As some of you may have noticed, last week I proposed a new HTTP status code to signal the situation where a request can’t be serviced for legal reasons. Herewith the back story, and an appeal for legal help.
Back Story · What happened was, I saw a Slashdot thread about British ISPs returning 403 for Pirate Bay requests because of a court order, and how that was broken. I didn’t follow the links or read the comments, but it turns out that the root was a blog post by Terence Eden.
So I posted to the IETF HTTP mailing list: “The thinking about returning 403 when you’re forbidden to follow a link seems sound to me. This idea is superficially appealing; is it deeply broken in some way that’s not obvious?” Nobody could think of one, so I took a half-hour before dinner and wrote up the proposal. The next morning it was all over the Net.
I’d proposed 451 as a tribute to Ray Bradbury, and it turns out the idea had come up already in both the Slashdot thread and Terence’s comments. I thought I’d thought of it but maybe not; anyhow, it’s so painfully obvious. There’s room for argument as to whether a code in the 5xx range might be better, and over lots of other details. The IETF is meeting in Vancouver in late July, and the HTTP WG will give this proposal the three minutes or so of consideration that it deserves. I really don’t have the faintest idea whether enough people will like it to get official blessing.
Latin Legalisms ·
One of the things in the proposal is that the
451 Unavailable for
Legal Reasons status is supposed to be accompanied by an explanation of
what the legal
restrictions are, and what class of sites they apply to. The proposal has an
example, and since obviously you don’t want to use any real legal authorities
in this situation, I decided to pick on the Roman Empire:
This request may not be serviced in the Roman Province of Judea due to Lex3515, the Legem Ne Subversionem Act of AUC755, which disallows access to resources hosted on servers deemed to be operated by the Judean Liberation Front.
Most readers here will have spotted the Monty Python tribute. Yeah, it should be “People’s Front of Judea”, I’ll fix that.
But I made up the name of the Roman law by typing something into Google Translate. So... does anyone reading this know what a plausible Latin name would be for such a law, and how it would be cited? Roman history is full of lawsuits, so I assume it must have been a fairly routine operation. Thanks in advance.