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Legal notice, and statement of editorial policy

To maintain an archive of discussions by lawyers is possibly a foolhardy undertaking. The raw data requires some sensitivity if it is to be converted into a site which is both a useful collection of documents and a faithful record of the discussions involved. Those who wish to look at the raw archive material for themselves are welcome to do so. This notice sets out the more obvious legal implications of my presentation of the material, and the main decisions constituting my editorial policy.

Archives of e-mail discussion lists are common enough, and so I would be surprised if there were any major problems. Nonetheless, if anyone feels that any of my editing has been inappropriate, then do please raise the matter with me. Complaints that anyone's message has been in any way misrepresented will receive my immediate attention; please don't suffer in silence.


Legal principles applicable

As I understand it, there is no very serious risk that this site falls foul of the Data Protection legislation, and as I understand it, it complies fully with it. If anyone is of a contrary opinion, do please contact me to discuss it.

More potentially relevant is the law of copyright, as it is possible that some (though hardly all) of the contributions to the list constitute 'literary works' for this purpose. Just to be on the safe side, I have asserted the senders' copyright on each page which contains a message, unlikely though it is that all of the messages are in fact protected by copyright. As matters stand, if anyone has an objection to their message appearing here, then I will certainly remove it, copyright or no copyright.


Editorial policy - inclusion of messages

A number of messages in the raw archive have been omitted, most of them on one or more of the following grounds:

  • they are repeat messages; or
  • they were plainly sent to the list in error; or
  • they are spam, or relate to non-restitution-related products or services, or are otherwise plainly an impermissible use of the list; or
  • they are administrivia of no long-term value (eg warnings that a message recently sent to the list contained a virus); or
  • the archive record is hopelessly garbled.

Perhaps unwisely, I have not left messages out on the ground that they have passed their sell-by date. Different views will be held on this, but I suspect that even stronger differences of opinion would be expressed if I started to exercise a personal view over which messages are obsolete, perhaps in the process making too many assumptions about the aims and methods of researchers in this area.

Editorial policy - editing each message

In editing individual messages, I have distinguished sharply between message headers, message bodies, and message footers.

I have made no attempt to reproduce message headers - I have extracted essential information (sender, date, topic) and discarded the rest. If you want to see the header as actually received, please review the raw data.

Message bodies are usually reproduced as accurately as possible. General layout, of course, by definition cannot be preserved - indeed, each message would have looked different in different mail readers. I have corrected file format errors (such as "é" appearing as "=E9" or "&eacute"), whether or not a mail reader would have corrected them automatically. I have usually corrected misspellings, given that searches of the text generally rely on accurate spelling of keywords. But I have not corrected other errors, such as bad taste, weak logic, or the expression of views without rational support.

URLs are linked where possible. Where the original document has moved, I have done my best to locate it, and to link to the current version. (The old version is left in the text: so a reference in a message to www.old.com, which is a page now to be found at www.new.com, will appear in the text as www.old.com but linked to www.new.com. In other words, the code is <A HREF="http://www.new.com">www.old.com</A>.) Obviously the WWW is not static, and so there is an element of arbitrariness in this. If the original page is gone and I cannot find anything that could plausibly be regarded as a modern version of it, the URL appears as unlinked text.

Links to generally relevant materials have also been added. From July 2004, I have adopted a reasonably consistent attitude to case names, italicising them in the text and linking them to online copies where possible. Whether I will ever find time to correct earlier messages this way is an open question.

Quoted material is indicated by indentation and a reduction in font size. In general, where parts of messages have been repeated (as is common in the course of the more involved discussions) I have reproduced the repeated text just as it was sent to the list. Sometimes, however, this would not have been worth the effort, or indeed would have been just plain silly, and so you may find some or all of the quoted text snipped.

Message footers have not always seemed worthy of reproduction, and have been snipped accordingly. I have, however, usually left in legal notices insisting that the whole message is confidential- fatuous though they are in the context of an international discussion group.


Privacy policy

As a precaution, I have removed nearly all e-mail addresses. This is to prevent the archive forming the basis of someone's spam list. (The reasons for the occasional exceptions will be obvious enough in context.) I realise that this will occasionally be inconvenient, as there may be legitimate reasons for wishing to contact the message's author. In such cases, if all else fails, you may wish to refer to the list's current membership list as maintained by the LISTSERV server at McGill: send a message to listserv@lists.mcgill.ca saying "review enrichment".

I have however abandoned my former policy of instructing spiders, in the site's robots.txt file, that the archive is off-limits. In other words, there is now a possibility that you will find the text of the messages in search engines.

Any further suggestions for protecting the privacy of list users will be listened to with attention.

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This page was compiled by Steve Hedley, to whom all comments should be addressed.
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