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By Xavier Beauchamp-Tremblay; reposted with permission from the CanLII blog
As you may have noticed, CanLII has been quite active this year announcing new content and other improvements, but we would also like to let you know about the policy work we have been involved in this fall.
First, we submitted a brief to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology’s copyright review discussing Crown copyright and its effect on free access to law in September. We argued that:
In particular, and in line with CanLII’s historical role of promoting increased access to publicly funded legal information, we explained that:
CanLII has direct knowledge that several Canadian startups interested in developing [innovative] solutions were discouraged due to the lack of access to data and have abandoned the legal sphere altogether. Crown copyright is a barrier to widespread access to this important data and has therefore impeded innovation in the legal field. It is important to overcome this obstacle to allow for more innovation at a time when delays and costs are impeding access to justice, and where it is generally accepted that “as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet”.
The work of the committee is still under way, and the best way to be informed about its work is to visit this page.
In October, we jointly filed a motion for leave to intervene before the Supreme Court in the Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc. matter (docket number 37863) with the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, where, once again, Crown copyright is at issue.
Our motion materials state that:
“CanLII is particularly uniquely positioned to make submissions on the benefits open access to legal information provides to Canadians of limited means, as well as researchers and new businesses who have limited financial resources, and conversely how broad interpretation of section 12 [of the Copyright Act] may inhibit access to justice, advancements in legal research and thinking, and innovation.”
On November 15, we received news that our motion for leave to intervene was granted. The hearing is set for January 15.
Norton Rose Fulbright is representing CanLII and the Federation on a pro bono basis in the matter of our joint intervention and we are grateful for their help.
Also instrumental in (informally) helping us monitor and understand what’s happening in this surprisingly active field were Kim Nayyer and Ken Fox, Co-Chairs of the CALL/ACBD Copyright Committee. As you may have noticed if you subscribe to CALL/ACBD’s newsletter, they have also announced earlier this week that their organization’s intervention in Keatley has been accepted.
We have uploaded our motion materials and our brief for those who are interested in reading more about the points raised by CanLII as part of its policy efforts. We will of course post our factum in Keatley, when submitted.