[License-discuss] For Public Comment: The Libre Source License

Moritz Maxeiner mm at ucw.sh
Fri Aug 9 12:07:12 UTC 2019

On Friday, 9 August 2019 05:36:26 CEST Russell McOrmond wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 8, 2019 at 9:44 PM Moritz Maxeiner <mm at ucw.sh> wrote:
> > In my opinion the spirit (if not the wording) of the "libre" in FLOSS is
> > primarily (and if not should be) about minimizing the restrictions placed
> > upon
> > source code (and after that about minimizing restrictions placed on
> > users);
> > allowing someone to not publish modifications - in my mind - amounts to
> > allowing them to place a restriction on source code that it hadn't had
> > previously.
> Curious: Since I have the capability to write software, but I decide not to
> write some specific software, does that constitute a restriction on the
> source code of this hypothetical software?
> There are no new restriction on source code that hadn't previously been
> restrictricted.

Considering, if I understand you correctly, that no actual source code for 
that software would exist in that scenario, we can't argue in a sensible 
manner about it (including restrictions on it), as you can infer anything from 
nothing (assuming you accept nothing as false, which I do).

> What we are discussing is a new restriction (disallowing privacy) in
> relation to source code that didn't previously exist.

Only in the specific instance of such source code being a derivative work of 
other source code the privacy of which was intentionally rejected by the 

> Our community should
> be trying to protect privacy, not suggesting that disallowing privacy is a
> matter of protecting liberty (Yes, same logic that "intellegence" agencies
> use to suggest massive surveilance is a requirement of security).

I disagree completely with equating source code derived from open source code 
and personal information. If I accepted that, I personally could not advocate 
using Kerckhoffs's principle (under which everything in a cryptographic system 
that's not public is in fact part of the secret key) as a measure to reason 
about the soundness of a crypto system and dropping the core principle of 
modern cryptography is not something I'm prepared to do (maybe there's a way 
around it, but I don't see it).

> In my mind this policy reduces the amount of source code that will exist
> (be written), and thus be an overall loss of software. 

That's a possibility, but without any data I'm not going to speculate. 
Regardless, whether or not software is or isn't going to be written isn't my 
primary concern here, whether source code that does get written as a 
derivative of open source code (where the original author wishes this) gets 
open sourced (published/released), however, is.

> I'm being honest in
> having a hard time understading why people believe that these types of
> privacy restrictions will increase the amount of publicly distributed
> source code (for those who think source code is a goal unto itself, rather
> than only one tool towards a larger goal).

I believe you. But while increasing the overall amount of publicly distributed 
source code is a worthy goal in general, there are instances where that's - 
for me - a secondary concern to ensuring that source code that does get 
written must be publicly distributed.

> BTW: The "libre" comes from the more clear french "Logiciel libre", which
> doesn't have the confusion about the meaning of the english word "free".

Sure, and at least in this instance I believe to be using it correctly (Libre 
Source == the source (code) itself is and must - even in derivatives - remain 
free of restriction, not the user of the software).

> P.S.  My question isn't hypothetical.  There are enhancements to software
> I've decided not to author because the original software was licensed under
> the AGPL.

That's interesting to know and I don't think you're alone in that.
I've chosen not to work on projects I would have otherwise due to several 
similar reasons: License I don't agree with, vague / conflicting code of 
conduct (because I generally - with few exceptions - reject the notion of 
letting something other than my country's laws restrict my freedom of speech), 
primary communication channels on services that actively spy on you, the lead 
developer(s) being unreasonable or unkind (I could go on, but I think you get 
my point).
I think it's up to everyone to both determine what kind of software they want 
to contribute to, and what kind of contributions they want.

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