Listserve Acceptable Usage Policy

Listserv Acceptable Usage Policy
ABA Section of International Law
Listserv Acceptable Usage Guidelines
Version 3.1
January 3, 2012

By subscribing to any American Bar Association Section of International Law (“Section”) listserv, users agree to the terms and conditions contained in these guidelines. These guidelines may be modified from time to time and such modifications shall be effective upon their posting to the Section’s website. Revisions to these guidelines will be noted in the version number and date listed above.

The Rules

1. Messages posted to a Section listserv must related to the issues and business of the committee or entity for which the listserv was established.

2. Do not post:

  • political messages that advocate a particular viewpoint, including links to articles and editorial pieces, unless they relate to a legal issue and the need to place it in context. While the line may seem difficult to discern, members need to be sensitive to the difference between informing members of issues affecting the rule of law and legal practice on the one hand, and postings that are more in the nature of political advocacy.
  • advertisements of products or services unless such product or service is specifically sponsored by the Section or otherwise approved by the Section. This prohibition includes notices of continuing legal education ("CLE") or related programs sponsored by any entity other than the Section. Any such announcement or advertisement, if made, should be made only by Section staff after such item has been submitted for pre-distribution review.  Notices regarding programs relevant to the subject matter of the listserv organized by universities, law schools, governments, NGOs and similar organizations may be posted to the listserv by the relevant committee chairs at their discretion, following confirmation that the event does not conflict with a Section event already posted to the Section calendar and a request to the organizing entity that it in turn publicize a Section seasonal meeting.
  • commercial messages, including, but not limited to, messages offering or seeking any kind of business relationship (including employment), soliciting contributions or soliciting membership or subscription to any resource not offered by the Section.
  • materials, such as newsletters and related content, generated by a law firm, company or other for-profit entity.  Logos and tag lines used as part of a signature or otherwise included in an email posted to any Section listserv should be discrete and of a size, placement, and description as normally used by the sender and should not be disproportionately large.
  • any message, data, information, text or other material ("Content") that is unlawful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, threatening, offensive, vulgar or otherwise injurious to third parties, or that would constitute or encourage a criminal offense, create any liability or violate any local, state, national, or international law or regulation. Users of a Section listserv may be held individually liable for any communications they send through the listserv.
  • any Content such as charity requests, petitions for signatures, other solicitations of listserv users, promotional materials, chain letters or letters relating to pyramid schemes, advertising or solicitations for funds, political campaigning, mass mailings, any form of unsolicited commercial or promotional email (spam) or an offering of any non-Section goods, services, schemes or promotions.
  • any harmful content including without limitation, viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time bombs, zombies, cancel bots, or any other computer programming routines that may damage, interfere with, surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, program, data or personal information.
  • same or similar message to multiple Section listservs.

3. Do not discuss fees for any legal services or any information that might be construed as price fixing, a boycott, an illegal restriction of free trade or any other antitrust violation.

4. Do not impersonate any person or entity or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity or interfere with other users of the listserv.

5. Do not use any Section listserv as a method of advocating a client's position.

6. Users of a Section listserv also must comply with all state and federal copyright, trademark and patent laws and regulations. By posting material on a Section listserv, the posting party warrants and represents that it owns the copyright with respect to such material or has received permission from the copyright owner. It is a violation of Section policy to post information that is not original unless it meets the ‘fair use’ guidelines of copyright law, or unless the user has received permission to reproduce such information from the original source. If there is any question as to whether a particular transmission contains information in violation of applicable copyright law, the user should not post that information on any Section listserv.  If not otherwise prohibited by the foregoing, the forwarding of generally available news content is discouraged.

7. By using a Section listserv, users agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless, Section and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, and parent from and against all loss, claims, demands, causes of action, liabilities, expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees and costs arising from any claim arising out of or resulting from in whole or part any breach of these guidelines by the user or any omission or act taken by the user. In no event will the Section be responsible to the users for any indirect, consequential, special or punitive damages or losses users may incur in connection with any Section listserv or any of the data or other materials transmitted through or residing on any Section listserv, even if the Section has been advised of the possibility of such damage or loss.

8. The Section may, but does not assume the obligation to, monitor discussions taking place through any of its listservs. The Section reserves the right, but does not assume the obligation, to investigate any violation of these guidelines. The Section may remove any user from any or all Section listservs for violation of these guidelines. Further, the Section reserves the right, but does not assume the obligation, to temporarily suspend a listserv in circumstances where, inter alia, a “flame war” is emerging.


Netiquette for Listserv Users

Electronic mailing lists ("listservs") are intended to be a convenient and efficient way for committee members to communicate about committee business.  They enable their members to instantly transmit or receive information and opinions on matters of common interest. When a message or a reply is sent to a mail list, the list server immediately distributes it to all subscribers. This is a highly interactive form of communication.

The following guidelines are intended to make our use of listservs as valuable and productive as possible, for all subscribers.

1. Be germane. Messages posted to a Section listserv must related to the issues and business of the committee or entity for which the listserv was established. Tailor your message to the issue being addressed, since that will tend to produce the most focused and valuable responses from your colleagues. If another person posts a comment or question that is off the subject, do NOT reply to the list and keep the off-subject conversation going publicly.

2. Be extremely judicious in your use of the "reply to all" button. If you are replying with a message that just says “thanks for the information,” a request to receive a copy of what someone has offered to share, or simply to agree with someone (such as “me, too”), do not reply to the entire group.  Instead, send your response directly to the e-mail address of the person who posted the message (e.g., if using Microsoft Outlook hit "Reply" not "Reply All"). When at all possible, be sure to avoid replies that include prior correspondence, since this tends to slow down the discussion process.  Do not post an entire e-mail only to add a short response.

3. Be polite. We are all volunteers, and humans.  Don't post something to a listserv that you wouldn’t say to a friend.  Do not forward a personal email to a Section listserv without the express permission of the original email's author.

4. Ask questions.  Offer answers.  Share your knowledge.

5. Know your audience. It is important to recognize that your audience may have varying degrees of knowledge and experience.

6. Brevity is important. Please keep your messages as short and to the point as is consistent with conveying the substance of your thoughts.

7. Identify yourself. Please sign your message with your full name and ABA affiliation. Among other things, this gives your colleagues the opportunity to consult directly with you on questions or issues that may have come up in discussion.

8. Provide a useful subject line. Posting a subject line that reflects your message's contents affords your colleagues the ability to prioritize their reading. This is a significant consideration particularly when the list of subscribers is large and there is a high volume of transmissions.  Please also modify the subject line as the subject evolves.

9. If possible avoid attachments. Attachments can be very useful, but frequently they are incompatible with your audience's software. Therefore, when at all possible, avoid using them. It's preferable to reference the source of a document and provide instructions on how to obtain a copy. If you must post a long message, warn the readers with a statement at the top of the mail message.

10. Please do not use auto-reply.  If you will be out of the office for a period of time and will use an automatic “out of office” message, please configure your “out of office” message to not respond to messages from “Out of office” messages on certain list configurations can cause mail loops between the listserv and your email server. This can lead to hundreds of messages being sent out. Refer to your email client's documentation on how to set up rules for Out of Office messages. You may also temporarily disable your listserv subscriptions by putting this command in the body of a message sent to, leaving the subject line blank: set [listserv name] NOMAIL. To re-start your listserv subscription, put this command in the body of a message sent to, leave the subject line blank: set [listserv name] MAIL. When using email this has to be done for every list that you are on.

11. Any requests regarding administrative tasks such as being added or removed from a list should be made to the appropriate area, not the list itself. Visit the committee’s homepage for information on how to address administrative tasks. 

12. Remember that all listserv exchanges are public domain, and archived.