Quick Reference For Choosing a Free Software License

Forrest J Cavalier III forrest at mibsoftware.com
Mon Aug 13 12:43:30 UTC 2001

"Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M." <rod at cyberspaces.org> wrote:

> My main suggestion, however, was that some of the text - - the legal
> stuff - -  should be re-written so it is clear that an opinion of the author
> is being expressed rather than a legal opinion being passed on by the
> author.

I agree that being able to distinguish which is which will benefit
the readers.

But, do you think that readers will see it as the latter
when there is no reference to case law and the author states
that he is not a law professional?

I suggested adding references.  But from your point of view,
that might make matters worse.  (It is certainly possible
to provide references to obsolete and superseded case law,
appearing to offer rigorous, researched legal guidance, while
being inaccurate.)

> I hope my point is taken as constructive. I would never argue that
> only lawyers should speak on legal matters; journalists and some
> politicians frequently do a fine job. The critical factor may be to
> stay within a context (...difficult as that might be in some contexts
> on the Internet...) where a reader is likely to conclude that they are
> reading commentary, opinion, or belief, but not legal advice.

I won't dispute that only lawyers are qualified to give "good"
legal advice.  But I still don't know why you object to writing
which "appears to be" legal advice.  If there are inaccuracies
in the page, let's see them corrected.  Saying the page
sounds too professional and accurate is strange criticism.

Perhaps an admonition should have been directed to the readers,
since problems only arise if the purpose of the web page is
misconstrued by them.  The author has already taken honest steps to
minimize that possibility and I think that approaches the limit of
what can be done, unless a blank web page is what you advocate.

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