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Dr. Arne Babenhauserheide
Wed, 06 Jul 2022 09:15:01 +0200
mu4e 1.6.11; emacs 28.1
Richard Stallman <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> > GNU Taler requires an intermediary to clear the coins.
> I am not sure what that means. Could you state in different words
> what job that "intermediary" would do?
> In fact, the Taler developers are hoping that banks will play two
> roles: issuing Taler tokens to spend, and redeeming those that people
> receive as payment.
That’s when banks take up Taler. Before they do, any intermediary can
take that role and use Taler to pool money so it can be sent in larger
> I don't know whether that is possible -- I suggest you talk with the Taler
> developers about it.
It’s one of the use-cases in their documentation, so I expect that it
> > To take up criticism before it becomes a discussion: While Github is
> > checked that by opening it in eww), and you can interact with it using
> > email.
> See https://www.gnu.org/software/repo-criteria-evaluation.html for what's
> wrong with Github. Some actions, such as creating an account, appear
> to require running nonfree JS code.
You can add this to the reasons:¹
I’m already trying to find ways to get out, but depending on the
integrations used, that can take quite some time.
¹: # Give Up GitHub: The Time Has Come!
by Denver Gingerich and Bradley M. Kuhn on June 30, 2022
Those who forget history often inadvertently repeat it. Some of us recall that
twenty-one years ago, the most popular code hosting site, a fully Free and Open
Source (FOSS) site called SourceForge, proprietarized all their code — never to
make it FOSS again. Major FOSS projects slowly left SourceForge since it was
now, itself, a proprietary system, and antithetical to FOSS. FOSS communities
learned that it was a mistake to allow a for-profit, proprietary software
company to become the dominant FOSS collaborative development site. SourceForge
slowly collapsed after the DotCom crash, and today, SourceForge is more
advertising link-bait than it is code hosting. We learned a valuable lesson
that was a bit too easy to forget — especially when corporate involvement
manipulates FOSS communities to its own ends. We now must learn the SourceForge
lesson again with Microsoft's GitHub.
A parody of the GitHub logo, walling off user rights and demanding payment
GitHub has, in the last ten years, risen to dominate FOSS development. They did
this by building a user interface and adding social interaction features to the
existing Git technology. (For its part, Git was designed specifically to make
software development distributed without a centralized site.) In the central
irony, GitHub succeeded where SourceForge failed: they have convinced us to
promote and even aid in the creation of a proprietary system that exploits
FOSS. GitHub profits from those proprietary products (sometimes from customers
who use it for problematic activities). Specifically, GitHub profits primarily
from those who wish to use GitHub tools for in-house proprietary software
development. Yet, GitHub comes out again and again seeming like a good actor —
because they point to their largess in providing services to so many FOSS
endeavors. But we've learned from the many gratis offerings in Big Tech: if you
aren't the customer, you're the product. The FOSS development methodology is
GitHub's product, which they've proprietarized and repackaged with our active
(if often unwitting) help.
FOSS developers have been for too long the proverbial frog in slowly boiling
water. GitHub's behavior has gotten progressively worse, and we've excused,
ignored, or otherwise acquiesced to cognitive dissonance. We at Software
Freedom Conservancy have ourselves been part of the problem; until recently,
even we'd become too comfortable, complacent, and complicit with GitHub. Giving
up GitHub will require work, sacrifice and may take a long time, even for us:
we at Software Freedom Conservancy historically self-hosted our primary Git
repositories, but we did use GitHub as a mirror. We urged our member projects
and community members to avoid GitHub (and all proprietary software development
services and infrastructure), but this was not enough. Today, we take a
stronger stance. We are ending all our own uses of GitHub, and announcing a
long-term plan to assist FOSS projects to migrate away from GitHub. While we
will not mandate our existing member projects to move at this time, we will no
longer accept new member projects that do not have a long-term plan to migrate
away from GitHub. We will provide resources to support any of our member
projects that choose to migrate, and help them however we can.
There are so many good reasons to give up on GitHub, and we list the major ones
on our Give Up On GitHub site. We were already considering this action
ourselves for some time, but last week's event showed that this action is
Specifically, we at Software Freedom Conservancy have been actively
communicating with Microsoft and their GitHub subsidiary about our concerns
with “Copilot” since they first launched it almost exactly a year ago. Our
initial video chat call (in July 2021) with Microsoft and GitHub
representatives resulted in several questions which they said they could not
answer at that time, but would “answer soon”. After six months of no response,
Bradley published his essay, If Software is My Copilot, Who Programmed My
Software? — which raised these questions publicly. Still, GitHub did not answer
our questions. Three weeks later, we launched a committee of experts to
consider the moral implications of AI-assisted software, along with a parallel
public discussion. We invited Microsoft and GitHub representives to the public
discussion, and they ignored our invitation. Last week, after we reminded
GitHub of (a) the pending questions that we'd waited a year for them to answer
and (b) of their refusal to join public discussion on the topic, they responded
a week later, saying they would not join any public nor private discussion on
this matter because “a broader conversation [about the ethics of AI-assisted
software] seemed unlikely to alter your [SFC's] stance, which is why we
[GitHub] have not responded to your [SFC's] detailed questions”. In other
words, GitHub's final position on Copilot is: if you disagree with GitHub about
policy matters related to Copilot, then you don't deserve a reply from
Microsoft or GitHub. They only will bother to reply if they think they can
immediately change your policy position to theirs. But, Microsoft and GitHub
will leave you hanging for a year before they'll tell you that!
Nevertheless, we were previously content to leave all this low on the priority
list — after all, for its first year of existence, Copilot appeared to be more
research prototype than product. Facts changed last week when GitHub announced
Copilot as a commercial, for-profit product. Launching a for-profit product
that disrespects the FOSS community in the way Copilot does simply makes the
weight of GitHub's bad behavior too much to bear.
Our three primary questions for Microsoft/GitHub (i.e., the questions they had
been promising answers to us for a year, and that they now formally refused to
answer) regarding Copilot were:
What case law, if any, did you rely on in Microsoft & GitHub's public
claim, stated by GitHub's (then) CEO, that: “(1) training ML systems on public
data is fair use, (2) the output belongs to the operator, just like with a
compiler”? In the interest of transparency and respect to the FOSS community,
please also provide the community with your full legal analysis on why you
believe that these statements are true.
We think that we can now take Microsoft and GitHub's refusal to answer as
an answer of its own: they obviously stand by their former CEO's statement (the
only one they've made on the subject), and simply refuse to justify their
unsupported legal theory to the community with actual legal analysis.
If it is, as you claim, permissible to train the model (and allow users to
generate code based on that model) on any code whatsoever and not be bound by
any licensing terms, why did you choose to only train Copilot's model on FOSS?
For example, why are your Microsoft Windows and Office codebases not in your
Microsoft and GitHub's refusal to answer also hints at the real answer to
this question, too: While GitHub gladly exploits FOSS inappropriately, they
value their own “intellectual property” much more highly than FOSS, and are
content to ignore and erode the rights of FOSS users but not their own.
Can you provide a list of licenses, including names of copyright holders
and/or names of Git repositories, that were in the training set used for
Copilot? If not, why are you withholding this information from the community?
We can only wildly speculate as to why they refuse to answer this question.
However, good science practices would mean that they could answer that question
in any event. (Good scientists take careful notes about the exact inputs to
their experiments.) Since GitHub refuses to answer, our best guess is that they
don't have the ability to carefully reproduce their resulting model, so they
don't actually know the answer to whose copyrights they infringed and when and
As a result of GitHub's bad actions, today we call on all FOSS developers to
leave GitHub. We acknowledge that answering that call requires sacrifice and
great inconvenience, and will take much time to accomplish. Yet, refusing
GitHub's services is the primary power developers have to send a strong message
to GitHub and Microsoft about their bad behavior. GitHub's business model has
always been “proprietary vendor lock-in”. That's the very behavior FOSS was
founded to curtail, and it's why quitting incumbent proprietary software in
favor of a FOSS solution is often difficult. But remember: GitHub needs FOSS
projects to use their proprietary infrastructure more than we need their
proprietary infrastructure. Alternatives exist, albeit with less familiar
interfaces and on less popular websites — but we can also help improve those
alternatives. And, if you join us, you will not be alone. We've launched a
website, GiveUpGitHub.org, where we'll provide tips, ideas, methods, tools and
support to those that wish to leave GitHub with us. Watch that site and our
blog throughout 2022 (and beyond!) for more.
Most importantly, we are committed to offering alternatives to projects that
don't yet have another place to go. We will be announcing more hosting instance
options, and a guide for replacing GitHub services in the coming weeks. If
you're ready to take on the challenge now and give up GitHub today, we note
that CodeBerg, which is based on Gitea implements many (although not all) of
GitHub. Thus, we're also going to work on even more solutions, continue to vet
other FOSS options, and publish and/or curate guides on (for example) how to
deploy a self-hosted instance of the GitLab Community Edition.
Meanwhile, the work of our committee continues to carefully study the general
question of AI-assisted software development tools. One recent preliminary
finding was that AI-assisted software development tools can be constructed in a
way that by-default respects FOSS licenses. We will continue to support the
committee as they explore that idea further, and, with their help, we are
actively monitoring this novel area of research. While Microsoft's GitHub was
the first mover in this area, by way of comparison, early reports suggest that
Amazon's new CodeWhisperer system (also launched last week) seeks to provide
proper attribution and licensing information for code suggestions0.
This harkens to long-standing problems with GitHub, and the central reason why
we must together give up on GitHub. We've seen with Copilot, with GitHub's core
hosting service, and in nearly every area of endeavor, GitHub's behavior is
substantially worse than that of their peers. We don't believe Amazon,
Atlassian, GitLab, or any other for-profit hoster are perfect actors. However,
a relative comparison of GitHub's behavior to those of its peers shows that
GitHub's behavior is much worse. GitHub also has a record of ignoring,
dismissing and/or belittling community complaints on so many issues, that we
must urge all FOSS developers to leave GitHub as soon as they can. Please, join
us in our efforts to return to a world where FOSS is developed using FOSS.
We expect this particular blog post will generate a lot of discussion. We
welcome you to interact with SFC staff on our public mailing list about this
0However, we have not analyzed CodeWhisperer in depth so we cannot say
for sure if Amazon's implementation is compliant with the respective
licenses. Nevertheless, Amazon's behavior here shows sharp contrast with
Microsoft's GitHub: Amazon acknowledges the obvious fact that there are
license obligations that deserve attention and care when building
AI-assisted programming solutions.
(license of this text: cc by-sa)
heißt politisch sein,
ohne es zu merken.
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Dr. Arne Babenhauserheide <=