Legal blogs have been mainstream since the mid-2000s. Originally they seemed very modern, but now they seem rather ordinary. One has to ask “what are they for?” That is where the topic becomes interesting again.

Blogs are pretty normal now; but they are not necessarily called blogs and are used in a number of ways:

  • individual thoughts on current legal developments – the classic blog;
  • industry updates for clients – most large law firms have extensive blogs, suites of blogs or update sites, including Pinsent Masons (OUT-LAW), Simmons and Simmons (Elexica), Herbert Smith, Kingsley Napley, Field Fisher, Hogan Lovells, Clyde and Co …;
  • law updates for lawyers – many of the blogs described below are in this category, with leading examples being the ICLR Blog, Current Awareness from the Inner Temple Library, Free Movement Immigration Law Blog, Panopticon, UK Human Rights Blog and the UK Supreme Court Blog;
  • subscription information services – free and paid;
  • magazines which provide information in a more literary way than just nuggets of information but which are still purveyors of legal information topics (for example this Newsletter);
  • news sources – this was a new idea in the early 2000s but this has largely been overtaken by Twitter where the news can be found literally as it happens.

Blogging is a simple, cheap, efficient, effective way to publish and update time-sensitive information, particularly in constantly-changing fields such as the law. Blogging puts in your hands publishing power even greater than that which was the preserve of only large, established publishers with fat wallets not so long ago. Content management, feed generation, subscriber management, search engine optimisation: all is built in for free. That’s reason enough for almost everyone and every organisation to consider blogging.

Blogs are not just a publishing format, but a networking tool, a means to reach out and engage with an audience; and blogging is not just about publishing, but about conversing and contributing. That’s how blogs started out – with the desire to share thoughts and “write out loud”.

The Internet, Warts and AllThe Internet, Warts and All: Free Speech, Privacy and Truth by Paul Bernal is not a law book; it is a book about seeking to understand an environment – the internet – in which the law operates. It is a book about law, but “It is also … about technology, about politics, about psychology, about society, about philosophy.” Regulating the internet impacts all these.

Whilst the internet started off as a communications medium and an information resource and, for business, a marketing opportunity, it now underpins almost every aspect of our lives and is integral to the way our society operates. We need to face up to and accept the fact that the internet really is a mess. The way through this mess requires balances and compromises which change as the technologies develop.

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch November 2018. Legal Web Watch is a free email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service held a public event on 6 November, inviting those who represent public court users to see first-hand the progress made over the last year with the court reform program.

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch November 2018. Legal Web Watch is a free email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

The following items have been selected from Delia Venables’ “New” page.

We can (again) help you complete your continuing competence requirements this year.

Our Internet for Lawyers CPD 2018 competence service guides you, via online articles and exercises, through the legal resources and tools available, helps you understand the internet and the legal issues it raises and assists you in the practical application of internet services to your legal practice.

Whilst I have written extensively about the blockchain in the past, copyright itself has not really been of much interest to the research community, perhaps because the use cases have not been very prevalent in the media.

If we define the blockchain as an immutable decentralised database, then it could be easy to see some potential uses of the technology for copyright, and for the creative industries as a whole. Blockchain technology has been suggested for management of copyright works through registration, enforcement and licensing, and also as a business model through micropayments and tracking use. I will go through these without mentioning many specific existing implementations and projects.

With Emily Allbon

Legal design is the process of applying design-thinking to complex legal information, to make the law more accessible and easier to understand for its intended audience. Never was it more evident how ill at ease most of us are when it comes to digesting legal information, than during the pre-GDPR flood of privacy policies into our email inboxes. How many people actually read these missives?

Long, long ago (2012) I wrote an article on this topic for the Newsletter and asked firms who had said that they were willing, in principle, to give some free initial legal advice, whether they thought it was worthwhile. Broadly, most of them did. You can read this article at http://bit.ly/INL1201venables.

This year I again invited a wide range of firms, via Twitter and LinkedIn as well as by email, to give me their views on this topic. The answers people provided are very interesting but no one is now unequivocally saying that “giving free initial advice is good” and I think that there has been a marked move away from this view over the intervening years.

Here are the contributions, in no particular order.

In the last issue we looked at the concept of open law; we should probably now take a step back and consider what is meant by open data.

Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or similar. The philosophy behind it is long established, but the term “open data” itself was more recently coined. It appeared for the first time in 1995, in a document from an American scientific agency, and it gained traction with the rise of the internet and the web as the platform enabling its effective delivery.

Businesses large and small often use more than one website, for various reasons. We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this approach and its impact on your SEO efforts.

Businesses with multiple websites come in several forms. They might be massive international companies, where the separate domains serve totally different business functions. Or, much smaller businesses may have several sites offering the same products or services, in the belief that more websites means that they’ll have a better chance of succeeding online.

Whether you are a large or small organisation, let’s start by taking a look in a bit more detail at when several domains could be useful, before looking at the disadvantages of such an approach.

There are many different facets to an Orwellian dystopian society (in which, some may argue, we already live) where privacy no longer exists and Big Brother is watching everyone. Some of the culprits are data mining and tracking used by the tech giants for profiling internet denizens in order to realise lucrative profits from highly targeted advertising which we covered in the July issue of the Newsletter.

But although the erosion of privacy by big business is a major concern – especially in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and allegations of Russian interference in elections – the most acute fears have traditionally centred on government surveillance. So what are the main pieces of legislation in the UK which relate to government surveillance?