At a recent W3C Government Linked Data Working Group working group meeting, I started thinking more about the role in linked data of laws that are published online. To summarize, you don’t want to publish the laws themselves as triples, because they’re a bad fit for the triples data model, but as online resources relevant to a lot of issues out there, they make an excellent set of resources to point to, although you may not always get the granularity you want.
A recent @TopQuadrant tweet about legal knowledge and RDF/XML led me to Dr. Adam Wyner’s piece Legal Ontologies Spin a Semantic Web on law.com. After reading it, I wanted to leave a comment, but this required registering on law.com and telling them lots of details about the law firm I work for. I don’t work for a law firm, so I’m just putting my comments here and expanding on them a bit.
More and more primary law (court cases and actual laws passed by governments at any level, as opposed to secondary law such as treatises explaining the meaning of primary law) is available on the web. In the United States, most federal and state governments and court systems make it a regular practice to publish this information on the web on their own dot gov websites. Governments typically have laws requiring that all laws be available where citizens can see them, and doing so on the web costs…