[License-review] For Approval: Twente License

Carlo Piana carlo at piana.eu
Wed Feb 6 09:19:15 UTC 2019


Good intentions yield bad licenses. I appreciate what you try to do, but
it's not open source, and it does belong in a license.

It is not up to you to enforce or even enhance privacy or any Good
Things (tm). I think we have discussed this with a "do not evil"
license, I can't recall the precise name, and many times elsewhere.

Licenses are the WORST way to do it. Law enforcement is made by complex
and somewhat fragile legal instruments. Law is a balance of rights and
opposing rights, rules imposing burdens and rules alleviating them.
Rules making cases and rules making exceptions. Rules changing previous
rules, decisions clarifying existing rules. In this picture, embedding
law-abiding concepts in a license is totally wrong. Well meaning, but wrong.

Licenses in open source can't discriminate against any field of
application, and doing something illegal or privacy-breaking *is* a
field of application, like it or not. Everybody has a "right to break
the law": the consequence is the punishment provided for by the law in a
foreseeable (fore-seeable) way; this is why in free countries you can't
be punished for something that was not considered a crime at the time
when you committed that crime, it's called "principle of legality" or
"rule of law". Nothing more, maybe something less. Plus, in certain
cases, breaking the law is an act of civil disobedience. Protesting
against dictatorship or an unjust law by openly breaking it and face
jail or even death is highly moral and just. Rosa Parks broke the law.
She became an icon of the civil liberties movement. The law changed. The
world changed too.

Besides, it is not the tool that breaks the law or violates the privacy,
it's its use in the context. And its use is illegal depending on a
number of factors that are not referred to the judge who decides on
copyright violation. See spyware. Or a password breaker. Are they
illegal? NOPE. Can you use them at leisure? NOPE! Where is the boundary?
Good question. In certain cases, you can end up with an acquittal from
the criminal judge and a decision pro the plaintiff by a civil judge,
because the rules are different; but they are different because they
apply within a given domain, and make sense therein and therein only.
What you make of that? Something at face value illegal can be excused.
Cars can speed well beyond the highest speed limit: would you make
speedy cars illegal? Then go figure if you try to escape from
ill-intended people chasing you with an illegal car. And what about the
Police? What about if you are running to an hospital in an emergency?

Making it a copyright infringement adds nothing but confusion. Licensing
conditions in open source are tool to preserve the freedoms that open
source conveys, and to protect the copyright holders from liability or
that their work is turned against them, they are within the realm of
copyright and licensing itself. Making them do well-meaning things is a
perversion of the tool.

I think I have made my case. Many have presented these arguments in the
past, I am sure there will be more chances to present them. Sorry you
are enduring my "wrath", these are all but common or self-evident
concepts, as they need to be reminded from time to time and even among
people familiar with law and licensing, even lawmakers, sometimes (in
Europe, currently with the new copyright directive).



On 06/02/19 08:38, Anand Chowdhary wrote:
> Hi Carlo,
> Thank you for your feedback.
> My intension was not to enforce the law, but rather what is in my
> opinion is the right thing to do. I understand that you think that the
> concept of mixing open-source with laws/ethics is misguided. However,
> I don’t think enforcing privacy is rubbish, and I thought licenses
> could be a great way to do it.
> I would like to thank you for your feedback and opinion; I saw your
> website (law.piana.eu) and see that you specialize in free-software
> law—especially in the EU—and I highly value your opinion. Thank you
> again, I will definitely think further about what you said.
> Anand
> On 6 Feb 2019, 08:24 +0100, Carlo Piana <carlo at piana.eu>, wrote:
>> Deeply against conflating law-abiding provision with licenses. They
>> don't belong there, the entire concept is wrong. Plus, controlling
>> that software doesn't do acts against the law is vague, it changes as
>> law progresses.
>> Open source MUST be allowed to do illegal things. It is not up to the
>> copyright owners to perform law enforcement. And something that's
>> illegal for someone is legal for others. Spyware is a good example.
>> Something is illegal someplace might be even compulsory elsewhere.
>> Please leave this rubbish out of licensing.
>> Carlo
>> 5 feb 2019 ha scritto:
>>>     *Name:* Twente License
>>>     *
>>>     *
>>>     *Rationale:* The MIT license is the most popular open-source
>>>     license out there. It's used by millions of projects and helps
>>>     the community by providing open access to code, so that
>>>     developers can build on top of the hard work done by others.
>>>     However, in light of recent events where companies are
>>>     financially motivated to disregard individual privacy,
>>>     developers should choose wisely who can use their intellectual
>>>     property or codebases.
>>>     *Distinguish: *Twente License is free and permissive—just like
>>>     the MIT license—but it adds a clause where the end product in
>>>     which Twente licensed code can be used has to be compliant with
>>>     certain guidelines, primarily respecting privacy, human rights,
>>>     and other European values.*
>>>     *
>>>     *Legal review:* I’ve had a lawyer informally have a look, but no
>>>     in-depth legal review has been conducted.
>>>     *Proliferation category:* Other/Miscellaneous licenses (5)
>>>     *Relevant links:*
>>>       * https://github.com/AnandChowdhary/twente-license
>>>       * https://twente.me/anand
>>>     Please find attached the license in plain text.
>>>     Best,
>>>     Anand Chowdhary
>>>     Chief Executive Officer
>>>     Oswald Labs <https://oswaldlabs.com>
>>>     NL +31 644691056
>>>     IN +91 9555297989
>>>     ceo at oswaldlabs.com <http://mailto:ceo@oswaldlabs.com>
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