[License-discuss] step by step interpretation of common permissive licenses

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Wed Jan 18 15:40:43 UTC 2017

On Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 10:26 AM, Christopher Sean Morrison <brlcad at mac.com>

I would caution that many seemingly ordinary words can take on a different
> or more specific legal meaning in court.

Indeed.  From Dorothy Sayers's novel _Unnatural Death_:

'You are too easily surprised,' said Mr. Towkington.  'Many words have no
legal meaning.  Others have a legal meaning very unlike their ordinary
meaning.  For example, the word "daffy-down-dilly".  It is a criminal libel
to call a lawyer a daffy-down-dilly.  ha!  Yes, I advise you never to do
such a thing.  No, I certainly advise you never to do it.

Then again, words which are quite meaningless in your ordinary conversation
may have a meaning in law.  For instance, I might say to a young man like
yourself, "You wish to leave such-and-such property to so-and-so."  And you
would very likely reply, "Oh, yes, absolutely" -- meaning nothing in
particular by that.  But if you were to write in your will, "I leave
such-and-such property to so-and-so absolutely," then that word would bear
a definite legal meaning, and would condition your bequest in a certain
manner, and might even prove an embarrassment and produce results very far
from your actual intentions.  Eh, ha!  You see?'

["Daffy-down-dilly" was 16C legal slang for a lawyer who took money from
both sides of a litigation, and as such a very serious charge indeed,
tending to produce a breach of the peace.]

John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
"After all, would you consider a man without honor wealthy, even if his
Dinar laid end to end would reach from here to the Temple of Toplat?"
"No, I wouldn't", the beggar replied.  "Why is that?" the Master asked.
"A Dinar doesn't go very far these days, Master.        --Kehlog Albran
Besides, the Temple of Toplat is across the street."      The Profit
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