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Library Boy

Legal research news from an Ottawa law librarian

Updated: 2018-02-20T20:37:29.501-05:00


Article on Filing Amicus Curiae Briefs in Other Countries


The website DipLawMatic Dialogues has a fascinating recent article called Can You Do That? Filing Amicus Curiae Briefs in Other Countries.

Among other things, it looks at strategies for finding facta filed by intervenors in courts that are not in their country of origin:
"Whether or not it is a salutary trend for NGOs to wield increasing influence upon national courts is a topic that inspires much debate and diversity of opinion. But to even get to the point of discussing the pros and cons, you need to find the briefs in the first place to know what you’re dealing with. Here are some strategies that have worked for me:
  • In jurisdictions that have adopted formal submission rules, there are likely to be indicia of filing. Having a document number, or even a docket number, is an enormous help when you’re researching in unfamiliar jurisdictions.
  • In jurisdictions that don’t have formal submission rules, you may need to trawl through the news sites and legal journals of the local bar associations (...)
  • If you know that you’re looking for a brief from a particular NGO, chances are decent that they will have published the brief on their own website along with a press release describing the case (...)
  • INTA has put together a handy chart on filing amicus briefs in Latin American jurisdictions. Helpfully for researchers, it indicates which courts do and do not accept amici and at what level (e.g. Supreme Court only).
  • Of course, you can always find foreign governments’ amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, for comparison’s sake—but you already know how to do that."

Canadian Association of Research Libraries Brief on Unsustainability of International Journal Costs


The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has released a brief on escalating subscription costs for international journals:
"Over the past several years, a convergence of escalating subscription costs, unfavourable exchange rates, and tightening budgets at Canadian universities has put a spotlight on the unsustainable economic environment of scholarly journals. In 2015, the Ontario Council of University Libraries outlined the problem in a letter to vendors. 'We are currently facing significant cumulative negative impacts through the combined effects of flat funding for the sector, increasing inflationary costs, and projected lower student enrollments. Moreover, many institutions are undertaking system-wide budget cuts that include targeted reductions for libraries’ collections budgets. This situation is significantly aggravated by a major weakening of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar.'  In 2016, CARL issued a similar statement, asserting that we are in a perfect storm of factors. Many Canadian library acquisition budgets cannot stretch any further — bringing us to a point where we must consider new strategies and responses."
 The association proposes 4 recommendations for action:
  • Support libraries and consortia in taking a strong stance against unreasonable price increases and publisher lock-in. 
  • Raise awareness of the issues with the broader academic community.  
  • Raise awareness with other stakeholders about the inherent limitations of impact measures such as journal impact factor, and work with them to define a broader range of assessment measures that more accurately reflect research quality, impact and value.  
  • Invest in sustainable scholarly publishing platforms, services and infrastructure that support the needs of researchers and provide practical alternatives to the existing system. Libraries are already working nationally and internationally to develop this infrastructure, but will need support for redistributing funds towards new models.
CARL represents Canada’s twenty-nine largest university libraries as well as two national libraries.

Aid Available to Canadian Law Librarians to Attend Law Via the Internet 2018 Conference in Italy


Members of the Canadian Association of Law Librarians can apply for the Janine Miller Fellowship to receive funding to attend the Law Via the Internet 2018 conference in Florence, October 11-12, 2018:
"This year the Conference, organized in Florence by the Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques of the Italian National Research Council, will explore issues of trust in accessing law for democratic purposes in the big data age. Knowledge management plays a critical role for organizations seeking to establish trustworthy digital repositories and to make the future open and diverse, based on genuine verified legal content. During the two days conference, speakers will discuss how scholars, researchers, legal practitioners and information professionals use very large or complex data sets to distill meaning and develop public policy."
Expenses up to a maximum of $2,500 will be covered.

Law Via the Internet is an annual international conference that brings together various communities involved in free access to law. 

Canadian Federation of Library Associations Statements on Copyright


The Canadian Federation of Library Associations has released three new statements relating to copyright policy:
  • Fair Dealing: "Fair dealing is an important and vital user right that empowers library users to learn and explore new opportunities for personal fulfillment and intellectual or professional growth, supports scholars and scientists in research, and challenges students to think critically about the world. Fair dealing allows the limited copying of copyright-protected material (or portions thereof) without payment of fees, or seeking permission from the rights holder, for the purposes established in Sections 29, 29.1 and 29.2 of the Copyright Act of Canada. Recommendation: The Government of Canada should leave Sections 29, 29.1 and 29.2 of the Copyright Act unchanged to retain current allowable uses."
  • Protecting Copyright Exceptions from Contract Override: "Libraries are unable to provide clear information to their patrons about permitted uses of digital content because rights holders override copyright exceptions and limitations in library licences. Use for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review and news reporting, and exceptions and limitations for libraries, are restricted in licenses although they are permitted in Canada’s Copyright Act (...)
    Recommendation: The Government of Canada should amend the Canadian Copyright Act to make it clear no exception to copyright can be overridden by contract."
  • Technological Protection Measures: "Libraries operate in an increasingly digital environment and much of the content they purchase is digital and protected by technological protection measures (TPMs), also known as digital rights management. Unfortunately, the TPM provisions in the Copyright Act do not make any exceptions for libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) to be able to preserve digital items as intended if they are protected by TPMs. Technological protection measures also prevent library users from exercising user rights such as fair dealing. For example, if a student wants to make a copy of a small portion of a TPM protected work for their research project under fair dealing, the TPM prevents them from doing that, even though the use would be legal under the legislation.
    Recommendation: The Government of Canada should amend the Canadian Copyright Act to make it clear that circumvention of TPMs is only illegal for the purpose of an act that is an infringement of the copyright in it or the moral rights in respect of it or for the purpose of making a copy referred to in subsection 80(1)."

Statistics Canada Article on Adult Criminal Court Processing Times


Last week, Statistics Canada published an article in Juristat on Adult criminal court processing times, Canada, 2015/2016.It examines the time it takes for a charge to proceed through the adult criminal court system in Canada, from an individual's first court appearance to when a final decision is reached on the charge. The article looks at court processing time trends over the last decade and includes information on court processing times for provincial and superior adult criminal courts as well as jurisdictional trends. Some of the factors that can influence court processing times are also presented, as well as information related to the number and types of charges that have exceeded the presumptive limits established by the recent R. v. Jordan decision.Highlights: In 2015/2016, the majority of charges (over 1.1 million charges) completed in adult criminal courts in Canada were heard in provincial courts. The median amount of time it took to complete a charge in provincial court (from first appearance to final decision) was 112 days. This median did not vary much throughout the last ten years.Of all charges completed in provincial court in 2015/2016, 6% took longer to process than the presumptive ceiling established by the R. v. Jordan Supreme Court of Canada decision (18 months when there was no preliminary inquiry, and 30 months when a preliminary inquiry was held). This proportion has remained consistent over the past decade. It is important to note that the Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) is unable to determine if the time exceeding the presumptive ceiling is attributable to the Crown or the defence.Impaired driving offences accounted for 13% of all provincial court charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling in 2015/2016. Offences against the administration of justice also accounted for a large number of these charges, such as failure to comply with a court order charges (8%). Throughout the last ten years, the proportion of provincial court charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling has remained fairly stable in most provinces and territories. However in Quebec, the proportion increased from 11% of charges in 2006/2007, to 17% of charges in 2015/2016. While in British Columbia, the proportion decreased over time (4% of charges in 2006/2007, compared with 2% of charges in 2015/2016). According to the ICCS, there were 13,105 charges completed in superior court in 2015/2016, in provinces/territories where superior court data were available. These charges took a median of 419 days to reach a final decision in court, which was 18 days longer than 2014/2015. The R. v. Jordan decision also established a specific presumptive ceiling for charges heard in superior courts – 30 months, with or without a preliminary inquiry. The available data from 2015/2016 indicate that 15% of all charges exceeded the presumptive ceiling. This proportion has generally been increasing since 2007/2008. Weapons offences accounted for 12% of the superior court charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling in 2015/2016, followed by major assault and sexual assault offences (both at 7%). In addition to the seriousness of offences heard, certain factors can impact the time it takes to complete a charge in both provincial and superior court. For instance, an increasing number of court appearances, more days between appearances, if there are multiple accused or an increasing number of charges in the same case can increase the time it takes a charge to reach a final decision in court. Furthermore, charges with a preliminary inquiry or trial take longer to reach a final decision. Charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling in both provincial and superior court in 2015/2016 were generally more likely to result in a guilty decision.[...]

New International Law Research Guides From GlobaLex


GlobaLex, a very good electronic collection created by the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law, recently published new research guides:
  • Introduction to International Fisheries Law: "International fisheries law, a subfield of the law of the sea, is an emerging area of public international law that seeks to regulate fisheries management in areas within and beyond national jurisdictions. This body of law touches upon some other areas of international law, for example, international environmental law, international marine environmental law, renewable resources law, sustainable development law, international trade law, etc. International fisheries law is also interdisciplinary as it often draws on other disciplines, such as, fisheries and marine science, management, economics, statistics etc. Although international fisheries law is primarily based on international and regional treaties and customs, other elements, such as, decisions of international courts and tribunals on fisheries matters, practices of regional fisheries management organizations, and scholarly writings and publications by leading experts have also contributed in shaping up this evolving area of international law."
  • International Humanitarian Law: "This article deals with the body of international law concerning the law of armed conflict. It is also referred to as ius in bello or the law of war. The terms international humanitarian law (IHL), law of armed conflict and law of war may be regarded as synonymous. The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), international organizations, universities and states tend to opt for international humanitarian law. The two principle legal pillars of IHL are the 'Hague Law,' regulating weaponry and the choice of military targets, and the 'Geneva Law,' covering the treatment of prisoners of war, detainees, civilians, and humanitarian aid workers. Briefly, IHL regulates the conduct of hostilities and the protection of persons during an armed conflict. IHL, however, does not regulate the use of force. The legal regulation of the use of force, ius ad bellum is subject to the Charter of the United Nations, art. 2.4 and art. 39- 51. It is also necessary to understand that IHL regulates hostilities only during armed conflict. An armed conflict, international or non-international, involves the use of armed force by one state against another state, or hostilities between government armed forces and organized armed groups, or between such groups within a state."
  • Legal Information Institutes and the Free Access to Law Movement (update): "This article surveys the group of free access providers of legal information known as 'Legal Information Institutes”'('LII's), their organisation, the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM). It is not therefore about free access to law generally, but rather about a particular group of its providers who collaborate. Each LII is linked when first mentioned but not on all subsequent occasions. This article updates a 2008 archival version, and where appropriate includes links to parts of that version that need not be repeated here."

Global Legal Hackathon Ottawa: Feb 23-25, 2018


Ottawa is organizing a Global Legal Hackathon later this month:
"(...) a hackathon is about quickly creating a proof of concept to address a challenge or serve a need."

"From February 23-25, over 40 cities around the world will host thousands of developers, lawyers, business professionals and others looking to improve access to justice and the legal industry itself through rapid development of innovative ideas using advanced technologies (...)" 

"It is being hosted and sponsored by law firms, large corporate legal departments, legal software companies, and law schools. The idea for the GLH originated with Integra Ledger (blockchain for the legal industry) and IBM Watson Legal  (...) "

"In Ottawa, we are inviting teams and individuals with the skills and ideas to make a difference to join us. We have the support of major tech companies and the Ottawa start-up community, law students, legal educators, law firms, legal departments, legal tech companies and publishers, lawyer associations and much more...but to be successful, we need YOU to join us! "

Winter 2018 Issue of Connected Bulletin on Courts and Social Media


The Winter 2018 issue of Connected is available online. The bulletin covers news about the impact of new social media on courts.

The bulletin is published by the Virginia-based National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.

In this month's issue:
  • Florida Supreme Court to stream proceedings on Facebook Live
  • The Shooter, the Victims, the Aftermath – Three-part podcast series presented by the Ninth Circuit Court of Florida
  • Georgia justice shares details about the state Supreme Court's new Twitter account
  • Indiana Federal Court celebrates bicentennial with release of documentary
  • ABA Journal Web 100 honors podcasts, social media feeds

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles


The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection from February 1 to 15, 2018 is now available on the Court website.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

@Risk North Summary Report on Shared Print Preservation Programs


Organizations involved in a November 2017 @Risk North forum on shared print preservation have issued a summary report:
"As libraries witness increasing demand for online resources and dwindling circulation of print holdings, while simultaneously confronting budget and space pressures, it can be challenging to remain committed to sustaining academic libraries’ print collections. Cooperative approaches to acquiring, storing, preserving, and managing the reduction of print collections are gaining traction, employing a variety of models that seek to distribute the expense and responsibility while creating value for all parties." 
The groups involved were the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, the Center for Research Libraries, Library and Archives Canada and the University of Toronto Libraries.

British Columbia Law Institute Financing Litigation Legal Research Project


This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of October 30, 2017 entitled British Columbia Law Institute Blog Series on Financing Litigation.

The British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) website recently published an article that looks at a number of models to improve access to the justice system:
"Throughout the consultation phase of the Financing Litigation Legal Research Project, several ideas were raised to consider other ways to improve access to justice that fell outside the scope of the project. Chapter 12 of the study paper outlines five alternative ideas to improve access to justice, namely:
  1. Increased use of alternative dispute resolution processes;
  2. Expansion of legal aid;
  3. Promotion of cy-près orders;
  4. Community Contribution Companies; and
  5. New business models.
While the chapter does not include a full analysis of how each idea works, or could work, it does offer an an overview to give the reader some food-for-thought over what other opportunities may exist to continue examining how people pay for litigation."
The article also summarizes ideas on access to justice from other sources, including West Coast LEAF, BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal, the Law Society of Alberta and the Michigan Law Revision Commission.

Canadian Association of Law Libraries Webinar on US Executive Branch Research


The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) is hosting a webinar on March 15, 2018 on US Executive Branch Research for the Canadian Legal Researcher. It starts at 1PM Eastern time:
"This program will cover the structure of the executive branch of the government as it relates to the creation and publication of administrative law in the United States. As in previous seminars led by Professor Hazelton, US and Canadian systems will be compared."
The speaker is Penny Hazelton who worked as a law librarian for over 44 years at the University of Washington, the US Supreme Court Library, and the University of Maine.

Simon Fodden (1944 – 2018)


Simon Fodden, the founder of the pioneering Canadian legal blog, has died.

His disappearance is a huge loss to the legal community.

More on

Call for Fair Dealing Testimonials


The Canadian Association of Research Libraries runs the Fair Dealing in Canada website and it is looking for testimonials about the positive impact that fair dealing has had:
"As the Canadian government launches its review its Copyright Act in 2018 and as certain lobby groups seek to discredit the legitimacy of fair dealing, it is particularly important that we collect first-hand accounts of how fair dealing benefits Canadians."

"As the 2018 Fair Dealing Week approaches (February 26-March 2, 2018), CARL seeks to collect additional personal stories in which individuals express how they benefit from fair dealing. We are happy to add more experiences of those within educational sectors, but we are also hoping to broaden the scope of the site to include stories from outside academia."
As interpreted by Canadian courts, fair dealing is a recognized user right under copyright law that allows the use of limited quantities of copyright-protected content without permission from the copyright owner in certain circumstances, such as private study, research, criticism, review and news summary.

New Law Librarians' Institute 2018 - Registration Opens Next Monday


The Canadian Association of law Libraries is sponsoring the 2018 New Law Librarians' Institute (NLLI) at the University of Calgary from June 19 - 22, 2018.

It is an intensive, week-long program aimed at developing librarians' skills in the key competencies of law librarianship.

Registration will open next Monday!

UK Government Asks Law Commission to Look at Online Trolling


The government of the United Kingdom has asked the Law Commission to launch a review of English laws about online trolling:
"The government has asked the Law Commission to review the laws around offensive communications and assess whether they provide the right protection to victims online."
"With research showing that nearly a third of UK internet users were on the receiving end of trolling, harassment or cyberbullying last year, the independent body will provide a robust review of the current laws and set out how they apply to online communications (...)"

"The Commission will analyse:
  • How the Malicious Communications Act 1988 deals with offensive online communications 
  • How the Communications Act 2003 deals with online communications  
  • What 'grossly offensive' means and whether that poses difficulties in legal certainty  
  • Whether the law means you need to prove fault or prove intention to prosecute offensive online communications  
  • The need to update definitions in the law which technology has rendered obsolete or confused, such as the meaning of 'sender' 
  • How other parts of the criminal law overlap with online communications laws "

Canadian Law Library Review Open Access Since January


As of January 2018, the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR) is open access.

The CLLR is the official journal of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL). It is published four times a year.

As the most recent issue of  the CALL monthly In Session news bulletin says:
"We are excited by this change to CLLR, as it puts into practice a core value of librarianship: access to information. With our new model, CLLR can be shared with anyone interested in the work we do as law librarians. Spread the word!"

Live Webcast Tomorrow of Appointment Ceremony for Canada's New Chief Justice


The official ceremony to mark the appointment of Canada's new Chief Justice, the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, will take place tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time.

It will happen in the courtroom of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) and be webcast live on the SCC website.

Library and Archives Canada Launches New National Union Catalogue


Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has launched its new national union catalogue called Voilà. It is hosted on the website of OCLC:

"The launch of Voilà, a milestone for LAC in its library renewal project, marks the completion of the migration of the national union catalogue holdings from AMICUS to OCLC (...) The new catalogue offers an intuitive interface with modern features for searching published materials located in hundreds of libraries across Canada that subscribe to OCLC services, or had their holdings migrated from AMICUS to OCLC.  LAC will start enriching Voilà to provide public access to its own holdings later this year. "

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles


The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection from January 16 to 31, 2018 is now available on the Court website.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

February 2018 Issue of In Session - E-Newsletter of Canadian Association of Law Libraries


The February 2018 issue of In Session is available online.
 It is the monthly e-newsletter of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) and contains news from CALL committees and special interest groups, member updates and events.

Library of Parliament Research Publication on Criminal Charges and Parliamentarians


The Library of Parliament (LOP) has a new research publication that tackles the topic of Criminal Charges and Parliamentarians:
"In Canada, all citizens are subject to the ordinary laws of general application, both criminal and civil. There is no exemption for parliamentarians, nor is there any immunity or special rights related to their parliamentary functions, outside the narrowly defined application of parliamentary privilege."
"Whenever a member of the Senate or the House of Commons is charged with or convicted of a criminal offence, questions invariably arise as to the effect of such charges or convictions on the person's right to continue as a member of the Senate or the House.
In general, the laying of criminal charges against a member of the Senate or the House of Commons has no immediate legal implications with respect to their right to remain in office, with the exception of a procedure applicable to senators in certain situations."
"However, in the case of a conviction for a criminal offence, the legal implications with respect to the parliamentarian's right to keep their seat and their future eligibility are more serious. In all cases, both houses of Parliament retain the power to expel members, whether or not they have been convicted of a criminal offence." 
"This publication discusses measures that may be taken by the Senate and the House of Commons when criminal charges are laid against a parliamentarian, the implications of a conviction for criminal conduct, and the power to expel a parliamentarian under parliamentary privilege."
Readers can browse through the many categories of LOP research publications on the parliamentary website.

Northwest Interlibrary Loan and Resource Sharing Conference August 2018


Librarians who handle inter-library loans will be interested in the Northwest Interlibrary Loan and Resource Sharing Conference taking place September 13-14, 2018, at Portland State University in downtown Portland, Oregon.

The program will look at issues relating to:
  • Managing your ILL statistics 
  • Sustainable ILL and green practices
  • Succession planning
  • Keeping track of licensing of e-content for ILL 
  • Training staff and students 
  • Copyright and licensing
  • etc.
Deadline for Proposals is March 8, 2018.

You can have a look at the content of past conferences online.

Supreme Court of Canada Calendar of Upcoming February 2018 Hearings


The Supreme Court of Canada has published its calendar of appeals that will be heard from February 5 to February 16, 2018.

To find out more about any particular case, click on the docket number in parentheses next to each case name to find docket information, case summaries as well as facta from the parties.

New Govinfo US Information Portal Out of Beta


This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of February 15, 2016 entitled U.S. Launches Beta Version of Govinfo Portal.

The U.S. government has been testing, a government information portal that is intended to replace the Federal Digital System (FDsys) that contains official versions of Congressional, Presidential, judicial and federal agency materials.

A press release published yesterday explains that govinfo is now out of beta:
"We're excited to share that govinfo is now out of beta! While the predecessor site, FDsys, will remain available during this phase, we are one step closer to its retirement (planned for late 2018)."

"At this time, users and stakeholders should now begin updating links and processes to reference govinfo instead of FDsys. Learn more about the transition from FDsys to govinfo including a handy chart on finding certain FDsys resources where they've been migrated on govinfo."