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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

A Progress Report on Licensing Copyright Against Itself

In my coverage of intellectual property issues in scholarly publishing, I have made passing reference in this column to my work with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). It represents my more practical and applied efforts to address the intellectual property issues that trouble scholarly publishing. From this perspective, what PKP has been doing for more than two decades now is to test various ways in which copyright can better serve research and scholarship. This turns out to be largely about redirecting copyright against itself.

What this has meant in practice is that PKP develops software for online scholarly publishing platforms . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Maybe, After All, Content Is King

There was a time, for me at least, when it became expedient to appear to join those who would refute the Bill Gates’ “content is king” mantra in favour of something more transactional, like “it’s how you use the content that matters, not the content itself”. It played well, in relation to legal content, to those for whom some of it was too difficult, obscure or specialist and to those who could not otherwise relate to it. It meant that focus could be put on practice and back-office management, on other technology and tools, on marketing, sales . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Comments on the New CJC Guidelines on Bulk Access to Court Information

This post is a joint submission to Slaw, contributed by the following authors: Xavier Beauchamp-Tremblay, Pierre-Paul Lemyre, Sarah Sutherland, Ivan Mokanov

The Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) recently released a report titled “Guidelines For Canadian Courts – Management of Requests for Bulk Access to Court Information by Commercial Entities”.

Over the years, several parties from different sectors have contacted CanLII or Lexum to obtain bulk access to legal decisions from Canadian courts and tribunals. We never believed we had clear permission to redistribute this content and decide who should be granted or denied bulk access to legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

At Last! Action (Sort Of) on Bulk Access to Case Law

What’s the modern equivalent of a “broken record?” How about a GIF or TikTok on loop? Either way, I plead guilty. 

My particular hobby horse (the one I perform on the broken record and video loop) for much of the past decade has been bulk or unbundled access to legal information.

On Slaw alone, I’ve touched or ranted on the topic close to a dozen times. Here are a few of the longer pieces directly on point:

2020 – Lowering the Primary Barrier to Legal Innovation – Access to Good Data

2018 – CanLII’s Future as a Canadian Primary Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Competing Without Trashing

It may indeed be fundamental to the task of competing in commercial markets that providers, for present purposes in legal information publishing, just like European governments squabbling over their respective Covid responses, must not only create value and unique selling propositions for their goods and services, but also seek to destroy those of others, usually existing and long-established businesses. Some criticise whole industries and communities, to help make their own goods and services look better. Some fictionalise the legal publishing industry, simplistically to turn the spotlight on the possibly overstated merits of their own endeavours. However, I doubt . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Right to Research During and After the Pandemic

For all the hardship and tragic loss of human life that the current pandemic has wrought – even as we look for signs of the scourge’s end – it has had, I would hold, a positive effect on science. The last year or so has impressed upon many in the sciences that the more open and collaborative forms of research that mark the fight against Covid-19 will be worth retaining as a better way of doing science across the board. Among the earliest points of this opening, which came before the WHO classified this novel coronavirus, was the move of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Pandemic Update on Open Access to Research

For all the lives lost and human suffering experienced as a result of this pandemic, the rapid biomedical response to this scourge has been a ray of light and hope. A number of open science approaches – including publishers making all of the relevant research open access – have led to accelerated genetic sequencing, vaccine development, three-phase clinical testing and approval and a global vaccination roll-out. The open science movement has also been spreading beyond the immediate questions of treating COVID-19.

It is influencing the opening of scholarly publishing, more generally, which is the area in which I work on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

ROSS on a Break, as Other Friends Marry

The news of the demise of ROSS Intelligence appears to be a disappointing blow for some Canadian and US lawyers; beyond their jurisdictions, it has little relevance. As litigation proceeds, in the form of an antitrust claim against Thomson Reuters, alleging research monopoly, the story may not be over, and it may be for the courts to evaluate the relative merits in that particular case; others are more competent than I am to comment on both the specific facts and legalities of it. What I read, however, is that ROSS Intelligence has shut down its operations, revealing another legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Natural Intellectual Property Experiment Proves What Is Necessary May Not Be Sufficient

On December 1, 2020, Dr. Sott Atlas resigned his position as “special advisor [on the coronavirus] to the president of the United States.” Many of us breathed a sigh of relief, if through our masks. After all, my Stanford colleagues had voted for a faculty senate resolution, that condemned this Stanford-affiliated man’s “disdain for established medical knowledge.” To take but one example I’ll return to below, Atlas had tweeted “Masks work? NO,” citing Oxford Professor Carl Heneghan.

What Atlas illustrates for me, as a long-time advocate of open access to research and scholarship, is a cautionary result of this . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Law Publishing, Editorial Freedom, Standards and Ethics

I would not have thought that in the relatively safe and narrow information publishing world with which I am familiar, I would ever encounter special interest, external interference and attempts to limit editorial freedom, other than, obviously, in giving and receiving training controls, rules and processes for the job and for other obviously legitimate and legally-compliant reasons. I have experienced it though, not for the first time, but most recently in my capacity as the editor of an information and communications periodical. It should be stressed that the publication in question does not overtly or primarily cover legal matters . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A New Three-Step Syllabus Rule for Dealing Fairly With University Course Readings

The 2020 appeals court ruling in York University v. The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency, declared York’s fair dealing guidelines, which attempted to set out the terms for fairly using articles and chapters in the university’s courses without paying royalty fees, to be other than fair to authors and publishers. The court notes that “York did not justify [its claim to ‘fair dealing’] beyond invoking education as an allowable purpose” (258). In the face of the court’s refusal of York’s blanket appeal to the fair dealing exception to copyright infringement, and now that the case is headed to the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Legal Publishing: Open Access, Open Minds, Open Wallets

I found it challenging recently to be asked if I have any further observations or opinions in relation to open access to the law book environment. The short answer is, “probably not”, but the fault for that is mine. However, given that the significant issues relate almost exclusively to primary legal materials, most of what needs to be argued on that is done elsewhere.

However, I do think that the question of open access in legal information publishing is entirely bound up with other related ones. Open access is part of an innovation debate. Key issues include the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing