[License-discuss] For Public Comment: The Cryptographic Autonomy License

VanL van.lindberg at gmail.com
Mon Mar 18 14:14:42 UTC 2019

This is best thought of as an extended anti-Tivoization clause. It concerns
a particular type of attack on user freedom that can arise in the context
of distributed systems that use cryptographic primitives as functional and
addressing elements. It is related to, but broader than, the concept of
capabilities in software.

By analogy: Tivoization uses a cryptographic primitive to deny effective
freedom to recipients of software. They can create derivative works, but
they are unable to meaningfully exercise that freedom because the hardware
will not run a non-signed version.

In the context of Holochain, cryptographic primitives are used for identity
and for processing data (they are literally part of the "virtual machine"
that runs various types of mobile code). This clause is meant to ensure
that each Recipient has the freedom to use the software to process their
own data and to control their own identity. Thus, a negative limitation,
analogous to the GPLv3 restriction on Tivoization, that is only meant to
prevent a licensee from exercising the rights in a way that prejudices
later Recipients and practically denies them the same permissions received.


On Sun, Mar 17, 2019 at 6:35 PM Bruce Perens <bruce at perens.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Mar 17, 2019 at 1:53 PM VanL <van.lindberg at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I agree with you on this one. However, the phrasing of this particular
>> element was important to my client. I did try to make  sure that the
>> broader language (as you suggest) was also present - see 2.3(a) and (b).
> Could you ask your client to discuss what is important here, a bit more
> for us?
> I would like to see if cleaner wording will actually be acceptable. Right
> now it comes across as a software use restriction, and is possibly
> problematical within OSD #6, and I don't think there's any real intentional
> reason for that and what the customer wants can be done without any hint of
> trouble. Plus although you have added provisions to fill in, the sum is
> more complicated than is really necessary.
>     Thanks
>     Bruce
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