[opensource-dev] Can you legally agree to incomprehensible conditions

Boy Lane boy.lane at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 1 08:06:59 PDT 2010

Clearly NO.

Honestly, I don't know why this matters anymore. Everything was said. Linden 
made it clear they'll stick to their
TPV "guns".

Four viewer projects announced they discontinue support for SL, that is 
Imprudence, RealXtend, Luna and Rainbow.

Some other people still hang on but probably not for long. That's leaving 
only two graphical 3rd party viewer
projects around, both with a shady gray past in terms of intentional 
producing malicious clients or violating
software licenses. I see a great future ahead...

And now Viewer 2.0 is the new holy grail. I really thought the 1.23 release 
was bad. But now 2.0 even goes
against a major part of the resident population, handicapped people; 
particular people with epilepsy/seizure disorders
(VWR-17249 - Viewer 2.0 is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities 

What are you still doing here?


> Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2010 09:42:24 +0100
> From: Morgaine <morgaine.dinova at googlemail.com>
> Subject: [opensource-dev] Can you legally agree to incomprehensible
> conditions?
> To: opensource-dev at lists.secondlife.com
> Message-ID:
> <w2ye0b04bba1004010142qbb5817e4q9f4f2b1cea6c29d3 at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> On 21st March, Q Linden explained to
> us<https://lists.secondlife.com/pipermail/opensource-dev/2010-March/001195.html>that
> legalese is not a language amenable to "common sense" interpretation,
> and more specifically, that programmers like ourselves should not expect 
> to
> understand this Linden TPV policy document using our normal logic and our
> normal dictionary.  I'll repeat his words here for clarity:
> *    Kent Quirk (Q Linden)* q at lindenlab.com
> <opensource-dev%40lists.secondlife.com?Subject=%5Bopensource-dev%5D%20Third%20party%20viewer%20policy%3A%20commencement%20date&In-Reply-To=20100321165503.GD4386%40alinoe.com>
>    *Sun Mar 21 10:24:13 PDT 2010*
>   - I'm emphatically not a lawyer and I don't speak for our legal team.
>   But:
>   - Legalese is a specialized language. It's not strictly English, and 
> it's
>   not always amenable to "common sense" interpretation. Think of lawyers 
> as
>   people who write code in an underspecified language for a buggy 
> compiler,
>   and you begin to understand why legalese is the way it is. There's a lot 
> of
>   law that isn't stated, but is actually implied by the context of the
>   existing settled law. What that means is that if you're not a lawyer, 
> you
>   probably shouldn't be attempting to interpret legal documents --  
> especially
>   not for other people. Similarly, if you're not a programmer, attempting 
> to
>   interpret program source code is a risky business. Programmers are
>   especially susceptible to trying to interpret legal documents using a 
> normal
>   dictionary because they're logical thinkers. That doesn't always work. 
> If
>   you have legal questions about the implication of documents, you should 
> ask
>   a lawyer, not a mailing list.
>   - Similarly, any comment by one of Linden's lawyers in this forum or any
>   other could possibly be treated as legally binding. That also goes for
>   Linden employees, especially those with any seniority. So you're 
> unlikely to
>   get further remarks or "clarifications", except general statements that
>   don't address specific questions. The policy was revised based on 
> comments
>   on this list and elsewhere. That's probably a pretty good indication 
> that
>   Linden Lab's lawyers now think it's clear enough to state its intent and 
> to
>   stand up in court if they need it to.
>   - Q
> I've been thinking about this extraordinary post and its relationship to 
> our
> ongoing saga about the TPV, and I fail to see how any rational person 
> could
> agree to something unknown, except under duress.  Is it even legal to be
> required to agree to the incomprehensible?  Does anyone know how the law
> works in this area?
> The GPL license was written by FSF lawyers specifically to be understood 
> by
> programmers, so it's no surprise that the large majority of people here
> understand it. Given that Lindens claim that they are issuing a valid GPL
> license, perhaps one might accept that at face value, and assume that 
> GPLv2
> clauses 6, 7, 11 and 12 remain intact and valid.  Therefore there are no
> "further restrictions" imposed on SL TPV developers (clause 6), and the 
> "NO
> WARRANTY" clause (11-12) continues to protect developers from downstream
> liability, and no "conditions are imposed on you that contradict the
> conditions of this License" thus making the license valid (clause 7).
> Given the forgoing, the officially incomprehensible TPV document then no
> longer matters to SL TPV developers, because their rights and freedoms and
> lack of liability are determined entirely by the GPL.  (It could be no 
> other
> way anyway, since we are told that we cannot understand the TPV.)
> That leaves only the matter of *users* of TPVs behaving responsibly when
> they use TPV clients in SL, with which I'm sure every person on this list 
> is
> happy to agree.  (Note that developers become *users* when they connect to
> SL, and are bound by the same requirements as users.)  When users do
> something bad with a TPV client, or indeed with a Linden client, then
> naturally they are personally responsible for their actions.
> In the absence of a TPV document that we can comprehend, perhaps this is 
> the
> best that TPV developers can do, since agreeing to incomprehensible
> conditions is not something that any sensible person should consider.
> Morgaine.
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