Re: One more try at freedom

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Tue Aug 19 2003 - 16:55:48 CDT

At 4:28 PM -0400 8/19/03, David Mertz wrote:
>Maybe if the sourceforge page ever gets updated to reflect GPL license
>status the fact will not matter. At least the license will have the
>force of law, even if it is not understood all around. Can we get that
>change made--it seems like there is consensus here.

Until we resolve the issue of revision logs, I think revising the
source code license is premature.

>Actually, I guess we may not quite have consensus, since Doug's
>additional clause is still possibly slightly up in the air. Should I go
>ahead and contact the FSF to try to figure out their opinion on the
>addendum? Even if in the meanwhile we explicitly listed the
>"GPL+revision log" license, we could potentially revert back to simple
>GPL (assuming all contributors to the code so agreed).

Is it only those who wrote a line of code that have to agree with
your reversion, or is it all who contributed to the project
explicitly?

>Yours, David...
>
>P.S. Absent hearing any objections, I'll go ahead and add the PD
>disclaimer to the mailing list archives. If someone is unhappy with
>being archived on such terms, please let me know soon.

The P.S. is fine with me.

Let me give you my perspective on these issues.

1. There are multiple possible scenarios of what could happen. We
want to ensure that the ideal scenario can happen. But we also want
to ensure that if the ideal scenario doesn't happen, then the
alternative fallback scenarios are still workable. I know we all
agree on trying to make the ideal scenario happen. I know that we
haven't reached consensus on what preparations are needed is the
ideal scenario does not happen. This issue is the source, I think,
of our current arguments.

2. The ideal scenario is that we collectively develop a compelling
demo along with a compelling use case story. The demo makes a splash
and changes people's thinking on how elections should work. In
parallel, a team succeeds in raising money for building a production
version of the software. Those grant funds include funds for
certification of the software. That certified software is made
available to anyone who wants it, for inspection, production use,
modification, or any permitted purpose. A trade association of
service providers, election officials, and other interested parties
creates standards for practices and procedures that surrounds the use
of the software, to which service provider members must agree to
comply. The trade association also publishes best practice
guidelines for election officials, poll workers, and other canvassing
staff, which the boards of elections readily adopt. Federal and
state funding is appropriated to replace faulty elections equipment,
and the service provider members win most of those bids through the
use of low hardware costs and near zero software costs. Our
collective faith in the elections process in these United States is
restored. No longer do we have to put up with elections equipment
with expected error rates of 1-2%.

3. Of course, there can be lots of things that can go wrong with the
rosy scenario in paragraph 2. We need to ensure that at any step
where things can go wrong, that the less rosy scenario is as good as
we can make it. Part of this concept means that other organizations
or individuals can run with what we create, even at the risk of
forking off parallel efforts, in order that what we create is allowed
to live. Some of us may be uncomfortable with that idea. However,
if we are successful in making #2 happen, then the Darwinian process
will mean that the parallel efforts will either rejoin or die. But
we must make sure that those potential forked off projects do not
violate the principles we think are critically important for the
project overall to succeed. Maintaining revision history is such a
principle. It helps in the transparency necessary for faith in
elections. It also helps in maintaining certification if it is ever
obtained. It ensures that there is no "Rob Georgia" file inserted
without explanation.

I welcome reasoned discussion on how we can create a legal
infrastructure that supports both #2 and #3.

Best regards,
Arthur

-- 
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Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:12 2003

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