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Archive for the ‘Legal Publishing’ Columns

Unknown Unknowns

The world continues to change greatly and, whatever the future brings and despite any wilful and devious political and corporate hyperbole that abounds on these matters, it may well be that some aspects of the past will disappear or will alter to an extent. In the case of much that has been witnessed of late, we might certainly hope so. Almost without doubt, the pandemic is likely to create beneficial modernisation and efficiencies that can be enjoyed by the use of technology that was previously little-known, avoided or unavailable. We have indeed been forced lately to question much that has . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Platforms, Content and Duplication

As we continue to develop CanLII as a content platform and start to work more on developing original content, I have been thinking about the tension between platforms which gain value from lots of content, and organizations that create content as their primary value proposition.

The observation may be trite, but to illustrate my point using more general examples, Google and Facebook are examples of platforms that gain from having additional volume while devaluing each individual piece of content. Newspapers and magazines provide value primarily through the content they create.

In legal information we have analogous organizations with similar . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Publishing

Connecting Public and Private Legal Information

In a recent post Ivan Mokanov presented Lexum’s vision of providing Knowledge Management as a Service to the legal community. It is true that until now KM in the legal sector has been closely associated with expensive enterprise software only at the reach of law firms of a certain size. However, it is our belief that the infrastructure we developed for legal publishing can also be leveraged by lawyers for making the most out of the information they produce and store internally. That is why we recently started introducing features in Lexbox increasing the interactivity between public (legislation, case law, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Toward a Post-Covid World of Open Access

The global scale of the current pandemic has led to what feels like a remarkably unprecedented level of solidarity in a world pulling together (while standing apart) amid this common cause of fighting the spread of Covid-19. In the area in which I work (from home) of scholarly communication, publishers have been not only creating public access to Covid-19 collections of research and professional resources, from Elsevier’s COVID-19 Clinical Toolkit to Wiley’s Coronavirus Resources & News. Wellcome Trust has reaffirmed its 2016 “Statement on Data Sharing in Public Health Emergencies,” which has been signed by every major biomedical publisher . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Weapons of Mess and Disruption?

Perhaps it is at least in part the fault of the idiot wing of the fund management business, that it seems to have become necessary for every aspiring new entity seeking to serve the legal and professional information sector to classify itself as a “disruptor” or “disruptive”. Whether or not such entities, their products and services are capable of achieving the criteria set by the fundamentalist religious cult enthusiast attributed with having identified the concept, nonetheless, to attract the funds and appear to be on message, they have to be disruptors. I find it tiresome to see commentators, as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

My Concerns With the Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel Report, and Thoughts About Taming the Internet

In January, the panel tasked with the review of Canada’s telecommunications framework issued its report. Some of the recommendations are to be saluted, but others have left me worrying, most importantly the recommendations that aim to effectively regulate the Internet the same way that we have regulated broadcast since the last century.

This post is certainly not intended to be a comprehensive discussion of the report. If you’re looking for such a thing you can, well, read the report to hear the panellists’ explanations for their recommendations, or head to Michael Geist’s blog to hear about the other side . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology

“There’s No Success Like Failure”

To a significant extent in legal and professional publishing, as in other areas of publishing and indeed business and real life, commercial and financial failure plays a critical part in charting its paths. Probably, it is its failed projects and ventures which determine its future rather than its overall historical success, where such has been achieved over time. Here, maybe more than in some other fields, just like the inevitable conclusion of all political careers, the expectation of failure is embedded at its very core, though perhaps often needlessly. It is so embedded that in so many scenarios, notably in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Simplest of Models for Open Access to Research Proves Itself: Welcome to Subscribe-to-Open

I’ve got blog-worthy good news. So good, in fact, that I’m persuaded to take a break from my consecutive blogs on amending American copyright for open access (my developing case here). Instead, I devote this blog to a far more here-and-now breakthrough in increasing public access to research.

It arises out of the work of a half-dozen anthropologists (and me), who think that, given their study of people and society, they have a moral duty to share that work with those people and that society. This group, Libraria by name, has worked over the last two years with Berghahn . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

As the Law Is Blind to Research’s Intellectual Property Distinctions

This is the third in a series of blogs based on excerpts from an early and ongoing draft of a book (here for comment) in which I develop a case for amending copyright in the United States so that it is once again serving research and scholarship. The book’s working title is Copyright’s Constitutional Violation: When the Law Fails to “Promote the Progress of Science” (While Promoting Practically Everything Else). What follows is a key piece of the argument for reform. For now that there is an agreement that open access serves science best (as per my last . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Why Do I Prefer Reading Digital Books?

I find that I am out of step with my wife and most friends regarding the choice of format for reading a book. They prefer a print book either hard-cover or paperback. I prefer reading a book on my iPad or my iPhone.

Price. The price of a digital book can be a half to two-thirds of the price of a print book. Many digital books are free, especially those where the copyright has expired. Promotions can result in prices of $1 or $2 per digital book.

Highlighting. This can be done with the touch of a finger . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Rear Window

The 1954 Hitchcock oeuvre, based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story, “It Had to Be Murder”, can be a marvellous mix of many metaphors and analogies. To some, its underlying theme is voyeurism, which may be the case at least in part, but the idea of the rear window view offers much more. It can apply to innumerable scenarios, including legal and professional publishing.

I have enjoyed and occasionally cited Peter Drucker’s notion of trying to predict the future being akin to driving down a country road at night with no lights, while looking out the rear window, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Open Access Consensus and Copyright Reform

This is the second in a series of blogs on how U.S. copyright law has, with the emergence of open access to research and scholarship in the digital era, slipped into an unconstitutional state because it can no longer be said, in the case of science, “to promote the progress of science and useful arts” (U.S. CONST. art. 1, § 8, cl.8.). Rather, the law is called upon to constrain such progress. These shortcomings apply no less trenchantly to Canada’s Copyright Act, as well as to copyright laws in most other jurisdictions. It is the U.S. Constitution’s particularly pointed wording . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing