On-topic-ness of questions on legal issues related to academia? seems to say questions pertaining to legal issues are on-topic.

However, the question below got closed on the grounds that it is a legal question.

Has the stance on questions pertaining to legal issues changed?


Is consent required by law to take a picture or to record audio / video of a conference talk in France?

Provided that the conference does not explicitly prohibit unauthorized audio and visual recordings of the presentations, and ignoring ethical/political/any other non-legal issues.

I am aware of the question Is consent required to record audio of a conference talk in the US?, but as the question indicates it focuses on the USA only.

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  • Should we specify that questions where "expert" answers are from experts outside of academia are off-topic? is also relevant to some legal-issues questions.
    – ff524
    Jan 10, 2016 at 19:13
  • Also note that Is consent required to record audio of a conference talk in the US? is not only about the legal aspect (and indeed, the answers don't get into the legal issues), but also asks more generally how it would be perceived.
    – ff524
    Jan 10, 2016 at 19:17
  • @ff524 Thanks. I am still confused regarding the scope of this SE. Does it mean academics have no expert knowledge for legal matters? I would expect conference organizers to know more than a generalist lawyer for some questions such as the one given in the question's example. Also, I think such question should clearly say whether it is from a legal or ethical perspective (since that's two different questions). Jan 10, 2016 at 19:24
  • I don't know what kind of expertise conference organizers have in that respect. Note that in the meta post on "questions requiring external expertise," there isn't really a clear consensus, just "let's see on a case by case basis."
    – ff524
    Jan 10, 2016 at 19:26
  • 1
    @FranckDernoncourt: while taking photos at a conference legally probably isn't very special, there are some points where conferences are treated in a (suprisingly) special way, e.g. in EU VAT law. I stumbled upon this once and it turned out the situation was so specialized that the lady at the tax office service hotline told me she has to look it up as she never encountered a similar question before. But the conference provider knew. And I'd guess researchers to be more likely to have encountered that than normal tax consultants => IMHO on-topic at academia.sx. May 11, 2018 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


Most questions on Academia.SE are not about the law per se, but rather about the de facto interaction of academic standards and practices with issues regarding the law. That sort of thing is completely within scope of this site.

Your linked question, on the other hand, explicitly says that it is:

"ignoring ethical/political/any other non-legal issues"

in other words, focusing explicitly on the law. This is very different, and requires a precise technical answer, making it on topic at Law.SE but not here.

Presumably, you gave it this focus so that it would not be closed as a duplicate of "Is consent required to record audio of a conference talk in the US?", since the top and accepted answer to that question says that the legal issues are less important than the academic standards and practices around the issue. So either:

  1. You have some reason to believe that the standards of the academic community would be different when international conferences are held in France than when they are held in the United States, and should modify the question to explain that, or
  2. The question belongs on Law.SE and not Academia.SE, or
  3. Something I have no understanding of is going on in your question and I would advise you to explain it better.
  • 1
    Thanks. I'm confused regarding the difference between questions "about the law per se" and questions "about the de facto interaction of academic standards and practices with issues regarding the law". Jan 11, 2016 at 3:51
  • @FranckDernoncourt There is, of course, a grey area at the boundaries. Consider, however, the answers to the US-focused question, or to this highly-voted question on the legality of religious displays. They consider not only the legal issues but also the ethical, social, and professional issues. In different cases, different aspects dominate in providing good advice regarding academia. Your question explicitly rules out of scope everything but purely legal considerations.
    – jakebeal
    Jan 11, 2016 at 4:03
  • 1
    Thanks, I think I understand now. However, I find it strange that a subset of an on-topic is off-topic. Jan 11, 2016 at 4:04
  • 2
    @FranckDernoncourt I would think of it this way: the more general question has both on-topic aspects (issues of academia) and off-topic aspects (the law), but in the balance is more on-topic than off-topic. Your restriction largely eliminates the on-topic aspects, thus making the off-topic aspects dominant.
    – jakebeal
    Jan 11, 2016 at 4:18
  • 1
    Why not editing such questions to exclude the legal aspect then, if we now decide that questions pertaining to legal issues are off-topic? Jan 12, 2016 at 14:31
  • Also there are a number of questions that clearly ask for the legal side only, e.g. Is it illegal to share publications not in the public domain with collaborators? or License of code accompanying a published article, which are not closed. Jan 14, 2016 at 18:27

The stance on questions pertaining to legal issues has not changed.

The most upvoted answer in On-topic-ness of questions on legal issues related to academia? clearly says:

I believe questions asking for general legal background about a particular academic issue should be considered on topic here.

The question https://academia.stackexchange.com/q/31806/452 is therefore on-topic.

There exist a number of questions that clearly ask for the legal side only, and are not closed, e.g.:

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