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Archive for December, 2010

The Year’s Best Reading?

There is a wonderful spin-off magazine from the Economist called More Intelligent Life.

Like most other magazines, it does a year-end review of the best books of 2010.

But someone at the magazine didn’t quite check the clipart that accompanies that page:

Who actually thought that the Pacific Reporter was worth a plug? And thought that caselaw might be enhanced by snow?

Happy New Year – and a Guid Hogmanay. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Miscellaneous, Reading: Recommended

The Friday Fillip

Listen up.

This fillip’s about soundscapes. We’re all pretty familiar with those recordings of thunderstorms or surf or canoeing up a river, the ones that help us relax and, often, sleep. Strangely to some, there are city sounds that people enjoy as well, sounds for those who use their ears that are as characteristic of their burg as shots of the skyline. So think about the city sounds you like as you peruse the unorchestrated urban sonatas that follow here.

First is London, where the Favourite Sounds project seems to have had its greatest success. You’re probably best off . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Impact Factor

Information overload, and ways to overcome it, has been mentioned on Slaw several times. I came across this article from SSRN titled “What We Don’t Know We Don’t Know” and it reminded me of the consequences of ignorance. Although I thought the article was going to be about ways to overcome information overload, it quickly shifted to an analysis of scholarly research and the metrics used to measure it, such as the impact factor (IF). I found the use of measurement very transferable to legal research, such as the IF in a legal decision of the number of citations by . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Thomson West Appeals Professors Damage Award

Louis reported earlier this month on the story of a US federal jury which awarded $2.5-million in punitive damages and $90,000 in actual damages to each of two law professors who said that Thomson West had put their names on an annual supplement to a leading Pennsylvania practitioners’ text, even though they had refused to update the supplement when their pay was unilaterally halved.

Surprise to no-one – Thomson West will be back in court next month seeking an injunction to restrain what they say is prejudicial publicity – and we suspect, saying that the punitives are excessive.

We . . . [more]

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

Anti-Spam Legislation Passed, Awaits Proclamation

David Canton has kept Slawyers abreast of developments concerning Canada’s anti-spam legislation: FISA – New Anti-Spam Bill Introduced; Plethora of Pending IT Legislation. But we neglected to report that Bill C-28 passed third reading on December 14 and received Royal Assent a day later. Evidently, it won’t be proclaimed in force until September of 2011, to give us all time to get our acts together.

The text of the statute is available here [PDF].

I’ve been coy about naming the beast (78 pages in the official version), because the name it goes by appears nowhere in the act. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Web Law Predictions for 2011

This time last year I wrote a post making Web Law Predictions for 2010. My success rate was admittedly mixed – the idea of law firms jamming cell phone transmissions was, in hindsight, a little odd – while my predictions in other areas were surprisingly accurate of the way things played out. The rise of the mobile legal web, rapid mainstream adoption (and increased noise) of social media channels, the game-changing impact of tablet computing, and the ramped up production of “real time” spam were all favorable predictions, in my view. I found the process to be a fruitful . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Flight Rights Canada – Airline Passenger Rights

There has been much in the news on stranded airline passengers due to the recent blizzard in the North East. A newspaper story here from Russia describes a fairly grim situation at airports in Moscow.

I too was affected, after having spent a great time in New York City over the Christmas break. We were due to return via Newark International Airport on Monday (with the heart of the blizzard striking Sunday evening). The iPad came in very handy to constantly check the status of our delayed flight, which was eventually cancelled and re-scheduled to Tuesday (we made it out, . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Is It a Crime to Read Your Spouse’s Emails?

My mother used to say something to the effect that “gentlefolk do not read each others’ mail.” Of course, she didn’t reckon with spies or spouses in distress. It comes as no surprise to me, a one-time family law prof, that, as the Huffington Post reported yesterday, a Michigan man at odds with his wife got hold of her password and read her emails in order to confirm her affair. Very much a “dog bites man” story, you’d think.

Not so, apparently — thanks to prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who has charged the husband with “felony computer misuse,” which has a . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

IT Contracting : Focus on Quebec Part III – the Hidden Face of Your Contract: Selected Provisions of the Civil Code, With Impacts on IT Contracting and Beyond

This is the third and final contribution focusing on some differences between North American common law regimes and Quebec’s civil law system in the area of IT contracting. The first two contributions dealing with the same subject-matter can be found at: Seller Liability for Software Integrators? and Use Best Efforts Not To Rely On “Best Efforts”.

I thought I would use my last contribution on the specificities of Quebec’s legal regime to provide a quick snapshot of selected key issues which IT practitioners should be aware of when negotiating a contract governed by the laws of the Province of . . . [more]

Posted in: Outsourcing

Accuracy, Precision, and T-Shirts

How precise are the following statements?

  1. The Canadian public debt as of 15 December 2010 was $275,872,478,414.44 CDN.
  2. Canadian hourly-billing lawyers worked an average of 2043.96 hours last year.
  3. Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista hit .26 in 2010.

One answer: They are each precise to two decimal places.

Another answer: They are precise to 14 figures, six figures, and two figures, respectively.

I hereby state that I looked up answers to all three items before writing this column. So which of them do you believe? 

Chances are, based on precision alone, you believe one of them. No one knows . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Class Action Lawsuit? There’s an App for That

You may have seen the recent Wall Street Journal article on the privacy implications of certain iPhone, iPod Touch and Android apps that disclose information to advertising networks without the explicit knowledge of the user. It didn’t take long, but now a class action lawsuit filed in California against Apple for allowing this to happen. See: Apple sued over privacy in iPhone, iPad apps | Apple – CNET News.

I think that this lawsuit is directed at the wrong party (Apple Computer Inc.) and, if it is at all successful, will be harmful to the internet.

This is similar . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology, Technology: Internet

Resolving to Learn

2011. Time may be a philosphical construct, but it sure did seem to move quickly in 2010. As the new year approaches, many people make resolutions, including me. I am resolving to learn three new things in 2011.

  1. How to schedule time effectively for reviewing social media sources
  2. How to have a conversation in French
  3. How to renovate a document management interface so that it makes sense to both browsers and searchers

These are the extra things that I resolve to learn in 2011. As a law firm librarian, I am happy to report that I learn some new . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training