics 2.0
And Enterprise 2.0

Here’s what Jimmy Wales says about the ideas in his Introduction.

Slaw might want to think about some of the issues being thrashed around on the Wiki.:


1. Truth and Consequences: Rating & Ranking Your Boss
2. The Privacy Paradox: Your Life . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology, Technology: Internet

Smartphone Information Mother Lode

The February 2009 issue of PCToday has the most amazing collection of info on smartphones that I have ever seen in one place. If you are in the market for a smartphone you must read this issue.

Great articles on the features and options that different models have, and why you need or want those features. There are articles on the latest updates, services and tips for various mobile phones and platforms, including BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Nokia, iPhone and one on how to extend BlackBerry battery life. It teases with some real cool newer models that are or will soon . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Tech Ramble

I’ve got a bunch of tech sites and features to talk about that range from the trivial to the not so trivial. Since they’re either minor or linked to others in some way, I thought I’d lay them all out briefly here in one post. So you know what’s coming, here’s a kind of table of contents:

TinyPaste | Sqworl | Laconica | Two Bits | SiSU | Lex Mercatoria . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Reading, Technology

Recent Developments in Foreign State Immunity

The visibility and relevance of foreign state (or sovereign) immunity has grown significantly in recent years. States and state-related entities are playing a growing role in international investment and commerce, while seeking civil remedies against states in domestic courts is increasingly seen as an important tool in holding states accountable for torture or other breaches of human rights.

State immunity, in its most traditional formulation, is the rule that a domestic court will not implead a foreign state in its proceedings without the state’s consent. It is, in effect, the expression of judicial deference to the executive’s responsibility . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Stikeman in UN Corporate Law Study

John Ruggie, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, has announced a study involving 15 corporate law firms from around the world “to identify whether and how national corporate law principles and practices currently foster corporate cultures respectful of human rights.” Stikeman Elliott is the participating firm from Canada. The firms will provide resources pro bono to examine the laws and practices of 40 jurisdictions. At the end of the study in the fall of 2009, the results will be presented at “a multi-stakeholder expert consultation” held at Osgoode Hall Law School. A list of participating firms . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

New York Review on Google Books

There’s a long and thoughtful piece in the New York Review of Books by Robert Darnton on “Google and the Future of Books.Darnton is a renowned Harvard scholar on the history of the book and the director of the university’s library.

The NYRB piece negotiates the twin aims of promoting development through commerce and copyright on the one hand and enlightening as broad a segment of the public as possible through wide and free access to books on the other. Darnton explores the costs and benefits of Google’s having effectively captured the right to publish electronic versions . . . [more]

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

Legal Issues in Social Media With David Fraser

I spent this past Sunday in Dartmouth at the first Podcamp Halifax. As an enthusiast of the Podcamp movement of grassroots community-run events for the social media set (and an organizer of Podcamp Toronto), I was there to help them kick off their first such event, as well as spend time meeting some fascinating people.

One such person is David Fraser, lawyer with McInnes Cooper with whom I have been corresponding for a few years now, president of the Canadian Information Technology Law Association, and law blogger (see his posts here on Slaw and also his . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law, Technology