OASIS Legal Citation Markup (LegalCiteM) Technical Committee

The official charter for this Technical Committee is provided below. (For additional information, see the Call for Participation that was issued when this TC was formed.)

  1. TC Name

    OASIS Legal Citation Markup (LegalCiteM) Technical Committee

  2. 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.

  3. Scope

    The LegalCiteM 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 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.

  4. Deliverables

    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.
  5. 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.

  6. Audience

    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 work should be of interest to anyone involved with integration of tools.

  7. Language

    The TC shall carry out its activities in English.