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Re: Free licensing of surveillance software

From: fischersfritz
Subject: Re: Free licensing of surveillance software
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 02:38:01 +0000

Aaron Wolf writes:
> Are you picturing a case of something like telemetry software that is
> benign and useful enough given transparency and acceptance by anyone who
> is getting measured

I am not particularly interested in any of benign software, telemetry
software, nor surveillance software. I would the users of software
to have control over all of their software, regardless of how the
software is categorized.

* If the software usage is realized through execution of a binary,
  GPL and AGPL protect the freedom of users.
* If the software usage is realized through communication with network
  server software, AGPL protects the freedom of users.
* If the software usage is realized through being surveilled by methods
  other than binaries or network servers (for example, through
  computer-assisted interrogations or surveillance cameras), would it be
  possible to require additionally that the people being surveilled
  (often called "useds" than users) have the same freedoms? That is,
  they would be allowed to run their own installations of the
  surveillance software, to study the source code, to share the
  software, and modify the software. And this is in addition to the
  protecting the rights of those conducting the surveillance,
  likely by the same methods as used in GPL and AGPL.

Perhaps it will be informative for me to elaborate on my example.

Suppose that I write a Gtk button widget. It is special because of its
special feature for changing shape among different animals depending
on a parameter. Jinny writes a surveillance camera software in Gtk, and
then Pauly uses the surveillance camera software to spy on Julian.

* If I license my Gtk button widget under GPL (any version) or AGPL,
  then Jinny is obliged to license the rest of the camera software under
  a compatible license and to provide the source code to Pauly. Pauly is
  not obliged to provide any source code to Julian.
* Can I license my Gtk button widget in such a way that Pauly would
  be obliged to provide the source code to Julian?

Here is another example. I put a camera inside my house so that I can
see who is in the house when my family is not home. Kim robs the
house, and the camera records him robbing the house. Is there a software
license that gives Kim the right to obtain the source code to the camera
software? He could obtain the source code by following the instructions
that I had posted on the wall next to the camera.

I believe that my curiousity is fundamentally whether surveillance
can be defined such that surveillance software would count as a user
product delivered to both the people conducting surveillance and
to the people subject to surveillance.

I avail itself of this opportunity to renew to you the assurances
of my highest consideration.


Those joining from copyleft-next may find Aaron and my previous messages
in the libreplanet-discuss archives.

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