Osgoode Digital Commons: One Million Downloads and Still Counting!

ODCBannerOsgoode Digital Commons, the institutional repository and digital archive of Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, offering world-wide access to the research and publications of the School’s scholarly community, achieved a significant milestone when it reached one million downloads in the early morning of Monday, November 21, 2016, less than three years since its inception.

The honour of being the one-millionth full-text download from Osgoode Digital Commons goes to the article “Will Women Judges Really Make a Difference?” by the late Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson (Osgoode Hall Law Journal 28.3 (1990) : 507-522). This article is illustrative not only of the breadth of scholarship connected to Osgoode, but of Osgoode’s commitment to social justice and the engagement with the legal profession. It’s also indicative of the power of an open-access publishing platform on the web: this article, which has had over 3,000 downloads in the past year, is almost thirty years old, but enjoys continued relevancy and currency because of Digital Commons.

This map illustrates the distribution of downloads from Osgoode Digital Commons around the world and the consequent international impact of Osgoode research:

International Distribution of Osgoode Scholarship

International Distribution of Osgoode Scholarship (Click to enlarge)

 

Osgoode Digital Commons was launched in February, 2014, as the institutional repository of Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. The first publication to be posted to the Commons was the complete archive of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, the School’s flagship journal, which continues to be our most popular resource, generating half the full-text downloads. Osgoode Digital Commons has proved a successful platform for the open access publishing of journals and is now home to five of the law reviews connected to Osgoode, including the Journal of Law and Social Policy and the Supreme Court Law Reivew: Annual Constitutional Cases Conference.

But law journals are only one part of the story. Osgoode Digital Commons is the digital archive of the scholarly activities and publications of the research community of Osgoode Hall Law School. Though the Commons was created and is maintained by the Osgoode Library, it is very much a collaborative undertaking, enjoying the active support and collaboration of both the School’s research office (Associate Dean, Research & Institutional Relations) and advancement office (External Relations & Communications). With the commendable support and co-operation of faculty, the archive is comprehensive, including records of every publication, media appearance or mention, conference presentation and event for each active faculty member. Whenever possible, the record includes the full text of the publication or related documentation, including videos and image galleries. Because of this comprehensiveness and inclusiveness, our Digital Commons in not only Osgoode’s institutional repository but also, since this past September, officially the site for the personal research pages of all Osgoode faculty. If our Digital Commons has been a success, it is a reflection of the unreserved support of our faculty and the quality of their scholarship.

Osgoode Digital Commons has been a cornerstone of Osgoode’s institutional digital initiatives and research intensification activities, as well as the Library’s commitment to scholarly communication, the preservation of the School’s research archive and the provision of open access to research. It has been instrumental in making Osgoode research available not only to the wider international scholarly community but to a world of people hungry for quality information about the law, all of it free and open access. Osgoode Digital Commons has been played a significant role in enhancing the impact of Osgoode research both in Canada and internationally; in fact, two-thirds of the downloads from Osgoode Digital Commons are from people and institutions outside of Canada.

Finally, we would like to thank the technical and client support folks at bepress Digital Commons, especially Dave Seitz and Camille Peters, without whose knowledge, insights and unfailing assistance there would be no Osgoode Digital Commons.

Legal Resources on the Brexit

BrexitThe United Kingdom European Union Membership Referendum, also known as the EU referendum or Brexit referendum (because of the potential exit of Britain from the EU), is a plebiscite scheduled to take place in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar on June 23, 2016. Membership in the European Union has been a topic of debate in the United Kingdom since before the country joined the European Economic Community (EEC or “Common Market”), as it was known then, in 1973.

To help inform a broader cross-section of the public and provide them with authoritative analysis on questions that relate to the highly contentious possibility of a Brexit, Oxford University Press has now made freely available a large selection of materials from the Oxford Public International Law database relating to the Brexit debate. To keep track of recent commentary on and information about the legal consequences of a Brexit, they have also made available a new Brexit Debate Map.

Readers can also keep themselves informed by consulting theBBC’s All You Need to Know page on the Brexit referendum debate.

 

 

 

Canada Added to the Library of Congress Indigenous Law Portal

Law Library of CongressThis is a wonderful gift from our neighbours to the south. On June 21, in celebration of our National Aboriginal Day, the Law Library of Congress opened the Canadian portion of their Indigenous Law Portal, expanding the portal’s coverage for the first time beyond the United States. The Canadian portion of the Indigenous Law Portal is divided into three regions: Eastern, Western, and Northern Canada.  These regions closely follow the recently updated K Class – Law Classification.  There is an alphabetical master list of Individual First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples. The list can also be browsed can be accessed from one  of , or browsed either by region or by province.

National Aboriginal Day began in 1996. A Proclamation declaring June 21 of each year as National Aboriginal Day made the summer solstice, June 21, a day to recognize the heritage, culture, and achievements of Canada’s indigenous peoples. National Aboriginal Day is the first of the a series of national celebrations, followed by Saint Jean-Baptiste Day (La Fête nationale du Québec) on June 24 and Canada Day on July 1.

Read more on the Law Library of Congress’s blog post.

 

Historical Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) announced today that, working in co-operation with Lexum, all decisions published in the Supreme Court Reports dating back to 1876 are now available on the SCC Judgments website. Over the past 20 years, the SCC and Lexum have been working collaboratively, together with partners such as the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Foundation of British Columbia, the Alberta Law Foundation, the Centre d’accès à l’information juridique in Quebec, CanLII and others, to fill in gaps in the Supreme Court judgment database. This work, begun so many years ago, is now nearly complete.

The free availability of judgments dating back to 1876 on the Web is part of the SCC’s commitment to making case-related information accessible. All of these newly-added SCC decisions can also be found in the CanLII database at http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/.

Please visit the official SCC Judgments website at: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/nav_date.do.

A new year is here again…

After a winter that would have caused even the Abominable Snowman to consider decamping to Hawaii, it is safe to say that we were all looking forward to three or four months of warm weather. Well, it’s the end of August and – apart from a few bracing blasts of heat –  we’re still waiting. And guess what? It’s already time to return to school, as today’s start of O-Week attests to.

It’s hard to believe that eight years ago, I was in the exact same position – a freshly minted Section A Ozzie. As many of the current crop can doubtlessly attest, the feeling is a mixture of exhilaration and sheer terror. Everybody has heard the stories of the brutalizing effect that law school can have (or have, at the very least, seen the Paper Chase) and it would be a lie to say that the pressure – particularly at exam time – doesn’t weigh heavily. It does, and you’ll have to do it at least six times before you graduate. But it is also counterbalanced by meeting a wide number of interesting people – some of whom will undoubtedly become friends, and many of whom will be future colleagues (which you would be wise to remember) – and many good times. The adage of working hard and playing hard is seldom more true than the three years you will put in to get your J.D.

The temptation exists to be all-law all-the-time, but that’s a quick route to burning out. Maintain pre-law school interests, friends, and relationships. Work out. Join something (I was the editor of the Obiter Dicta for two years). Do whatever it takes to break the spell from periodically. You may think that perpetually dreaming of Hadley v. Baxendale, Foakes v. Beer, and the thin-skull principle is healthy. It’s not. Your brain will be overworked and overtired as it is, so give it a break from time to time. Otherwise, it will make you something something.

While the library may be a focal point for your studying and, by extension, associated with the stress of keeping up to date with your readings, drafting summaries, and generally working harder than you’ve ever had to in your academic careers, this isn’t our sole purpose. Or it shouldn’t be, at least. Believe it or not, we want to make the library as pleasant and helpful a place as possible for our users.

While we work hard on the day-to-day realities of keeping the collections current and maintaining Canada’s largest law library, we also have a vested interest in making the lives of students less stressful and (hopefully) improving your overall law school experience.

Don’t know something? Ask us. Can’t find something? Ask us. Feeling stressed out and overwhelmed? Tell us.

Our resources are not intended to be well-guarded secrets, knowable only to those who possess the requisite knowledge. That’s why we go out of our way to come to your classes and tell you about how to research, prepare LibGuides, maintain a reference e-mail account, and spend time at the reference desk – to ensure that our students can reap the fullest rewards of their years of law school. Much like your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the summer. If the Farmer’s Almanac is right, you’ll be grateful that you did. Winter (and exams) will feel like this:

Good luck!

“That’s the letter U and the numeral 2″

The cover of the now-notorious Negativland “U2″ EP

With the recent passing of Casey Kasem, known primarily in the US as the voice of the “American Top 40″ radio countdown and as the voice of Shaggy in the “Scooby-Doo” cartoons, I thought of one of Kasem’s more notorious outings, and one that was an early example of current hot-button topics such as copyright, fair use (an American term, sure, but increasingly close to Canadian-style fair dealing), and transformative use.

Long before law and librarianship beckoned as potential career paths, I really, really wanted to be involved in either film or television, and as part of a high school co-op program, I secured a placement at Global Television, which was a fantastic experience with lots of great memories. My boss was a former DJ and dyed-in-the-wool evangelist for radio (this was the late 90s, so pre-podcast radio-is-dying-or-dead), and I will forever remember a key piece of advice that he imparted – and one that is equally applicable in radio, television, or film – which was that if a microphone is in front of you, you have to respect it and assume that it is on. In other words, watch what you say or do, as you never know when the tape might be rolling. Many, many, many radio, TV, and film personalities have forgotten this fundamental tenet, to their everlasting embarrassment (Gord Martineau, we’re looking at you).YouTube could barely exist without this gift that keeps giving.

Pre-internet, Casey Kasem was a victim of this truism, when in 1991 the band Negativland managed to thoroughly embarrass and infuriate not only Kasem, but also the band U2’s record label, Island Records, with the release of their “U2″ EP. Somehow Negativland had managed to obtain outtakes from “American Top 40″ that captured Kasem ranting in a manner that was very, very much contrary to his relatively wholesome public image. The outtakes were interspersed with what can only be described as an cacophony that also includes snippets from and open mockery of the then-recent U2 songs “Where the Streets Have No Name” and, particularly,  “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For“. The EP had two tracks – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (1991 A Capella Mix)” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Special Edit Radio Mix)” which, despite effectively being disappeared in the pre-internet age, have managed to continue to exist thanks to YouTube and even a later CD release of questionable legality (but awesome title).

It is possible that Negativland would have been able to have the EP released without incident but for the album art, rather than its content. It was released just before U2’s landmark album Achtung Baby, and the giant “U2″ on the cover was seen to be misleading by U2’s record label, which successfully sued for copyright infringement in order to get the album off the shelves.

It is an interesting case, especially 23 years on, as it was coming at the tail end of a period in which sampling without attribution was a pretty common practice (as was the case in a ton of old hip-hop and rap albums and songs, notably Paul’s Boutique, Three Feet High and Rising, and “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” – among many, many others), but was ever-increasingly being curtailed by litigation surrounding the use of uncleared samples. In the realm of mainstream music, at least, sampling has largely become the reserve of wealthy, major-label acts who can afford the time and trouble to obtain clearance for recognizable samples. There are plenty of exceptions, of course, with so-called “mash-ups” becoming a recognizable and viable genre. Record labels like Illegal Art have managed to continue their existence and release music by acts such as Girl Talk, despite their dubious legality and artists like DJ Shadow and the Avalanches have largely evaded closer scrutiny by dicing the majority of samples until they’re unrecognizable.

The difference with Negativland was the fact that they embraced the notoriety that the case brought (and even published a book about it – alas, we don’t have it) and it stands as the closest thing that they have to a “hit” record, a fact that is all the more remarkable given that this whole scenario unfolded prior to the ubiquity of the internet. It is impossible to say how it would have unfolded today, but it would certainly have been very, very different. For a comparison, just take a look at Danger Mouse’s Grey Album mix of Jay-Z’s Black Album and the Beatles’ White Album on YouTube. Once the genie was out of the bottle, it was impossible to put back in.

The scourge of York?

“Don’t like me? Too bad!”
*blows raspberry*

While the issue of campus safety is one that has always been something of an elephant in the room at York – especially of late – there is another animal that lurks in the periphery of our consciousness and every year rears its head. Of course, I am referring to the Canada Geese that, as of this writing, have returned to campus, along with their incessant squawking, grazing, vaguely malevolent staring from rooftops, and, of course, their rather casual approach to bathroom habits (which, incidentally, in addition to being merely gross, is also toxic). They are rather like an unwanted house guest who make themselves comfortable and refuse to leave, all the while befouling your daily space.

Despite their inarguable nuisance factor, they are a protected species under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, wherein, in a worst-case scenario, the maximum punishment is a million dollar fine and a maximum jail term of three years. However, contrary to popular belief, it is not entirely illegal to kill them – it just needs to be done at the right time and place (i.e. with a license and during the appropriate season). It should also be noted that even if you try your best Katniss Everdeen impersonation on one, it might not necessarily kill it. As is often the case with such legislation, the minutiae are to be found in the act’s regulations. It is curious, though, that even thought it is a protected species under the MBCA, Environment Canada admits that their population growth is outstripping hunting, despite the fact that “the limits have been liberalized to the extent possible within the limits permitted for hunting seasons under the MBCA.”

Looking eastward, another invasive Canadian icon is in the news today, as a class action lawsuit began in Newfoundland over the government’s (in)action in managing the moose population, although personally a Canada Goose is a much less potentially intimidating prospect than a moose.

If you do decide to take matters into your own hands, apparently Canada Goose is lovely with teriyaki sauce.