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Re: Legal citations for, e.g., usvms

From: Eric Hellman <eric@openly.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1999 16:25:03 -0500
Message-Id: <v04020a60b44e3a4bf8a4@[]>
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Cc: liberte@w3.org
The legal citation problem is very closely related to the scholarly
citation problem, which we've done a lot of work on (see
http://www.openly.com/SLinkS/ and http://www.openly.com/link.openly/ )
using RDF and XML. You'll see that a lot of your "not-well thought through"
ideas are very much on the mark.

There are a lot of bits and pieces to put into place for a system to work.
RDF is great for describing the information services and resources. Systems
of identifiers need to be in place. The use of XML and XML DTD's for legal
documents would help a lot. Standard URN's would be useful...

I don't think I need to tell you that the technical aspects of this are
minor issues compared to the economic and cultural changes that would have
to happen. The legal profession is backward in many ways, and perestroika
is not a high priority. There are, however, a few useful things that can be
done in the near term and some really exciting things to be done in the
long term. Any time you have a $10B industry built on the inefficient
distribution of public documents...


At 12:51 PM -0600 11/9/99, Dan Connolly wrote:
>If you'll excuse my use of the RDF IG for "bookmarking" ideas
>that aren't really thought thru...
>I read the Findings of Fact on Microsoft in the usvsms case[1],
>and it reminded me of Philg's tutorial on legal citations[2] and it
>seems to
>me that
>	-- the promise of the "semantic web" is automating
>	(parts of) social protocols, and those social protocols
>	are often grounded in law
>	-- there are established conventions for legal citations
>	-- more and more legal proceedings are published via the web
>	all the time
>	-- those legal proceedings are often copied in many places,
>	and there's no recognized canonical URI for them, so
>		-- caches don't help
>		-- my browser doesn't tell me I've been there before
>		-- etc.
>So... some ideas...
>	-- an RDF schema for legal citations
>		(probably one schema per jurisdiction, with lots of
>		sharing and sublcassing)
>	-- a corresponding HTML form for each jurisdiction that, in effect,
>	allows you to compute the address of a document
>To take the example from philg's tutorial:
>	Ford Motor Co. v. Lonon, 2117 Tenn 400, 398 S.W.2d 240 (1966)
>Perhaps in RDF, I'd spell that:
>	<RDF:Description xmlns="" xmlns:RDF="http:...I.forget..">
>	 <plaintiff>Ford Motor Co.</plaintiff>
>	 <defendant>Lonon</>
>	 <volume>2117</>
>	 <jurisdiction>Tenn</> <!-- there should be a URI for this;
>				if not for the jurisdiction, then for
>				the (web projection of) the reporter -->
>	 <page>400</>
>	 ...
>Hmm... the other part:
>	398 S.W.2d 240 (1966)
>seems to have RDF:alternate semantics. And the year is related to the
>dublin core notion of "coverage". Hmm...
>Anyway... to compute the canonical address, you need to know
>	(1) the address of the reporter of the jurisdiction;
>	The web site for the state of tennesse is:
>		http://www.state.tn.us/reporter
>	so let's call it:
>		http://www.state.tn.us/reporter
>	(ok... so it would probably be in a subdomain for the judicial
>	branch of government, ala the TN supreme court:
>	but let's gloss over that for now.)
>	(2) the RDF schema for that jurisdiction; let's say it just
>	has defendant, plaintiff, volume, and page number.
>I'd make an HTML form ala:
>	<form action="http://www.state.tn.us/reporter">
>	<input name="defendant" />
>	<input name="plaintiff" />
>	<input name="volume"/>
>	<input name="page"/>
>	</form>
>hm... we may need conventions for canonical representations of page
>(which we should be able to get from [3]). More tricky: canonical
>of plaintiffs and defendants. Those won't be computable; in the general
>case, you'll have to look at the published document to be sure.
>Anyway... the resulting address is:
>and there would be another address for the unofficial reporter, and
>an assertion relating them.
>Strictly speaking, we don't need the function from citation to address
>to be computable locally; we can allow courts to publish an arbitrary
>mapping, so that the canonical address of that case is something like:
>	http://www.state.tn.us/archive/1966/32l4ij5203984u029384029
>but my intuition says it's more cost-effective for the citation->
>address mapping to be a globally deployed convention rather than
>a web-site-private issue.
>There are some thorny issues around copyright etc. of the actual page
>numbers and such; I gather the Westlaw folks have defended their
>of this stuff rigorously. But it's hard for me to believe that it's not
>best for all concerned for courts to publish authoritative copyies of
>stuff from their own web sites.
>Cornell has published a bunch of stuff... for example
>	U.C.C. - ARTICLE 3 -  3-104.
>	http://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/3/3-104.html
>Related issues:
>	-- authenticity, non-repudiation
>		one mechanism is digital signatures, but another
>		mechanism is massively redundant publishing, ala newspapers,
>		which is effectively non-repudiable
>		(of course, it takes revenue away from Westlaw)
>		(I have some notes on authenticity at
>		http://www.w3.org/Architecture/qos that may be relevant)
>		hmm... this looks interesting:
>		The Authority Public Key Distribution Protocol
>		http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/publicKeyXML.html
>	-- format for the content itself
>		(the TN court uses some friggin Java applet to publish
>		their content! I wonder if that's the easiest way they
>		found to extract data from their legacy database,
>		or if its a copy restriction mechanism)
>		e.g.
>		TEI Extensions for Legal Text
>		http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/finkeTEI10.html
>		Legal XML Working Group
>		http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/xml.html#legalXMLWG
>		Legal XML
>		http://www.legalxml.org/
>	-- stable publishing
>		guarantees of availability and persistance,
>		perhaps with time-limits (ala DNS and ala phone
>		company area code changes; they don't guarantee
>		an address will work forever, but they tell you
>		how much notice you'll get before a change, or
>		how long you can cache a binding).
>[1] United States of America v. Microsoft Corporation,
>                               C.A. 98-1232
>[2] Reading Legal Citations
>by Philip Greenspun
>[3] XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes
>[Hmm... these citation issues are closely related to URI design and
>philosophy; I considered crossposting to uri@w3.org, but decided
>against it, for now.]
>Dan Connolly, W3C

Eric Hellman
Openly Informatics, Inc.
http://www.openly.com/           21st Century Information Infrastructure
Received on Tuesday, 9 November 1999 16:25:21 UTC

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