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Re: URI for language identifiers

From: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2003 19:49:38 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <20030402.194938.68541579.pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
To: dehora@eircom.net
Cc: Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com, miles@milessabin.com, www-rdf-interest@w3.org

From: Bill de hÓra <dehora@eircom.net>
Subject: Re: URI for language identifiers
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2003 23:26:53 +0100

> Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
> > From: <Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com>
> >>The denotation of a given URI is that which the owner of that URI
> >>specifies. Period.
> > 
> > 
> > Hmm.  Where does this come from?  Can you provide anything besides your own
> > gut feeling for this?
> 
> Here are two:
> 
> * denotation by authrity is web architecture, according to a number 
> of TAG members including the W3C Director. I don't know if the TAG 
> will ever issue an actual edict on this; I only know of one member 
> who has stated publicly he doesn't buy denotation by authority. It's 
> a TAG permathread, see the archives.

Yes, several interesting threads relevant to this discussion are in the TAG
archive. There appears to be considerable divergence of opinion evidenced
in these threads.

> * case law, in cases involving deep linking set a precedent. It only 
> takes a libel action to go from 'you can't link there' to 'you can't 
> say that'.

Yes, there is potentially relevant case law, in one legal jurisdiction.  I
forsee divergences of opinion (cases) arising here.

> In particular, I think the first makes the semantic web slightly 
> crocked from an engineeering perspective - well and good to for the 
> RDF MT to say that all URIs must have one denotation in the graph, 

The RDF semantics (model theory) doesn't say this at all.  As in most model
theories, the denotation of a name (URI reference) is only fixed in an
interpretation, and can differ between interpretations.

> well and good for some to say URIs are owned therefore their 
> denotations are owned thanks to some axiom or other. But there is a 
> whole layer of infrastructure to be put into place to assign 
> interpretations to URIs before safely merging graphs, if Miles is 
> correct.

Not only a whole layer of infrastructure, but a whole theory of
representation to be added to the Semantic Web architecture.

> The second is a potentially nasty aspect of the semantic web we'll 
> be faced with before the decade's out. Until the lawyers come 
> knocking no doubt we'll ignore this one as a non-technical issue.

Well, legal opinions only apply to those who choose to subject themselves
to them.  They also tend to be messy and non-comprehensive.  In particular,
I don't expect any legal precedant saying that some particular organization
has the sole right to determine the denotation of the URI reference
abcdefghijl:mnopqrstuv#abc.  

> > I don't think so.  I think that Mile's comments are exactly correct.  
> 
> Miles I belive is technically correct, but needs to take ICANN into 
>   account. Domains name are a form of property, sufficiently so you 
> can go to court over them.

Oh agreed, the US has a very expansive notion of property.  However, even
in this very expansive notion of property there are (still) considerable
``fair use'' provisions.  Hopefully these provisions will not be so
weakened that I will be prohibited from making the claim that the
denotation of http://www.whitehouse.gov/#43 is Tipper Gore's husband.

> Bill de hÓra

Peter F. Patel-Schneider
Bell Labs Research
Lucent Technologies
Received on Wednesday, 2 April 2003 19:50:17 GMT

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