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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

A Writer Helps Draw an Intellectual Property Line for AI

With OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT-3 on November 30th 2022, it very quickly became clear to people that the innocent-sounding Large Language Models (LLMs) had crossed a historic threshold when it came to the intelligence exhibited by Artificial Intelligence. Many were seeing, for the first time, a computer responding to their questions and prompts with well informed and well-formed prose that, apart from the occasional “hallucination,” spoke directly to what was asked or prompted.

The immediate legal question was whether the resulting text, while certainly exhibiting intellectual properties, constituted the sort of intellectual property that the law was intended to encourage . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Joining the Call for Canadian Copyright Reform Now

Hugh Stephens, a Canadian policy and business consultant, has a new book out In Defense of Copyright. In advance of its release, he did a column on July 15th in the Globe and Mail,Why Canada Needs Copyright Reform Now,” calling on the government to update the Copyright Act after more than a decade of reviews and proposals. I couldn’t be more supportive of both defending and updating copyright. Now does seem to be the time, and all the more so with Prime Minister Trudeau declaring that his midsummer cabinet shake up was intended to create “the . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Why Should I Teach From (And Contribute To) a Casebook?

If you’ve ever taught law, you will have had to decide whether to build your course around an established casebook authored by somebody else, or from materials (cases, legislation, and articles) you’ve compiled yourself.

As a law book publisher, I’d like to make the case for teaching from a casebook; and, if you have the opportunity – contributing to one.

For one thing, when choosing to teach from a book, you’re not just making a straight choice between your own and someone else’s materials. Even if an authored casebook is the work of a single author, by the time it’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Right Price, Time and Reasons for Acquisitions in Legal Information

The contentious sale of Simon and Schuster, by Paramount, to KKR for $1.62 billion, albeit for less than the $2.18 billion which, in 2020, was agreed in an agreement which subsequently failed, is a reminder both of the wealth and ambition of private equity, and the value of some publishing businesses. On a lesser monetary scale, there is no question but that Thomson Reuters’ acquisition of San Francisco-based Casetext is a significant step. Although in existence only ten years or so, in 2017, its legal research platform, CARA, was named by the American Association of Law Librarians as “new product . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Writing Your Book Once You’ve Planned It

If you read my column from April and thought: “Yes, writing a book is exactly what I want to do with all my free time for the next one+ years”, then you may be wondering how to get to the next step of actually writing a book. Firstly, I want to include the caveat that so far my oeuvre amounts to one book, and these kinds of methodologies are personal, so please customize or outright ignore this advice as you think is appropriate for you. This post is about what worked for me.

Firstly, I will say that I designed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Large Language Models and the Death of the Author

In my last Slaw column, I dealt with the rapid responses to the “authorship” question from the leading journal Nature and the U.S. Copyright Office to the sudden arrival of large language models (LLM), such as ChatGPT. Both publisher and government agency made it clear that they will not accept such works for publication or copyright. More recently, Nature reported this June that it will now require authors to state that their submission does not use AI-generated images.

With the state and impact of LLM continuing to rapidly evolve, I want to follow with further reflections on the authorship . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Ten Years of Writing for Slaw and Filling the Gaps in Legal Publishing

Yesterday marked the ten year anniversary of my first regular Slaw column. I don’t think I could have guessed I would still be writing it after so much time, and it’s gratifying to hear when people say that they read my pieces. Having a venue where I can write regularly has been a gift for me as I enjoy being able to work out what I think on a subject and writing provides that space.

Slaw fills a gap for a communal interdisciplinary publication that is not filled by more orderly venues. It is thanks to Simon Fodden’s vision and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Building the Information We Need (Starting in the Law Library)

If you’d like to skip directly to the Kickstarter campaign, please click here.

When I look at the legal publishing landscape, I see gaps that are not being filled in the existing environment. Some information needs are well addressed; for example, there are excellent platforms to access openly available and commercial case digests, and there are many books on torts. These tools are widely needed and used, so there are clear incentives for commercial and non-profit entities to provide them. In contrast, individual organizations also frequently hire consultants to provide the precise information they need to make decisions . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

The Intellectual Property Rights and Existential Threat of Large Language Models

The publisher Springer Nature is issuing books with such subtitles as A Machine-Generated Literature Overview, while ChatGPT is being credited as co-author on research papers published in Elsevier journals. Yet Springer Nature’s premier journal, Nature, declared in January, that papers generated by a large language model (LLM), such as ChatGPT, will not be accepted for publication: “An attribution of authorship,” states Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of Nature, “carries with it accountability for the work, which cannot be effectively applied to LLMs.” This soon became part of Nature’s authorship policy. Then on March 16th, the U.S. Copyright Office launched . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Being Optimally Sized, Focused, Efficient and Effective Are, Perhaps, Keys to Successful Professional Information Publishing

That v-Lex and Fastcase have merged, now called v-Lex Group, is an important and certainly interesting development for customers on both sides of the Atlantic and far beyond, continuing a process in which the two businesses have been steadily advancing through acquisition and consolidation. The deal, ironically, was announced within days of Thomson Reuters having sold, to an alternative asset management firm, a majority stake in one of its significant businesses aimed at legal markets.

Some might argue that neither v-Lex or Fastcase is young enough genuinely to be labelled “disrupter”, but both have built reputations . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Getting Started on Writing That Book You’ve Been Thinking About

Over the years I’ve spoken with many people who believe they “have a book in them” or an idea for a book. But to take liberties paraphrasing Stephen Fry’s protagonist in The Hippopotamus: books aren’t made up of ideas, they’re made up of words.

So how do you string those words together at scale?

Firstly, I’d like to encourage you to reconsider. Writing a book is difficult, and it means spending pretty much all your spare time for a year or so working, and the remuneration is almost never good. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with gets more return doing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

A Second Marrakesh Miracle?

As someone intent on reforming copyright law, so that it can begin to serve open access to research as well as it currently serves exclusive subscription access to research, one obvious challenge is research’s international basis at every level. How can one expect copyright changes, which necessarily take place at a national level, to facilitate research’s global circulation?

Before responding to this vital question, allow me to briefly address why change is needed and that change I am recommending. The value of open access to humankind has been forcefully stated by Alondra Nelson, head of the White House Office of . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing