CanLII (www.canlii.org) has been working on adding more Commentary Resources to this free database for research in law reporters, select open access e-books, and legal commentary.
Last month we were delighted to announce that law journal articles and newsletters are now available in CanLII’s Commentary section (https://www.canlii.org/en/commentary/), and now we get to tell you that we have added more books and reports.
Why expand CanLII’s publishing to commentary?
First, users have been asking for it for a long time. As a matter of fact, this was singled out as a long-term potential objective in the early 2000s in documents that presented to the law societies the idea of creating a “legal information institute”.
Second, it’s in our mission. This brings us (or at least our new “subsidiary”) back a little, but before Lexum started publishing the Supreme Court decision in 1993, accessing a single decision from Canada’s highest court via the internet cost $200-300 per document. Granted, the web was still almost just an experiment back then and the idea of using it for commercial purposes was so new that some frowned upon it. Still, even with the internet starting to reach more and more people in the late 90’s, a report from 2008 mentions that between 1995 and 1998 (when most “ordinary people” joined the internet), the cost of legal information rose by 25%. Today, Canadian primary law dating back to CanLII’s founding (and much more) is in CanLII’s open web of legal information.
At the same time, costs for many sources continue to rise each year without added resources in the legal system (either from public actors, or growth of the legal economy, which has apparently slowed). We continue to work at making sure that the Canadian legal community has the tools it needs in ways that give them the best value possible. Commentary is the next logical step. For the growing number of users of CanLII who rely only on open materials for their practice (for need or by choice), knowing that one particular law review or content provider publishes materials openly on its site or other platform is great. Having access to a list of what’s open and the possibility of searching it all at once in the same interface than where they search for primary law is better by several orders of magnitude.
In short, publishing more commentary on CanLII will facilitate improved access and discoverability of existing secondary content that’s currently published around the web, which will help this valuable content become more integrated into researchers regular processes.
Please join us in thanking the authors and organizations that agreed to take the plunge with us at this stage.
Here is a list of recent new contributors.
• Paul Daly (website)
• Michael Geist (website)
• Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (website)
• British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (website)
• The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (website)
Law reform commissions
• British Columbia Law Institute (website)
• Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia (website)
• Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan (website)
• Manitoba Law Reform Commission (website)
• Northwest Territories Department of Justice (website)
Three more law reviews have also gone live
• Canadian Bar Review
• Manitoba Law Journal
• University of New Brunswick Law Journal
Check back, more is coming!