John L. Sheridan of the UK National Archives and his team have released Legislation.gov.uk, which presents UK legislation as Linked Data, and provides free public access — including bulk access via RESTful API — to UK legislation and legislative metadata in a range of formats, including XML.
Legislation.gov.uk includes both statutes and statutory instruments. Click here for details on the contents of Legislation.gov.uk.
According to the API information page, Legislation.gov.uk data is “free for re-use under data.gov.uk licence terms,” which have “been aligned to be interoperable with any Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence. This means that you may mix the information with Creative Commons licensed content to create a derivative work that can be distributed under any Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence.”
The new Legislation.gov.uk embodies three key current technology developments relevant to legal informatics:
- The combined use of Permanent URIs, Representational State Transfer (REST), and object-oriented design and modelling characteristic of the O’Reilly Media PRESTO architecture;
- Open government data, characterized by the provision of bulk access to data in machine-processable formats, and Creative-Commons-type “copyleft” licensing; and
- Linked Data, enabling automatic semantic processing of legal texts.
Mr. Sheridan identifies three legal informatics efforts in particular as having furnished ideas that inform Legislation.gov.uk:
- PRESTO, Rick Jelliffe‘s WWW Information Architecture for Legislation and Public Information systems;
- KLISS: The Kansas Legislative Information Services System, created by Sean McGrath of Propylon, for its innovative use of URIs; and
- The Law.gov legal open government data project, and particularly the work of Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org.
Of particular interest is the section of the API information page entitled What We Hope Others Might Do, which discusses potential uses of the data accessible via Legislation.gov.uk. This section notes particularly ESD Toolkit, which “have already linked their listing of the powers and duties in legislation on Local Authorities to legislation.gov.uk URIs and are making use of the API to deliver their service.”
Congratulations to Mr. Sheridan and his team on the launch of this highly innovative and generative system!