Ontologies and Law: A Practical Case of the Creation of Ontology for Copyright Law Domain

Ontologies and Law: A Practical Case of the Creation of Ontology for Copyright Law Domain

Claudia Cevenini (CIRSFID, University of Bologna, Italy), Giuseppe Contissa (CIRSFID, University of Bologna, Italy), Migle Laukyte (CIRSFID, University of Bologna, Italy) and Régis Riveret (CIRSFID, University of Bologna, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-650-1.ch040
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This chapter introduces the reader with the specificity of the development of a particular type of legal ontology, that is ontology of copyright law. The process of the development of this ontology (ALIS IP Ontology) should be seen as a miniature guide for anyone who will pursuit a goal to create an ontology for any sphere of law. In this chapter the development of the copyright ontology is not addressed separately as such, but in vaster perspective, analyzing not only particular problems that the development of the legal ontology implies, but also looking at the ontology development issues in the light of the general relation that the law (and intellectual property law in particular) has with the IT domain.
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2. Law And The Semantic Web

Law has two major problems today: “handling the complexity and types of legal knowledge, and having reasonable ways to store, retrieve and structure a great amount of legal information” (Benjamins, 2005, p.1). These problems are much more evident in the light of technological development. Naturally, information is a key to success everywhere, not only in legal campus. Nevertheless, law is also the field that has a direct and powerful influence in society: from the citizens to the organizations, from the families to the public administrations. All the lawyers have to know a lot of information, to choose the right resources for retrieving it, to manage it, to know how to apply it and so on. The technological explosion does not cease to make more and more information available. The problem now is not to get the information, but to manage it. And in law this problem is quite an urgent one, considering the quantity of norms, regulations, directives, rulings, codes, statutes, acts, decisions that are created, emanated, abolished, changed, updated, delivered every day.

What are the risks of this situation? The main risk is the so called Information Overload (IO) phenomenon. This situation happens when the lawyer is unable to handle the information to make a decision. In such case he gets overloaded: unable to process the information, to decide, to remember, to link the data and to react to the information he already has. In such a state, the errors usually occur and the price for such errors could be very high.

Furthermore, the legal information should be known not only to the lawyer, Everyone who is retained to be a person (legal or natural) under the law has to have a basic knowledge about the legal framework, or, at least, be able to orientate himself in it. Some specific professionals such as doctors or civil engineers should know further specific norms, which regulate their procession campuses. Of course, it does not mean the we are all supposed to know the law at the level the lawyers know it. Not at all. It simply means that we have to have a certain common knowledge about the laws. This is an endless legal cobweb which winds us round and we cannot do anything.

So what can be done to help the lawyer to manage the legal information and to avoid an IO? (Noyes, 1995, p. 1) claims that we have to cure ourselves with what made us ill, that is IT.

Key Terms in this Chapter

IP Law: A branch of law that defines intellectual creations and deals with obtaining, loosing, using, profiting, defending the intellectual property rights. IP law includes trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets. In a more complete vision, it also includes the issues of rights of ideas, unfair competition and rights of publicity.

Author: The creator of any work, be it written, painted, sculpted, music, a photograph or a film or whatever other type of work of mind.

Ontology: A specification of a conceptualization, which is the set of ideas, concepts, and relationships of a certain domain.

Intellectual Property (IP): Means intangible property rights which are created by a person’s intellectual creative efforts. The results of these efforts enable the creator or owner to control and profit exclusively from them.

Work of Mind: Creative expression of intellectual work, which may be of different types: literature, music, figurative arts, architecture, etc.

Description Logic: Logic formalism that enables to represent the knowledge in a structured and well-defined way

Copyright: Protects expression of authorship or artistic interpretation, but not the idea upon which such expression is based.

OCATU Model: Model which is used in ALIS IP Ontology to represent and illustrate five stages (Organize, Create, Assert, Transfer, Use stages) of whole process of the lifecycle of work of mind in the IP domain.

IP Rights: A whole of moral and economic rights (generally: exclusive right of possessing, enjoying, and disposing of a work of mind).

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