Re: Comments on Voting Project

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Sun Aug 17 2003 - 11:38:14 CDT

I agree with *every single thing* Arthur wrote in this note:

|1. I suggest that the demo software be GPL.

I think we should declare so on the project page (and attach appropriate
notice to the top of each source and documentation file uploaded).

|2. Everyone doing work on this demo project is doing so as a volunteer.


|3. Time people have spent in the past is a sunk cost.

Indeed. 39 years of it for me, more for some others, less for others
still :-).

|4. There is potential for raising money for developing production
|grade software. I have offered to lead the effort of submitting an
|NSF proposal.

I think this is a good approach. As I mentioned before, I think there
might also be some other avenues relating more to the legal than the CS
community. But the NSF seems like the best near-term idea.

|5. declaring as part of the proposal text the type of licensing

Yep. GPL is an excellent choice here.

|6. hiring Alan Dechert to work on the NSF-funded project

Agreed. He has much relevant background, experience, skills.

|7. ...number of organizations being formed to support boards of
|elections and the like and using the open source GPL software

This is what I think is highly important (I used my own Gnosis example
somewhat fancifully). The point is, if someday OVC or UC or someone
gets an unfree notion in their heads--or moves in a direction contrary
to best security practices--someone different has the option of doing
the right thing in their place.

I don't have an animus towards UC, or towards Alan, or to a potential
OVC (they all generally merit respect, more so than most people and
organizations). But every organization can potentially get worse, or
make bad choices. Free Software carries its freedom in perpetuity.

|8. faculty, students, and staff...would not have IP rights to the
|software, since that would be GPL, according to my proposal above.


|9. When the demo is completed, we would collectively decide what to
|do next. We do not know how much rework, redesign, etc.,

Indeed. I don't know how much of whatever we do will be concretely
useful for a production system. But we shouldn't rule out that some of
it might be.

But as well, under GPL, even if "we" don't usefully pursue the next
steps (funding doesn't come through, interests change, opinions differ,
whatever), the project itself remains free for anyone else to pick up.

Now in the concrete, no one else has the number of necessary connections
that Alan does (at least in a USA/CA context; maybe in other countries).
So it's not like someone (like me) can flit in from nowhere and advance
an EVM without years of time investment. But we shouldn't close the
possibility in principle.

|10. only those employed by an institution participating in the
|proposal could actually get paid.

Hmmm... that might be mildly disappointing to me personally. I would
potentially have an interest in doing serious work on a final system;
but in practice, I wouldn't be able to do so purely volunteer basis.
But obviously, that's minor--my interest doesn't come in any large part
out of hopes of getting paid.

|11. As someone who has served as an expert witness on IP...

It's good to have Arthur's IP expertise on the project. I agree
entirely with all his characterizations of IP issues (even though IANAL,
nor have I been an expert witness).

|12. not to say that Alan doesn't have some moral authority


|My vision for the NSF-funded project is to have something that has
|the impact of Berkeley UNIX, but under a more favorable (to the
|public) licensing scheme.

Wow... some readers may not know just what a mouthful underlies Arthur's
mention of Berkeley Software Distribution. This is the mother of all IP
quagmires... one that SCO/MS have recently tried to revive after the
prior years of litigation seemed settled 9 years ago.

Let's just say, we don't want to go there.

Yours, David...

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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:11 2003

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