I am doing a lot of open-source projects as a private person, don't have a legal entity behind me.
In the course of developments I am sometimes faced with legal questions, for instance:
- Clarification of licenses or EULAs.
- Trademark infringement. (I might be facing a cease-and-desist letter from Apache in the near future.)
I would clearly not ask for legal advice, but rather for the clarification and experience of the community. This does not replace a lawyer but may help to avoid a need for one in the first place. And I think this type of questions are not uncommon.
I don't think SO is suitable - but which site then?
I'd like to address the "Actual legal advice is not on-topic anywhere on the network - and frankly, shouldn't be." point specifically.
It is definitely correct that if I have a legal issue, I have to consult a lawyer.
My point is, however is not what to do, when you already have a legal issue but how to avoid them. An this is where the community may be very helpful.
For instance, most people would know that stealing is illegal not because they've consulted a lawyer or read the law codex but because they've learned it somehow from their community - parents, teachers etc.
In the context of software, I, for instance, know that if I use GPL-licensed software, there may be license-technical consequences for my project. I first heard it from senior colleagues and later read a number of articles on that subject.
(On a side note, when I had a GPL issue in my company, I've consulted our corporate lawyer. After 5 meetings and few weeks I've got a 5-page wishy-washy answer "this may or may not be a problem". So I believe I would have WAY better served in the community.)
Next thing is sharing experience and precedents. A lot of cases have precedents - you just have to know them. A pointer to the article describing "A was sued by B over C and this is how it ended" may give a valuable pointer on how to proceed - or much better avoid the issue at all.
Finally, I can't really afford a lawyer for all of the potential issues I am faced. Remember, I'm just a private person doing some open-source in this case, I have no foundation to back me up with a legal department or overtake the legal costs.
So I have to take risks. These risks are normally very low, but I have to estimate the probability and the possible damage. This is where an advise from community may be valuable.