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Legal Lab

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What is the Legal Lab?

Our projects are experts in technology, not necessarily in law. The Legal Lab seeks to address the varied, and often novel and complex legal issues they face in promoting internet freedom through partnerships with experienced attorneys.

This lab anticipates, assists with, and responds to various legal issues unique to internet freedom projects. The lab is intended to assist projects at all stages with a variety of legal needs, from organizational formation and governance, to IP protection, regulatory compliance, and developing policies to address allegations of sexual misconduct within organizations.

For projects in need, the Legal Lab exists to support your work in promoting internet freedom globally. The Lab endeavors to assist you with acute legal issues as well as with building a solid legal foundation to mitigate risks that could hinder the effectiveness of your work or threaten its very existence.

For lawyers who want to help, the technology-centered projects OTF supports are integral to fighting the suppression and censorship of free expression and information, as well as the dissemination of misinformation, upon which oppressive regimes rely to infringe the fundamental rights of their citizens and commit human rights abuses. Because our projects operate worldwide to fight censorship, suppression, and misinformation, the legal issues they face are global and multi-jurisdictional. Learn more below (could also link to a new page).

What does the legal lab provide?

The Legal Lab supports internet freedom projects in two ways:

  • Facilitating direct legal services from qualified practitioners in relevant jurisdictions and subject matter areas for projects in need
  • Providing access to a curated resource library of legal information developed by legal experts that is relevant to the issues projects face, allowing them to mitigate risks in their operations, and helping them identify when legal assistance may be necessary.

The lab provides specific short-term support to people or organizations representing projects conducting work within OTF’s internet freedom remit who apply to the lab for support. The lab offers access to services provided by Legal Lab service partners who provide services on a pro bono basis or with whom OTF has contracted with directly to provide services for a fee. OTF, through the Legal Lab, may also provide financial support to projects in need of legal assistance who have already identified and/or engaged a legal service provider of their own.

Who is the Legal Lab for?

The lab will prioritize support for the following kinds of projects:

  1. Current and past internet freedom efforts supported with public funds from OTF, BBG, the Department of State; and,
  2. Efforts that fit within OTF’s overall mission and goals but, for various reasons, may not be current or previous supported Internet freedom efforts.

The ideal applicant for this lab is in a legally accountable role within their project with the capacity to actively engage with available service partners. If an applicant appears to be unable to meet the needs required by a service partner, the application may not be considered competitive, may be dismissed, and/or may be directed to apply to one of OTF’s other more appropriate funds.

How do I get help?

To request legal assistance, ask a general question, or propose a topic on which you’d like for us to create a resource, email us at [email protected]

If you are requesting legal assistance for a specific legal dispute, you should not disclose particular facts about your situation, but rather state the general area of law to which it pertains. Any information you share with us is not privileged, such privilege will exist if and when you are engaged with legal representation.

Resources and assistance are available for issues like:

  • Intellectual property (trademarks, copyright, etc): protection, enforcement, registration
  • Contract drafting and interpretation
  • Entity formation and governance of non-profit and other corporate structures
  • Data and privacy compliance requirements, including GDPR and equivalent regulations
  • Legal issues related to encryption
  • Developing policies and best practices related to background checks, law enforcement inquiries, allegations of sexual misconduct

If you have legal questions, or acute legal issues, not appearing on this list, you are encouraged to contact us to inquire whether we can provide assistance or create a resource relevant to your specific issue.

FOR LAWYERS WHO WANT TO WORK WITH US

We partner with experienced attorneys globally to provide pro bono and contract-based legal support to the internet freedom projects we support.

Our projects often need support in the following areas of law:

Organizational formation and governance

  • Identifying suitable entity types and location for formation or organization
  • Drafting formation documents and operating agreements
  • Attaining and maintaining 501(c)(3) status (and foreign equivalents)

Intellectual property

  • Developing organizational IP policies, including maintaining and protecting an IP portfolio and managing tension between IP enforcement and open source principles
  • Trademark and Copyright registration
  • Cease and desist letters and DMCA take-downs
  • Understanding fair use principles
  • Licensing and open source software

Contract law

  • Licensing agreements
  • Independent Contractor agreements
  • NDAs
  • Terms of Service
  • Master Service agreements
  • Fiscal sponsorship agreements

Compliance

  • Data protection and privacy
  • GDPR
  • Understanding and developing privacy policies
  • Issues related to accepting crypto-currency donations (tax reporting, impact on non-profit status)

Our projects also need assistance in developing policies and best practices for responding to law enforcement inquiries and data warrants, maintaining chain of custody for data center moves, satisfying requirements for maintenance of electronic records, and due diligence in avoiding international sanctions relative to the support of terrorism (ie., ethical and responsible background checks of contractors, etc.).

Become a Legal Lab partner

For more information on partnering with us to provide direct legal services, or to contribute to our resource library, email us at [email protected]