UNSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre and AustLII
invite you to a free seminar
one of the 2008 Cyberspace Law and Policy Series


Sharing info on the 'Semantic Web' or 'Giant Global Graph':
unresolved legal issues


Pierre-Paul Lemyre, LexUM, Canada


Wednesday 14 May 2008


1:00-2:00 pm, including time for questions and discussion


Room 101, first floor
Faculty of Law building
UNSW lower campus (near Roundhouse), Kensington, Sydney



Software developers realized the benefits generated by making their source code freely available to others years ago. In time, the success of the open source software (OSS, sometimes F/LOSS) model demonstrated that opening access to information is not just about distributing it in a more equitable fashion, it is also an effective method to boost the production of knowledge. If anything facilitated the expansion of this collaborative process, it is the appearance of software licenses designed to exploit the protections of copyright laws in order to secure the 'open'-ness of software.

This model has also inspired a broad range of commercial and non-profit initiatives generating value by promoting the mass collaboration of individuals over shared sets of information. Based on wikis, blogs, social tagging or social networking technologies, these ventures have gave birth to a business revolution that has come to be dubbed "Web 2.0". The development of dedicated licensing schemes has been crucial in this outcome. The Creative Commons movement, in particular, have been extremely helpful in clarifying the spectrum of rights and reuse conditions attached to freely accessible information. (The Australian-initiated 'Free for Education' licence under the AEShareNet/TVET suite also offers a CC-compatible domain-specific application of similar principles.)

But if the current 'information commons' developed in independent channels, some anticipate that the next step in the evolution of the Web will make their seamless integration possible. This development should create tremendous opportunities for those capable of building innovative services and knowledge products on top of this shared knowledge base.

While the technological foundations of this 'Web of ideas', 'Semantic Web' or 'Giant Global Graph' are raising off the ground, we need to think about the legal framework that will support the whole structure. For distributed information systems to thrive, some old legal issues need to be resolved. Additional attention should be given to license incompatibilities resulting from the fragmentation of rights by conditions, jurisdictions and data formats.

Privacy concerns over the sharing of sensible data should also be addressed.

This presentation proposes possible solutions to reduce the remaining legal obstacles to the aggregation of freely accessible information.

Presentation: [ODP] [PDF] [PPT]

  About the Speaker:

Pierre-Paul Lemyre is one of the leading researchers at LexUM, the legal information technologies laboratory of the Law Faculty at Université de Montréal in Canada, like AustLII a member of the Free Access to Law movement. From September 2007 to August 2008, he is on study leave at the University of Technology, Sydney, working on his Ph.D. Before this he was in charge of the business development of LexUM, particularly at the international stage where he contributed to building relationships with numerous founding agencies and local partners. He is interested in the challenges that lasting development poses, with extended experience in the improvement of access to legal information in developing countries. He is also recognized as an expert on legal issues related to free and open source software.


Entry is free, no need to book. If you are coming from off campus please RSVP to feedback [at]

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