The Text Encoding Initiative and
Electronic Legal Texts
The program’s first speaker was Nicholas D. Finke, Head of Library Publications and Director, Center for Electronic Text in the Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Finke began his presentation by discussing why libraries would want to use guidelines for electronic text markup. As libraries continue providing access to materials (particularly those that might otherwise not be made available), including preserving materials to ensure that access, they are increasingly becoming electronic publishers. The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines represent one of the best standards available right now to academic electronic publishers.
After giving a brief introduction to document type definitions (DTDs), Finke moved on to discussing the TEI itself. The TEI was started in 1987 to develop a standard for academic electronic text markup. It was originally a cooperative initiative of the Association of Computers and the Humanities, the Association for Computational Linguistics, and the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing, and was funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities, among others. In 1994, the current version of the Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines (called P3) was completed. These guidelines are not themselves a DTD, but rather a method for creating conformant DTDs.
The TEI Guidelines are an academic standard; they can handle legal text very well. For example, the guidelines support sophisticated cross-reference models (such as bi-directional links within the text) and complex annotation (which can be useful for marking up, for example, court opinions, linking them to related remote texts). The guidelines are also easily extensible, making them useful for encoding things such as Bluebook signals.
The TEI Guidelines and LegalXML were compared. They have some differences in scope: TEI is geared to academic texts, LegalXML to all texts used in law. There are some relatively small areas of scope overlap, such as with opinions, law reviews, and statutes and regulations.
Finke discussed the structure of a TEI document in detail. In particular, he covered many specifics of the TEI header, which functions as the title page for a TEI document.
A consortium of 4 universities now hosts the Text Encoding Initiative: the University of Bergen (Norway), Oxford University, Brown University, and the University of Virginia. The consortium is responsible for ongoing revision and expansion of the TEI guidelines.
Kevin Butterfield was the second speaker. He began his presentation by covering headers in encoded electronic texts. Headers were developed by the Text Documentation Committee of the Text Encoding Initiative and resemble highly structured citations or CIP cataloging records. Butterfield then explained the 4 elements of a TEI header: the file description, the encoding description, the profile description and the revision description.
He proceeded to cover the implications of the TEI header for cataloging. The header can map to MARC which can be useful for automatic MARC record creation for library catalogs. Such mapping is relatively easy to do, but that fact does not eliminate the need for cataloging rules to standardize the data being mapped. For legal texts, it may be necessary to add extra law statements, i.e. to indicate the type of document (brief, etc.) and the type of author (defense attorney, prosecutor, etc.).
The slides from Butterfield’s presentation are available online at: http://www.law.siu.edu/tei/.