Co-proposers of the OASIS Legal Citation Markup TC,
Below is the current draft of the charter for the TC. After reviewing it with John Joergensen, the convener, we feel that it is ready to submit to OASIS so that we can start the process of organizing the Technical Committee.
Here is a proposed time frame for events and the steps we need you to take. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions or make any suggestions on anything here.
The process of starting a TC at OASIS begins with formal submission of the charter to OASIS by the convener. Once submitted, the clock is running on the steps that we at OASIS then need to perform. Here is the time line John and I discussed:
- Submit to OASIS – Thursday, 12/5/13
- Begin the call for comment – Monday, 12/9/13
The call for comment is a 14 day period for collecting comments on the charter from OASIS members and others prior to submitting the final charter.
- End of the call for comment – Monday, 12/23/13
- Convener call – Friday, 12/27/13
The convener call is a call between TC Administration (me), the convener and anyone else who wishes to attend to discuss any comments received, decide whether any final changes will be made to the charter and to review the remaining schedule.
- Send the call for participation – Thursday, 1/9/14
The call for participation is the announcement to the world that the Technical Committee is starting. At the time that the call goes out, all the collaborative tools to support the TC will be in place - the email list, roster, document repository, calendar, etc. The call invites anyone who is interested to join the Technical Committee and participate in developing the standard.
- Target first meeting date – Tuesday, 2/11/14
This is the proposed date for the inaugural meeting via conference call. At the first meeting, the TC members elect a chairperson, settle on their ongoing meeting schedule and other particulars on how they will do the work. After the first meeting, you are on your way.
What you need to do:
Only one thing remains to complete the charter and that is to obtain Statements of Support from each of the Primary Representatives for OASIS Organization Members (member companies). These statements are included in section (2)(e) of the charter.
The Statement of Support is simply an acknowledgement from the organization's primary representative to OASIS that the organization supports the charter and the participation of their representative in the work. More information can be provided, of course.
Here is a template that you can use:
"I, <representative's name and email address>, as OASIS primary representative of <organization name> , confirm our support for this charter and endorse our proposers listed above as named co-proposers."
Would you please have your primary representative fill out the Statement of Support and send it to John (email@example.com
), me and Carol Geyer of OASIS (firstname.lastname@example.org
) so that we can incorporate them into the charter? If you need help identifying your primary rep, just let me know. I thank you in advance.
Here is the charter as it stands. Again, please share any questions or suggestions. I look forward to working with you all to launch the TC.
--- Draft charter ---
Section 1: Charter
(1)(a) TC Name
OASIS Legal Citation Markup (LegalCiteM) TC
(1)(b) Statement of Purpose
One of the fundamental principles of legal writing is that every statement of law or fact must carry a citation to its source. Citations document the history of precedent that ensures the continuity and consistent interpretation and application of the law. Legal documents almost always include citations within the body of the text and, in fact, would be unacceptable without them.
The specifications for constructing citations that exist today vary across jurisdictions and languages. Work has been done on several initiatives to develop markup standards for citations (see list at http://tinyurl.com/legalCite-DataModel
) yet the focus of many efforts and much of the analysis has been on the form of the citation on the page itself.
In today’s world of electronic publishing, online research and proliferating sources of material, the lack of a rich markup language vocabulary and syntax presents a number of problems, key among them:
1) Print citations can't be machine-processed with 100% reliability, e.g. a citation may point to a page with complex text that requires a human reader to decipher the intended target. A markup standard could enable precise processing.
2) There is no way to encode improvements in quality and accuracy into a citation over time so publishers and other users must reprocess the text citations over and over. With a markup standard, a publisher could enrich a citation with metadata that would persist, enabling many downstream applications to work on the data instead of re-fixing it.
3) There is no way to encode consistent metadata behind print citations that may vary from one jurisdiction to the next. A markup standard would allow normalization and enhancement to be done in the tagging, leaving the print citation untouched.
4) There is no way to enrich the citation with additional metadata that can assist authors, editors, or readers in using the citation. A markup standard could allow information to be captured beyond what was needed for linking.
5) There is no support for extracting citations into databases or even something as simple as tables of authority. Standard markup in documents would allow citations to be harvested simply by processing the embedded tagging in the document.
A non-proprietary, royalty-free, open citation markup standard designed with the input of subject matter experts and focused on the requirements of a broad cross-section of the legal community can provide the foundation for creating enriched content that can be useful across multiple groups of interested parties. It can provide a basis for creating more powerful editorial and data handling tools for legal content. It can support the development of federated citation databases that help connect legal professionals to resources and ensure the persistence of cross-references over time. It can support the growth of open source legal content and applications. And it can become a foundation for new products and services of value to everyone in the legal community.
Just as web browsers and related types of software have become core parts of our interactive computer environment thanks to the foundation of HTML, a legal citation markup standard can enable a new generation of tools and capabilities benefiting all players and allowing commercial entities to deliver new generations of products and services limited only by their imagination and ability to innovate.
Around the world, the number of officially binding electronic resources for legislation, case law and official documents is increasing. Relying solely on the printed text of citations will add to the cost and burden of researching and complying with increasingly complex legal issues. A uniform approach to legal citations is crucial for the long-term accessibility and preservation of legal content.
The Legalcite TC will develop an open standard for machine-readable tagging of legal citations. Specifically, the standard will provide a conceptual model, vocabulary, metadata definitions and syntatical structure that:
- Enables cites to be richly tagged while leaving the visible text of the citation undisturbed.
- Works for a broad variety of legal content types including court cases, legislation, regulations, parliamentary documents and legal treatises.
- Supports citations as used in different countries and jurisdictions.
- Allows other metadata to be associated with citations for purposes beyond just linking.
The TC will also define use cases, overviews, sample data sets and such other non-normative content as can help guide implementers and users to develop and adopt of the standard.
Out of scope:
The TC will not specify how citations should be processed nor define specific tools for citations. For example, it will provide semantics for describing the information needed to link citations, but it will not specify how such linking should be implemented in systems.
The TC will not specify nor make assumptions about how and where in the lifecycle of legal materials the citation markup would be added to content. In particular, it will not specify or assume that citation markup is added during original content creation.
The TC will not specify prescriptions for citation repositories or for other types of implementations that could be built on the foundation of the standard.
The TC will produce:
1. An open legal citation markup standard within 12 to 18 months of the first meeting.
2. A list of business cases and use cases to be supported by the standard within 12 to 18 months of the first meeting. The list may include use cases regarding the treatment of legacy materials.
3. Optionally, such other explanatory, educational or supporting material as the TC may choose to produce to support the overall standard, timing to be determined as the TC progresses.
(1)(e) IPR Mode
The TC will operate under the Non Assertion IPR mode as defined in the OASIS Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy effective 15 October 2010.
Because citations are fundamental to the practice and application of the law, the audience for this work is extensive:
- Developers creating products for the legal market, including the open source and open government communities.
- Legal publishers and service providers
- Law librarians
- Academics, especially those with an interest in legal analytics
- Court, legislative and administrative staffs, especially those charged with performing research and drafting documents as well as government IT staff who must support them
The TC shall carry out its activities in English.
Section 2: Additional Information
(2)(a) Identification of Similar Work
A substantial amount of work has been done on legal citations. The following lists some of the more highly visible initiatives.
- The IETF has published an Internet Draft titled “A Uniform Resource Name (URN) Namespace for Sources of Law (LEX).” The document provides a URN convention for “identifying, naming, assigning, and managing persistent resources in the legal domain.” (https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-spinosa-urn-lex/
- The CEN Workshop on Open XML interchange format for legal documents has developed CEN MetaLex, a standard for the way sources of law and references to sources of law are to be represented in XML. (http://www.metalex.eu/
- “PRESTO: A WWW Information Architecture for Legislation and Public Information Systems” by Rick Jelliffe describes a methodology that governments could use to provide access to documents at any level of granularity, in particular legislation and regulations. (http://xml.coverpages.org/newsletter/news2008-02-26.html#cite7
In addition, much work has been done on standards for structuring and representing citations and much has been written on the problems of legal citation and how to address them. An extensive list of these resources can be found at http://tinyurl.com/legalCite-DataModel
(2)(b) First TC Meeting
The first meeting of the Technical Committee will be a teleconference held on 11 February 2014 at 17:00:00 GMT / 09:00 Pacific / 12:00 Eastern / 17:00 London. Rutgers Law School will host the call.
(2)(c) Ongoing Meeting Schedule
The Technical Committee will meet every two weeks at a date and time to decided upon by the TC members at the first meeting. Sponsorship for the meetings will rotate among the members. The TC intends to do most of its work by conference call and email.
(2)(d) TC Proposers
(2)(e) Primary Representatives' Support
<to be collected>
(2)(f) TC Convener
The TC will be convened by John Joergensen of the Rutgers School of Law – Newark.
(2)(g) OASIS Member Section
The TC intends to request affiliation with the OASIS LegalXML Member Section.
(2)(h) Anticipated Contributions
No documents are expected to be made as contributions to the Technical Committee.
(2)(i) FAQ Document
(2)(j) Work Product Titles and Acronyms
Director of Standards Development and TC Administration
OASIS: Advancing open standards for the information societyhttp://www.oasis-open.org
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