[License-discuss] For Discussion: Cryptographic Autonomy License (CAL) Beta 2

Russell McOrmond russellmcormond at gmail.com
Wed Aug 14 13:26:23 UTC 2019

On Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 12:30 AM Bruce Perens via License-discuss <
license-discuss at lists.opensource.org> wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 8:15 PM Russell McOrmond <
> russellmcormond at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I am left puzzled how the Affero clauses, which also target SaaS (or
>> what RMS likes to call Service as a Software Substitute - SaaSS), passed
>> the OSD #6 test?
> I wasn't around when this license was argued, so other folks can represent
> what they thought at the time better than I.

Those thoughts became precedent and opened the door to other similar minded
licenses, so having someone document the thinking would be very helpful.

While I'm replying to you, I'm not arguing against you personally in this.
I'm trying my best to have people re-think the precedent that was set by
approving licenses which treated cloud and other distributed computing as a

That said, I would say because the only effect of the terms is to activate
> the source code distribution requirement, which is considered to be a
> fundamental purpose of Open Source. If you look at Larry Rosen's OSL terms
> regarding "deploy", the explanation is the same.

A fundamental purpose of Open Source is to ensure that those who receive
software receive it in the most modifiable/transparent/etc form possible.

I believe in software transparency far beyond Open Source, and have
suggested to politicians and other law-makers that software needs to become
far more transparent and accountable than it is now.  I've even suggested
to politicians that maybe only software that is distributed along with
corresponding source be offered copyright protection (Note: Being
distributed with corresponding source alone does not make something open

When third parties don't receive software in any form, there is no software
to need to be received in the most modifiable form.  Forcing private
software to be published because it is privately deployed in a way that
people don't like doesn't seem to colour within the lines of Open Source.

I consider treating so-called "external deployment" as the same as
distribution to be a large departure from what Open Source was previously
about, as it extends the concept of who the user of the software is from
the people who run the software to those who use the services of the people
who run the software.  This is a dangerous and counter-productive extension
of the concept of who the user is that I strongly believe will ultimately
harm the Open Source movement.

Like using an Open Source license as a tool to disagree with the energy
sector (companies involved in oil/gas can't use the software), this is an
attempt to restrict a specific way to privately deploy software in a
LAN/VPN setting that some people disagree with.  (Note: I'm a long-time
environmentalist who has strong concerns about the climate crisis, but
believe mixing my views on the climate crisis and open source is
counterproductive for both).

Whether someone does or doesn't use any specific software in the provision
of a service (with a human and/or computer interface, in physically
proximate or geographically distributed computers) all feel like fields of
endeavour to me, and shouldn't be restricted in an Open Source license.

the acceptance of that fear is leading parts of the movement to grasp for
>> very proprietor-focused licensing tactics of ensuring that software authors
>> (or more often copyright/patent owners) have a high level of control over
>> software users when they are subjectively deemed "bad software users".
> Yes. And I have Sunil Deshpande speaking at our conference, where he will
> make the case for exactly that, and I will make the opposite case in my own
> talk. In summary: do that if you want, but please don't call it Open
> Source. I guess Heather is speaking too, she would make a gentler case for
> Polyform, which they know not to call Open Source.

I did a google search and looked at a sample of what he has written.  It
read like a group within the Green Party of Ontario back in the mid 1990's
who wanted to create Green software licenses where the software was
prohibited to be used by entities that harmed the environment (in what I
thought were rather subjective ways).  That same group wanted to also
prohibit the software from being used by other political parties, since in
their mind their very existence was harming the environment.

I had and still have an entirely different mindset.  The more you encourage
people to share their software (and with Free Software in the most
modifiable way possible), the more knowledge sharing becomes the norm.
Then, and now, I believe that knowledge sharing of energy efficient
technology with majority-world countries is the only way to solve global
environmental crisis.  Making efficient technology more expensive for
anyone makes it even more expensive as a percentage of their income of the
majority of people on this planet.   I believed we needed to transform
other political parties and "grey" companies to participating with Free
Software, rather than trying to restrict their using the tiny amount of
software that Green Party members would produce.

The arguments against cloud infrastructure providers, and other service
providers who happen to use software in the provision of their service,
seem to be the threat to open source that those who fear the cloud believe
the cloud itself is.

To link the two, I believe locating server computers in the north to reduce
the cost of cooling would have an important positive influence on the
environmental costs of computing.  The devices we bring with us to warm
climates don't need to be smart, and the majority of the smarts would be
elsewhere.  Governments will need to regulate these entities such that our
use of computing resources in the north grant users as similar rights as
when we run software on our own computers.   This isn't something that can
be accomplished in a strong-proprietor software license, but through
regulating the service providers such that these providers don't have
excessive control over those computer users.

The more we accept the concept of "bad software users" as something that
>> should be regulated in "open source" licenses, the less ability we will
>> have to protect the software freedom of any software users.
> Yes. I have been making this case for about 25 years, before there was
> Open Source, and it was fundamental to why the OSD includes #5 and #6. The
> first example I came to know, you've probably heard, was a Berkeley SPICE
> license with terms regarding the police of South Africa, that persisted
> long after the end of apartheid. Obviously I hated apartheid, it didn't
> seem very different from the way that nazis had treated Jews. But I felt
> those terms belonged elsewhere, and they still do today. Otherwise, we can
> start to entertain anti-Trump and anti-Clinton licenses, etc. and it will
> get very noisy fast.

And thank you for that.

I think in the 1990's there was more clarity around the purpose and goals
of the Free Software movement.   I think RMS's worries about cloud
computing has clouded his thinking about the harm that having strong
software proprietors has on the interests of *software* (vs service)
users.  I've written to him about my concerns, but haven't been receiving
replies back since this became the topic of my messages.

Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>

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