Re: Minutes, APAS as a guerilla tactic for liberating proprietary software

Joseph Turner joseph at
Wed May 25 08:46:15 UTC 2022

Dear Bradley,

Thank you for your thorough response.

The discussions about Copilot to which I was referring were OT conversations on various XMPP MUCs ;) However, the first page of an Internet search for "microsoft copilot" included an article which expresses concerns that Copilot might "effectively launder open-source code into commercial uses without proper licencing":

If I understand correctly, you're making two main points:

1. Society will determine whether or not the authors of code fed into an APAS Trainer have rights over the code produced by the Model. If it is determined that APAS can legally be used to wash away the licensing restrictions placed on the input code, then it's only fair that both FOSS and proprietary code be used as inputs. Since most proprietary code is not publicly available, significant changes are necessary for the outcome which you referred to as (1) to be equitable.

2. It is important to act with utmost scrupulousness in respecting the licensing terms which an author chooses for her work. To liberate a piece of software without the author's permission is to "play dirty."

Please correct me if I have misunderstood your point or misphrased something in my summary.

You're right that Microsoft has the first mover advantage. What's more, the vast majority of people are oblivious to the existence of APAS/Copilot and are already overwhelmed by other important personal, political, spiritual, and social matters. In the unfortunate likelihood that society passively ignores the ongoing use of APAS to circumvent FOSS licensing restrictions, I'm sure that FOSS activists will continue to work for the protection of software freedoms for everyone. For that, I'm grateful.

It is incumbent upon us to move toward the change we want on multiple fronts. The work that you and the Software Freedom Conservancy do is valuable because it drives us forward in the arenas of public opinion and public policy (and perhaps in other ways which I haven't considered).

What kind of actions are possible? Maybe we could demand that copylefted material be excluded from APAS systems. Or we could demand that only code with compatible licenses be fed to APAS systems, thereby restricting the possible licenses of works in which the APAS-produced code may be legally included. Regardless of the details, a public policy change which forbids circumvention of FOSS by APAS would be very welcome, especially if it were easy to enforce.

> If we decide what
> Microsoft's GitHub has done with their APAS *is* moral, then the fair and
> equitable policy change on which we must insist is that *all* software
> source code of all kinds (proprietary, FOSS) be made available to anyone who
> seeks to make an APAS so they can Train on all known code to humanity.

I agree that the logical response to a societal acceptance of the use of FOSS code as input to Copilot is to likewise make proprietary code available to anyone who seeks to make an APAS. How do you propose we manifest that reality without tactics similar to Aaron Swartz's Guerilla Open Access Manifesto?

It is possible that Guerilla Open Access-like action could augment a movement to increase awareness of FOSS authorship rights or to amend copyright law.

I'm very curious to hear your thoughts.

May your knee heal swiftly.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the ai-assist mailing list