Legal Ontologies in ICT and Law

Legal Ontologies in ICT and Law

Witold Abramowicz (Poznan University of Economics, Poland), Piotr Stolarski (Poznan University of Economics, Poland) and Tadeusz Tomaszewski (Poznan University of Economics, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2136-7.ch003
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Re-usability is frequently declared as sine qua non feature of modern ontology engineering. Although thoroughly examined in general theory of knowledge management models the re-usability issue is still barely a declaration in the domain of legal ontologies. The similar situation also applies to statute-specific ontologies. Those knowledge modeling entities are well described especially as an opposition to the general application legal ontologies. Yet it is trivial to say that most of the developed legal ontologies so far are those generic ones. And this sole fact should not surprise as the very specialized knowledge models – usually harder to develop – are at the same time narrowed with their utility. Of course in terms of re-usability this simply means that this feature may be largely disabled in this kind of knowledge models. In this chapter we face both challenges, i.e. as an excuse for presentation of the most interesting in our opinion trends and works in the field we will demonstrate the practical approach to modeling copyright law case by re-using statute-specific ontologies.
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Ontologies are “an explicit specification of a conceptualization” as states one of the most commonly known definition by Gruber (Gruber, 1993). Being based on the OWA assumption the ontological formalisms are well fitted to meet some of the challenges of legal knowledge representation. What is more – the wide spread of web standards introduced into development of ontology life-cycle guarantees that the fulfillment of the vision of automated sharing of knowledge and the reuse of that knowledge between software components and human agents is not far from realization. In terms of legal domain the vision of accessing pieces of codified knowledge from different sources in a standardized manner can be tempting esp. on account of possibilities of making automated inference on a larger scale.

In the field of legal knowledge management and representation the problem of representing legal knowledge in the form of variety of knowledge bases or ontologies has been vastly recognized (Despres, 2004). As a consequence a number of generally elaborated methods of ontology engineering have been tested to produce legal ontologies. Some of those methods were also used to create specific solutions for legal domain embedded tasks of building semantic knowledge repositories.

Legal ontologies have been formed to fulfill numerous aims (Gangemi, 2007) and to provide support for various functions. Those functions coupled with the aims delimit the outline and structure of the ontology. Those mentioned properties define content and expressivity in addition. Thus, methods used to construct the knowledge models are to reflect the needs and intentions of constructors.

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