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Re: legal questions regarding machine learning models

On Tue, 26 May 2009 22:55:32 +0200 Josselin Mouette wrote:

> Le mercredi 27 mai 2009 à 01:17 +0900, Mathieu Blondel a écrit :
> > My first question is : is it possible to distribute the model under a
> > free software license without distributing the original data that were
> > used to train the model? Likewise, is it possible to package directly
> > a model in Debian?
> This looks very similar to distributing a picture which is a 2D
> rendering of a 3D model without distributing the original model. This is
> already accepted in the archive, and the reason is that a 2D picture is
> its own source, and can serve as a base for modified versions this way.

I disagree with this decision by the FTP masters.
I personally think that, in most cases, the 2D rendering is not the
actual source, since many modifications would be best made by changing
the 3D model and re-rendering the 2D image.

The most widely-accepted definition of source is found in the GNU GPL:
source code of a work is essentially defined as the preferred form for
making modifications to it.
Identifying the source form is always a case-by-case decision, but I
think that, in most cases, someone who needs to modify a 2D image
originally rendered from a 3D model, would prefer changing the 3D model
and re-perform the rendering, at least for a great number of possible

> The same reasoning applies to the model: as long as it is useful to tune
> the parameters by hand to produce derived versions, there’s no reason
> not to consider it as the source.

I think that in the case of machine learning models, source form is
even more clearly distinct from compiled object.
We can consider an artificial neural network, for instance (Mathieu,
correct me if it's a wrong example).
I am under the impression that basically nobody would change connection
weights by hand, in order to modify a neural network.

> Of course, the decision is up to the FTP masters, but I think this
> should be accepted for the sake of consistency with things we already
> cannot decently exclude from the archive.

I instead think that FTP masters should change their minds about 2D
images rendered from 3D models.

Disclaimers, of course: IANADD, TINASOTODP (and IANAL, TINLA).

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