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Re: Which license am I looking for?

On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 11:45:23PM +0000, Anthony W. Youngman wrote:
>>> But surely, in order to do so, you must have broken a Federal statute?
>>> Not knowing the American legal system, I find it very odd that you could
>>> be sued in Utah, or in California under Utah law, if you've never been
>>> anywhere near Utah.

>> Nope, in the federal system a state can enforce the laws of another  
>> state if it so chooses. It's not required to, and in practice, most  
>> folks would remove the case to federal jurisdiction. But with federal  
>> removal, you've got a Federal Court, applying a state law, against a  
>> resident of a different state. Happens all the time.

> So you're saying that, even if you have NO CONNECTIONS WHATSOEVER with  
> Utah, you can be forced to follow Utah state law (of which, not having  
> any contact with Utah, you cannot be expected to know)?

> That's absurd! (Certainly to my mind!)

No, he's saying that if you *commit a tort against someone located in Utah*,
you are subject to Utah state law.  If you've committed a tort against
someone located in Utah, it is absolutely not true that you have no
connections with Utah.

The question of how *much* of a connection you must have to a state in order
to be subject to their law is a fuzzy one that does get debated by courts.

>> We think it if the treaties between the nations allow for it. I know it 
>> has happened in the past, I really can't speak with any authority as to 
>> how often that happens and what sorts of law it covers. But in the  
>> world of torts (which is what we are talking about), I wouldn't be at  
>> all surprise to learn that I can bring a tort suit against a foreign  
>> national in their own jurisdiction but under *my* law. Understand the  
>> very important distinction between a criminal case and a civil case,  
>> such as torts. Different concepts, different policy objectives,  
>> different enforcement.

> As I understand it, if it is legal in Britain then you cannot touch me.  
> End of story. Unless there exists a contract between you and me that our  
> dealings are covered by US law, then as a British National resident in  
> Britain, then any claim you make against me must be under English law.

Even if this is nominally true under British law, there is certainly no
reason for this to be the accepted norm under international law, and
therefore not grounds for dismissal of a case brought against you in a US
court.  Just because you think you can *get away with* committing torts
against US citizens doesn't mean the tort does not occur.  Jurisdiction and
enforceability are two different questions.

For comparison with other European countries:  it's been discussed on this
list in the past (in connection with choice of venue clauses) that French
law guarantees its citizens the right to defend themselves in their home
court - but it does not say that the claim has to be brought under French

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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