Re: Chatham House Rules?

Joseph Potvin

It seems to me that Chatham House Rules can introduce complications that reduce the level of comfort. To illustrate, look at the reference to this approach in the first paragraph of R Fontana's critique of the Harmony Project:

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the critique, an explicit NDA is easier, I reckon. It seems to me a difficult fit for a free/libre/open project. What are the penalties for violation of the rules?  Is inferred disclosure a violation?

There's a very long-standing conventional approach supporting open reporting of research that goes something like: "The usual caveat applies. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and cannot be taken to reflect the views of their employers or clients."  That wording is usually for a document. I've elsewhere created the following variant for a sensitive but open discussion forum (that's now 12 years running): "Participation in _______ involves individuals in their individual capacities, such that activities are driven by the research, interests and views of the members, which may or may not reflect the official stances of the organizations in which they may work.

Therefore for OpenChain may I suggest something like:

"Participation in OpenChain discussions involves individuals in their capacities as individual professionals, such that comments are driven by their own research, interests, questions and views, independently of the official stances of the organizations with which they may work. It shall be considered inaccurate for any written reports of discussions to include individual or organization references unless the substance and attributions are vetted in follow-up written communication with the individuals or organizations identified."

Joseph Potvin
Operations Manager | Gestionnaire des opérations
The Opman Company | La compagnie Opman
Mobile: 819-593-5983

On Sat, Dec 13, 2014 at 1:38 AM, Marr, David <dmarr@...> wrote:
Thanks, and yes the motivation behind the proposal is to find a way for folks to feel more comfortable discussing those sensitive issues.  There's no getting away from the fact many of us on this list are lawyers. :) However progress on this type of project is only possible with open dialogue.  Chatham House indeed has been helpful elsewhere as Shane especially well knows.


On Dec 12, 2014, at 6:08 PM, Shane Coughlan <shane@...> wrote:

Hi Alan. Chatham House is a gentleperson's agreement rather than a legal contract. It has no impact on legal or professional requirements so there should be no conflict in this regard.

Dave, I believe this rule has proven useful in allowing people to discuss sensitive concerns more openly than otherwise over a considerable period in multiple jurisdictions and fields, and therefore would support its adoption. 



On 13 Dec 2014, at 03:24, Alan Tse <Alan.Tse@...> wrote:

Generally I’m ok with Chatham House as long as there is an exception for legally or ethically required disclosures. 


Alan Tse

Copyright and Open Source Licensing Director

Western Digital Technologies, Inc.

3355 Michelson Dr., Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92612

T:  949-672-7759

F:  949-672-6604



From: openchain-bounces@... [mailto:openchain-bounces@...] On Behalf Of Marr, David
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2014 11:09 AM
To: openchain@...
Subject: [OpenChain] Chatham House Rules?


Hi, should we move our OpenChain discussions under Chatham House rules?  Thoughts appreciated.


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