Hoekstra on the MetaLex Document Server: Version Control and Linked Data for Statutes and Regulations

Dr. Rinke Hoekstra of the University of Amsterdam’s Leibniz Center for Law has posted The MetaLex Document Server, on the VoxPopuLII blog, published by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.

In this post, Dr. Hoekstra describes the technology of the MetaLex Document Server, a new service that provides free public access to all current Dutch statutes and regulations in XML and Linked Data, and with version control.

In his post, Dr. Hoekstra describes the primary motivations for this project as the need to create “version-aware identifiers for all parts of legislative texts,” and the need to improve upon the metadata furnished by Wetten.overheid.nl, the main Web source of Dutch statutes and regulations. Dr. Hoekstra sets out the requirements for a legislative information system that would satisfy these needs. He then describes the workflow of the MetaLex Document Server. This workflow involves converting statutes and regulations from Wetten.overheid.nl to MetaLex XML, modeling each document according to Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), and then creating URIs — based on the Legislation.gov.uk URI model — “[f]or every element in” each version of each document.

The system generates RDF metadata about each document and its elements, as well as the “events and modifying processes” related to them. Dr. Hoekstra then explains that the system serializes each document in MetaLex XML; “RDFa, Turtle, or RDF/XML;” or as a citation graph. He describes the content negotiation functions of the system, that enable output of documents in HTML, RDF/XML, Turtle, or MetaLex XML. Dr. Hoekstra concludes by noting new projects in which the MetaLex Document Server technology will be adopted by government agencies.

This post should be of interest to developers of legal information systems, the e-Government community, and the Semantic Web community.

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