Posting-Version: version B 2.10 UW 5/3/83; site uw-beaver
From: info-mac@uw-beaver (info-mac)
Subject: legal matters
Date: Sat, 30-Jun-84 14:58:12 EDT
Posted: Sat Jun 30 14:58:12 1984
Date-Received: Tue, 3-Jul-84 03:05:42 EDT
Organization: U of Washington Computer Science
From: "Theodore N. Vail"
Recently a note was sent over this list advising readers that a major
corporation might consider a program and data which were distributed
over this list as licensed, and the note went on to give legal advice
concerning the use of this material.
It should be noted that in the state of California, where the message
originated, as well as in the other 49 states, giving legal advice
without being a member of the bar is illegal.
In any case, it is doubtful that the advice given was correct -- more
than likely the case proposed by the author of the note would be laughed
out of court, though the judge might enjoy playing the game involved.
As those of us who have to deal with legal matters in a serious fashion
have learned, the law is not simple, does not follow the paradigms
that computer programmers are accustomed to, and, especially in the
case of computer software and trade secrets, is not well-defined nor
In particular, we have learned (in my own case to my great benefit) that
statements made by large corporations (in particular in "contracts" that
they write and give to their customers) claiming that they have certain
rights, restricting their own liability, and restricting the use or sale
of products, etc., are often worthless.
Indeed, there are recent (so called "bad faith") cases where corpo-
rations have lost multi-million dollar suits in an attempt to enforce
these claims when they were contrary to law.
I would recommend that any reader who is concerned about his legal
rights or liabilities contact his local lawyer.
I would also hope that no further "legal" advice will distributed over
lists such as this.