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

David M Chess chess at us.ibm.com
Fri Apr 2 08:21:46 PDT 2010

Dale Mahalko <dmahalko at gmail.com>:
> Can individuals actually talk directly to Linden's TOS lawyers without
> paying a fee of some sort?

I don't think anyone meant to suggest that people should try to talk 
directly to LL's lawyers; as you say, that's unlikely to be feasible.

The idea, I believe, is that if (say) some TPV developer is worried that 
the TPVP might make them liable for something, they should take it to 
their own lawyer, and say "I'm doing this-and-such, and there's this 
cryptic legalese here that says this-and-this, is this likely to be a 
problem for me?".  And you're right that will generally cost money 
(lawyers hate it when ppl come up to them at parties and ask stuff like 
that expecting a free answer :) ).

I'm personally not fond of the whole "only lawyers should bother reading 
or commenting on legal documents" thing, myself.  It's certainly true that 
if you assume that words in legal documents have just their usual English 
meanings, you'll get the actual meaning wrong pretty often (my favorite 
example being "hold harmless").   But for policies like the TPVP that are 
intended to be read and agreed to by large numbers of customers (unlike, 
say, a one-to-one contract between companies that each have their own 
legal teams), it's really in everyone's interest that the language be both 
legally correct *and* clear to the layman.  It doesn't benefit anyone, 
including the Lab, to have it misunderstood by anyone.
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