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Re: Final text of GPL v3

On Sunday 01 July 2007 01:53:52 pm Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Sun, 1 Jul 2007 10:31:00 -0700 Sean Kellogg wrote:
> [...]
> > I will try to explain a few
> > things based on what I  know from law school. First up, there is a
> > pretty well established definition  for what constitutes "legal
> > advice." It can be phrased as: "particular  courses of action in
> > response to particular facts."  The particularity is  key.
> >
> > Here a good pair of examples --
> >
> > Not Legal Advice:
> > Q: Is it true that a judge can reduce your traffic ticket.
> > A: Yes.
> >
> > Legal Advice:
> > Q: I got a traffic ticket for going 20 miles over the speed limit,
> > what should  I do?
> > A: Go to the judge and argue for a decrease in the fine.
> My case was:
> Q: Could this requirement be interpreted more liberally?
> A: I wish it could, but I am afraid it cannot...  :-(
> Frankly speaking, it seems more similar to your first example, than to
> your second one...

I spent some time thinking about this while out hiking today, and I think 
you're probably right.  While Mr. Finney's post about the meaning of "I am 
afraid that..." is spot on, I also tend to think the above would not fall 
into the realm of "legal advice."  Not so much because of the answer, but 
because of the nature of the question.  The sort of vague, "what about..." 
sort of question lacks the particulars necessary to really illicit a legal 
advice sort of response. My apologies for not looking at every factor first.

> I mean: we were *not* talking about particular facts.  Iain Nicol was
> *not* telling me that he modified a GPLv3'd work and got sued by
> upstream because his newly implemented interactive interface does not
> display Appropriate Legal Notices.
> I did *not* suggest a particular course of action.  I did *not* answer
> "the requirement cannot be interpreted more liberally, but you can
> instead tell the judge that ..."
> What we were doing was discussing about possible interpretations of a
> clause in a just-published license...
> [...]
> > Where Francesco went wrong,  in my opinion, is
> > giving a definite answer to a definite question about a  third-party
> > license.
> Is "I am afraid it cannot" a definite answer?
> It does not even seem to express certainty...
> I am not an English native speaker, so I could be wrong about what
> sounds as a definite answer to an English mothertongue's ear.
> Should I begin to add IANAENS, to the list of disclaimers?

No, I think your current list of disclaimers is sufficient. I would just be 
careful about being definitive.  If someone walks away thinking they received 
specific advice on a particular question, then I think that crosses the line 
(at least, here in the US).  The international nature of all of this 
certainly causes additional complexity :)

I also encourage being a bit more tolerant of Mr. Towns' little reminders to 
the other readers that you, and others, are not supposed to be giving legal 
advice.  What you may decide does not constitute legal advice may very well 
come out differently for another person...  and I'm pretty sure we would all 
like to avoid someone filing a suit against Debian (or SPI) claiming they 
received legal advice from somebody on a Debian mailing list :)


Sean Kellogg
e: skellogg@gmail.com
w: http://blog.probonogeek.org/

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