Annual BIALL Cheese & Wine Evening

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Last Friday was the annual BIALL Cheese & Wine evening. This was again hosted by Catherine McArdle in the stunning Old Hall at Lincoln's Inn.  As you would hope both wine and cheese were available, but added to that was a great evening of conversation among old and new friends.

Pictures from the evening can be found on the BIALL Flickr pages at

Many congratulations to Catherine McArdle for organising another successful evening!

Contributed by: Karen Palmer, Senior Information Officer, Simmons & Simmons LLP

Posted by Sally Peat at 10:10 0 comments  

Pinterest - Have you tried it yet?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Phil Bradley's article about Pinterest in the UKeiG online magazine Elucidate, worth a read:

Posted by Sally Peat at 11:34 0 comments  

AALL in Boston

Thursday, 23 February 2012

I don't know about you but I've never been invited to a party in Boston before ( and that includes Boston, Lincolnshire as well as Boston, Massachusetts...)

Well I have now - in fact the whole BIALL membership has!

The 2012 AALL Annual Meeting and Conference takes place in Boston (Massachusetts not Lincolnshire) and Darcy Kirk the AALL President has written to the BIALL President Elect to let us know we have been invited along.

She writes;

"Designed by law librarians, for law librarians, the AALL Annual Meeting and Conference offers more than 100 educational programs and workshops, as well as library tours, excursions and other special events. In addition to the educational programming, the conference offers an extensive Exhibit Hall with more than 190 booths. You will find more information at"

She goes on to explain that we are eligible for the AALL Member Discount. Find the full letter with the secret discount code in the members area of the BIALL website.

Posted by Philip Cable at 10:39 0 comments  

Congratulations go to...

Tonia Sexton, Information Manager at Geldards, has become Chair of the East Midlands Legal Information Professionals (EMLIP) group. Tonia will begin the role immediately, with the next meeting taking place in Nottingham in May.

Posted by Sally Peat at 09:58 0 comments  

Lets Get Quizzical!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

On the 13th March the BIALL Quiz 2012 is taking place!

An always popular - and competitive - event it takes place at the Penderel's Oak on the 13th March.

Find all the details on the details here.

Prizes for the quiz and raffle are being sponsored by Wildy & Sons.

Posted by Philip Cable at 09:17 0 comments  

Cheese and Wine Anyone?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Brighten up the gloom of winter, sharpen up your networking or just enjoy a glass of something with old friends, it's not too late to RSVP our invitation to the BIALL Cheese and Wine Evening on 24th February. Open to all, members and non-members. As usual our very own photographer will be on hand to immortalise the moment - see last year's "Cheese and Wine " photos on Flickr.

The setting is terrific (Old Hall, Lincoln's Inn), the food amazing and the company... Contact Catherine McArdle if you wish to join us at this event, but hurry - you only have until Friday (17th). See the BIALL website for more details 

Posted by Sally Peat at 10:21 1 comments  


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A cloud computing service is one that provides computing power without the installation of content, hardware or software application at the client or customer’s premises. Services such as Facebook, Rackspace, Hotmail, Twitter, Yahoo!, YouTube, Flickr, eBay, Google Apps (and all its subsidiary offerings such as Gmail and Google Docs), Amazon EC2, TripAdvisor and DropBox either employ or offer cloud services.  Law firms are understandably getting increasingly interested in using them.  Cloud services offer a cheap and efficient method of outsourcing computerised handling of all types of data to organisations that find such tasks burdensome, expensive or beyond their technical capabilities.

The contracts that most cloud services offer are in general non-negotiable.  It’s a case of take it or leave it.  Only very large or prestigious organisations will have the necessary influence to require a cloud supplier to accept amendments to its standard terms and conditions.  However, many of the standard contracts are extremely one-sided in favour of the cloud supplier.  If an individual or small organisation doesn’t like the terms offered, it has to make a decision whether to risk accepting the standard contract, try another cloud supplier, or give up on cloud services altogether.

Very few cloud service contracts offer guarantees of good service (e.g., 100% uptime), and those that offer refunds for poor service availability typically offer such refunds in terms of money off a future renewal of the subscription rather than a refund of the existing subscription. So if the cloud service client is so annoyed by poor availability it decides to not renew, or to cancel its current contract, it will get no refund.  Some contracts give the service supplier the right to close the service at little or no notice.  Presumably it would only do this if the service was unprofitable or if the cloud service supplier itself was in serious financial difficulty, but the danger is that the client who depends on the service for its day-to-day business activities may be left suddenly in great difficulty.   Many cloud service suppliers include a clause by which they exclude all liability for any problems that arise in the service, whether or not it was caused by the service supplier’s incompetence or recklessness. It is really disappointing that cloud service suppliers include such clauses, which indicate an immaturity of, and lack of confidence in, the cloud service supply industry.

Almost by definition, data stored in the cloud will move from country to country, each with its own laws.  In addition, the cloud service supplier may well be based in a different country to that of its clients. Even if there is no personal data present, three countries’ laws (the home base of the service supplier, the home base of the client and the country where the cloud happens to be residing at any given time) may apply to any actions taken with the data or any legal cases arising from the contract.  If there is personal data present, things are even more complicated and legally treacherous. Furthermore, the data might well be backed up or replicated in multiple countries. 

One particular area of concern is the US PATRIOT Act.  This allows US authorities to compel, amongst others, cloud service providers to disclose information about their customers and/or the data stored or used by those customers - and without those customers knowing that such information has been requested. Because of its wide-ranging powers, this Act has led to some Governments (e.g., Canada and Netherlands) banning organisations under their control from passing any data to US-based organisations, and has allegedly led to Amazon delaying the launch of its new Kindle Fire within the EU because of the incompatibility of the PATRIOT Act with EU data protection legislation.  The PATRIOT Act is not alone of course; there are similar pieces of legislation in other countries where cloud data might be held, but they are generally not as far-reaching or as well known as the PATRIOT Act.

Data protection and security of data are not the only legal issues that can arise.  Questions might arise regarding who is responsible if the data offered by a client is somehow amended or released resulting in an illegality, such as defamation or breaking national security laws.  It is not clear what country’s laws might apply in such cases. Whilst it is unrealistic to expect the cloud service supplier to monitor everything on its servers (and indeed, this could be problematic from a privacy point of view), it is reasonable to expect it to respond to complaints received regarding alleged defamatory comments.  The contract or a Service Level Agreement between the client and the cloud service supplier will probably include warranties and instructions relating to alleged defamatory statements or other potentially illegal materials stored on the cloud’s servers.  Software licences, copyright licences and database rights licences are also – and somewhat surprisingly - potentially problematic. If a client has permission to use a particular software or database “on site”, does that include “in the cloud”?  

I suggest below questions that should be asked of any cloud service supplier before signing its contract:

  • Who (both within and outside the service supplier) will be able to see my information?
  • Who owns and controls your infrastructure?  Is this outsourced to any third party?
  • In what countries might our data be held?
  • Can I see a copy of your reliability/availability/downtime reports (if any)?
  • What service levels are guaranteed, e.g., availability, time taken to resolve a problem, and what compensation do you offer if you fail to fulfil that? (Resist the practice of discounts on future subscriptions, but insist where possible to receive financial compensation there and then?
  • Have you ever had security breaches in the past? (If “yes”, ask for more details.)
  • What assurances can you give that data protection standards will be maintained even if the data we supply is stored in a country with weak, or no data protection laws, or where government inspection powers are very wide-ranging?
  • How easy would it be to migrate my data to a competitor service once this contract ends? Can you guarantee that it will be in a usable format?
  • What are the names of your employees responsible for handling our data?
  • What security policies, technology and systems do you employ? What national or international standards do they comply with?
  • Do I get any rights of refusal before you make changes to the service that affect my data? (Alternatively, can we cancel early and get money back if we cancel early because of unwanted service changes?)
  • Will you use my organisation’s name or type of data given to you on any of your advertising? (If need be, require that the cloud supplier has to ask for permission each time)
  • What special measures will you take regarding data we tag as confidential?
  • Could we have a free trial with some non-sensitive data before committing ourselves?
  • Are you willing to include clauses in the contract relating to ensuring there is no unauthorised loss or destruction of data?
  • Will you guarantee to inform us if you become aware of any data security breach that affects or involves our data?
  • Finally, and most important, is your contract negotiable?

The cloud offers many potential benefits.  But one should enter into a cloud contract being aware of both the benefits and the risks and should make an informed risk assessment before committing to a cloud service.

I rest my case, m’lud.

To hear more from Professor Charles Oppenheim visit the UKeiG site for information regarding a one day seminar planned for later this year - The future of copyright in the digital age and what it means for you: Emily Goodhand and Professor Charles Oppenheim.

The Society for Computers and Law (SCL)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Free access for UK academic institutions to through the UK Access Management Federation.

The Society for Computers and Law (SCL) website including its protected articles, is open to students and academics.

SCL is proud of its vast archive of quality articles, with authors including leading practitioners and academics. It is a resource that can now be exploited more fully for the benefit of students and academics. But it is not just about archived articles. IT law is constantly changing and that fact is reflected in approximately 100 new articles being posted to the site each year and over 60 news items. Add in topical blog posts, podcasts from SCL’s ground-breaking events and comments from SCL members in the interactive parts of the site and you have a useful package.

SCL takes its role as an educational charity very seriously and hopes that you will log-in and use its web site and encourage others to do likewise.

Posted by Sally Peat at 11:51 0 comments  

5 Ways Twitter Is Changing Media Law

Thursday, 2 February 2012

An interesting perspective from the US on how Twitter may be shaping changes in the media law from Mashable US & World.

Posted by Sally Peat at 18:35 0 comments