Friday, January 20, 2012

Fight SOPA/PIPA, change your license

All over the free world, government laws and court decisions are limiting our access to free Internet. Not that these measures are very useful, most of us hackers are able to circumvent them within minutes. But in essence, these counter measures are simply work-arounds - they do not eliminate the root cause.

The root cause are the big media moguls who successfully lobby our governments and judges to adopt unconstitutional new laws and regulations. Consequently, they are by definition an anti-democratic force. No, it's not about the artists (as a matter of fact, most of them can be considered victims of this industry), it's not about IP (they violate IP laws themselves on a daily basis - just count the lawsuits), it's just about MONEY. Think about it: these industries are obviously willing to trade in our most fundamental civil rights just for a little extra cash. No, they're not the kind of people only a mother can love - they already sold their mothers.

Our politicians are no better. Instead of defying the pressure of a dying industry they have chosen to simply sell out their voters. Often without even having any idea which consequences their decisions may have on their citizens, their own information industry or even the very reputation of the nations they should represent. Ignorance may be a bliss, but not in this case.

So far the community has responded in a variety of ways:
  • Shutting down their own websites in protest;
  • Petitioning;
  • Attacking government and industry websites;
  • Educating users on how to circumvent blocks;
  • Developing new ways to make it even more difficult to block free Internet access.
However, there is one card we haven't played yet. The FOSS community has achieved complete independence from proprietary software. I predict the music and movie industry will follow in the next few decades. They won't disappear, but they will have to compete and one day we will win.

In the meantime we will have to ensure that we will continue to have free and unlimited access to the Internet, our information highway. It is no secret that governments and even the music and entertainment industry itself have benefited from everything the FOSS community has produced. And we can stop that.

GPLv3 was created to defeat any attempts to make free software less free. A new license may prevent governments and the industry to make the Internet less free. Simply don't allow them to use our software anymore. Change the license.

I know that it is one of the pillars of Free Software - anyone may use it, no restrictions. But as I said, I don't consider it a permanent measure. Just until every attempt to restrict the Internet has ceased permanently. Just until the right to free access to the Internet is part of every international treaty and constitution.

I don't know about you, but I just don't feel comfortable someone who denies me to exercise one of my most basic rights is happily using my software..


Anonymous said...

"they do NOT eliminate the root cause"


Feel free to remove this comment if you wish so.

The Beez' said...

Thanks for pointing this out. One tends to get blind for this kind of errors. I corrected it.

Anonymous said...

If you compromise your principles even once, you have lowered the thresh hood to even more easily compromise them again.

Once it starts, where does it stop? Will we next modify the license to keep the Jews from using FOSS until they leave the Middle East, or stop the Arabs from using FOSS until they recognize Israel?

How about we modify the license to keep white people in the US from using FOSS until they make reparations to the descendants of slavery, or until the black people in Africa stop killing each other?

Oh I know, let's modify the license so the Chinese government can't use FOSS until they drastically improve worker conditions, or to keep the Union Workers around the world from using FOSS until they give up collective bargaining.

FOSS is not a tool to enforce your will upon someone, but to give them freedom!

Anonymous said...

Choosing a license for a project is almost never temporary. As soon as people contribute code, you lose the option to change the license of the project.

Another problem is that you need to specify any restriction in a precise, legal language. And good luck with that. If you leave any ambiguity, you will hurt innocent people (by denying your software to them).

And, of course, this pretty much kills the idea of free software. It's the same thing with free speech. If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise, we do not believe in it at all.

We do need to fight them, but not by denying them to use free software - that will not defeat them. Convincing the masses, artists and politicans, however, just might.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I don't think your idea should be temporary.

Just like the GPL mandates giving the source -- and thus is accused of being less free than a BSD license (e.g.).

IMHO it's not about being free but instead about making sure the world stays free.

Now, these weasels have a chronic lack of morals and don't really care about piracy, just about more power.

So, it's not like I expect them to respect any license -- but at least we'd have a better case in court.

> One tends to get blind for this kind of errors.

Indeed, I do it all the time... my theory is that we think so fast the fingers can't keep up and if a word gets "eaten", it might look ok if has no obvious error.

crb3 said...

The US government has such overweaning power over the Internet only so long as the rest of the world says it can. Time to shItCANN ICANN, I say, to put up root DNS servers in non-US locations and repoint resolvers in the rest of the world to them, ignoring the US-based ones as fatally compromised.

It's time for the Internet to interpret the US Congress and its descent into corporate-citizen oligarchy as brain-damaged and route around it.

Anonymous said...


A and J root are anycasted from multiple sites all over the world not just from the US.

Anonymous said...

I think you are mistaken in believing that the choice of licence has much influence. A licence has no teeth. People will use, and in fact are using, software in violation of its license, whether it be BSD or GPLv3.

A license can only make a difference if it is given teeth: if it is actively enforced. So, it is not primarily the choice of license that makes a difference, but the choice of fighting for one's rights under that license that does.

As it is with anything in general: it's (usually) not words that make the difference but the actions. Does 'show me the code' sound familiar ?

Mike Rowley said...

Once the idea is out, it will be done.

A license is just that. You can include or restrict as you desire.

Popularity of the license is determined by the most people that can use it. Thus the open license is the most popular.

If you don't like corporations, you need a better answer then lets' not play with them.

Like maybe a open corporation. Something that is a evolution of a non-profit and profit corp. It would do such things as publish all employee paychecks in the monthly newsletter, and all budget figures for departments and projects. And it would honor all people.

Just a thought...

Reylan | Federal Posters said...

Fight Piracy but don't waste our Freedom.