The Legal Network

Rules for the Legal Network

The Legal Network fosters a productive, cooperative discourse in a private setting, enabling the members to discuss legal questions away from contentious public debate. To be true to this objective, participants should be free to express bold, innovative ideas while feeling safe from judgement and personal attacks.

During the several years in which the Legal Network existed, a set of rules and practices has emerged and evolved according to its increasing size. Some of these became crucial to allow the discussions to be productive, others are simply good practices that facilitate our work. For transparency and ease of access we have collected them all here, grouped in substantial regulation and procedures.

Behaviour on the Legal Network

To ensure that freedom of expression and peace of mind are available to all those engaging in the discussions, the Legal Network requires their members to abide to its Code of Conduct. To allow participants a greater degree of independence and encourage them to propose bold ideas, any communication is also protected by the Chatham House Rule.

The inability to comply with the following rules, assessed by the Legal Team, can result in sanctions.

The Legal Network Code of Conduct

The Legal Network and its associated events are intended for professional non-partisan networking and collaboration in the Free Software community. Participants are expected to behave with courtesy and according to professional standards suitable for the widest international audience. Participants should at all times feel at ease expressing their own opinions on any relevant subject they feel is worth being considered by other members, without fearing any form of attack, reprisal or harassment.

While on the FSFE IT infrastructure made available for the Legal Network (e.g. mailing lists, wiki) and at its events or related professional or social networking opportunities, participants shall not engage in discriminatory, disparaging or offensive speech or actions, including as to gender, sexuality, race, nationality, religion or profession, and in particular regarding any other member of the Network. Speakers should be especially aware of these concerns.

Neither the FSFE nor the Legal Network tolerate or condone any statements or actions by participants contrary to these standards. The FSFE’s Legal Team reserves the right to deny entrance and/or eject from an event (without refund) or its IT infrastructure (e.g. mailing lists, wiki) any individual whom it considers to be in breach of this code of conduct, even in private settings or non-Legal Network media such as blogs or public forums, when related to discussions that happened on the Legal Network or at its events, or in relation to its members as such.

Please bring any concerns to the immediate attention of the Legal Team, at detailing the events and possibly providing a reference to any recording1 of the facts.

Unless explicitly otherwise stated for specific communication or where the relevant parties agree to being identified, the Legal Network and its associated events are held under the Chatham House Rule2. Participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

The Chatham House Rule

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

Procedures for the Legal Network

Several procedures are in place to report breaches of the regulations, joining the Legal Network or creating additional groups.

Joining the Legal Network

Given the high level of confidentiality of some discussions, admission to (and continued membership in) the Legal Network is subject to the approval of the FSFE’s Legal Team and depends on the respect of the Legal Network regulations.

Successful applicants will have profound expertise in legal matters pertaining to Free Software, and will join the Network in order to share their knowledge with their peers from around the world. While some members are indeed affiliated with prominent companies or organisations, this does not constitute a factor in assessing membership, which is awarded on a personal basis.

The Legal Network thrives in the diversity of its members. As such, there is a particular interest in welcoming new experts from the geographical areas that are currently under-represented (i.e. Eastern European countries, the Baltic states, Asia, South America and Africa).

Traditionally, a new member is presented to the FSFE’s Legal Team by a Legal Network Member, but any presentation email will be considered.

If you intend to join or to propose someone as a Legal Network member, please write to our Legal Team Coordinator detailing:

  1. Full name
  2. Email address to be used for Legal Network communications
  3. Background and current activities
  4. Proposing Legal Network member (if available)

At regular intervals, the Legal Team Coordinator presents the proposed new members to our Legal Team. The Legal Team then decides on the admission of the new members through a vote.

Once the Legal Team has reached its decision, the proposed members are contacted by the Legal Team Coordinator by email and asked to formally accept the Legal Network regulations before adding them to the mailing list.

Creating a Special Interest Group

Any member of the Legal Network can propose the creation of a Special Interest Group on a new topic by simply contacting the Legal Team Coordinator or by declaring such interest directly on the Legal Network

Breaches of regulation

The respect of the Code of Conduct and the Chatham House Rule is ensured by FSFE’s Legal Team. Please report breaches as soon as they happen, so that we can take the appropriate measures. Depending on the gravity of the breach and its circumstances, the Legal Team will decide what sanction to apply (e.g. simple warning, moderation period, expulsion from the Legal Network).


  1. Such as e-mails, blogs, news, conference proceedings, papers…
  2. The Chatham House Rule. See also the dedicated Wikipedia page.