We at the library consider it a certainty that in due time all case law (as well as statutes and out-of-copyright textbooks) will eventually be available for free online. When exactly that happens in a particular case depends on many factors – the size of the collection, availability of copies, ownership of content, levels of interest, etc.
In the case of the Fisheries Pollution Reports, produced in five volumes from 1980 to 1992 by Environment Canada, the rarity of the reports has spawned their digitization. Digitization accomplishes two main goals: preservation and accessibility. A single copy of any rare book can feed the entire world.
Thus, with only a couple of copies remaining in Canadian libraries to serve all requests, the University of Toronto Bora Baskin Law Library and York University’s Osgoode Hall have partnered to make this endangered fish abundant once again.
The reports are hosted on Archive.org, a site created by Grateful Dead fans to share concert recordings online. But Archive.org has now become the De facto Internet archive, the default place where dead things come to life.
The reports, at first glance, are not easy to read – they display sideways, and the print is faint. Probably the best way to read them is to scroll down to the “Download Options” and click on PDF. There are other options, but that’s the one I chose. The file displays upright, and is clearly readable. You can also print pages, or download a copy to your computer, then open it in Adobe Reader.
If you know of other digitization projects that we should be talking about, please let us know.