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Open Source Effort To Codify America's "Operating System" Online

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the does-america-run-linux dept.

Government 98

Rubinstien writes "O'Reilly Radar is reporting on an effort to produce Law.gov, 'America's Operating System, Open Source.' The group Public.Resource.Org seeks to 'create a solid business plan, technical specs, and enabling legislation for the federal government to create Law.gov. [They] envision Law.gov as a distributed, open source, authenticated registry and repository of all primary legal materials in the United States.' According to its new website, 'Law.gov would be similar to Data.gov, providing bulk data and feeds to commercial, non-commercial, and governmental organizations wishing to build web sites, operate legal information services, or otherwise use the raw materials of our democracy.'"

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774523)

Fuck the Republican party.

They ruined the country and now the can't stop complaining about the people who are fixing their mess.

YA REILLY. (5, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774545)

Fuck the Republican party.

Wrong O'Reilly. This is Tim, not Bill.

Re:first post (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774593)

Yeah. Things are getting fixed. If you're a fucking deadbeat. The working man is getting fucked just as hard by this administration as the last.

Re:first post (3, Insightful)

oh_bugger (906574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774857)

that is the best description of politics I've ever read. it is a permanent truth.

Re:first post (1, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775377)

But it takes a Bush [fas.org] to lower the bar [wikipedia.org] ;)

Nice (2, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774541)

Anyone got an RSS feed for bribes accepted per politician?
It's open access to this information that democracy is built upon.

opensecrets.org, well almost (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774569)

Anyone got an RSS feed for bribes accepted per politician?

I don't know of one, but I can see an Atom feed of headlines [opensecrets.org] from a site that also has lists of the top contributors to reelection campaigns of representatives like Rep. Boner [opensecrets.org] .

Re:opensecrets.org, well almost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776089)

I will let it be known that Rep. Boner does not represent me! I am calm and relaxed ...

Re:opensecrets.org, well almost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29781747)

Seriously, we all know Phizer is the real power behind Rep Boner

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29777655)

Many developers, sysadmins and engineers have been working on trying to make this precise concept a reality for many years. Unfortunately we have never been able to achieve a system with enough data storage capacity or processing power to achieve critical mass.

It appears that we are chasing a perpetual engine and our goals are a "fool's errand" as Moore's Law cannot possibly keep up.

Here is the problem:

Pn = Po 2n

Where:
Pn = Political graft in future years

Po = Political graft in the beginning year

n = number of years to develop a faster processor and larger data storage divided by 2, i.e., every two years

spectacular idea (3, Insightful)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774549)

Spectacular idea - maybe, just maybe, if we remember what could be happening, and what shouldn't be happening, things will shape up a bit. Both sides seem hell bent on tearing up everything.

I perused the top level sales pitch docs - can't find any good details on how they'd want to organize it. subdomains for each state? subdomains for each type of law? A giant wikipedia? If info can't be easily found on the site through intuitive methods, it's a "failure" from the start (assuming the intent is availability of the data...).

Anyone have any info on such (ie, how it is going to be organized)?

Re:spectacular idea (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774673)

(assuming the intent is availability of the data...).

Who's intent do you mean, the people promoting this idea, or the people who will gain control of it if it actually goes anywhere?

Re:spectacular idea (3, Insightful)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774883)

A giant wikipedia?

God help us if anyone can put what they think the law is. I can only imagine all the urban legend laws that would get put onto the site.

Re:spectacular idea (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776701)

Exactly. One word: Wikinazis.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the title (3, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774559)

What does open access to laws have to do with operating systems or open source? Sounds like an attempt to ride the Linux hype wave, and it seems to be succeeding so far.

Code by Lawrence Lessig (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774699)

What does open access to laws have to do with operating systems or open source?

There's a reason why they call it a "legal code [wikipedia.org] ", and not just because of Dr. Lessig's book [wikipedia.org] .

Sounds like an attempt to ride the Linux hype wave, and it seems to be succeeding so far.

"Law like a free software project" would at least require a patch to the patent code [uspto.gov] to make it more efficient at rejecting obvious inventions.

Re:Code by Lawrence Lessig (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775207)

"Law like a free software project" would at least require a patch to the patent code to make it more efficient at rejecting obvious inventions.

The Supreme Court submitted the KSR patch to the case law branch back in 2007 which helped tremendously with this bug.

Most of the problem now seems to be that since patent claims resemble Perl scripts, most users end up reading the comments at the top of the file rather than the claim code because it's easier to understand. Then they start submitting bug reports based on the comments without even finding out whether the new code conflicts with other modules that are already loaded.

Re:Code by Lawrence Lessig (1)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775843)

If this means that new laws have to undergo beta-testing before getting signed, then I'm all for it.

Re:Code by Lawrence Lessig (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775975)

What does open access to laws have to do with operating systems or open source?

There's a reason why they call it a "legal code [wikipedia.org] ", and not just because of Dr. Lessig's book [wikipedia.org] .

Nope. They call it a "legal code [wikipedia.org] " by derivation from "codification [wikipedia.org] ", which ultimately derives from "codex [wikipedia.org] " - I.E. a book of law that present and organized system of law. Computer "code [wikipedia.org] " on the other hand derives it's name from the definition of code that means to translate information from one form of representation to another - E.G. to and from native binary.

Re:Code by Lawrence Lessig (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776743)

They call it a "legal code [wikipedia.org] " by derivation from "codification [wikipedia.org] ", which ultimately derives from "codex [wikipedia.org] " - I.E. a book of law that present and organized system of law. Computer "code [wikipedia.org] " on the other hand derives it's name from the definition of code that means to translate information from one form of representation to another - E.G. to and from native binary.

The American Heritage Dictionary editors seem to think [answers.com] that the "code as abbreviation" meaning, which led to the computer symbol and cryptographic meanings, also came from "codex".

Re:I'm still trying to wrap my head around the tit (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774793)

What does open access to laws have to do with operating systems

Suing someone over any disagreement is standard operating procedure in the United States.

Re:I'm still trying to wrap my head around the tit (5, Funny)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775061)

... an attempt to ride the Linux hype wave ...

There is a 'Linux hype wave'? In which universe?

Re:I'm still trying to wrap my head around the tit (1)

iiiears (987462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776349)

Read Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. - You can skip over his use of Sheep as an example if you like.

Re:I'm still trying to wrap my head around the tit (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776405)

You can modernize it with s/sheep/car/g.

I know where you find the Linux Hype Wave (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#29780145)

There is a 'Linux hype wave'? In which universe?

Well, 2010 will be the year of the Linux Hype Wave...

Re:I'm still trying to wrap my head around the tit (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776355)

It might be that they really are mixing terms up. Maybe they just mean a open software system that supports their workflows -- some webtool on top of apache/linux, and a internal extended http client for the OCR stuff would do it. Operating System = Software System that enables their work.

Re:I'm still trying to wrap my head around the tit (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29782931)

Sounds like an attempt to ride the Linux hype wave

There's a Linux hype wave? Woohoo! Someone break out the champagne!

Welcome to the 21st century (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774579)

See e.g.: Canlii [canlii.org] , Austlii [austlii.edu.au] , Bailii [bailii.org] , ...

mod parent troll (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774813)

Or at least take away the 'informative'... I was curious so I looked it up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Access_to_Law_Movement [wikipedia.org]
>The Free Access to Law Movement is the umbrella name for the collective of legal projects across several common law countries to provide free online access to legal information such as case law and legislation... The name Legal Information Institute has been widely adopted by other projects. It is usually prefixed by a country or region identifier.

>LII (Cornell) The Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School provides free legal information for the United States. It was the original LII project, founded in 1992.
>CanLII The Canadian Legal Information Institute is the project providing legal information on Canada.
>AustLII The Australasian Legal Information Institute is the project providing Australian and New Zealand legal information.
>BAILII The British and Irish Legal Information Institute (pronounced 'Bailey') is the project providing legal information on England and Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom, and the European Union.

Re:mod parent troll (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775129)

>LII (Cornell) The Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School provides free legal information for the United States. It was the original LII project, founded in 1992.

But what do we have to show for it? If it is ridiculously hard to obtain and keep up to date it will not help in today's world.

Re:mod parent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775277)

The law is ridiculously hard to keep up to date for anybody in today's world. Don't think just because you're paying $200.00 an hour, or 30% to some ambulance chaser that she's any more knowledgeable about the law than I am. I know nothing about the law plus, right now, I'm drunk.

West and Lexis/Nexis are going to love this. (4, Insightful)

jcohen (131471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774589)

For eons, West and Lexis have been making staggering sums reselling primary legal material to all and sundry. Best of luck to this project in prying that material out of their hands, and in surviving the massive lobbying and astroturfing that will ensue before the project achieves that goal.

Re:West and Lexis/Nexis are going to love this. (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774911)

Best of luck to this project in prying that material out of their hands, and in surviving the massive lobbying and astroturfing that will ensue before the project achieves that goal.

Wikipedia is a relatively harmless site that requires pointing elsewhere for information, and like any good encyclopedia disclaims any status as a source of authority. And they are plagued by trolls, malicious edits, and so forth.

Open sourcing "law" is something of even greater complexity, where EVERY SINGLE PAGE is going to have someone determined to change what the law says.

Should the government-ran web pages for law be standardized? Hell yes. Is a classic "Open Source' model appropriate for the generation of content? Hell no.

Re:West and Lexis/Nexis are going to love this. (2, Informative)

mftb (1522365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774945)

You don't have to allow everyone to edit articles/commit code to be open.

Re:West and Lexis/Nexis are going to love this. (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775135)

Mod parent up!

$MAJOROSSPROJECT is open and nobody gets their own malware put in it by commiting it repeatedly.

Re:West and Lexis/Nexis are going to love this. (2, Informative)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775141)

I don't believe it will necessarily follow the open source model of allowing free, unfettered, public updates. Rather the idea of Open Source law should be based on the premise that the law of the country should be available with the lowest barriers possible to all citizens. It is basic to the running of the country, the country that we, the people, ultimately own, and we should all have access to it. To that end, it should be a government initiative to make that as easy as possible. I think that is what this project is about.

Re:West and Lexis/Nexis are going to love this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29777849)

Best of luck to this project in prying that material out of their hands

You do realize that opinions from federal courts are "works of the United States Government", and not subject to copyright protection, yes?

bad phrasing (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774617)

... or use the raw materials of our democracy.

I thought capitalism did a pretty good job of using us all.

Re:bad phrasing (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774621)

You do realize that capitalism is entirely voluntary, right? If it wasn't 100% voluntary, it wouldn't be capitalism.

Re:bad phrasing (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774685)

Fucking mysticist Randroids.

"The capitalism you can achieve, is not the True Capitalism."

Re:bad phrasing (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774713)

You do realize that capitalism is entirely voluntary, right?

Not if large capitalists form a cartel on an essential good or service.

Re:bad phrasing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775485)

essential good or service

Most of which you only think are essential. Objectively, it is pretty easy to live a very comfortable life cheaply, by historical standards, in the Western world.

Most people get all pissed off when others have it even better.

Re:bad phrasing (1)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29779281)

I believe you're thinking of an oligarchy.

Re:bad phrasing (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 4 years ago | (#29795885)

There's nothing involuntary about a cartel. You might have a point should someone manage to monopolize all the available raw materials necessary for life (i.e. air, water, land), but that's merely a "life-boat situation" and not relevant to everyday economics or social policy. Naturally the normal rules tend to be bent or broken when sheer survival is forced to take priority over all other considerations.

Complaining about a cartel or monopoly on a service, though, is ridiculous unless the cartel in question is forcibly preventing others from offering the same service—in which case we're not talking about capitalism. Monopolies and cartels can only exist in the service domain to the extent that no one can force another to provide them with a service. Arguing against that kind of "monopoly" is equivalent to arguing for outright slavery, just as arguing against the "monopoly" granted over specific property by the rights of ownership is equivalent to arguing for theft. Individuals have the right to withhold their labor (or property), generally or in any specific circumstance, and individually or as a group ("cartel"). This is essential to the proper function of the system, and not a flaw to be corrected.

Forcibly preventing competition (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29796477)

You might have a point should someone manage to monopolize all the available raw materials necessary for life (i.e. air, water, land), but that's merely a "life-boat situation" and not relevant to everyday economics or social policy.

In that case, capitalism has the weakness that a monopolist can threaten to send an economy back to the stone age.

Complaining about a cartel or monopoly on a service, though, is ridiculous unless the cartel in question is forcibly preventing others from offering the same service

In communications, for instance, the FCC forcibly prevents wireless competition by exclusively reserving (allegedly too much) spectrum for emergency first responders and the armed forces. Land owners forcibly prevent wired competition by owning the land between the central office and subscribers.

Re:bad phrasing (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774749)

You do realize that capitalism is entirely voluntary, right? If it wasn't 100% voluntary, it wouldn't be capitalism.

The only pure capitalism I see is at local self-organized farmers' markets. Ironically, largely patronized by people who vehemently criticize capitalism.

Just about everything else is taxed and regulated, which perturbs real market function.

Re:bad phrasing (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775063)

Most people who hate "capitalism" are the ones that hate the current iteration and not pure capitalism.

The bastardization that is coperatism passed off as capitalism is pretty much hated by everyone but the uber-rich that benefit from it.

At a farmers market I can shop 5 different peach farmers and buy the peaches I want at the price I want. Plus most of them are friendly and bend over backwards to make you a happy customer.

Best buy and other large corporations do not sodomize the customers with plungers as they enter the door simply because the law prevents it. They play bullshit like "copyright their prices" and they actually hate you for price shopping. I'd be all for corporate capitalism if they actually practiced it.

Re:bad phrasing (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775527)

Amazon and Walmart have happily been putting competitors out of business for years now.

Re:bad phrasing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29779579)

Ah, but that's the inherent risk of capitalism: If your local peach farmers decided to scale up, they'd probably work together as a peach selling corporation - and from there on, things go downhill.

Re:bad phrasing == bad thinking (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775803)

Yeah, the paradise of of completely unregulated markets and unrestrained capitalism, like for example the derivative markets. Have you forgotten that last March these unregulated markets almost destroyed the economy of the entire world? Have you not noticed that bailing out the financial greed heads that caused this mess has cost the US government almost a TRILLION DOLLARS? What happened to the to the five or ten or fifteen trillion dollars of evaporated paper profits that these unregulated markets generated? Did they go to the tooth fairy?

For those of us who live in the real world, only one conclusion is possible: libertarianism is organized stupidity. People don't work that way and groups of people don't work that way. Libertarianism is as bogus as Marxism.

You want to go to a liberatarian paradise, I got a suggestion: go to the coast of Somalia. Or the countryside of Afghanistan, or northern Pakistan. In fact, if you look at every location in the world where there is no effective governmental control, it is a violent hell hole. All the nice places have lots of government: western Europe, Japan, Australia, some parts of the USA. Like I said before, libertarian thinking does not apply in the real world.

VOLUME! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774629)

The sheer VOLUME of laws forms a sea within which lawyers swim. This effort sounds like more utopian mental masturbation.

Bug Tracker? (5, Funny)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774641)

Issue #15327: Government OS fails to load Constitution.inc. Error message is "But think of the children!"

Re:Bug Tracker? (1)

flydude18 (839328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774843)

The latest release always loads the interstate_commerce and necessary_and_proper modules, but the rest are hit or miss.

Re:Bug Tracker? (2, Funny)

iiiears (987462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776333)

tragedy_of_the_commons module consumes too many thread workers ...

FIRST PATCH (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775491)

118 U.S. 394 [justia.com]

@@ -16,7 +16,7 @@

Syllabus

-The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in
+The defendant Corporations are not persons within the intent of the clause in
section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United

Page 118 U. S. 395

Re:Bug Tracker? (2, Interesting)

jawahar (541989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29782099)

I think all the efforts to empower common man will be resisted because legislative, judiciary, administration & business community will not allow their clout to be diluted.

Confession: I smell my own farts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774651)

It's true- I'll waft them up to my face, or fart on something then smell that. I've noticed a difference between smelling farts off my fingers and farting into a towel and smelling that. I prefer the towel. Sometimes, right before I take a shower, I'll wipe my ass with a towel or my underwear to smell my butt-perfume. I frequently pull the covers over my own head when I fart between the sheets. Oh, and I love the smell and frequency of my hangover farts. I love leaving my room for a few minutes and coming back to smell my still-lingering farts hanging in the air. To me its kind of like climing out of the swimming pool, getting in the hot tub for a few minutes, then going back into the pool. If I want to fart without making a lot of noise I'll reach into my pants and hold my buttcheeks apart with my fingers so the gas can leave my asshole unobstructed. it actually makes a very audible "pssssssssssssss" sound. Like if someone was in earshot but they couldn't see me, they would probably be wondering if i was farting with my fingers in my ass.

Sometimes if I'm in public I'll find "discreet" ways to indulge my fart-sniffing penchance. For example I'll try to pass gas as quietly as possible, then discreetly fan my thighs open and closed so the gas is wafted up to my face.

Re:Confession: I smell my own farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775505)

Million! Nice to see you found another home!

Just what we need (2, Informative)

igny (716218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774701)

AOS discs in mail.

Spaghetti code (3, Funny)

identity0 (77976) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774717)

Refactor 200+ years of code written by a constantly changing development team with no central management, revision control, scope checking, flowcharting let alone UML diagrams, and text editor consisting of a feather and some ink?

Sign me the fuck up!

Bills are patches (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774755)

Of course the U.S. Code has revision control. The actual bills look like patches: "Title 17, U.S. Code, section 301, is amended by striking 'foo' and inserting 'bar'." Try reading the Sonny Bono Act [gpo.gov] to see exactly how the U.S. copyright term got extended.

Re:Bills are patches (1)

jellybear (96058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774889)

CPU's are wetware

Re:Bills are patches (1)

Joe Mucchiello (1030) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774923)

Yes, in the abstract. Now find the original copy of Title 17 and feed it into git/hg/svn/whatever. Then apply all the laws passed since the date of that copy as patches. Do you really think that could be automated?

Re:Bills are patches (3, Insightful)

mhatle (54607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775121)

I have worked on systems in the past (for West specifically) that perform automated primary law patching.

The key thing is to understand the standard language and breakdown of the code. In some jurisdiction, it's by section, others it is by subsection, others, paragraph, and others sentence or sentence fragment.

The laws themselves need to be organized in a fashion they can be searched, patched, and retrieved (verified) based on offical versions.

One thing people have ignored is that generally speaking is there are two types of legal codes. Codified sections and Articles/Laws/Uncodified. The Codified sections are of the type mentioned above.. Title 17, section 237, subsection (a) is amended to read... vs Articles -- Act 236 of the 85th congress is amended as follows.. This is MUCH harder to patch.. because in essence you are patching a patch. (Note, most Tax and Social Security related rules are non-codified. This is because the only way to change from non-codified to codified is to repeal and then re-enact the legislation with an official title. And absolutely no congressman wants to be know as someone who voted to repeal social security, or know as someone who voted in all of these taxes...)

Re:Bills are patches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29779289)

This is how it works in my country. We have all the laws online on a government web page. If a part of a law is changed, then the text is updated and a hyperlink is added that essentially says "this section was modified by $BILL in $DATE and came into force in $DATE". This way, we always have the law texts up to date and people can see the history of every change.

Of course, we have been an independent state for a short time and thus our laws are a little less patched and a little better structured than the ones in the USA. In the 200+ years of democracy in the States, even changes in the English language have rendered your laws hard to read. However, I believe that if you can put the laws online in the version controlled manner, then it will be easier to update them to modernize their wording to make laws accessible to laymen.

Re:Bills are patches (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775879)

Of course the U.S. Code has revision control

But does it have cvs blame so when we find some particularly brain-dead chunk, we can find out who committed it and revoke their access?

Re:Bills are patches (1)

iiiears (987462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776369)

lol - Only accept their patches after being reviewed by RMS LT, and TdR?

Re:Spaghetti code (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775483)

One of the first installments of that spaghetti code was the vote; one per person (ok, landowner), counted. Apparently, the best practices of information technology have yet to meet this as a deliverable. I can't wait to see what our advanced technology will do to murky concepts.

But, being a whore, where do I catch this train?

They're.called.full.stops.for.a.reason. (1)

distantbody (852269) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774785)

I guess some marketing type figured 'Public.Resource.Org' was trendy and would appeal to the 'internet generation'. I wouldn't take it seriously going by that name. Similar to 'OO.o', pay the trademark owner or get a different name. They both posses a sense of levity.

Lexis and Westlaw? (2, Informative)

jellybear (96058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774845)

Won't this destroy Lexis and Westlaw's business model?

Re:Lexis and Westlaw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774941)

No, one of the biggest features of Westlaw is ability to access ALR's and CJS. Primary sources are great but all that information needs to by synthesised into something that can be used as an easy reference.

Re:Lexis and Westlaw? (3, Informative)

mhatle (54607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775185)

I agree.. Westlaw/Lexis information includes history context, legal analysis, links to secondary (court cases) sources that interpret the law, and as well as if the law is in the process of being appealed as unconstitutional or whatever.

This is what Westlaw and Lexis sell to lawyers, the actual content of the law itself is something required in order for the money making part to exist.

Re:Lexis and Westlaw? (2, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776067)

I concur. Lawyers care only tangentially about the code itself. What they are looking for is case law - not what did the law say, but what does the law mean? And what the law means isn't determined by what the law says, but what a judge says it means - how the judge interprets it.

And that interpretation is pretty static - when a judge gives a ruling on a code, other judges are reticent to overturn that ruling. Instead, they'll try to clarify or eliminate ambiguity in the earlier ruling.

In the '90s, I tried to do a 'net startup by making it easy to search through state codes. I built elaborate pattern matching algorithms to break up state statutes by article, section, and number, and build a huge, hyper-relational database (think wiki on steroids) back when a Pentium 90 was cutting edge. It took me some 4-6 months of long, hard work to get my prototype together for a few large states. (California and Texas)

I succeeded, the product worked fine, but no lawyers were interested - even for free. That was a very short-lived enterprise.

Re:Lexis and Westlaw? (2, Informative)

jellybear (96058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776475)

I assumed without RTFA that the site would include case law. You're right, it doesn't.

"By primary legal materials, we mean all materials that have the force of law and are part of the law-making process, including: briefs and opinions from the judiciary; reports, hearings, and laws from the legislative branch; and regulations, audits, grants, and other materials from the executive branch. Creating the system from open source software building blocks will allow states and municipalities to make their materials available as well"

Re:Lexis and Westlaw? (1)

Frankenshteen (1355339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774967)

Let's hope so.

Re:Lexis and Westlaw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775217)

Their money is made on the annotations, not the text itself

Is this where we can read the health care bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29774969)

Is this part of Obama's promise to open source the government by letting us read bills before congress votes on them? Maybe even give congress a chance to read them?

Is this where we can read the health care bill? (2, Insightful)

llzackll (68018) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774989)

Is this part of Obama's promise to open source the government by letting us read bills before they are voted on? Will congress actually get a chance to read them here?

Re:Is this where we can read the health care bill? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775269)

Please explain how the Executive branch has any say on how the Legislative branch does its business. All BO can do is veto or threaten to veto legislation that doesn't meet his transparency guidelines.

Re:Is this where we can read the health care bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29776197)

They have through the party apparatus, if both are controlled by the same party.

Re:Is this where we can read the health care bill? (2, Informative)

Palshife (60519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775573)

http://thomas.loc.gov/ [loc.gov] Read anything you want. You don't need the president's permission to read bills before they become law. Though, unlike your representatives, you're not bound by due diligence to do so.

Re:Is this where we can read the health care bill? (2, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776337)

It'll be like digg -- you can vote a bill up or down and the most popular ones are passed :-P
It is outsourcing the reading process. And to those who don't like the system people will say -- similar to as they do now with wikipedia -- "if you don't like the bill, just vote it down'

They've overlooked the most important point (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29774999)

The first rule of any new project is, of course, to find a good acronym! Doubly so for government projects! AOSOS just doesn't cut it. How can I take them seriously when they can't even come up with a good acronym?

U BUY Burberry Handbags,Air Max 91 kid small shoe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775015)

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                                                                              HTTP://www.tntshoes.com

Re:U BUY Burberry Handbags,Air Max 91 kid small sh (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29778343)

From the URL I conclude those are shoes for suicide terrorists? However I'm not sure that you can get enough explosive into the shoes. :-)

References in low to propietary standards (4, Informative)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775019)

In many technical areas, such as building codes, the law will say something like, "The city of Nowhere adopts in whole the International Building Code of 2007." The problem is that the International Building Code and most other codes are written and copyrighted by private organization that charge lots of money for a copy.

Waiting for the User Model (3, Interesting)

FatherDale (1535743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775103)

I deeply love this idea -- rationalizing our Bizarro World legal code, shining light in the dark corners, showing ourselves and the world who we are. Having seen a number of open source projects go all faily because they were dominated by one person/cabal, though, I'll wait until I see how they're going to distribute the workload before I sign up.

Re:Waiting for the User Model (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775295)

Thank goodness there are no cabals in politics/law.

--

They were paying me twice as much, so I thought I was getting experience twice as fast. Charles Percy

Re:Waiting for the User Model (1)

FatherDale (1535743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29776585)

BWAHAHAHAA! Nice.

Time to reboot into safe mode (2, Funny)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775285)

Run a virus scan in safe mode to remove the parasites, aka lobbyist.

Open source doesn't mean crap (1)

dandaman32 (1056054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775477)

A project can be as "open source" as it wants, but that doesn't mean it has to take patches, adhere strictly to disclosure policies, or release early/release often.

I'm skeptical, because the same goes for this project of "open sourcing" our "operating system." I don't see how it helps much if we can't contribute our changes back to upstream. Neither do those who submit changes often have any guarantee whatsoever of receiving recognition and getting commit access.

Re:Open source doesn't mean crap (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775563)

I'm pretty sure that they mean the effort itself is going to be based on open-source technologies, and not that there is an effort to open source the legislative procedure, which is something all together different. We have elected legislators to make laws, and citizens can petition directly or in groups (some people call them "special interest groups," but only because they aren't a member of one... when it's their own "special interest" then its magically a "citizen's organization" or something equally gay).

"Open Sourcing" the constitution and the laws really makes no sense. Creating a free service, built on open source technologies with open APIs for accessing data in open formats so that anyone can have access at any time to the text of laws makes a great deal of sense and is something which should have been done a long while ago, because thomas.loc.gov kind of pisses me off.

I have the whole code already (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29775577)

while (1=1) sue();

Re:I have the whole code already (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29778359)

First patch; your code has a self-assignment. Also, if being more explicit, it even rhymes.

while (true)
  sue();

Unamerican Operating System (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29775911)

Open Source == Communism
Communism America

Therfore: Open Source America

Difference between Law and Code (3, Interesting)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29778789)

Laws can and must be broken. No government can survive the stringent enforcement of its own laws. This is the fundamental difference between law and procedural computer code. Law requires judgment while code merely requires execution.

On the level that this project seeks to work, however, the task might not be completely foolish.

open source law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29791179)

This is a very serious topic and I wish you all the best of luck sorting it out on your Slashdot forum. Hopefully it will lead to some insight for the best off, and at least, some frustration for everyone else like me.

Really though, open source laws?

Open source law would be a great idea. The ability for the people to decide what laws are valid, and which aren't. To alter and modify those already existing. To suggest and add new ones, and get rid of old or unpopular laws. THAT's open source law, and the internet allows it in a fractured and alienated universe like ours.

It's a step in the right direction. I guess.

Hasn't this been done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29810683)

How will this be different than the LII at Cornell Law School (www.law.cornell.edu)?

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