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A question was asked on SU regarding the legality of a specific site.

Is mp3panda.com legal?

Some users mentioned that we can't really confirm nor refute the legality of a website unless we know they are linked to illegal activity.

Should we allow these questions on the site? Or should they be closed as too localized, or subjective and argumentative?

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I would say beyond being "not computer related" is that it is technically "too localized" to some degree. Every country has different laws and can be interpreted differently. What is legal in one may not be in another. I would say close it or we need to make sure of the country in question.

  • This doesn't really fit Joel Spolsky's exposition of what "too localized" means. – sampablokuper Apr 22 '11 at 0:38
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I'd say it's a not-computer-related question. For instance, a doctor might use a special program to remotely operate on a patient. A question about that program should not be on superuser. This is not much different. A Web site is just a special kind of application. Whether it's legal or not is not a technical question.

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I believe that Super Users are concerned with certain legal issues of file sharing and legitimate ways to purchase copyrighted material. In any case, most superusers have had to deal with fixing friend's and relative's computers infected with adware and such from dubious file sharing services, and understand the possibility of credit card fraud from websites selling below cost merchandise.

As such I think it's a valid topic, though it shouldn't stray too far from what is known to be true.

-Adam

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I would hope that it would be clear to all concerned that posts on Super User, or any of these sites, do not constitute formal legal opinions and should not be considered as such. Therefore, what's the problem?

  • 2
    Since it's not a formal legal opinion, and since such questions are seeking a legal opinion, I'd say, don't allow them. – John Saunders Aug 22 '09 at 21:48
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    And yet, Adam Davis provided an informative answer (superuser.com/questions/27929/is-mp3panda-com-legal/27944#27944) that the OP found useful enough to accept, without making any pretensions to formal legal advice. – phenry Aug 22 '09 at 22:16
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    legal questions seem to always turn into argumentative discussions. – Troggy Aug 22 '09 at 22:33
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No.

Calling a particular site illegal might be libelous (if untrue), and while SO can probably deflect liability with the CDA, the answerer can't. So, the "no" answer is risky, legally.

Calling a particular site legal might get the answerer held liable if the questioner gets in trouble when it turns out otherwise. So, that's risky too (though, probably avoidable with appropriate disclaimers).

Lastly, "is X legal" is not really a computer question, even when it involves web sites, and none of the SO sites have an audience educated (e.g., law school) to answer legal questions.

I strongly suggest closing legal questions pertaining to specific, identifiable entities.


I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.

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