[cc-licenses] Lawyers aren't humans
Charles Iliya Krempeaux
supercanadian at gmail.com
Tue Nov 21 17:44:40 EST 2006
I'm a "human"... and not a lawyer :-) ... one thing I've noticed... and feel
free to correct me... is that the language lawyers write in and talk in is
different from English because words have different definitions for words.
The law redefines words all the times. Yet just because a government
redefines a word does NOT mean that that changes the definition of the word
in normal people's heads.
And many words, from the legal world, seem to be just homonyms with their
English counter parts.
Because of this, to me, it seems very important to mark legalese from
English so that there is no confusion.
On 11/21/06, Jim Sowers <jim at spincycle.org> wrote:
> When I was in law school, back in 1986 ;-( I took a contract writing
> class. It had a lasting effect on me. We practiced writing in plain
> English -- the teacher worked for Bank of America, and because they had lost
> some cases because courts had found their contracts to be unintelligible to
> the average consumer (the other party to the contract), BofA found religion
> and started re-writing their contracts.
> We studied a law review article by Richard Wydick, Plain English for
> Lawyers, which is now in its 3rd edition as a book, and which I mentioned in
> an earlier post to this list. The SEC has also imposed a "plain English"
> requirement on filings. I think CC has done a pretty good job on this front
> (with the notable exception of the excessive, and I would argue improper,
> use of the word "such" as a definite article, see my earlier post).
> Nevertheless, I think the line at the bottom of the deed that reads "This
> is a human-readable summary ..." is unfortunate. Obviously, CC intends to
> say that it is a simple summary for non-lawyers. Some will think that I'm
> being too sensitive here, however, I believe that using the term
> "human-readable", aside from reinforcing some of the nastier stereotypes
> about lawyers, also reinforces the idea that lawyers use a different,
> incomprehensible language. I find that two types of lawyers tend to do so:
> those not confident enough to make things simple -- e.g., afraid to
> replace "any and all" with just "any", and those who are pompous and throw
> in every heretofore and therewith to add to the cloak of mystery around what
> it is to practice law. Finally, some of the worst examples come from
> non-lawyers trying to "write like lawyers".
> Thus, I would change the terminology to reflect "summary" v. "detailed"
> rather than "human" v. "lawyer" -- as even the detailed documents should be
> eminently readable by humans; those are the kinds of documents really good
> lawyers write.
> Jim Sowers
> Lawyer :-) (DJ, Dance Teacher, Motorcycle Adventurer)
> On 11/21/06, Andres Guadamuz <a.guadamuz at ed.ac.uk> wrote:
> > Luis,
> > While I don't know if there was any sort of doctrinal consideration with
> > the creation of the Commons Deed, I can tell you that at least in
> > Scotland we drafted the licences under the requirement of writing form
> > contracts in "plain intelligible language" contained in section 6 of the
> > the UK's Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999:
> > http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1999/19992083.htm
> > Regards,
> > Andres
> > Luis Villa wrote:
> > > Hey, all (but really primarily to the lawyers on the list :)-
> > >
> > > As I was stumbling through Contracts this morning (specifically, a
> > > lecture on interpretation of contracts) I was reminded of the human
> > > readable versions of CC contracts/licenses. The question that came to
> > > mind: were those inspired by any particular strain of academic thought
> > > on license legibility/usability? Or did they just come out of a
> > > general ease-of-use impulse? If there was a strain of academic thought
> > > on the issue that was inspirational or otherwise important, any
> > > pointers to where I could start reading?
> > >
> > > Thanks in advance- let me know if my question itself is
> > incomprehensible :)
> > > Luis
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > cc-licenses mailing list
> > > cc-licenses at lists.ibiblio.org
> > > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/cc-licenses
> > >
> > --
> > Andres Guadamuz
> > AHRC Research Centre for Studies in
> > Intellectual Property and Technology Law
> > Old College, South Bridge
> > Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
> > Tel: 44 (0)131 6509699
> > Fax: 44 (0)131 6506317
> > a.guadamuz at ed.ac.uk
> > http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrb/
> > IP/IT/Medical Law LLM by Distance Learning
> > http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/distancelearning/
Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
charles @ reptile.ca
supercanadian @ gmail.com
developer weblog: http://ChangeLog.ca/
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