To anyone who believes to have understood my inquiry, could you reply
simply to say that you understand, even if you are unaware of any initiative
as I describe? If so, I guess there is no such initiative. Of not, maybe I will
continue trying to explain.
Aaron Wolf writes:
> Are you picturing a case of something like telemetry software that is
> benign and useful enough given transparency and acceptance by anyone who
> is getting measured
I am not particularly interested in any of benign software, telemetry
software, nor surveillance software. I would the users of software
to have control over all of their software, regardless of how the
software is categorized.
* If the software usage is realized through execution of a binary,
GPL and AGPL protect the freedom of users.
* If the software usage is realized through communication with network
server software, AGPL protects the freedom of users.
* If the software usage is realized through being surveilled by methods
other than binaries or network servers (for example, through
computer-assisted interrogations or surveillance cameras), would it be
possible to require additionally that the people being surveilled
(often called "useds" than users) have the same freedoms? That is,
they would be allowed to run their own installations of the
surveillance software, to study the source code, to share the
software, and modify the software. And this is in addition to the
protecting the rights of those conducting the surveillance,
likely by the same methods as used in GPL and AGPL.
Perhaps it will be informative for me to elaborate on my example.
Suppose that I write a Gtk button widget. It is special because of its
special feature for changing shape among different animals depending
on a parameter. Jinny writes a surveillance camera software in Gtk, and
then Pauly uses the surveillance camera software to spy on Julian.
* If I license my Gtk button widget under GPL (any version) or AGPL,
then Jinny is obliged to license the rest of the camera software under
a compatible license and to provide the source code to Pauly. Pauly is
not obliged to provide any source code to Julian.
* Can I license my Gtk button widget in such a way that Pauly would
be obliged to provide the source code to Julian?
Here is another example. I put a camera inside my house so that I can
see who is in the house when my family is not home. Kim robs the
house, and the camera records him robbing the house. Is there a software
license that gives Kim the right to obtain the source code to the camera
software? He could obtain the source code by following the instructions
that I had posted on the wall next to the camera.
I believe that my curiousity is fundamentally whether surveillance
can be defined such that surveillance software would count as a user
product delivered to both the people conducting surveillance and
to the people subject to surveillance.
I avail itself of this opportunity to renew to you the assurances
of my highest consideration.
Those joining from copyleft-next may find Aaron and my previous messages
in the libreplanet-discuss archives.
So, the current draft says this:
> If I distribute a Covered Work under a Proprietary License, then the
> licenses I grant You under section 1 are no longer subject to the
> conditions in sections 2 and 3. "Proprietary License" means a license
> which (i) is not royalty-free, (ii) does not permit distribution, (iii)
> does not permit preparation of derivative works, (iv) limits the number of
> licensed users or copies, and/or (iv) contains field-of-use restrictions.
I've often called this one of the most interesting, novel, and ingenious
features that Fontana has promulgated in copyleft-next. Admittedly, as some
of you probably recall from various ancient HBR cures, I lobbied Fontana
pretty hard 5-7 years ago for a solution to proprietary relicensing, so I
suppose he felt pressure to come up with something. I am glad my persistent
complaining brought a great copyleft clause into existence. ;)
Anyway, I have been studying this clause lately and I think it has a bug.
Here's the loophole scenario I can think of:
* Proprietary Relicensing Vendor ("Vendor") sets up a usual proprietary
relicensing "prep system" (i.e., CLAs giving them full powers to
relicense etc), and makes their outbound license copyleft-next.
* Optional, but "helpful" to Vendor's cause: Vendor also takes
technological measures in the software that make it difficult to get to a
full CCS situation (i.e., the stuff is hard to build, or whatever).
* Vendor finds Downstream in violation of copyleft-next, and Downstream
cannot comply within 30 days, either because Vendor "set them up", or
just mundane confusion about copyleft compliance.
And, here's the key part:
* Vendor offers Downstream not a *Proprietary* License, but a permissive
FOSS license for a fee (say, 2-Clause-BSD).
* Optional: Vendor demands an NDA about the whole situation and
The user base is effectively "divided and conquered", since at that point
the Downstream has a business relationship with Vendor and (possibly) also
can't afford to violate the NDA by telling anyone. Without the NDA, of
course, Downstream would have the right to distribute under the 2-Clause-BSD
-- but why would they? They just paid a lot of money to get that, and they
just give it to their competition? There are few business who would care
about software freedom enough to do that.
I think *maybe* this problem (if real) could be remedied with a deflation of
proprietary relicensing clause that reads something more like this:
If I distribute a Covered Work under any license (except pursuant to
6(a-c)) other than this License, then the licenses I grant You under
section 1 are no longer subject to the conditions in sections 2 and 3.
I'd like to discuss whether:
(0) the problem I described is real (I obviously think it is, otherwise I
wouldn't be posting it :), but I'm open-minded about this)
(1) whether my approach to solve it is on the right track at all, and
(2) if anyone else has a different approach to address these problems.
My specific concerns regarding (1) is that I have this sinking feeling that
some of the "escape hatches" away from pure copyleft (i.e., "only under this
License and nothing else") that 6(a-c) currently provide might *also* be
used for some form of proprietary relicensing tomfoolery as well. I am also
not clear whether (a) my clause still functions coherently if you yank the
"except pursuant to 6(a-c)", and/or (b) whether the mere existence of 6(a-c)
means there will always be some way for tomfoolery no matter how we chose to
deflate proprietary relicensing.
[ BTW, in researching and thinking about what became this email (and a blog
post I'll be putting up soon generally about proprietary relicensing), I
realized "nullification of copyleft" is a problematic phrase for this
license feature, so as you see I've been calling it "deflation of
proprietary relicensing" -- sort of imagining copyleft as a balloon that
gets deflated if upstream tries to proprietary relicense. I'm getting
used to the term, but if others have better ideas, let's discuss that too.
License adoption is obviously also about marketing, so we need good
phrases to get attention for coypleft-next. Minor HBR Cure related to
this: I talked with Fontana last week on IRC about what terminology might
work better and we couldn't really come up with anything that I thought
was compelling. I came up with "deflation" as a word choice a few days
later on my own. ]
Ok, enough of a core-dump. I've obviously been thinking about this on my
own for a number of weeks so I now really would love to read what all of you
Bradley M. Kuhn - he/him
Pls. support the charity where I work, Software Freedom Conservancy: