Cooperative Digital Infrastructure Manifesto

US based Data Commons Co-op are trying to get co-ops to sign-up to a new co-op digital infrastructure manifesto. You may be interested in reading and signing it.

It’s generally good but I don’t agree with this:

Call for and support open-source and source-available tech development, based on open standards, to ensure standardization doesn’t pave the way only for commercial platforms.

If the “and source-available” was omitted I would support it, I don’t think the co-operative movement should be using, promoting or supporting software that isn’t free and open source.

It is also not clear how to request to join their private Loomio group?

Hello, I’m Steve Ediger from ChiCommons LWCA, a tech worker cooperative in the USA and one of the folks that helped draft the manifesto.

@AthertonJohn thanks so much for posting this. I’d like to clarify that our group included some Europeans also, so it is slightly more than US-centric.

@chris our wording was poor on the Loomio. If you click on the link and are not already registered on Loomio, you are given a chance to register and then granted access to the discussion.

Regarding your comment on ‘and source available’, I personally am in favor of open source. However, the proponent of the phrase convinced me that there is merit in making source private in certain cases will keep it out of the hands of capitalists. So I did not object strongly enough to get it removed. Please bear in mind that this is a first attempt and that we want to make it a living document that changes as more people have a chance to look at it and participate in future versions.

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Thanks for the background @SteveEdiger.

When I access the Loomio link, I get:

You do not have permission to view this.

My Loomio username is chriscroome, I am logged in.

The only actual (as in one that is used for a code based that is used for running a co-op) example of a progressive software license that specifically prevents capitalists from using the code I’m aware of is the CoopCycle License:

This has been discussed somewhat on the CoTech forum, I’d be happy this discuss these matters more with you on Loomio.

There are plenty of “source available” examples where it had been and is used to further the interests of capital…

Thanks Chris. I thought we had worked out the permissions problems. We’ll need to contact Loomio for support on this one. Please be patient.

I’m pretty jammed this week, and don’t have bandwidth for a licensing conversation. Let me clarify. Do you object to this phrase “and source available” and would block it in a consensus decision? Or do you have serious reservations and would support the manifesto if we reworded it slightly to clarify “source available” with further clarifications (TBD)? I’m heading into meetings for the rest of the day.

Yes I do.

For those reading this and not understanding the the difference between source available and free open source software the Wikipedia page contains:

Any software is source-available in the broad sense as long its source code is distributed along with it, even if the user has no legal rights to use, share, modify or even compile it. It is possible for a software to be both source-available software and proprietary software (For example: id Software’s Doom).

In contrast, the definitions of free software and open-source software are much narrower. Free software and/or open-source software is also always source-available software, but not all source-available software is also free software and/or open-source software. This is because the official definitions of those terms require considerable additional rights as to what the user can do with the available source (including, typically, the right to use said software, with attribution, in derived commercial products).[2]

In the broad sense, any FOSS license is a source-available license. In the narrow sense,[1] the term source-available specifically excludes FOSS software.

Microsoft Windows is source available!

Yes I would.

We should be advocating for the use of copyleft, free, libre, open source licenses, however I would accept a clause that also allowed non-free “copy far left” licenses such as the CoopCycle one.

Furthermore we should be discouraging the use of permissive free software licenses as these allow code to be, in effect, privatised, which is why corporations such as Google and Apple strongly support the use of these type of licenses — we should be advocating for co-operation and sharing.

The Wikipedia page on permissive licenses contains a comparison to copyleft licenses:

Copyleft licenses generally require the reciprocal publication of the source code of any modified versions under the original work’s copyleft license.[8][9] Permissive licenses, in contrast, do not try to guarantee that modified versions of the software will remain free and publicly available, generally requiring only that the original copyright notice be retained.[1] As a result, derivative works, or future versions, of permissively-licensed software can be released as proprietary software.[10]

A call for the use of copyleft licensing is missing from the current version of the Cooperative Digital Infrastructure Manifesto, I think this is a fundamental problem with it as it stands.

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@chris We’ve added a new loomio instance that is open. Please try the new link on our page at datacommons dot coop (evidently no links are allowed on this site), and let me know that it’s working for you.

Thanks for your clarification. I would support removing the offending phrase, but we’ll need to have some discussion and some sense of consensus on it.

Thanks @SteveEdiger I have increased your trust level here so you can post links and I have joined the Loomio group and posted a comment there:

Why is the manifesto not really demanding anything in terms of software licenses?

. 2. Call for and support open-source and source-available tech development, based on open standards, to ensure standardization doesn’t pave the way only for commercial platforms.

Corporations like Apple, Amazon and Google, support, develop and release open source software, Microsoft makes Windows source available — as far as I can see, as it stands, the manifesto makes no software license related demands that these corporations don’t already comply with?

Shouldn’t we be calling for copyleft (and perhaps also copy far left) software licensing? Don’t we want to see more co-operation and sharing? None of these corporations support copyleft software licenses because they don’t want to be forced into sharing, they want the freedom to be able to privatise code, what is the point of co-ops also advocating for the same thing that the big tech corporations are already doing?

I’ve also started a thread about it on the CoTech forum.