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Archive for March, 2010

Implications of China v. Google Standoff to Canada

As many of our readers surely know, Google has been reassessing whether to continue its operations in China following a series of hacking incidents that allegedly originated from that country.

Prof. Ronald Deibert of UofT revealed today that the hackers also attempted to access Google directories, which was not widely reported when the story first broke. Deibert is one of the experts Google is consulting with on how to respond to the incidents.

Despite the The Investigative Powers of the 21st Century Act (IP21C) that was tabled before the prorogue, Deibert claims that cyberspace generally operates in a policy vacuum . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology: Internet

PolicyTool: Policy for the Masses

Lawyer, Slawyer, and newspaper columnist David Canton has teamed up with rtraction, an Ontario IT company, to produce PolicyTool. The notion is that businesses need policies in place to govern a variety of employee practices but can’t always afford the services of a lawyer to devise them; PolicyTool invites you to answer a number of questions and feeds the answers into well-drafted “boilerplate,” resulting in a “comprehensive and informed framework for your legal counsel to quickly create a binding policy.” PolicyTool does the initial drafting; and a lawyer engaged by the user will tweak and approve.

At the . . . [more]

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

The Friday Fillip

And how are we feeling today?

A feeling might be the most private thing — experience — we have. It seems to happen deeper inside us than our heady thoughts. But very very often, what inside will out. And nowadays that outing of our feelings takes place on the internet, thanks to the facilities of Twitter, Facebook, Buzz and all the usual suspects.

What if someone collected all of those expressions of emotion and made them available to the curious? If someone did that it would look like We Feel Fine by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar. These guys build . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

A Little Something in Writing to Remember It By

Every now and then it is “improving,” as the Victorians used to say, for a lawyer to be caught up in the toils of another profession, in order to recapture the client experience of uncertainty in the face of an opaque problem. I’ve had the fortune, recently — I wouldn’t label it “good” — to be in that situation and it has occurred to me, not for the first time, that there is a way to make the experience better for the lay person, a way that is all too seldom taken. My small suggestion is that professionals who deal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Technology

Shakespeare in Court: A Play With Appeal

Last night UWO Law hosted a presentation by law and undergraduate students of the trial scene from Merchant of Venice. Following the play, an appeal was heard to the Western Law Moot Court, featuring an all-star line-up.

Shylock’s sentence was appealed by Earl Cherniak, QC, and the Attorney General of Ontario Chris Bentley represented Antonio.

The bench in the appeal consisted of Justice Ian Binnie of the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Eileen Gillese of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Antoni Cimolino, General Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Professor James Purkis from the Department of . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Miscellaneous

The Future Wasn’t What We Will Think It Is

Oh, all right: I’m only sidling up to the matter of predicting the technology/internet future, a venture that would have foxed even the greatest classical soothsayers, surely. The current augur of the moment is Google Vice President of Global Ad Operations, John Herlihy, who, according to, told a conference recently that “In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant. In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs.”

As of 9.30 GMT this morning, this was the top Twitter trending topic in the UK, according to The Independent. (Fortunately or not, it’s since been . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology, Technology: Internet

UK Digital Economy Bill

A recent tweet caught my eye with the headline YouTube threatened by changes to Digital Economy Bill. The article has some good links and background information, including:

Courts will have the power to block access to entire websites from the UK because of allegations of copyright infringement under an amendment to Government legislation that has been adopted by the House of Lords.

The amendment currently being debated in the Lords deals with injunctive powers to block content rather than the current practice where YouTube removes copyright infringing content when given notice by the copyright owner.

We haven’t talked . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Workshop on Media Suppression

If you’re around Toronto on the morning of Tuesday, March 16, you might want to attend the Workshop on Media Suppression: Life and Livelihood that’s being presented by York University’s IP Osgoode and the Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security. Four panels of experts will address the following topics:

  • Digital Rights Contracts
  • The Thawing of Libel Chill
  • The Role of Internet Giants in Totalitarian States
  • Legal Recourse for the Torture, Kidnapping, and Murder of Journalists

The workshop is free of charge and is being held in Room W132 of the Schulich School of Business between 9 a.m. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

OSU Library Begins Lending Kindles

I’ve always assumed that when it came to lending e-books that Libraries would need to find a method to share the digital files housing the books in question. That the e-book files would distributed to the user’s reader, and then deleted once the lending period was finished. While things may eventually work that way in the future, I’d like to share a very interesting service being pioneered at Oregon State University where the pre-loaded Kindle hardware is the item being circulated.

Students are invited to spend up to $20 on any item in the Amazon Kindle store; items which become . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Supreme Court of Canada: Stats for 1999-2009 and Best Decisions of 2009

Two Supreme Court stories from me this week:

1) The Supreme Court of Canada has released a special edition of its Bulletin of Proceedings that provides a statistical overview of its activities for the period 1999-2009.

It provides information on leave applications submitted, appeals heard, judgments, and time lapses (time between the filing of a complete application for leave to appeal and the Court’s decision on whether leave should be granted; time between decision to grant leave and the hearing; time between the hearing of an appeal and the judgment).

2)The Court, the Osgoode Hall Law School . . . [more]

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

Online Legal Services: A Critique

I’ve just come across a Ph.D. thesis from 2007 by Christine Vanda Burns called “Online Legal Services — A Revolution that Failed?” [PDF 729pp]. Dr. Burns looked at what we might think of as the first generation of “online legal products which ‘package’ legal knowledge” and supply it to commercial enterprises, governments, and other consumers of law. As you would imagine in a dissertation, she examined the relevant literature and also did some empirical work in Australia, her home.

Interesting, to me, is her conclusion that while there are lots of difficulties surrounding the implementation of such products, . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Technology

Negative Reviews Can Be Good for Business

We’ve all heard the saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity” – but of course we don’t take that literally. 

Apparently, though, research has shown that when it comes to online reviews, negative reviews can result in more sales than positive reviews.

That was one of the points made by Mitch Joel during his keynote address on Monday at Fanshawe College’s eMarketing conference. (I spoke at one of the breakout sessions on “Digital Law”.)

He says there are two reasons for that. First, people tend to trust the business more as they feel the business is being open . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous