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Re: Free licensing of surveillance software

From: Federico Leva (Nemo)
Subject: Re: Free licensing of surveillance software
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2020 11:25:18 +0200
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Roberto Beltran via libreplanet-discuss, 15/01/20 20:48:
The software is being used ON the surveilled. The surveilled are not users of 
the software.

This is a key distinction and I don't think it's clear at all. There are good reasons why copyleft clauses are usually triggered by more "active" (and demonstrable) actions.

If I go to the library and return a book by opening a custom application on my device, do I "use" that software? And if instead I need to tap or click on some graphical interface on a library computer? And if I just scan a barcode at a machine? And if I just need to walk near the machine? And if I don't even need to do that?

Similarly, with a software-powered doorbell: my goal is to get (myself or something else) past the door. Does it matter whether I press a button? Whether I have knowledge that the button executes some software? Whether the software runs just when I walk in?

(Also, at what point is it SaaSS and at what point "the computing isn't your own activity" or "you are not doing your own computing", per <>?)

I'm not sure what older concepts in copyright law one could rely on. The only analogue I can think of is some music machine in a public space which plays some music when a person walks in. Maybe some passer by has been involved in a lawsuit somewhere! There are special laws about music machines though.

As Danese Cooper recently quipped at FOSDEM,* there are "only six verbs" our licenses can use, because we depend on copyright law.

More discussion on the topic was at CopyleftConf (recordings available soon, I think):


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