W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > April 2003

Re: URI for language identifiers

From: Bill de hÓra <dehora@eircom.net>
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2003 23:56:19 +0100
Message-ID: <3E8B6A93.9080705@eircom.net>
To: Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com
CC: pfps@research.bell-labs.com, miles@milessabin.com, www-rdf-interest@w3.org

Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com wrote:
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: ext Peter F. Patel-Schneider 
> Can you provide anything to refute it other than your own gut
> feeling for this?
> However:
>>From http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2396.txt
> [
>    3.2. Authority Component
>    Many URI schemes include a top hierarchical element for a naming
>    authority, such that the namespace defined by the remainder of the
>    URI is governed by that authority.  This authority component is
>    typically defined by an Internet-based server or a scheme-specific
>    registry of naming authorities.
> ]
> where a "naming authority" is that agency which (either directly or 
> indirectly) mints a URI and defines its denotation -- i.e. which names 
> a resource by a URI.
> That authority either equates to, or may designate, the creator (owner) 
> of a given URI and it is the creator which specifies what the URI denotes.

Going from naming to denotation is a leap you can't infer directly 
from that RFC.

> True, the actual agency is indirectly identified by the naming authority
> component of the URI scheme, being e.g. the owner of a given domain name,
> IP address, registry domain, etc. but the identity of the agency is
> clearly determinable.

That's irrelevant. You still need to demonstrate that denotation by 
authority is the case.

> And even if the determination of ownership for a given URI may take
> some investigation -- for any given user, it should be clear when
> they *don't* own a given URI, and thus should look to the owner for
> what it denotes. 
> This issue has been explored at length by the RDF Core WG and (while
> not to be included in the final specs, but in a separate publication)
> the discussion regarding the meaning of URIs authored by the WG is
> illustrative of the shared view of many members of the SW community:
>>From http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-concepts/#section-Social:
> [
>    4.3 Authoritative Definition of Terms
>    The social conventions surrounding use of RDF assume that any RDF URI 
>    reference gains its meaning from some defining individual, organization or 
>    context. This applies most notably to RDF predicate URI references. 
>    These social conventions are rooted in the URI specification [URI] and 
>    registration procedures [URI-REG]. A URI scheme registration refers to a 
>    specification of the detailed syntax and interpretation for that scheme, 
>    from which the defining authority for a given URI may be deduced. In the 
>    case of http: URIs, the defining specification is the HTTP protocol 
>    specification [HTTP], which specifies how to use the HTTP protocol to obtain 
>    a resource representation from the host named in the URI; thus, the owner of 
>    the indicated DNS domain controls (observable aspects of) the URI's meaning. 
>    Thus, the choice of terms used in published RDF is significant in determining 
>    its meaning, through reference to definitions asserted by the defining 
>    authorities for those terms. 
> ]
> Thus, the views that I have been expressing here are both reflected in 
> the URI specs as well as reflect common opinion in the SW community.

Not in the URI specs. As for section 4 it needs serious rework, or 
simply to be removed from the draft. There are all kinds of 
inferences and assumptions being made in that section that need to 
be scrutinized. RDF Core should take legal counsel, or take an 
opinion from a body like the EFF.

> I couldn't say. Though to find out, I'd first contact the owner of 
> the domain www.belllabs.com, and I'd expect I'd likely be told that
> the sub-webspace http://www.belllabs.com/user/pfps/ was controlled
> by you, and that all URIs grounded in that sub-webspace are under
> your ownership. Therefore, you are probably the owner of the URI
> http://www.belllabs.com/user/pfps/#me and if I wanted an authoritative
> definition of what that URI denotes, I'd ask you specifically.
> Is that really so difficult?

Yes, it's absolutely difficult. I can only assume you've had limited 
experience dealing with a company legal department.

> The issue is not *how* the denotation of a given URI is defined,
> but *who* has the right to define it.

This is why that section needs to be struck, and the W3C need to 
take stock of what's going on here. How exactly did we get from RFCs 
to the assignment of rights? It beggers belief.

> You are now diverging to an entirely different issue.
> The three key points of this thread are:
> 1. URIs should have unambiguous, consistent, global, and immutable denotation.

IMO, a non-scalable constraint, this will never get built out, 
architecture be damned.

> 2. Each URI has a specific owner, who has the right to say what it denotes.

I've said all I've had to say on this, other than go and talk to an 
expert in constitutional law or human rights.

> 3. Statements made by owner of a resource can be considered to have special 
>    sigificance/authority over statements made by 3rd parties.

See above.

> How the denotation of a given URI is defined, or how the semantics of the
> resource denoted are defined, are outside the scope of this particular
> discussion.

Follow your own argument, and see if really leads you to this 

>>How is it your URI?
> Because I created it. Is that really so hard to understand?


> No. I think you simply want it to be complex. Or perhaps are
> not able to dissect a number of disjunct issues and address
> each individually. The issue of URI ownership and denotation
> is very simple.

I see no evidence for that claim. Agina IMO, I suspect it's the most 
complicated issue in web architecture, becauase it is not a 
technology issue. As likely as not it will be resolved outside the 
technology realm. Law is architecture in this case.

Bill de hÓra
Received on Wednesday, 2 April 2003 17:57:29 UTC

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