WikiLaw (3)

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This page is a proposal for a new Wikimedia Foundation Sister Project.
Status Under discussion
What is the proposed name for the project? WikiLaw
Proposed project tagline Free legal repository
Project description
What is the project purpose? What will be its scope? How would it benefit to be part of Wikimedia?
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.
How many wikis?
Will there be many language versions or just on one multilingual wiki?
One multilingual wiki like wikidata.
How many languages?
Is the project going to be in one language or in many?
Proposed logo for the project The logo for the project, if you already have one
Technical requirements
If the project requires any new features that the MediaWiki software currently doesn't have, please describe in detail. Are additional MediaWiki extensions needed for the project?
A mixture of Data of Commons (nosql structure part) and wikidata (ui and editing simplicity part).
Development wiki MJL Testing Wiki
Interested participants List of project participants

For legal research all the laws, regulations and legal decisions need to be indexed to make them machine readable.

Proposed by[edit]

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Related projects/proposals[edit]

Domain names[edit]

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People interested[edit]

  • Ie.sanm (talk) 13:55, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Capankajsmilyo (talk) 16:40, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Arep Ticous 16:43, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Very interested. –MJLTalk 23:26, 30 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Fungster (talk) 06:42, 22 June 2019 (UTC)
  • 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)
  • Interested. Making this globally-available would be a challenge though. Altoria 2016 (talk) 07:21, 19 July 2019 (UTC)
  • 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
  • Xover (talk) 07:01, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
  • --Rubbish computer (Talk: Contribs) 16:26, 20 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Supertrinko (talk) 03:06, 19 December 2019 (UTC)


  • @Capankajsmilyo:. To who would this be useful to? and how would this be useful to the society? ArepTicous talkcontribs 15:53, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
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)
  • @Capankajsmilyo: Well...I am happy to say that i Support Support this. It's good that you are renewing a long lost proposal. Arep Ticous 16:45, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Support 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)
    @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. –MJLTalk 00:59, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Support 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)
  • 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 . 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)
  • Oppose 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 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//Δ's/ 05:31, 6 July 2019 (UTC)
    @Mendaliv: I know what you are saying, the law won’t apply in all archived laws, plus current laws are unfit on Wikisource. 10:27, 18 July 2019 (UTC)
    @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. –MJLTalk 03:14, 27 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Support 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 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
  • Support Support with Comment 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... 02:04, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
  • @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)
  • Support 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. Supertrinko (talk) 03:51, 18 December 2019 (UTC)
    • Ah yes, "combine the efforts". Nemo 10:46, 18 December 2019 (UTC)
      • 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. Supertrinko (talk) 02:21, 19 December 2019 (UTC)