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JILT 1996 (3) - Editorial

Welcome to the third issue of the JILT.

The Substance

With this issue we continue with the special themes from the 2 previous issues with an article on Open Access to Legal Information in Australasia by Judith Bannister and reproduction of the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications' consultation paper on Data Protection and the Internet. We also add another string to our special feature bow by publishing the proceedings of the BILETA '96 conference on electronic publishing. The BILETA (British and Irish Legal Educational Technology Association) conference is one of the highlights of the IT Law and Applications year and we are delighted to be able to bring its activities to the notice of a world-wide audience

In addition to our refereed section, there is a wealth of additional articles and materials. We are very pleased to be able to offer the first on-line demo of the CD-Rom based electronic Law Reports. We also have a review of the CD and additional commentary. Running alongside our feature on open access to legal information is the report on the Australian High Court e-mail judgement service and a review of the New Law on-line service. We also publish a review of Information Retrieval Software with yet more downloadable goodies. Delia Venables also takes us on a tour of the Legal Internet in 'Around the World in 80 Minutes'.

Also included are reviews of a number of recently published books and a number of conference reviews. These cover a wide range of topics within the field of law and technology and a number of them make particular use of links to on-line sources. Electronic publication allows us to publish reviews and conference notices very quickly and we are always pleased to receive notices of forthcoming events as well as reviews of any conferences which you might attend.

This issue also contains 2 Work In Progress articles. Guided Assisted Learning to Legislation on Purchasing and a Report on the protection afforded Computer Software in the face of Computer Software Piracy. These articles are open for review and we are very keen that the medium of the electronic journal is used to provide constructive criticism to the authors. One of these articles was first published shortly after the on-line date of issue 2 - thus we are taking advantage of the medium in another way - we are not limited to strict publication dates although it is suggested that readers do prefer the concept of issues. Comments anyone?

Finally, the news section includes an update to the UK reform of defamation law feature which now includes the text of section 1 of the Act. Comment on how this affects Internet service providers would be very welcome.

The Form: Frames and Footnotes

A major objective of the Electronic Law Journals project is to develop an environment suitable for electronic law reviews. Our existing format has received favourable comment, however with Issue 3 we invite readers to explore a number of different formats and to comment on them.

A new footnote facility is introduced in the Bannister and Grant articles. The footnote is shown in a pop-up window when you click on a footnote marker.

A second innovation is the Frames format. Some articles, for example the Bannister, Grant, Taylor and Weedon articles are available in Frames format in addition to the standard format. Frames format enables the screen to be divided into a number of windows. Two obvious advantages of Frames are:

  • a narrow contents window is constantly visible on the left of the screen. The user can therefore move around the article by clicking on items in the list of contents instead of always having to go back to the contents list.
  • the toolbar is constantly visible at the bottom of the screen.

There are alternative versions of Frames in the Taylor and Weedon articles.

  • One version includes chunking which allows the reader to move from one section to the next by clicking the next page button.
  • The alternative allows the reader to scroll through the whole text of the article using the scroll bar.

In both versions the reader can also navigate using the contents window.

There are of course potential disadvantages of any change:

  • Having windows on screen means that the text is contained in a smaller window than the full screen traditional format. This means that people with small definition monitors might find that the text window is too small.
  • The new footnote facility requires a Java enabling browser. The Frames facility is restricted to the more advanced versions of browsers such as Netscape 2 and above and Internet Explorer 3.

We would really appreciate your comments on the above and on ways in which we can improve the format of the journal.

Happy Reading.

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