Openness and Interoperability: The Aims of Recent Legal Informatics Activity

Recent activity in the legal informatics world has been characterized by numerous efforts to make legal documents and technologies more openly available, and to make legal information more interoperable. Here are some examples:

Considered together, these efforts reflect tremendous energy among developers, policy makers, information professionals, and scholars, focused on opening up legal information and making that information interoperable with other data and systems. Remarkably, individuals and institutions from all of these sectors are pursuing their goals by crossing traditional boundaries, partnering with colleagues in other sectors, and sharing research results, expertise, and ideas. The coming months promise even more of this high-intensity information sharing and innovation. Hold onto your hats!


  1. Some Twitter discussion about this post is listed at Topsy:

  2. Is it a fair understanding of all those impressive initiatives that they are all being conducted by people funded from the public purse, either academics or governments? In other words, none of these initiatives turn on anyone making any money from them. I don’t say that as a criticism (seeing as how I make my living in the public sector). I am just wondering if they all undermine private-enterprise law reporting, or if they will provide access tools that will allow others to mine legal information and add value to it for resale, as well as for non-profit policy-based or political-based purposes.

    A possible response is that they are all either ‘pure’ research or sufficiently basic level that private enterprise cannot profitably carry them out, but once the technology or standards are developed, there may be ways to profit from them.

    Another possible response is that private enterprise has little to gain from increasing interoperability; it makes more money with proprietary systems. However, there are public benefits to interoperability and shared standards that justify spending public funds to develop them.

  3. Robert, following up on your mentions of LegalRuleML in the post, a call for participation in a new LegalRuleML Technical Committee at OASIS was released today. The notice can be read at . Dr. Monica Palmirani is the convener of the Technical Committee and Dr. Guido Governatori is one of the co-proposers.

    The TC intends to develop a standardized extension to RuleML for the legal domain . Quoting from their charter: “This will enable modeling and reasoning such that implementers can structure, evaluate, and compare legal arguments constructed using the rule representation tools provided.”

    I am happy to answer any questions readers may have or pass them on to Dr. Palmirani. For the record, I am Dir. of Standards Development at OASIS.