Worst Case Scenarios - SPI and Lawsuits

Andrew Hagen xah at myrealbox.com
Wed Dec 12 05:54:45 UTC 2001

In reply to a message I sent to spi-general last June.

* Subject: Re: Worst Case Scenarios - SPI and Lawsuits
* From: "Andrew Hagen" <xah at myrealbox.com>
* Date: Sun, 03 Jun 2001 15:53:15 -0500
* In-Reply-To: <20010603162249.K641 at osiris.978.org>

In that message, I stated, I was a law student. I need to make it 
absolutely, crystal clear that it was only my opinion as an ordinary 

For all legal advice, only lawyers are to be consulted. As a law 
student, I am not a lawyer. Thus, what I had to say must not be taken 
as legal advice to SPI or to anyone.

Here's what I said:


I think any potentail legal probem would be manageable. I'm just a 
student, and there aren't any suits filed against us, or even
threatened. Nevertheless, I'm confident that we could overcome 
with lawsuits.

All courts vigorously enforce rules against filing lawsuits that have
no basis in the law. Sometimes these lawsuits are called "frivolous."
Although we hear stories in the media about curiously themed 
those media reports often contain errors and half-truths. There has 
be some legal justification for a lawsuit. Of course, a particular 
that justifies litigation is sometimes questionable itself, as in the
case of the DMCA.

There are many strategies that we can take. First, we can call on the
community for help. Not only can community members help with 
donations, but they can also create public pressure that will be
invaluable. It is often cheaper and more effective to fight a legal
battle in the news media than in the courts. 

Second, if we get sued we can bring other parties into the lawsuit. 
particular, we can bring in entities that have money and might have
violated the same law or copyright we have. For example, corporations
like IBM or HP might have violated the same law, or hold an interest
that is at stake in the lawsuit. It's conceivable that in many
circumstances they will have to join in the defense against such a

Third, even if we stand alone there are many lawyers who will give
their time in the form of pro bono service. Pro bono means no legal

Fourth, although we are only speculating here, we could possibly sue
the party that is suing us. That is, we could file a counterclaim.
There would have to be some legal basis for such a suit, of course.

We should be consulting with a competent lawyer, or lawyers, when 
issues are unclear and potentially important. That will avoid most of
the potential problems.


Andrew Hagen
xah at myrealbox.com

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