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Re: [ox-en] Re: usage of software and the CGPL

BTW: Both your quoting and linebreaks seems to be quite broken.

On Tue, Mar 16, 2004 at 03:47:07AM -0000, George Dafermos wrote:
Benjamin Mako Hill wrote:
George Dafermos wrote:
We need enforceable ethics, but this enforceability need not
necessarily stem from the current legal system, which is partly
rotten, unethical, and many of its aspects are bound to collapse;
ethics is not a question that legal systems should decide- and the
CGPL is a p2p agreement among autonomous people who value
community to be ethical.

I think I'm going to change my position a little bit. I'm not sure we
really *do* need enforceable ethics. I'm happy with unenforceable
ethics. In fact, I think they may be only really good way of creating
them -- perhaps of creating them at all. The CGPL is flawed because
it's combines otherwise enforceable qualities with unenforceable
ones. The more simple, otherwise enforceable "free software" style
rights are vulnerable to attacks on the bits you admit (openly on
public mailing lists) are unenforceable!

I don't understand this. If you *know* it's unenforceable under
the current legal system and are instead depending on the
agreements of individuals, why would you attempt to codify this in
*legal* terms within a *legal* license?

G: it's crazy at first, i know. It's a contradiction, and this
invariably draws people's attention. makes them think and perhaps
tick. and this is exactly why it might fulfill its goal.

There's a lot more to a software license than the fact it makes you
think. The GPL is a neat legal trick but the philosophy behind it is
abstracted neatly into another, non-legally enforceable document: the
FSD. It's been pretty good at movement building IMHO.

using an imaginary legal mechanism to reflect the inadequacies of an
imaginary system run by accountants and lawyers.

If it were truly an imaginary system with imaginary effects, this
might be a more convincing argument.

what the CGPL proposes is a social agreement rather than a legal
binding document.

It sounds like you are using a license to do something that should be
done in a projects' social contract. Debian has one. Gentoo has
one. Both are quite different than the CGPL sorts of ethics but
there's no reason you couldn't do a more CGPL inspired one. My problem
is not with what the CGPL is trying to do but with how it's trying to
do it.

G: As you remark, enforceability is a key issue, i personally
believe the CGPL will be enforeable when it reaches its final

I will believe it when I see it. IMHO, it will have to be a very very
different license if it's going to get there.

But bear in mind, that the enforceability part is not the primary
concern of the CGPL, in terms of and because of its philosophy, at
least for now.

Why do it in a license? Why not do it in a social contract? What about
an advertising clause? Why try to restrict the users in the license in
an enforceable way?

I have no problems with creating software that will be used for
good and not evil. I wish everyone did this. I have a problem with
trying to codify this as a form of discriminatory licensing; I
have a bigger problem with doing this in a way that is, by most
accounts, is unenforceable and counterproductive to the
enforceability of the less controversial parts of the license.

G: i don't think that the CGPL is counterproductive to the
enforceability of the GNU GPL.

I think you've misunderstood. The CGPL does undermine the
enforceability of the GNU GPL, it undermines it's *own*
enforceability. If it did was restrict access to bad people that would
be own thing. But it also has a lot of standard copyleft style bits
that, one can only assume, software authors would like to retain
regardless of the enforceability of the "no bad people" bits. The
discriminatory parts undermine the enforceability of important and
otherwise enforceable sections of the license.

It is, IMHO, very irresponsible to promote a license to people if you
realize that parts of the license are unenforceable and may invalidate
the entire license.

We will however need to give it another thought from this vantage
point which i must admit i had not considered till now. If the CGPL
harms in any way the GNU GPL by undermining the latter's
enforceability, then we will have to re-think the raison d'etre of
the CGPL, since we all feel strongly about the GPL, seeing it as the
cornerstone of digital freedom. I will bring this to the attention
of the other members of the CGPL.

Thanks! This was a lot more than I expected. :)


Benjamin Mako Hill

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