Laws are all mostly already in the public domain. The court cases and decisions are in the public domain too. But its all text, not fit for machines. It should be organised and broken down into a Wikidata-like structure to make it machine-readable. Required for research in legal fields using advanced computing solutions.
Is it a multilingual wiki?
One multilingual wiki like Wikidata.
Potential number of languages
Free legal repository
New features to require
A mixture of Data of Commons (nosql structure part) and wikidata (ui and editing simplicity part).
A: Wikibase (the extension that powers Wikidata) is limited by its ability to store long strings of rich text. It just wasn't meant for that kind of use case. WikiLaw will likely utilize Wikidata to some extent, but rich text is going to be needed to be stored on its own wiki.
When I first heard about this I thought "meh", but after reading the proposal this could fill a useful, albeit small area of need. Would be very useful for legal research for lawyers/paralegals, government, and private individuals if done well. – Ajraddatz (talk) 17:29, 1 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
James Martin - struggling to get a login to Wiki (I have sent an "unblock Ticket Request System") - There is massive potential for a territory/Country Application that logically codes Laws to eradicate "contract frustration" in Laws. A critical point could be reached whereby all related laws are coded and decentralised legal resolution is possible between 2 parties - independently of the "State" and the Judiciary for limited legal issues at virtually zero cost as resolution would be on its own blockchain. 02:15, 6 August 2019—The preceding unsigned comment was added by James Martin (talk) 01:16, 6 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Adding myself. I wonder, however, whether the project could be abstracted to include law texts, but also other works of similar nature. I find the scope of the project quite a bit more specific than the other WMF projects' ones. 𝟙𝟤𝟯𝟺𝐪𝑤𝒆𝓇𝟷𝟮𝟥𝟜𝓺𝔴𝕖𝖗𝟰 (𝗍𝗮𝘭𝙠) 20:00, 1 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This would be useful to law students, researchers, lawyers, machine learning community, and many others. This will help in analysing law through history, mapping changes with change in society and communities. This will help in understanding similarities and differences in legal procedures among various countries. This will help in making law readable and accessible to common people, publishers, reporters and other users as most of legislations are either not indexed, or not readable, or not in languages, or not available online. India alone has thousands of acts but at max hundreds can be accessed. Even they are either pdf or photograph, or if they are in text, its not in structured format. Further, as listed above there are 3 similar proposals already, so those can be subsumed in this one as well. Capankajsmilyo (talk) 16:13, 15 May 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Capankajsmilyo: Well...I am happy to say that i Support this. It's good that you are renewing a long lost proposal. Arep Ticous 16:45, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
Support Assuming that the process of getting legal information and adding it to a wiki is practical. SelfieCity (talk) 17:09, 8 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@SelfieCity: very practical! Almost all laws are written down somewhere. The problem is that they are constantly changing and aren't a good fit for Wikisource. –MJL‐Talk‐☖ 00:59, 9 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support - So few suggested projects actually could be beneficial, but I think this is one that could be. There is a major set-up like this atm...but it's expensive. So it's a good area to branch into. Nosebagbear (talk) 20:27, 19 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As a long-time author of articles on legal matters on German Wikipedia, I gather that legal research with quantitative methods has only just begun, and I would like to stress that only official sources will qualify for this. What we need is more open data, and, indeed, structured open data, but it needs to be official data to be used for scientific purposes, cf. the recent article by Coupette, Corinna and Andreas M. Fleckner. 2018. Quantitative Rechtswissenschaft: Sammlung, Analyse und Kommunikation juristischer Daten. JuristenZeitung 73, Nr. 8 (April): 379–389. doi:10.1628/jz-2018-0020 along with the accompanying dataset at https://www.quantitative-rechtswissenschaft.de/ . So, I am sorry to say that this proposal is indeed interesting, but it is of little practical worth only. Linguistic analysis of laws and court decisions are already possible today. Other data are just not available because they are stuck in the records and have never been digitised and, thus, cannot be published and analysed anyway. What's more, this would be a strictly scientific project which means that not everyone would be able to contribute. Only validated data can be used for that which means that you would need very strict and tight QA from the very beginning. If you would like to realise a kind of Wikidata for legal sources, however, you are still able to do this within Wikidata.--Aschmidt (talk) 18:07, 5 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oppose: Most legal codes and case law are not public domain; while you'd be able to get all US Federal cases, statutes, and regulations, a large amount of state material would not be useable. I doubt much law from outside the US is public domain as well. Moreover, I don't understand what this "wikidata like structure" is supposed to achieve. The only thing you might be able to do is create a citator (like Lexis' Shepard's and Westlaw's KeyCite), but there are loads and loads of editorial judgment calls in deciding things like whether and how one case distinguishes another, or whether and how one case abrogates another, or whether and how a statutory enactment supersedes a particular case. I can foresee significant problems with data quality and annotation quality as well, Aschmidt touches on. Even keeping your regulatory dataset up-to-date would be a monumental undertaking. Just go to regulations.gov and look at how large each day's issue of the Federal Register is. Each one of those issues every single day has things that may be regulations that may need to be inserted in your Code of Federal Regulations structure (as well as a large amount of material that is not a final rule). —/Mendaliv/2¢/Δ's/ 05:31, 6 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Mendaliv: I know what you are saying, the law won’t apply in all archived laws, plus current laws are unfit on Wikisource. 18.104.22.168 10:27, 18 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Mendaliv: We have c:Template:PD-EdictGov which pretty much says that no government law can be copyrighted. Since the servers are located in the United States, all it would take is a foundation statement (which would be required anyways to launch the project) saying PD-EdictGov can be applied universally. That's pretty much been de facto the case anyways on Wikisource. –MJL‐Talk‐☖ 03:14, 27 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support - Expanding on the idea of a Decentralised Legal Resolution at virtually zero cost (I have been dabbling in crypto currencies, and I am very interested in the capabilities of the technology - which may not be for current Wiki platforms). If a blockchain can be produced for one territory/country and tested, this could be rolled out to all possible territories/countries and left to evolve. An incentive would be that the transcriber of the law to the blockchain and the coder of the Legal Articles, share a percentage of capped fees, if eventual decentralised legal resolution is enacted in the future via 2 parties (with all resolution recorded on the blockchain (anonymity default for individuals). There would be a year or two or maybe more until a significant number of laws are transcribed and coded (there are loads of legal students who could participate...) Coding the articles in the laws will be incredibly difficult, but if the software is developed this should not be to onerous. (I have experience of complicated legal agreements, such as Highway Maintenance agreements (spent 3 years writing), and currently redrafting the Tenant Management Organisation Modular Management Agreement 2012 which is an almost unusable piece of UK legislation. I am migrating TMOs from the previous 2005 and 1994 versions (took me months of research to find the official pdf on the government archives and I put it on this Wiki Page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenant_management_organisation)). The subjects that a law applies to, and the cross references to other laws are all critical. Laws would have to be coded in a cognitive bias free way - again this would have to be peer reviewed or programmed into the software. James Martin - awaiting an Unblock Ticket Request System so I can create an account 02:24, August 2019 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by James Martin (talk) 01:42, 6 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support with Comment if you were to create such a source... how would someone use it... in a more brief way... how would someone locate the files and do they have any other site like this which already exists... 22.214.171.124 02:04, 7 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Capankajsmilyo: vandalism may be a problem here, and someone may vandalise a page and then it is not detected. What if the vandalism involves changing the outcome of the court resolution to a fake one? Nigos (talk) 07:50, 22 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@James_Martin001 Without going into too much technical detail, Blockchains are secured by calculations and nodes which is difficult to unwind the calculations via a 50% node attack. Basically this would be very expensive via targeted computing power to do for the Bitcoin Blockchain, which is secured by mining. There are non mining Blockchains and Blockchains for Smart contracts such as on the Ethereum Platform or Tezos which apparently has amendable governance. A Blockchain tech will present itself in the the next 10 years which can not be out forked. This means that there are no other coding evolutions that can branch off and be better than the original branch. There is a long way to go on this. But this does not stop the Legal Community to come up with the logic protocols to code laws. As I said in my first post, 'Contract Frustration' in the legacy legal system is unworkable. 18:16, 14 March 2020 (UTC) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by James Martin (talk)
@James_Martin001 What year in the 21st century will a 'decentralised legal resolution' solution overtake government legislatures and basically make them irrelevant? This is probably the single most important question for humanity, otherwise politicians carrying on in a biased way will probably lead to our extinction. A sub-text to this is that AI - Artificial Intelligence, needs to be stopped from using the legal logic for it's theoretical own ends (personally don't think it is possible to make AI self aware, as we only give the impression that it is self aware... stories of blind people getting their sight back late in life was so disturbing that they wanted to be blind again causes me to be cautious about AI potential). If we all individually own our data for example on facebook, we could set the cost for reusing or viewing our data. Likewise every "AI computer unit" must have an individual who is legally responsible for its coding and outputs. Micropayments are now possible for data ownership royalties via cryptocurrency wallets and addresses, or legal fees incurred. My original support post alluded to micropayment incentives for editing a law blockchain. For example if I coded the Equalities Act 2010 (UK) 100%, I could get an author fee every time it is used in legal resolution. Clearly this could be amended over the years or completely replaced and my percentage would be reduced to reflect this. The economics needs to incentivise the realtime maintenance of the laws, for the benefit of everyone. Blockchains solutions could be for a private company, or open source such as Bitcoin which no one owns. Satoshi Nakamoto the anonymous pseudonym for the creator or creators of Bitcoin, was very intentional to avoid jurisdictions for legacy resolution. Legal Professions have not caught up with the implications of a borderless protocol yet, the original Bitcoin White paper was in January 2008! 18:48, 14 March 2020 (UTC)—The preceding unsigned comment was added by James Martin (talk)
Support - This would be a monumental task and would never be completely up to date on all international law, however the bigger it gets, the more useful it would be. I myself have interest in comparing similar Statutes from different jurisdictions and a resource such as this would be useful. There exists the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM) which started with the creation of the Legal Information Institute (LII), which aims to provide free access to legal information. You'll find there's similar namesake movements in many countries/regions that attempt to provide the same in their own jurisdictions. The proposed WikiLaw could be a way to combine the efforts of all these institutes and create a single repository of this knowledge, presented in a much more powerful way, allowing users to make use of the service in ways we wouldn't be able to anticipate yet. ElDubs (talk) 03:51, 18 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One of my favourite xkcds and works well when there are competing standards that someone is trying to make universal. But in this instance, the various LIIs do not compete with each other. In fact they frequently work together and link to each other, they just stick to legislation within their own jurisdiction so that they have a maintainable scope for their resources and funding prospects. They're based on each other and follow similar philosophies. In addition, many of these services don't have the capacity to transcribe legislation like WikiLaw would attempt to do. Many of them simply find legislation wherever it is available, and scan it onto their website as PDFs. Much of the work I'm doing right now is on historical social security legislation, comparing social security changes year-on-year. Unfortunately all I can do is scan through PDFs each year via the New Zealand LII website. It's been useful, but having a more powerful database that can compare revisions to legislation year-on-year would be fantastic. Right now WikiSource seems the only place to upload legislative documents, and indeed there are hundreds on there, but as an example, just my local Social Security Act has hundreds of revisions, amendments, and re-issues. All of which have slight changes that would need to be documented. That'd be a pain on WikiSource. Having a dedicated project that made this sort of thing easier to manage would be great. ElDubs (talk) 02:21, 19 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oppose. You can read the laws in the official publications. BoldLuis (talk) 00:33, 2 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can also read facts in there original source, no need for Wikipedia 2007Gtbot (talk) 17:16, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That would completely require changing Wikisource's current configurations to install several extensions it currently doesn't have. Most contributors there would find that disruptive, I have to imagine. –MJL‐Talk‐☖ 19:34, 1 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It could be a useful repository. However, what would/could differentiate this, in terms of interface, from what we'd see if we just worked on adding laws and court case verdicts to Wikisource? SecretName101 (talk) 23:02, 3 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@SecretName101: Wikisource is like a library, full of static documents, unchanging. It seeks to preserve books in their original formatting. It's a noble endeavor and I believe WikiLaw should integrate with Wikisource in ways, rather than duplicate legal texts that are already there.
However, when searching through law on Wikisource, it becomes apparent how the formatting of laws change over time and jurisdiction, meaning when conducting research, I have to acclimate myself regularly. Additionally, I can't add data to Wikisource. I cannot get links to every High Court decision related to a certain legislation. Essentially, it's not a very good source for studying case law.
Take Westlaw, an online legal research service for lawyers. It holds "40,000 databases of case law, state and federal statutes, administrative codes, newspaper and magazine articles, public records, law journals, law reviews, treatises, legal forms and other information resources." While all these kinds of things can be stored on Wikisource (much of it is!), it's utterly hopeless to attempt to complete your research there. There's no connections between these documents, or information to assist in your research. It is rather like trying to study case law for a case you have coming up and being told "Well it's all there in the library, go look!" WikiLaw, in co-ordination with Wikisource and Wikidata could do everything these paid websites do and show you those connections. A dynamic wikilaw page that showed the outcomes of every court decision surrounding a certain case or keyword.
No other free website manages this, but a wiki seems the perfect way. ElDubs (talk) 23:41, 3 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Comment I would want to hear more about this before making my decision. Random Wikimedian (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:42, 25 February 2021.
Comment I'm really leaning towards a support right now. I'm contemplating it strongly. SecretName101 (talk) 18:58, 27 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@1234qwer1234qwer4 and AnotherEditor144: I've already gone to great length about how this would be unique from Wikisource. Not sure how many times I can point out that Wikisource is home to static text (works published once) while WikiLaw would be home to a subset of dynamic text (as in a work that is constantly amended and re-generated). –MJL‐Talk‐☖ 19:31, 1 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please read the page linked by MJL: "However, the promise of WikiLaw is to be free of that constraint by treating statutes as a needing to be updated section-by-section instead. The end goal of course would be for Wikisource to retrieve these sections from WikiLaw to automatically compile a readable legal text for the library." 𝟙𝟤𝟯𝟺𝐪𝑤𝒆𝓇𝟷𝟮𝟥𝟜𝓺𝔴𝕖𝖗𝟰 (𝗍𝗮𝘭𝙠) 20:16, 1 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@AnotherEditor144: This sounds dependent on jurisdiction. In New Zealand law, Acts are amended multiple times a year with new provisions or removing old provisions, hell, even fixing typos in the legislation gets printed as a new version. Wikisource just doesn't have the capacity to help you with such dynamic items. ElDubs (talk) 21:06, 3 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@ElDubs: Typo correction can be applied to the original text if they are corrected that way, because they are trivial, if they are corrected in the statutes themselves. AnotherEditor144t - c 21:13, 3 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@AnotherEditor144: They are not corrected in the Acts themselves. They are printed as new versions. With this in mind, amendments happen quite often, contrary to what you said. ElDubs (talk) 22:08, 3 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@ElDubs: This does not happen with every piece of legislation, and as I said, typos should be corrected if they correct it, because it is not worth keeping a version with that typo and the one without. AnotherEditor144t - c 07:19, 4 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@SecretName101: Everyone put a reason for their "support" and "oppose" !votes. What about you? You know this is not a vote (hence the !). This is discussion. AnotherEditor144t - c 15:44, 17 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For me it is simple. This is different enough from Wikisource that it can be a standalone project, and useful one at that. SecretName101 (talk) 17:47, 17 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That argument again. Have you seen my previous opposition? I am actually working on law on Wikisource and it would also be a pain to migrate all these laws. AnotherEditor144t - c 20:00, 17 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support the proposal and my own experience has convinced me that this is indeed not redundant to Wikisource. And of course, the project's scope is useful. Elli (talk) 18:52, 30 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Neutral I used to do legal studies, and even then, interpreting the law was difficult to interpret at times. However, when it comes to serious legal matters, I wouldn't really be inclined to trust any wiki, unless it has a serious amount of citations. SHB2000 (talk | contribs) 09:21, 19 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support would be very useful and not overlapping with any existing sister project EpicPupper (talk) 21:54, 7 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support If you want to find out whether something obscure is legal, like euthanasia, it would be great! Please create WikiLaw! Username142857 (talk) 10:56, 1 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I just realized that laws may differ based on country. Perhaps we should invent 'subwikis' for different countries, maybe? Username142857 (talk) 14:41, 20 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The goal is to publish law documents of all countries. Since the proposal assumes this will be a multilingual wiki, it looks like categories will be used for navigation rather than subdomains. ~~~~ User:1234qwer1234qwer4 (talk) 13:20, 26 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Or we can create separate parent page like "United States" and all of its legal cases, constitution, etc. as subpages of it, creating a heirarchical structure. —CX Zoom (A/अ/অ) (let's talk|contribs) 09:47, 1 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support I agree with the editors above and I think it would be useful to readers. (though I'd probably not edit the wiki). Sahaib3005 (talk) 10:52, 20 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Question: How does this differ from what is being done on some Wikisource projects? Also in many jurisdictions current law is already online, so why duplicate such efforts? ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 11:30, 23 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Since the question about differing from Wikisource has been covered significantly, I'll just contribute to the question about duplicating efforts. Many governments do indeed post these online, but they are spread across many different websites, one for each government. Even within a government, I have to look at one website for proposed bills, another for acts, another for parliamentary debates, another for how politicians vote. WikiLaw could consolidate all of it, and make it consistent where possible and where useful. ElDubs (talk) 03:37, 10 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support It is a great idea in my opinion. To bring all legal cases, perhaps constitutions and laws too, into a central repository, like Wikidata or Wikispecies. It's central repository structure (e.g., Wikispecies) will allow the reader to find the worldwide sum of legal cases without them having to go from one journal to another, or one site to another. Using a Wikidata style, it would be a tool allowing for those looking for past legal cases across the world simply by running queries on say, "Freedom of speech", or "what state laws are effectively unenforced due to Brown v BOE", etc. —CX Zoom (A/अ/অ) (let's talk|contribs) 09:47, 1 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Strong support: This proposal doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but I'd love to see a comprehensive Wikimedia legal wiki replace those patchy, unreliable, and promotional legal advisory sites with real legal answers. --Heavy Water (talk) 23:15, 15 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps it should have simple summaries based on questions like "Is it legal to do x in y", giving concise advice, sort of like Wikivoyage. Heavy Water (talk) 00:42, 29 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Isn’t that basically just Wikipedia, where there’s a million articles about “X laws by place” which you don’t exactly need to be a legal scholar to use? Dronebogus (talk) 15:25, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Strong support This could easily help both the general population find law information easily but also may be an additional tool for, say, paralegals to be able to help with preliminary research. The project should also have case law, on the page of a law could include information on any history or context of the law (for example, for US flag code, show that it is not mandatory or for the Flag Protection Act, give context that it was written to combat protests against the Vietnam War (and link to the WP page on it) and that the law was struck down. —Justafriendlykiwi (talk) 03:06, 11 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oppose redundant to a bunch of tasks already fulfilled by wikivoyage (practical legal advice for travelers) Wikipedia (layman explanations of notable laws) and wikisource (legal texts). And no professional takes WM seriously enough to use it for research, and they already HAVE the resources for this anyway. And that’s not even getting to Wikiversity! So it doesn’t help laypeople, who can go elsewhere on WM for the same info in a format specialized for their needs, and it definitely doesn’t help legal experts, who know what they’re doing by definition. Dronebogus (talk) 15:31, 24 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support Although Wikisource is the place to publish laws and other ordinances, the allowed contents are originally published versions and published modified versions, but that doesn't mean modified laws with comments from the editors can be published. This project not only could contain the rule of law but also modifications, other comments, references to relevant case law (precedents or jurisprudence), and also the case law itself. The in-depth analysis of a law or case would not be part of this project but of Wikiversity. --Onwa (talk) 15:42, 31 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]