forum.f-droid.org
8 votes alexgleason — 8 votes, 13 commentsSource

I’ve read the thread on the f-droid website and I see your point: you’re concerned with the whole range of freedoms of the users when using the software. It’s definitely a grey area because I think there are many contrasting freedoms that overlap. Clearly the simple fix here is to add an extra setting for the user instead of hard-coding the behavior. But instead they chose to hard-code it, and so the discussion has turned into the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. Technically speaking, what uniqx says makes sense to me, “The four freedoms are intended to enable software freedom. They don’t obligate developers to add or remove certain features.”, and goes on by citing the GPL “This program is distributed [..] without even the implied [..] FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE”. Also technically speaking, freedom 0 is the freedom “for any kind of overall job without being required to communicate about it with the developer or any other specific entity” and “The freedom to run the program as you wish means that you are not forbidden or stopped from making it run. This has nothing to do with what functionality the program has, whether it is technically capable of functioning in any given environment, or whether it is useful for any particular computing activity.”

How would one enforce instead “a bigger concept than just a set of licenses”? Perhaps with a new definition of “free” that takes into account more than the source files.

Tusky is nonfree

Not in the sense relevant to free software, the four freedoms, and GNU GPL.

I disagree. I elaborated on this in the post, but: Tusky “runs” in the mechanical sense, but not in the “user” sense. It quite literally blocks certain users from logging in.

I agree it’s a grey area and perhaps hasn’t been adequately explored. But what would Stallman say? Software freedom is more than just licenses, it’s the core values of freedom of speech applied to software.

I think the version of Tusky available in F-Droid should be patched.

I would also tend to agree that Tusky is still free software, but like you say it needs patching because its behavior is broken.

I disagree.

Your private interpretation of the GPL is novel and unorthodox, as you seem to also realise by calling it a grey area. It’s not even grey though - this is quite likely the first time anyone has suggested that refusing to implement a feature is a breach of GPL.

Freedom 0 has been so far understood to mean that a developer may not limit ‘fields of endeavour’, that is, clauses in the license saying “only for non-commerical use”, “not to be used by militaries”, “use only for good, not for evil”. Never before has anyone suggested that for a software to be free, it must support any feature a potential user wishes it to support even if the developer is not interested in supporting it. (Is Daniel Gultsch of Conversations violating GPL by constantly refusing to implement Jingle video calls in his Android XMPP client? A lot of people are upset about it, but no-one suggested that so far).

By all means, you can test your interpretation in a court of law, considering that the GPL is a legal instrument. If I had to predict the outcome, I would say that should you attempt to test your interpretation in a US court, you will lose. All developers have the right to free speech under the US jurisprudence, code has been declared speech in the US, and there is a case to be made that forcing people to write code they don’t want to write constitutes compelled speech (FBI chose not to test this in court v. Apple in the end).

To be completely fair, his main point is not simply lack of features but the developers doing actual work to exclude a targeted audience. It’s a dick move for sure but I still think it’s outside the scope of the GPL. It would be equivalent to freepost hard-coding IP blocks (say, all people using certain IP addresses) for any reason. This won’t make the freepost software nonfree, or does it?

Yeah, as we are all saying here, it’s simply not a free software issue.

To be completely fair, his main point is not simply lack of features but the developers doing actual work to exclude a targeted audience.

It’s comparable to that though, as OP wants to present a reinterpretation of the free software definition that would make the refusal of a developer to add or remove code to be a breach of freedom #0.

this is quite likely the first time anyone has suggested that refusing to implement a feature is a breach of GPL.

I’ve already written multiple times that the license is irrelevant. Do you understand that “free software” is a concept separate from the GPL just as “freedom of speech” is a concept separate from the 1st amendment of the United States?

I feel like people are steamrolling over me without even reading or trying to understand my arguments.

Do you understand that “free software” is a concept separate from the GPL just as “freedom of speech” is a concept separate from the 1st amendment of the United States?

They are not the same thing, but that difference doesn’t come into play here.

The GPL is GNU’s legal implementation of the free software definition, that is, of the four freedoms. So, while the GPL, MPL, and Apache licenses are all implementations of the four freedoms, they differ with regards to the additional conditions they put on top of the four freedom (copyleftiness, patent waiver, etc).

So long as we are talking just about the four freedoms, any FSF-approved license is equivalent. We talk about the GPL here because it’s the software’s license but we can have the same discussion just by referring to the free software definition and it’s all the same.

I feel like people are steamrolling over me without even reading or trying to understand my arguments.

Your argument both here, and on the linked F-Droid issue, is that refusing to connect to a certain server is a breach of Freedom #0. Everyone, including you, accept that this is not a strong position to hold. You call it a grey area and many outright point out that this is clearly not a Freedom #0 issue. This is not a license issue in any way.

Let me flip this over though, and make a positive suggestion: go against the thing that you don’t like with the appropriate means. Re-interpreting the free software definition in a way that your freedom entails that others to write code they don’t want will be an uphill battle for you. The appropriate course of action here is to take the software you don’t likely, remove the parts that make it unlikeable, and use and distribute your modified version. You can add a splash screen explaining why the upstream software is responsible for making this fork necessary if you wish. You still have the four freedoms that allow you to do that.

In short, I think everyone here understands where you are coming from. But everyone here is more or less direct in telling you that you are making an issue that is not about licenses to be about licenses, and it doesn’t work that way. Because it doesn’t.

I am missing something. Why is free software separate from the GPL? Tusky happens to be using GPL but with a different license it wouldn’t change.

But this “user sense” doesn’t make sense to me at all. You can say they implemented shitty defaults, but the software is still free.

VOADI: Do you eat animals? [ ] No [ ] No

Look! VOADI is nonfree! You are discriminating omnivorous people!

Very very hairy. I consider it free anyway because it’s not a restriction on the license (GPL). The license does not prohibit gab users from using, modifying, redistributing tusky. It’s only a hard coded ban.