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A contested tag from the "off topic" roundup is .

Why should it be burninated or allowed to survive?

  • Don't forget that when the topic of legal questions came up before, the consensus was that we avoid these questions ... so even if there are interesting questions that stay, at the very least, the tag wiki would need to explain what is OK and what is off-topic. – Dave DuPlantis Jan 20 '12 at 22:02
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Most legal issues that are otherwise within our scope (gaming) have to do with copyright and licensing issues. Legal issues are obviously jurisdiction-dependent in general, but copyright and licencing especially so (unlike, say, murder -- I can safely say that's illegal). The answer to "Can I legally do X?" is always "Maybe, where do you live?".

For example, In Canada the legality of sharing copyrighted material has not been decided in court, and the Copyright Act is somewhat unclear. We also don't have an laws regarding the circumvention of DRM, unlike many countries. You can crack the protection on your game, put it in a shared folder, and let people in the US download it illegally without doing anything illegal yourself.

The "real" answer to any legal question we might have here is a long and complex version of "Well, maybe." This is basically useless, and any other answer is probably wrong. Most answers (that don't exceed the length limit) will only apply to a specific area with a specific game, and possibly to a specific user in a specific situation. Too Localized, anyone?

You also run into the problem of the illegality of offering legal advice. In the States at least a non-lawyer can provide "legal information" but not "legal advice". Is someone saying "You should do X" crossing the line? I don't know. And are we really going to police all the answers?

Another issue is that of expertise. I went to law school for one semester, just enough to realize I know very little about the law — and, more importantly, that I know even less about interpreting the law. No matter how much you've studied the issue before downloading that NES ROM, I can guarantee you that you interpreted something important incorrectly. Even informed gamers are not experts here. How many users of the sites are lawyers (or judges, etc.)? Maybe some, but not enough, and note also that lawyers in some places are barred from practising online. We do not have the relevant expertise to answer or otherwise handle these questions appropriately.

Licensing questions are a little better, but not much. For one thing, circumventing copyright protection is often criminal whereas breaking a licence agreement may be wrongful under civil law but not criminal. I do not expect any asker or answerer here to know the distinction, or which is what in who's jurisdiction, or the penalties for breaking a contract, and so on.

Take If I have an extra StarCraft 2 License, Am I allowed to share it? for example. In the last quoted block, Blizzard expressly acknowledges that the user's rights with regard to transfers depend on the jurisdiction. What is left out of the answer is that the first quoted block regarding account sharing is also limited in this way. For all I know, disallowing the sharing of an account is unenforceable in Salt Lake City (the asker is from there, according to his profile). Perhaps Shaun's answer is wrong. And if we stripped out any interpretation ("Technically, no", etc.) then the answer amounts to "Here's that licence agreement you should have read already." I don't think we should cater to questions that deserve that kind of answer.

TL;DR:

  • We cannot answer these questions even remotely accurately.
  • We cannot answer these questions in a manner that is more than superficially helpful.
  • There may be legal consequences for answering these questions.
  • Most of them cater to people who don't read the licence agreement they already possess or have been shown.

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Any information you take from this post is up for you to interpret, and I will not be held responsible for any actions you take based upon it.

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My argument against it is that asks us primarily to consult on legal issues. This is a bad topic for the site, since legal issues vary internationally, and we are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice.

The legality of gaming in general is not a topic that I think we should promote asking questions about.

I think there are some legitimate questions under that should be allowed to stay open, but perhaps we should rethink what we call this tag or come up with a better (any?!?) tag description if it's allowed to survive.

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