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Re: Links to javascript-based websites from orgmode.org: Paypal and Gith

From: Dr. Arne Babenhauserheide
Subject: Re: Links to javascript-based websites from orgmode.org: Paypal and Github
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2022 09:15:01 +0200
User-agent: mu4e 1.6.11; emacs 28.1

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.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
regular transactions.

> 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
should work.

>   > To take up criticism before it becomes a discussion: While Github is
>   > annoying, you can read it without running proprietary Javascript (I just
>   > 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 
training set?

    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)

Best wishes,
Unpolitisch sein
heißt politisch sein,
ohne es zu merken.

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