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Archiver > BOARD > 2007-02 > 1171135571


From: "Scott Burow" <>
Subject: [BOARD] Announcement - Discuss List Actions
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 13:26:11 -0600


There has been discussion regarding the appropriateness of a recent
unsubscription of a project member from the Discuss list for posting, what
appears on it's face, and a non-offensive post.

It is not the offensiveness of the post that is in question, but the legal
liability to the Project which is at issue. The post contained a link to a
document, that by all the information we have at this point, was intended to
remain a confidential agreement between Rootsweb, the NC at the time, and
the Advisory Board. I don't have all the particulars of the original
confidential agreement signed with rootsweb by prior NC's, nor do I have a
keen understanding of why it was confidential, but the post itself in it's
link clearly shows that the contents of the contract were not to be
published publicly. The project now has a potential liability issue to deal
with by the posting of a link to that document on a project list in
violation of the contract.

I have conferred with legal counsel on the matter and included copies of all
the information I could obtain at the time. I was advised that regardless
of whether the original agreement is still in force (which is doubtful since
it was supposed to be an yearly contract and hasn't been updated on a yearly
basis) by law the confidentiality provision extends beyond the life of the
contract itself since there is no ending date. Contract law cases and civil
law debates that point in one form or another - but all of it comes down to
a simple fact .. when the NC at the time agreed that the contract was
confidential, and signed on behalf of the organization, the organization
thereafter stands responsible for maintaining that agreement and can be held
accountable for the actions of it's members.

If Rootsweb decided to push the issue, they could file a lawsuit against the
organization for breach of contract, or they could revoke the contract and
remove their support of the USGenWeb Project and close their servers to us.
Whether you like or dislike Rootsweb, the closing of their servers would
remove a vast majority of the county, parish, localities, states, special
projects, and the USGenWeb Project pages. As the project itself has no
monetary assets, the officers of the project, and ultimately the members
themselves could incur that liability. The only protection for the
organization is to disavow the actions and impose disciplinary action upon
the transgressor.

This is what was done. By unsubbing the member, we have disavowed the
action and have imposed limitations. I have requested that the link from
the offending post be removed, and have requested that Rootweb's legal
advisors let me know their opinion of the status of the confidentiality
clause/agreement.

Until such time as that answer is received, the removal of the member from
the Discuss list will stand and is not a subject I will debate.

Scott Burow
NC - USGenWeb Project


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