[Members] XEP-0001: Remove impossible guarantee from XSF Objectives

Ralph Meijer ralphm at ik.nu
Tue Jan 14 10:47:37 UTC 2020

On 14-01-2020 11:19, Dave Cridland wrote:
> On Tue, 14 Jan 2020 at 00:13, Travis Burtrum <travis at burtrum.org 
> <mailto:travis at burtrum.org>> wrote:
>     Basically the XSF being an organization that crosses all
>     jurisdictions,
>     this simply isn't possible.  As far as I know we have no members
>     qualified to give legal opinions, and thus shouldn't even try. 
>     Whether
>     a given person/business/entity can implement a XEP in their
>     jurisdiction
>     can only be decided by them and their lawyers.
> This is a bad idea. It will not benefit us as a community. It will not 
> benefit us individually.
> First, I would note that this is not the same as the goal you have 
> stated elsewhere.
> The goal you have stated elsewhere is to explicitly publish 
> specifications in the full knowledge that many in the community cannot 
> implement them for clear legal reasons. That is not at all the same 
> removing an objective which may prove impossible to perfect, that is a 
> wholesale reversal of a long-standing policy.
> You have also, very explicitly, said that you do not agree that the 
> XMPP Standards Foundation should be in the business of producing Open 
> Standards by any existing definition of "Open Standard" by any major 
> organisation (including FSFE, FFII, EU, UK Government, etc).
> I think you should make both of these things clear, rather than 
> couching a radical change and abandonment of our principles as a minor 
> clarification.
> Any move in this direction would have serious effects on several of 
> the markets we currently dominate with our technology, including 
> essentially all the Critical Messaging market, the Gaming market, and 
> almost certainly more.
> In the interests of both transparency and stating the blindingly 
> obvious, I benefit financially from XMPP as an Open Standard, and have 
> done for years. At times, I have even explicitly been paid to do XSF 
> work because the XSF is an Open Standards organisation. Other times I 
> do XSF work (and indeed Open Source work relating to XMPP) because it 
> indirectly benefits me financially. I'm certain I'm not the only one - 
> the XSF itself, and the XMPP community as a whole, get a lot of 
> benefit from the efforts of people and companies who work on XMPP 
> because of its Open Standard status.
> There is no way we can risk even the perception that use of XMPP might 
> require licensing under the GPL, for example, and expect to have the 
> likes of Fortnite keep using our technology. There is no chance that 
> the Dutch health services would adopt a common messaging protocol that 
> was not a formal Open Standard by the guidelines of the EU. Some of 
> our sponsors would not renew, some of the companies involved with XMPP 
> would withdraw. Competitors - both groups like Matrix and entirely 
> proprietary solutions - would erode the few markets we dominate in.
> No corresponding gains have been suggested by this move. There have 
> been no suggestions that this radical change to our objectives will 
> make anything "better", or allow the XSF to achieve anything that it 
> currently does not.
> Therefore this seems to me to be an entirely negative change - all 
> downsides, without compensation.
> I repeat, therefore: This is a bad idea.
> Dave.

Fully agreed.

This is all about intent: the XSF wants to publish standards that truly, 
and follows these objectives to the best of its ability. Jurisdictions 
may differ, legal interpretations may differ, companies might try to put 
in submarine patents. But the intent is for our protocols to be open, 
and free of encumbrance to implement. Explicitly making room for 
protocols that somehow require implementations to be(come) GPL licensed 
is the direct opposite of that intent.


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