Thursday, September 1. 2011
Later this year CanLII will undertake a wide ranging and comprehensive survey of users. As a first step, we have prepared this mini-survey to gather quick feedback on CanLII usage and help us formulate the scope of the larger survey. Our overall goal is to ensure that future enhancements of the service meet the needs of our user.
Clicking the survey link will open a new page: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CanLII-english
We appreciate your time, comments and support.
President and CEO, CanLII
Monday, May 16. 2011
On May 16, 2011, CanLII and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (CanLII’s sole member) filed a joint motion with the Supreme Court of Canada seeking leave to intervene in SOCAN v. Bell et al. - a copyright case to be heard in December 2011 in which the Court will be asked to provide guidance on the meaning of “research” as a fair dealing user right under the Copyright Act. While the facts of the SOCAN case relate to online music previews and not legal research, the legal questions at issue include the meaning of “research” as a head of fair dealing and how, in the internet age, courts should balance copyright holders’ interests with user rights. The CanLII Board of Directors authorized this application in defence of the “large and liberal” interpretation given to the term “research” in CCH v. Law Society of Upper Canada and in several other cases that have applied the Supreme Court’s
If the Court agrees to hear from CanLII and the Federation in this matter, we will advance the following arguments:
1. The Copyright Act and its fair dealing provisions must be interpreted in conjunction with constitutional, administrative law, and common law principles guaranteeing access to justice for all persons. Any restriction to access legal information is in violation of these fundamental principles;
2. CanLII’s distinct role as a provider of free legal information to the public relies upon the interpretation and application of the principle of fair-dealing. Therefore any narrowing of the scope and practically of the fair-dealing principle set out in CCH may affect the digitally based services of CanLII that make legal materials freely and widely available;
3. An interpretation that the “large and liberal” standard of fair-dealing is not applicable to digital works would likely be to the detriment of public users of CanLII’s legal materials and would create a likelihood of fiscal and access constraints to legal materials.
Put simply, CanLII believes that in a free and democratic society, citizens have an unambiguous entitlement to free and unencumbered access to the laws of the land. This entitlement is protected in Canada in part through the Supreme Court’s 2004 ruling in CCH and in subsequent decisions relying on CCH. Collectively, these decisions provide broad protection against claims of copyright infringement for legal research. See, for example the following selections from CCH:
“The reproduction of legal works is for the purpose of research in that it is an essential element of the legal research process.” – para. 64
“As Linden J.A. explained, at para. 159: ‘It is generally in the public interest that access to judicial decisions and other legal resources not be unjustifiably restrained.’” – para. 71
To be clear, the ability of the Federation to provide free access to Canadian law through CanLII is not under immediate threat. Nonetheless, CanLII and the Federation consider that the principle that law belongs to the people and should thus be freely and easily accessible to them is too important to wait for someone to bring the fight to us. For that reason, we are hopeful the Supreme Court will grant us the opportunity to explain the detrimental impact on access to law and access to justice that could flow from an unduly narrow interpretation of “research” and from an unreasonably restrictive approach to fair dealing rights in respect of copyright material.
Tuesday, April 19. 2011
April 18, 2011
The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada are pleased to announce that Colin Lachance of Ottawa is CanLII's new President, effective April 11, 2011. The announcement was made jointly by Sonia Poulin, the Chair of the CanLII Board of Directors, and Ronald J. MacDonald, Q.C., President of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.