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Re: DFSG-compatibility of X13-ARIMA-SEATS (U.S. federal govt. software)

On Fri, Aug 03, 2018 at 02:00:09PM +0200, Sébastien Villemot wrote:
> Le vendredi 03 août 2018 à 20:50 +1000, Ben Finney a écrit :
> > > Sébastien Villemot <sebastien@debian.org> writes:
> > > However, the last clause of the licence says that the “user agrees to
> > > make a good faith effort to use the Software in a way that does not
> > > cause damage, harm, or embarrassment to the United States/Commerce.”
> > > This may be seen as a restriction on use (and therefore contrary to
> > > DFSG§6)
> > 
> > The term “use” is too vague, IMO, for help in discussing whether some
> > action is restricted by copyright. You are right to point to DFSG§6,
> > which distinguishes restrictions on “field of endeavour”.
> > 
> > I think this case does in part depend on whether “[…] not cause damage,
> > harm, or embarrassment to the United States/Commerce” excludes some
> > field of endeavour. If it does, the restriction fails DFSG§6.

That also reminds me a bit of the infamous "Used for God, not evil"
clause from the JSON license… 

> […]
> > > Do you think that this license is DFSG-compatible?
> > 
> > I'd like to see discussion of fields of endeavour for a work like this,
> > which may violate the restriction, and whether excluding those would
> > count as a restriction on freedom of endeavour.
> In a nutshell, this software is used to compute seasonal adjustments on
> (mostly economic) time series data. For example, economic activity (as
> measured by GDP) typically goes down during the summer in Western
> countries, because of vacations; but this is a predictable pattern and
> should not be counted as an economic slowdown. This software is used to
>  distinguish this seasonal component from the underlying fundamental
> trend.
> So this software is used for statistical analysis and economic
> research. I can hardly see any other use of it. The fields of endeavour
> to which it can be applied are therefore quite limited, and it is hard
> to see how this could be further restricted (short of making the
> software useless, which is obviously not upstream’s intent).

(Especially Open Source) Software can be exteneded or used in other
software to cover use cases never intended by the original authors.
IMHO this is one of the key points of FOSS, that you cannot really
predict on which ideas someone can come up to utilize a piece of
software (you might also want to use only parts of it, e.g.)

> Also, since this software cannot be used for, say, breaching into
> computers or building weapons, it cannot do “damage, harm or
> embarrassment” to the country or to the Department of Commerce as we
> usually understand those words.

E.g When I use the softwre to give another country an advantage, I would
indirectly damage the U.S.A and be in breach of the license.

> However, if “damage, harm or embarrassment” is taken in a broader sense
> which includes political criticism, then things would be different. One
> could write a hypothetical economic research paper, using this
> software, and coming to the conclusion that some U.S. administration
> has taken economic policy decisions that were “bad” (for some value of
> “bad”). Using the software in such a way could obviously be perceived
> as “damage, harm or embarrassment” by the criticized administration.

> -- 
> ⢀⣴⠾⠻⢶⣦⠀  Sébastien Villemot
> ⣾⠁⢠⠒⠀⣿⡁  Debian Developer
> ⢿⡄⠘⠷⠚⠋⠀  http://sebastien.villemot.name
> ⠈⠳⣄⠀⠀⠀⠀  http://www.debian.org

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