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Archive for November, 2009

The Creative Commons Toque

Last week Leslie Ellen Harris correctly pointed out in her Slaw post Using Flickr Photos that we should not assume content available on the web is freely available without copyright. She gave photos on Flickr as the example.

One thing I love about Flickr, however, is that it allows those of us who upload photos to designate Creative Commons licensing as an alternative. When I am looking for images for blog posts or presentations, I will often use the advanced search on Flickr to look for images available under Creative Commons (especially for commercial use)–scroll down on the advanced search . . . [more]

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

Deputizing the Online Industry?

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the current government plans to introduce a Bill in Parliament tomorrow that will require internet service providers to report suspected child pornography on sites they host or that are linked from sites they host: Ottawa aims to strengthen Internet child porn laws.

The text is not available, but when considered along with Bill C-47, the government appears to be singling out the telecommunications industry to take on additional law enforcement duties. We’ve generally been technology neutral in our criminal laws, but there seems to be a trend emerging to focus on what’s online . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Technology and Its Effect on Access to Justice, Advocacy, and the Judiciary

On the 22nd of October 2002 the evidentiary phase of GasTOPS v. MxI commenced in a regular courtroom in Ottawa Ontario. On March 23, 2006 after approximately 300 days of hearing and after approximately 2800 exhibits (70,000 pages) were entered into the record I reserved my decision. Over the next 20 months counsel submitted their written submissions (3500 pages). On September 25, 2009 I released my Reasons for judgment wherein I granted the plaintiff judgment against the defendants in the amount of approximately $11.1 million dollars.

The trial was conducted in a paperless environment and the trial record consists of . . . [more]

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

When Scholarly Publishers Reduce Author Rights in the Face of Open Access Initiatives

It is bound to happen. In trying to move an idea like open access (to research and scholarship) forward, you can reach a point where it seems that such efforts are contributing to the problem, rather than being part of the solution. It would be overstating it to observe that when Moses demanded, “Let my people go,” in ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh’s heart only hardened. Let me just say that at times just before the dawn, there can appear to be little hope of light.

Or so it seemed to me, when the editor at Educational Theory emailed me with . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Judges Guest Blogging

This month our guest blogging institution isn’t a firm, but a group of judges from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. As always, when we have an institutional guest blogger, we’ll identify the guest posts with a banner. You’ll see the one below starting tomorrow, Monday:

We hope you’ll join in and give our guest the benefit of you opinions. . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Firm Guest Blogger

The Benefits of Facebook, or Lack Thereof, When Depressed

Nathalie Blanchard of Bromont, Quebec, has been on sick leave for a year and a half for long-term chronic depression.

The 29-year-old woman had her benefits cut by IBM after she posted pictures on Facebook at a male stripper show, her own birthday party and on holidays. Her Manulife representative told her that,

I’m available to work, because of Facebook.

Ironically, most of these events were recommended by her physician as part of her treatment.

Depression is not like other disabilities where Facebook has been used to demonstrate lack of impairment. The complex parameters of a psychosocial condition like depression . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law


Notwithstanding the fine weather that many parts of the country are experiencing as November moves towards December, late November in Canada is usually a dark time for those of us with the golf bug. Into that dark, a little bit of legal light shines with the knowledge that a Happy Gilmore shot has been judicially defined.

In 2008 NSSC 280 para. 7, the Happy Gilmore shot has been defined as, “…running from five to ten feet behind the ball and hitting it on the run.” In finding that the Happy Gilmore shot breached the standard of care owed to other . . . [more]

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

The Friday Fillip 2

As a counterpart to Simon’s post below on applying modern technology to 16th century information, I thought I would offer Pranav Mistry’s SixthSense Technology described as “a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information.”

Doesn’t sound like much?

Watch the video of his explanations here from the TED Conferences page. I mean watch it now (a colleague just made me aware of it). It is one of the most breathtaking things I have seen and was completely shocked that I was not . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Friday Fillip

One of the glories of the internet and the digital era is their ability to bring the past to us in a lively fashion. And the latest gift from the ages is the Shakespeare Quartos — the early, perhaps the earliest, published volumes of the Bard’s plays. (A quarto is a book size, coming from the fact that the large page on which the text was printed got folded four times before binding. Wikipedia is good on the topic.)

The British Library has teamed up with other institutions holding quartos to make all of them available for your perusal online. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Clearing the Ice

As good as November has been to us here in Toronto, things will inevitably take a turn for the worse (I don’t ski), usually in the forms of snow and ice. And that, in turn, has us soon thinking of another aspect of Winter Law: the matter of slippery stuff on the sidewalk and the potential it creates for slips and falls.

In Toronto, if you occupy a house, you’re required under a by-law [PDF] to clear the snow and ice from the sidewalks beside the house “within 12 hours after any fall of snow, rain or hail has . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Interview With Cory Doctorow

The Globe and Mail had an interview with author Cory Doctorow in the weekend edition. After talking to an audience in Toronto on the topic of “How to destroy the book”, he sat down to talk about the future of publishing.

There’s one great line in the interview that will strike a chord with most lawyers: “I don’t think people write 26,000-word licence agreements in order to give you more rights,” [Doctorow] said. “They only do it to take away your rights.”

And for our recent Kindle purchasers, he has some words of warning as well:

“They gave everybody back

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing

‘Unfriend’ Selected as Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year

The New Oxford American Dictionary has chosen the word ‘unfriend’ as its 2009 Word of the Year:

“unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook. ”

“As in, ‘I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight’.”

” ‘It has both currency and potential longevity,’ notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program. ‘In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year’.”

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information