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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] The GNU ethical repository criteria will only

From: Aaron Wolf
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] The GNU ethical repository criteria will only harm free software.
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2015 07:02:50 -0700
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On 10/23/2015 02:44 AM, Alexander Berntsen wrote:
> On 22/10/15 16:27, Aaron Wolf wrote:
>> Alex, that argument is simply unreasonable. That's comparable to 
>> Facebook saying "people who oppose our closed, 
>> non-neutral, censored system are against poor people" or Microsoft 
>> saying "people who oppose our no-charge licensing of Windows and 
>> Microsoft Office to these schools are against poor people" or even 
>> "people who oppose sourcing Pizza Hut for subsidized school
>> lunches are against poor people".
> I don't see it comparable to the former two. To the latter analogue, I
> am almost willing to agree with to a certain degree. But this is all
> moot and besides the point.
>> The FSF defines SaaSS specifically as services that are run over a
>>  network specifically where they could be run on local machines 
>> effectively enough. This is not weird edge cases where someone gets
>>  access to a super computer for some advanced scientific analysis. 
>> The vast majority of these cases do not require any sort of 
>> high-qualiy, latest, expensive hardware.
> Have you considered that a vast population does not even own a local
> machine, because they barely have power? These people might use the
> community centre's one computer, and to them SaaSS is *paramount*. I
> work with making AGPLv3 SaaSS e-learning -- is this unethical per the
> FSF? If so, that is in my opinion completely unreasonable. It would be
> like not opposing Netflix on grounds of unethical DRM, but on grounds
> of video streaming being unethical per se, because it means that you
> don't need to find storage for thousands of films.
>> Public hosting of code in a repository is not SaaSS, as it isn't 
>> your own private computing done instead on someone else's server. 
>> It's about public serving of data. The whole point here is that
>> the FSF recognizes that people can't all easily run their own
>> servers and services, even though that might be ideal.
> Repository hosts rarely only mirror a tarball or .git. If they did,
> they would be mostly uninteresting and pointless. Repository hosts
> offer code review, continuous integration, and several other things
> that are decidedly SaaSS.
> But in any event this is all moot, since the criteria are only for
> hosting GNU projects. Which makes them not that interesting. One way
> GNU could make them more useful to the rest of us would be by
> evaluating every host *per criteria*. If this were then presented
> nicely with a way to filter criteria, I could look at more concrete
> things, like which host is accessible, which host respects software
> freedom, and so on.

Alex, I happen to agree with you and prefer per-criteria evaluations
that provide information to the public while pushing for each of these
items to go in the ethical direction. However, Richard made it clear
that he fundamentally disagrees. He wants to publicly state that a
service is or is not acceptable, period, and not publicly share how it
is doing on extra-credit items. In other words, a service that requires
proprietary JavaScript for core functions is unacceptable, and we will
not publicly mention anything else about acknowledging them for
promoting GPLv3 otherwise or for talking about software freedom or any
of the other extra criteria.

Le me clarify the issues with your argument: One can argue that it is
unacceptable per concerns about software freedom for people to be
dependent on SaaSS without saying that the answer is to dogmatically
reject SaaSS. Let's apply the same thinking to proprietary software.
Let's suppose that there exists some proprietary sofware to evaluate
toxins in drinking water and no adeuate, free software alternative
exists. You could very well argue sensibly that rejecting the software
and refusing to test the water is the wrong decision. That does not make
it acceptable or right *that* the software is proprietary.

In the case of SaaSS, the problems of inequity and access to workable
technology are of course real. That is a problem beyond the scope of
software freedom. Many people decide to put software freedom at a lower
priority than giving access to technology to poorer people who would not
have it otherwise. One could do this in a particularly troubling way
(like Facebook's or try to be as ethical as possible.
Either way, this merely says you find other values higher priority than
the value about avoiding SaaSS. I don't think that is a crazy argument
to make.

In other words, "When concerns about SaaSS conflict with this other
concern, I think we should compromise on SaaSS and prioritize the other
concern" is a reasonable argument. The unreasonable argument is, "SaaSS
concerns happen by a matter of circumstance to conflict with this other
concern, therefore, concerns about SaaSS are wrong."

Aaron Wolf
music teacher,

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