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New 'No Military Use' GPL For GPU 1109

Tina Gasperson writes "GPU is a Gnutella client that creates ad-hoc supercomputers by allowing individual PCs on the network to share CPU resources with each other. That's intriguing enough, but the really interesting thing about GPU is the license its developers have given it. They call it a 'no military use' modified version of the GNU General Public License (GPL). The developers told Newsforge why they did it, with commentary from OSI and FSF." Newsforge is also owned by OSTG, Slashdot's parent company.
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New 'No Military Use' GPL For GPU

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  • by joshdick ( 619079 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @04:48PM (#15905703) Homepage
    Below is what was added to the GPL:

                              PATCH FOR NO MILITARY USE

    This patch restricts the field of endeavour of the Program in such a way that this
    license collides with paragraph 6 of the Open Source Definition. Therefore, this
    modified version of the GPL is no more OSI compliant.

    The Program and its derivative work will neither be modified or executed to harm a
    ny human being nor through inaction permit any human being to be harmed.
    This is Asimov's first law of Robotics.

    You can find the full text of the license at: t []
  • First of all, it's not an "anti-military" clause. It's an act of sheer stupidity. It's an attempt to take one of Asimov's laws of robotics and enshrine it. "the program and its derivative work will neither be modified or executed to harm any human being nor through inaction permit any human being to be harmed" - this is sheer stupidity and folly. I think the laws of robotics have been sufficiently debased already so I won't go into that here.

    Now I'm sure there are tons of you jumping up and down and calling me a troll or a flamer for saying this. You're saying that all war is bad, that of course technology should protect people... And you're on crack. I think we can all safely agree that stopping Hitler from conquering the world was a good thing, just as stopping Bush from doing it today would be a good thing. The simple fact is that in this world there are certain questions which can only be answered with violence.

    But more importantly, what this really means is that if some of this code is used in a program, then the whole program must carry the license. If that program is involved in industrial automation, and the automation kills someone, are you in violation of the license? Arguably, the hardware allowed someone to be killed, and the program did nothing.

    Finally, governments do not give one tenth of one fuck about what these guys' license says. If either one of them actually became a problem to the US government for example, he'd be off to gitmo (or a similar, but less heavily encumbered installation) before you could say "civil liberties".

    So basically, this is pure masturbation. At its best it is designed to engender debate about the value of putting such a clause in a license. I do not think this is a best-case. I think this is more of a mainline case, in which the guys trying to do it are just fools.

  • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:02PM (#15905854) Journal
    Aha, but the GPL itself is still a copyrighted text, and they can't simply create a derivative work without permission to do so.
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Prof.Phreak ( 584152 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:02PM (#15905857) Homepage
    Pure pacifism pisses me off.

    Some things are worth fighting for. Most things are not. Are YOU willing to die (or have your children die) for an oil field in Iraq? Sure, it's nice when it's someone else that does the dying, but how far are YOU personally willing to go to have slightly cheaper driving?

    Military feeds on war. No war, no funding. They -do- find causes to fight for when there are none.

    The fact is that most pro-war folks (and nearly all politicians) aren't the ones doing the fighting themselves, if they were, they'd be the -first- pacifists. In fact, ask how many senators have THEIR kids in the army in harms way... I'd imagine very few.
  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:02PM (#15905864) Homepage
    Go ahead, annoy the government. Encourage the government to mandate BSD-style unrestrictive licenses for any project that recieves government funding. Actually, that may actually be a good idea. Companies pay taxes too, at least all those I worked for. I remember some preety cool catalogs from NASA (90s) where things they funded was available to anyone, commercial or not.
  • by noldrin ( 635339 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:19PM (#15906014)
    The GPL is only legal to use without change. If you patch it or change the terms, it's violation of the FSF copyright or most likely invalidate the licensing altogether. Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed. It doesn't matter if you change the middle, end or beginning. Part of the license is the nonchanging of it. This is very important because if everyone added patches, the meaning of the GPL would become diluted. On top of this, the GPL is a freedom giving license, you can't patch away these freedoms by adding restrictions. This causes direct conflict between the license and the modified patch in the begining. This mostly likely causes the entire license to be ruled invalid These people should have written their own darn license. You didn't see Netscape put in a preample modifying it, they made their own.
  • Eminent Domain (Score:2, Interesting)

    by confu2000 ( 245635 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:31PM (#15906126)
    IANAL, but can't the government do whatever it wants with anything by eminent domain? If the military decides that this application is the best thing for the job, I don't think there's any legal ground preventing them from taking it or forcing it to be licensed regardless of what the owners desire.

    Then again, I'm not sure how that would apply if these guys aren't citizens of whichever government is doing the commandeering.
  • CC licenses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:33PM (#15906147) Homepage

    Ca. 2003, David Wiley at Creative Commons was pushing an idea for a CC license for educational use only. I participated in the discussion on the mailing list, and tried to persuade them that it was a bad idea. AFAIK it never happened. Part of the motivation seems to have been that some people were interested in preventing use by the military.

    One of the things I think is wrong with this kind of idea is that it becomes becomes hard to define. For instance, I have some textbooks I've written that are free on the web, and I often hear from homeschoolers who are using them. Does homeschooling count as educational use, and if so, where do you draw the line between educational use and use by just about any individual who wants to learn something? The wording of the GPU license is also going to create problems, for all the same reasons that generated good plots for Asimov's stories involving the laws of robotics.

    Another problem with this type of license is that it works against reuse. It balkanizes the world of free information so that you can't use information in new and crative ways.

    Anyone can apply any license they want to their own work, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea, or that it's easy to define or enforce the conditions.

  • Re:Psssh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:36PM (#15906173)
    I am not a vegan but this is how i look at it..

    If i am locked in a prison cell with no food or any way of getting food and it was me and a rat...
    No i wouldn't eat the rat, i would let him go as he is small and has a chance of escape where as if I eat the rat i will just be hungry the next day and die a day later than before.

    When you are put into the position of no hope you might as well help what is around you as you can in no way benifit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:38PM (#15906186)
    You have to remember when signs like that were put up... during the full-on nuclear proliferation of the cold war. It was saying "enough is enough".

    Basically this is saying we won't have any US nukes (as Canada has none) parked in the Vancouver harbour.

    I beleive this has been violated at some point by US ships docked here.
  • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:39PM (#15906192)
    ... and I speak as a generally anti-war progressive, though by no means a pacifist. The problem is that the solution to conflict lies in political and not military institutions. Handicapping the military technologically will not prevent us from getting into wars, nor will it make them less bloody or violent. Arguably one might make the case on a technology-by-technology basis that there are certain technologies that should not be in military hands. But in general terms, keeping toys away from the generals will not help one bit in preventing wars when we have incompetent or arrogant leaders at the helm of the political system demanding pointless and poorly planned military adventures. We see case in point over and over in Iraq -- this is a war of choice. The decision to go to war has proved to have been based on poor evidence and multiple instances of misinformation, against the backdrop of an overall ignorance of the area (Bush, for example, did not know until January 2003 that there were different Islamic sects in Iraq -- when some Iraqis explained to him that the country was divided, his answer was something like "but they're all Muslims".... now, of course, we are looking at a full scale civil war due to ignorance of these divisions). I was against this decision to go to war from the very beginning. But I also was outraged to learn that the soldiers who were asked to fight the war were not given the tools to do so, like appropriately armored vehicles and clothing, surveillance technology, etc. There is no conceivable stretch by which I could imagine Rumsfeld's decision to cut corners on the military technology as an "antiwar" decision. While I applaud the spirit of those who choose to resist pointless and destructive wars of aggression, I don't think this is the best way to resist them. Join the struggle to change the political leadership instead. Trying to keep the toys out of the military's hands is a way of punishing people who aren't really responsible for the mess we're in in the first place. Instead, join the American people in punishing the real culprits at the polling place.
  • by nla0 ( 974050 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:49PM (#15906288)
    Bruce Perens:

    6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor.

    The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

    Your software must be equally usable in an abortion clinic, or by an anti-abortion organization. These political arguments belong on the floor of congress, not in software licenses. Sone people find this lack of discrimination extremely offensive!

    Theo de Raadt:

    But software which OpenBSD uses and redistributes must be free to all (be they people or companies), for any purpose they wish to use it, including modification, use, peeing on, or even integration into baby mulching machines or atomic bombs to be dropped on Australia.

    It's sad some people just don't get it.

    They remind me of those stupid legal disclaimers attached to emails
    (by using this software, you're supporting world peace & independence for Nagadaland, etc).
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ben there... ( 946946 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:50PM (#15906299) Journal
    Do you really believe there's any rational people out there who WANT war?

    Absolutely. A large portion of the "military-industrial complex" [], as Eisenhower put it so well [], wants war. As do investors in those companies. There is a lot of money to be made in times of war, as is happening right now with the current conflicts.
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CHESTER COPPERPOT ( 864371 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:53PM (#15906326)
    Simply because humans are predisposed to violence (which is still under debate by our brainy science dudes)

    He said conflict, not violence. A life without conflict is impossible and a naive dream of pacifists. Witness Gandhi's "Quit India Movement" where bombings and arson were used by supposed pacifists.

    does not imply that we should not strive for a world without war.

    I suggest that would-be pacifists read the book Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals by Stephen Koch []. It tells the story of Soviet controlled German propagandist Willi Münzenberg [] during the periods of World War one leading up to WW2. One of the most interesting things about the story was the directed use of propaganda against the Western Worlds intellectuals (mostly European at the time with some Americans), particularly with those who spouted the ideology of pacifism. The Soviets understood that propaganda is best used with riding the back of an existing strong zeitgeist and the intellectual current of the time was "peace not war" even to the detriment of protecting one's own people. They also understood that the best propaganda was truthful (and what could be more self-evident than peace being better than war?). So the Soviets, through Münzenberg, started a "peace movement" with the main aim of undermining the morality of Western war efforts. It had a dual purpose too. It both attacked the west and when, so the Soviets thought, they would defeat the west, they would also steamroll over the pacifists who would offer no competition. What am I getting at? Well nothing really, except that a lot of the history of pacifism isn't exactly what it seems.

  • by HighOrbit ( 631451 ) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:32PM (#15906638)
    Are they not aware of the great things that have happened with UNIX once DARPA & BBN started funding the BSD extensions in v4.1 & v4.2? If the BSD Unix folks had this kind of thing in their licenses, then computing technology would have been set back by several years (and perhaps decades). So do they object to using TCP, hypertext (NLS was the precursor of http), and other technologies developed by DARPA? What if the military demands that its contractors reciprocate a la the GPL v3 retalitory patent clause, so that any project with this anti-military clause can not benefit from future military tech?

    BTW... lots of military research is not into direct weapons technology, but into more benign management tech because they have to deal with such hugh logistics and managment issues that make Fortune 100 companies look like small business.
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:01PM (#15906839) Journal
    We are not hard-wired for violence. We are hard wired with the capacity for violence. We are also hard wired with the capacity for cooperation. Which of these hard wired strategies gets implemented is chosen in software. There is a self reinforcing element to the system as well. Cooperative societies reward cooperation and punish competition, ensuring more people run the cooperation strategy, while competative societies do just the opposite. This does make a paradigm shift difficult, but not as difficult as you make out.

    Without cooperation, we would be less than ants. Cooperation is a more successful strategy, and therefore will win out over competition in the end. Given that, the end of violence is unavoidable. Sorry to rain on your pessimism parade.
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cyno ( 85911 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:07PM (#15906878) Journal
    I think Ghandi once said something like "an eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind". But maybe if we were all blind we could see the error of our ways. Fighting fire with fire doesn't always work, not when the fire is in your living room and you live in a high-rise apartment complex with hundreds of other families. And that's precisely what we're doing when we attack a country for the actions of a handful of terrorists.

    Yes, there are aggressive people. I could be one of them. But the best way to keep me sedated is to provide me freedom, justice and opportunity. How many people who have freedom, justice and opportunity are violently aggressive? Less than 1%? But what does that mean, freedom, justice and opportunity? What are those things we speak of?

    I think being selfish is partially why we're constantly in conflict for our resources. We're selfish with our justice, we're selfish with our freedom and we're selfish with our opportunity, so... FIGHT! May the most evolved win.
  • Eisenhower (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WarDog07 ( 743376 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:34PM (#15907057)
    I think it was Eisenhower who said, "The soldier above all other prays for peace, for it is he who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."

    No, wait... that was MacArthur, but it still holds true.
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:04PM (#15907204)
    Never mind defending yourself when the other guy is trying to kill you...

    We stayed out of WWII for a long time. Why? Because no one in the US died. We would allow Hitler to come to power and invade friendly countries without trying to stop him. No one in the US died, so no one in the US was trying to be killed. Of course, the "he'll come here next" argument was stated, but that failed as well.

    What I don't understand is why the 180 after the war ended. We would happily fight in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, and other places without a single American at risk (until they were sent into an active battlefield). Given the number of conflicts started by the US (like Iraq) or joined by the US when someone else started them (Korea and Vietnam) when no Americans were at risk at all, I'm curious how you think that "defence" is at the heart of any of these conflicts. Afghanistan is the only conflict I can think of since WWII ended where the USA had any risk at all before sending in troops. With a track record like that, I'm surprised you think any of them are for defensive reasons. Perhaps you could explain to me how anyone in the USA was at risk before the invasion of Iraq or our involvement in Vietnam for that matter.

    Kruschev warned that he would take down America without firing a shot, and it's apparent his plan is still grinding away, little by little, eroding the republic.

    He needn't bother, we have the Bush's for that.
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:45PM (#15907400) Homepage Journal
    Pacifism attemts to sidestep the whole violence issue. Unlike error-free code, with pacifism you're depending upon all others to also follow a policy of pacifism. That's like not programing security controls into an OS on the basis that 'nobody will try to do anything bad'.

    There are people out there who are perfectly willing to harm or kill you to get what they want. If you lack or refuse to use any means to defend yourself, don't be suprised when somebody uses violence to force you to do what they want. And no, calling the cops is not true pacifism, that's simply getting somebody else to commit violence on your behalf so you can feel good about being a 'pacifist'.

    Pacifists can only survive as slaves, or when others are willing to protect them. There's a realm of difference between those who are willing to commit violence to protect themselves and those willing to commit violence for their own ends.

    Does anybody really think that an agressive military will pay any attentian to this license?

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @10:05PM (#15907745) Journal
    Had it been the Dutch in the 18th century rather than the Brits in the 20th, you better better believe Gandhi and his followers would've been been shot and dragged off immediately.

    Speaking of the Dutch, or at least people of largely Dutch descent: Before Ghandi had his success in India he tried the same tactics in an attempt to end the repression of blacks in South Africa. This was a resounding failure. South African blacks remained repressed throughout Ghandi's carreer and for decades after his death.

    He also had advice for the Jews of Germany under the rising Third Reich: Commit mass suicide as a peaceful protest of their oppression.
  • Re:Psssh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:57AM (#15908301) Homepage
    And if you encourage violence what response do you expect in return? Hint, don't be shocked when "terrorists" blow up your shopping mall or airplane if you boast like louts about beating plowshares into swords. "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword." Of course all you you Christian Zionist supporters of violence have a rather selective memory for your "good book" quotations, don't you?
    Huh? Your disjointed ramblings lack sense. Encourage violence? There's a very large gap between encouraging violence and pacifism. The entire point of this subthread is that pacifism is an extreme, and as such is not a panacea. Likewise, fomenting violence is another extreme. Come join us here in the middle, where the actual discussion is taking place, rather than standing there in the corner yelling at a strawman.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie