[Freedombox-discuss] legal problem w/ Twitter (et al.)
I think we have an annoying problem, perhaps someone
can correct me if I'm wrong:
There has been talk in various contexts about
having FreedomBox (FB) interact with things like Twitter (Twit)
and FaceBook (FacB). For example, if there is a
"micro-blogging" feature on FB, it would be nice to be
able to push the user's micro-blog onto Twitter (if the
user wants). In the browser for FB micro-blogs,
if the user wants, perhaps their Twit feed can
also be displayed.
I think this might be legally unachievable.
In order to use the Twit API, a program must use
an authentication key (called "consumer key and
secret") assigned to the software program using the key.
That is, programs that use the Twit API must be
registered with Twitter and must use that key.
The process of requesting and being granted an
application key comes with legal encumbrances.
There are two general kinds of encumbrance that matter:
1) You may not use the API for certain activities. For
example, you are restricted in how you may display
a tweet. You are restricted in what your program can
do with a tweet obtained via the API, even if that
tweet was authored by the user.
2) Your program (in some cases) must not be freely
redistributable. In particular, if your software
is used as an alternative to the official Twit interfaces,
then you may not pay someone to distribute your program.
We need a legal expert to look into the matter further
but it appears to me to be effectively impossible to write
free software programs which interoperate as desired
with the Twit API.
The FacB API also requires some sort of developer key.
I have not looked into the particular terms of service that
apply to using this key but (1) I would be surprised if they
did not have similar problems; (2) The mere fact that critical
APIs are protected by such keys means that services like
FacB and Twit have absolute authority over what client
applications may and may not do.