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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 judgment and personal attacks.

Since the inception of the Legal Network, a set of rules and practices has emerged and is always evolving to account for its increasing size, as well as the complexities of the interactions that take place within it. Some of these rules have became crucial to allow the discussions to be productive, others are simply good practices that facilitate our work.

Respect for the Code of Conduct and the Chatham House Rule is ensured by the FSFE. Please report breaches as soon as they happen to the Legal Coordinator as soon as they happen, so that appropriate measures can be taken in accordance with our 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, which extends to the Legal Network mailing list and all Legal Network events. To allow participants a greater degree of independence and encourage them to propose bold ideas, any communication on the Legal Network mailing list and at Legal Network events is also protected by the Chatham House Rule.

In order to keep discussion flowing and to maintain community and focus, all public facing contributions on the Legal Network mailing list are moderated by the FSFE, in accordance with our Etiquette and Moderation guidelines. Procedures on how to deal with breaches of the Legal Network's Code of Conduct can be found here.

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 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 Coordinator, 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.

The Chatham House Rule

Procedures for the Legal Network

Several procedures are in place to deal with breaches of the Code of Conduct, joining the Legal Network, or creating additional groups.

More information about the procedures that are in place to deal with a breach of the Legal Network's Code of Conduct can be found here.

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 F 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).

If you would like to join or to propose someone as a Legal Network member, please use our application form.

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 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 the FSFE. In the event of a breach of these rules, depending on the gravity of the breach and its circumstances, the FSFE will decide what actions should be taken, with the advice of the Legal Network Council.


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