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From Benson Margulies <bimargul...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: Is there a legal 'pmc'? ...
Date Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:28:51 GMT
On Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 4:18 PM, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net> wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 3:44 PM, Benson Margulies <bimargulies@gmail.com> wrote:
>> So, a PMC member can send a message to legal-private, can't read the
>> ensuing discussion, of course, and has some expectation of a response,
>> if only a redirection.
>> Would 'open a JIRA and then ping private to tell them that it's a
>> formal request for assistance from a PMC' be a reasonable paradigm?
> Above is an example of a hypothetical question.

Maddening indeed. I just want to give some useful guidance to
committers and PMCs in how to avoid ending up in the weeds when a
legal issue comes up.

Far and away, the most common is 'what can we do with materials under
the Peanut Butter license?'

Is it reasonable to offer a schema for these?

Another option that tries to respect what you wrote below is:

    "If your are an Apache PMC member or committer, and you believe
that your project needs an answer to a legal question, please ask your
PMC chair to contact the VP legal affairs for advice on how to handle
your question."

I would also be happy to offer proposed language to the effect that:

   "The Apache Software Foundation does not provide legal advice on
the interpretation or use of the Apache Software License.

    Neither the legal-discuss@ mailing list nor the corresponding JIRA
is an appropriate channel for people outside of the Foundation to
raise legal matters with the Foundation. <insert better generic
front-door destination here.>

> An illustrative example as to why we don't answer such.  Subpoena's
> are rare enough that we don't have a FAQ entry for how to handle them,
> but, no "open a JIRA" is probably not the right way to handle a
> subpoena.
> The maddening thing about legal questions is that the answer is almost
> always "it depends".  I once wrote a rambling essay on that subject:
> http://www.apache.org/legal/ramblings.html
> In terms of questions, IP clearance questions tend to be referred to
> the incubator (even for existing projects as the incubator maintains
> the short form), trademark questions tend to be referred to the VP of
> Branding.  Disputes on policy may end up being referred to the board.
> Whenever possible, we try to push back on PMCs to figure out what they
> actually want before investing legal resources in investigating
> options that are unlikely to be pursued.
> The boundaries between these various areas are fractal, but the people
> involved have a good working relationship, so questions tend to be
> routed to the right person quickly.
> Determining the correct venue is typically not the biggest problem or
> even the right first step.  The right first step is to identify the
> correct question and determine the implications that the answer might
> have.
> - Sam Ruby
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