This book about legal ontologies and Semantic Web applications has its roots in workshops and conferences on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Law. The domain of law belongs to the early adopters of ontologies and semantic web technology to support its enormous and fast growing demand for effective information management; it is probably only surpassed in this respect by the bio-sciences. Having easy access to relevant legal information among the rising flood of legal documentation is not only the concern of legal practitioners. The life and work of citizens becomes more and more entangled with legal issues as well. This volume reflects the wisdom abstracted from experiences accumulated over more than a decade of research and development in this area. It contains a representative overview of the state-of-the-art, covering both theoretical aspects and practical systems. The latter has been an important driver of research in this area, which can be observed from the geographical origins: the work discussed is mainly European, due to R&D initiatives of the European Commission in the various Framework programs. The Semantic Web is not only an area of research, but also a worldwide project where easy-to-construct applications can directly find their communities of users. However, the semantics that are the engines for these applications are still the bottleneck in the development. Therefore one finds a large range of technologies and tricks to populate ontologies with machine understandable meaning of terms in this volume. This varies from the use of top-ontologies via design patterns to extraction of terms from text and alignment of existing terminologies. In fact, one may see this book not so much as the report of results of research, but rather as a specification of the elements of an emerging methodology for developing legal ontologies.
This collection of articles about legal ontologies and Semantic Web applications has its roots in workshops and conferences on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Law, most notably, the workshops on ontologies and Semantic Web technology in the legal domain, held in June 2007 at Stanford University. The domain of law belongs to the early adopters of ontologies and semantic web technology to support its enormous and fast growing demand for effective information management; it is probably only surpassed in this respect by the bio-sciences. Having easily access to relevant legal information among the rising flood of legal documentation is not only the concern of legal practitioners, but also the life and work of citizens becomes more and more entangled with legal issues.
A first monograph on legal ontologies was published as early as 1995, also as a volume of this FAIA series by IOS Press [Valente, 1995]. The first workshop on legal ontologies was held in 1997, as part of the biannual conference on AI & Law (ICAIL-1997). This volume reflects the wisdom, abstracted from experiences accumulated over more than a decade of research and development in this area. It contains a representative overview of the state of the art, covering both theoretical aspects and practical systems. The latter has been an important driver of research in this area, which can be observed from the geographical origins: the work discussed is mainly European, due to R & D initiatives of the European Commission in the various Framework programs. Also national initiatives have played an important role as can be concluded from the overrepresentation of articles from Spain and Italy. As the practical needs for legal information management are certainly not more pressing in these countries than in other countries, we hope that this book will also serve as an argument for (further) investments in this endeavor. The Semantic Web is not only an area of research, but also a world wide project where easy to construct applications can directly find their communities of users. However the semantics that are the engines for these applications are still the bottleneck in the development. Therefore one finds in this volume a large range of technologies and tricks to populate ontologies with machine understandable meaning of terms. This varies from the use of top-ontologies via design patterns to extraction of terms from text and alignment of existing terminologies. In fact, one may see this book not so much as the report of results of research, but rather as a specification of the elements of an emerging methodology for developing legal ontologies.
Barcelona, October 2008, the Editors
We would like to thank the following reviewers for this book:
Alexander Boer, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Bert Bredeweg, HCSL University of Amsterdam Netherlands
Tom van Engers, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Jérôme Euzenat, INRIA Grenoble Rhône-Alpes, France
Tom Gordon, FOKUS Fraunhofer Institute, Berlin, Germany
Carole Hafner, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
Rinke Hoekstra, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Laura Hollink, Department of Computer Science, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Laurens Mommers, Faculty of Law, Leiden University, the Netherlands
Paulo Quaresma, Universidade de Évora, Portugal
Marta Sabou, Knowledge Media Institute, the Open University, UK
Giovanni Sartor, Faculty of Law, Università di Bologna, Italy
Marco Schorlemmer, Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, CSIC, Barcelona, Spain
Ronny Siebes, Department of Computer Science, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Elisabeth Uijttenbroek, Faculty of Law, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Denny Vrandecic, AIFB, Universität Karlsruhe, Germany
Matthew West, Shell / University of Leeds, UK
Radboud Winkels, Leibniz Center for Law, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Adam Wyner, The University of Liverpool, UK
[Valente, 1995] Valente, A. (1995). Legal knowledge engineering: A modelling approach. IOS Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Joost Breuker, Pompeu Casanovas, Michel C.A. Klein, Enrico Francesconi
3 - 18
Information search and retrieval are part of daily routines of the legal profession. Lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and legal clerks usually access a number of electronic resources to browse, search, select, or update legal contents. Legal databases have currently become large digital libraries where the tasks related to information-seeking may sometimes be cumbersome. Adding semantics to support information search may provide significant results in terms of efficiency, efficacy, and user satisfaction. Semantic technologies may be able to improve legal information search in the judicial and lawyers' domains. However, legal professionals sometimes prefer following routines than changing their information search behavior. New trends in legal ontologies and Semantic Web technologies may help to improve both professional and laymen's skills.
Rinke Hoekstra, Joost Breuker, Marcello Di Bello, Alexander Boer
21 - 52
In this paper we describe a legal core ontology that is part of the Legal Knowledge Interchange Format: a knowledge representation formalism that enables the translation of legal knowledge bases written in different representation formats and formalisms. A legal (core) ontology can play an important role in the translation of existing legal knowledge bases to other representation formats, in particular as the basis for articulate knowledge serving. This requires that the ontology has a firm grounding in commonsense and is developed in a principled manner. We describe the theory and methodology underlying the LKIF core ontology, compare it with other ontologies, introduce the concepts it defines, and discuss its use in the formalisation of an EU directive.
Ontology design is known to be a difficult task, requiring much more than expertise in an area or competence in logic; legal ontology design, due to the complexity of its domain, makes those difficulties worse. This may be partly due to poor support for requirement analysis in existing tools, but there is also an inherent gap between the purely logical constructs and methods that are expected to be used, and the actual competences and thought habits of legal domain experts. This paper presents some solutions, based on ontology design patterns, which are intended to make life of legal ontology designers easier. An overview of the typical tasks and services for legal knowledge is presented, the notion of ontology design pattern is introduced, and some excerpts of a reference ontology (CLO) and its related patterns are included, showing their utility in a simple legal modeling case.
The paper reports on the methodology and preliminary results of a case study in automatically extracting ontological knowledge from Italian legislative texts. We use a fully–implemented ontology learning system (T2K) that includes a battery of tools for Natural Language Processing (NLP), statistical text analysis and machine language learning. Tools are dynamically integrated to provide an incremental representation of the content of vast repositories of unstructured documents. Evaluated results, however preliminary, show the great potential of NLP–powered incremental systems like T2K for accurate large–scale semi–automatic extraction of legal ontologies.
This paper deals with the use of computational linguistic analysis techniques for information access and ontology learning within the legal domain. We present a rule-based approach for extracting and analysing definitions from parsed text and evaluate it on a corpus of about 6000 German court decisions. The results are applied to improve the quality of a text based ontology learning method on this corpus.
This paper describes research within the project CORTE funded by the German Science Foundation, DFG PI 154/10-1 (http://www.coli.uni-saarland.de/projects/corte/)
The automatic detection of arguments in text regards a relatively new area at the intersection of Natural Language Processing, Information Retrieval and Legal Information Systems. This paper presents some fundamental issues when processing texts that contain argumentation. Furthermore, our research bridges different areas, including the legal field and the Semantic Web, where argumentation detection and reconstruction could be beneficial. Finally, it analyses several methodologies to accomplish this task, providing results from different experiments done over several kinds of texts, specially legal reports.
Law information retrieval systems use law ontologies to represent semantic objects, to associate them with law documents and to make inferences about them. A number of law ontologies have been proposed in the literature, what shows the variety of approaches pointing to the need of matching systems. We present a proposal based on argumentation to match law ontologies, as an approach to be considered for this problem. Argumentation is used to combine different techniques for ontology matching. Such approaches are encapsulated by agents that apply individual matching algorithms and cooperate in order to exchange their local results (arguments). Next, based on their preferences and confidence, the agents compute their preferred matching sets. The arguments in such preferred sets are viewed as the set of globally acceptable arguments. We show the applicability of our model matching two legal core ontologies: LKIF and CLO.
In order to extract the full potential from Internet-wide content sharing and reuse, the underlying copyright issues must be taken into account. The novel requirements are not satisfied by traditional Digital Rights Management. Open licensing initiatives seem more appropriate, but they lack the required computerised support. Our proposal facilitates interoperation while providing a rich framework that accommodates copyright law and copes with custom licensing schemes. It is based on the Description Logic variant of the Web Ontology Language (OWL-DL) and constitutes an ontology that conceptualizes the copyright domain. The ontology provides the building blocks for flexible machine-understandable licenses and facilitates implementation because DL reasoners can be directly used for license checking. However, some preliminary transformations of the licenses models are required in order to overcome the Open World Assumption inherent in OWL-DL, which limits DL-based license reasoning.
This article briefly outlines how the Iuriservice application was envisioned, the modeling process of the Ontology of Professional Judicial Knowledge, and the contribution of the users to the global development of this system. Iuriservice offers a semantically enabled FAQ search system for the Spanish judges in their first appointment. The system is now at the first stage of implementation in the Spanish Judicial School. Users may input questions to the system in natural language to obtain access to a database of experience-based answers to practical day-to-day questions. In order to offer the question-answer pair from the application database that best matches the input question, the search system is enhanced using ontologies. Some lessons learned are also outlined.
T. Agnoloni, L. Bacci, E. Francesconi, W. Peters, S. Montemagni, G. Venturi
177 - 198
The quality of legislative drafting process at European and national levels is highly influenced by the legal drafters control over the multilingual complexity of European legislation and over the linguistic and conceptual issues involved in its transposition into national laws. The DALOS project aims at ensuring coherence and alignment in the legislative language, providing law-makers with a knowledge (ontological-linguistic) resource and knowledge management tools to support the multilingual legislative drafting process. This paper outlines the activities within DALOS, aiming at the definition of the characteristics of a the knowledge resource, at its implementation, at its integration in a legislative drafting environment for the project prototype.
Pompeu Casanovas, Xavier Binefa, Ciro Gracia, Emma Teodoro, Núria Galera, Mercedes Blázquez, Marta Poblet, Jordi Carrabina, Màrius Monton, Carlos Montero, Javier Serrano, José Manuel López-Cobo
199 - 219
Search, retrieval, and management of multimedia contents are challenging tasks for users and researchers alike. We introduce a software-hardware system for the global management of the multimedia contents produced by Spanish Civil Courts. The ultimate goal is to obtain an automatic classification of images and segments of the audiovisual records that, coupled with textual semantics, allows an efficient navigation and retrieval of judicial documents and additional legal sources. This paper describes our knowledge acquisition process, sets a typology of Spanish Civil hearings as performed in practice, and a preliminary procedural ontology at its actual stage of development (e-Sentencias ontology). A discussion on procedural, contextual and multimedia ontologies is also provided.
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