The RDF Dictionary concept is applicable on many levels: from the level of one small particular domain, or a small geographic area, to a national level, bilateral level, going on to an international, supranational and finally global level. It is possible, even desirable, that on all of these levels RDF Dictionaries will come into existence. These Dictionaries complement and reinforce one another, by forming a network and sharing the same architecture. Each RDF Dictionary can take advantage of the work which has been done for other RDF Dictionaries by the simple, but very effective, name space mechanism provided by XML/RDF.
The European legal standards organisation, LEXML, and the American legal standards organsiation, LegalXML, both host a project for the development of an RDF Dictionary. The respective development teams cooperate with the aim to establish a global RDF Dictionary for the legal world. A number of European governments is considering to develop an RDF Dictionary for their national legal system. A European RDF Dictionary, positioned between the national RDF Dictionaries and the global RDF Dictionary, would make an essential contribution to the automated exchange of legal data world wide.
The prototype which this project will produce contains the core of an RDF Dictionary. This core, although small, will in its architecture and mechanism be exemplary for future RDF Dictionaries. The architecture allows for organic growth not only of one particular RDF Dictionary itself, but also of the network. By applying the latest XML-standards the RDF Dictionary places itself in the mainstream of future technical developments. The W3C having expressed interest in the RDF Dictionary concept, their support will contribute to acceptance and further development.
This project will set a standard. A standard which works in two directions. On the one hand it will encourage Member states and other European countries to develop RDF Dictionaries for their jurisdiction. On the other hand Europe will set a standard for the rest of the world for the global exchange of legal data. It will thereby contribute to the goal of giving Europe a leading role in the IT age.
The former considerations mainly establishing contributions to “external” EC policies, the project has a strong internal European dimension in several respects: It brings together partners across Europe, working jointly on a common product, which could not have been developed by each of them themselves. It addresses application domains that are clearly not confined in their relevance to national borders. It supports both the information provider and the end consumer in cross-border activities. It supports the content providers in offering an access to their information in other languages and at the same time linking that information to related information in other jurisdictions and languages.
The standardisation process in the legal field (defining DTD`S and XML Schemas for legal documents) has far reaching European implications. Not only is EU law an ever increasing component of national laws, but also between the European countries a facility is needed to compare the datastructures, resulting from standardisation efforts. The RDF Dictionary network facilitates traffic of legal data within Europe to an extent which uptil now has been impossible. Uniform datastructures across Europe are hardly achievable and in many respects even not desirable. An RDF Dictionary network allows for diversity in datastructures (thereby increasing their speed of development), while ensuring compatibility at the same time.
An RDF Dictionary network would serve EU law and its further development as well. The preparation and issuance of legislation and regulation on the one hand and proceedings at the EU Court of Justice, including the publication of case law, on the other hand would greatly benefit from the RDF Dictionary network.
Thus, the project adds value to the community by increasing the quality of legal communication within Europe. It contributes materially both to external and internal EC policies.
Part of the project is specifically geared at a transfer to other organisations in Europe of the experience gained in this project. Not only is everything done and produced fully open to anyone, it is also made fully accessible by placing documents and code (open source with explanatory texts) produced on the web, the project also will actively identify stakeholders and involve them in the project from an early stage onwards.
The building of a global RDF Dictionary network is a large undertaking. Having started with a private initiative of a few individuals this project involves, and needs, a broader and stronger basis. This basis is evidenced by the quality and status of the Participants as organisations in general and the key persons working on the project in particular. The project can be seen as a kick-off for a snow ball movement. It allows anyone to join. In particular this development offers opportunities for SMEs.