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help wanted: RDF issue rdfms-assertion

From: Brian McBride <bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 17:38:42 +0000
Message-Id: <>
To: timbl@w3.org
Cc: RDF Core <w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org>

The RDFCore WG seeks your help with an RDF issue, rdfms-assertion:


Summary: RDF is not just a data model. The RDF specs should define a 
semantics so that an RDF statement on the web is interpreted as an 
assertion of that statement such that its author would be responsible in 
law as if it had been published in, say, a newspaper.

The WG believes that this issue originates with you.

I would like to clearly establish what it is that you would like from us.

A number of concerns have been raised about this issue:

   o RDF is just one of several specifications that are 'in play' when an 
RDF statement is retrieved from the web.  What is the minimum the RDF specs 
must say to achieve the effect that you want.

   o Whilst the RDF specs might say what a statement means, that meaning 
might be modified by its context.  For example, what about an RDF graph 
entitled "Myths about Namespaces".  Would the publisher of that graph be 
asserting the statements therin?

   o Some on the WG do not believe that the WG is empowered to make law; 
that is a matter for the lawyers, governments, parliaments and the like of 
the many countries of the world. Different countries may make different laws.

   o Do you expect us to define exactly what an RDF statement means?

    _:b <rdf:type> <foo:Liar> .
    _:b <foo:email> <mailto:bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com> .

What chain of evidence would be required to prove that this is  a 
derogatory statement about me.

The current model theory WD


in section 1.3 states:

   [[Asserting an RDF graph amounts to claiming that it is true, which is 
another way of saying that the world it describes is, in fact, so arranged 
as to be an interpretation which makes it true.

Is this sufficient to meet your needs?  Other means would be needed to 
establish that a statement was about the world we live in and that it was 
being asserted.  It seems that such claims could only be established from 
the context in which the statement was used.

The RDFCore WG has discussed other possible statements that it might 
make.  The following text, which might be included in the primer,  was 
suggested for discussion:

Assertions made in RDF are analogous to assertions made in any other 
language. The author and/or publisher of these assertions is responsible 
for these assertions. It remains the responsibility of courts to determine 
legal responsibility considering the effects of context and other factors.

Brian McBride
RDFCore co-chair
Received on Tuesday, 26 March 2002 12:41:41 UTC

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