Open Letter to RED HAT on the Academy and Freedom

Posted 12 Aug 2003 at 07:39 UTC by mdupont Share This

It is amazing that redhat have such a restrictive license on thier courseware software, considering how many good courseware projects there are. I find no mention of freedom or the gnu free documentation license on the red hat "open source" educational site. It makes me wonder how good this education is.

Digital Think is the exclusive provider of Red Hat eLearning. http://www.digitalthink.com/catalog/license.html

"Licensee shall not, without the prior written permission of DIGITALTHINK, nor permit anyone else to copy, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble or otherwise reduce the Courseware to a human perceivable form, or to modify, network, rent, lease, loan, distribute, or create derivative works based upon the Courseware or the documentation in whole or in part."

That is why I would like to see some official statement from red hat on the following questions:

Dear Red Hat,

I have posted these questions to all of the appropiate places in Redhat, with no response. Now It is time for me to ask the community to help get some answers.

I would like to take a second and plug www.fsedu.org. A project which has the goal of promoting free access to learning materials in standard formats.

Secondly I would like to ask the following question of redhat, the teachers and students of courses and of students themselves. If you could take a minute and fill out these questions and post them back to the list, that woul be great.

1. Do you support and promote the usage of the Gnu Free Documentation license for your learning materials? 2. Do you support and promote the usage of internet Standard file formats for your learning materials? 3. Do you support and promote the usage of free software for your distance learning software? Do you support the idea of allowing access to the source code of all the tools involved in the courseware? 4. Do you support and promote the relieving of students from EULA and and other license agreements that are designed to take away the freedoms of the students? 5. Do you support and promote the docuementation of free software? When you are creating learning materials, do you contribute your changes, improvements, criticism, ideas and sources back to the community?

I look forward to your response.

mike


Here was the letter sent to the open source now list , posted 12 Aug 2003 at 07:44 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

This is a link to the open source now list mail https://www.redhat.com/archives/open-source-now-list/2003-August/msg00005.html

Subscribe here : https://www.redhat.com/mailman/listinfo/open-source-now-list/

Does anyone support the GNU Free Doc license?, posted 12 Aug 2003 at 12:12 UTC by Uraeus » (Master)

Seems to me that license is dead in the water ever since Debian declared it non-free.

GFDL not free? In the extreme. RedHats courseware and acedemy will never be free, it is under EULA., posted 12 Aug 2003 at 13:58 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

That is very interesting, do you have any links on that?

That is because of invariant sections not being free?

http://www.debian.org/News/weekly/2003/27/ " Licenses for Documentation. Emma Jane Hogbin received feedback that her choice of the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) for a howto that she wrote may not be free according to the Debian Free Software Guidlines (DFSG). She does not intend to use invariant sections, so could not see why there would be a problem. Brian Nelson pointed out that Anthony Towns' proposal views the FDL as DFSG-free if invariant sections are not used. "

In any case, the creative commons offers other an alternative license.

As far as I can tell, redhat is offering *none* of its academy or online materials at all to the public under any license. They have large restrictions on how it may be used and copied.

May questions are directed at red hat because there is no mention of any of the freedoms that a student has, only the restrictions that they have.

Invariant sections aside, the spirit of the GFDL is still missing from RedHat's educational offering.

As far as I can tell, the entire purpose of red hats educational efforts is to take away the freedom of the students by various licensing agreements. This is what I would like to see addressed by redhat.

mike

GFDL not free? In the extreme. RedHats courseware and acedemy is not free at all, posted 12 Aug 2003 at 13:58 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

That is very interesting, do you have any links on that?

That is because of invariant sections not being free?

http://www.debian.org/News/weekly/2003/27/ " Licenses for Documentation. Emma Jane Hogbin received feedback that her choice of the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) for a howto that she wrote may not be free according to the Debian Free Software Guidlines (DFSG). She does not intend to use invariant sections, so could not see why there would be a problem. Brian Nelson pointed out that Anthony Towns' proposal views the FDL as DFSG-free if invariant sections are not used. "

In any case, the creative commons offers other an alternative license.

As far as I can tell, redhat is offering *none* of its academy or online materials at all to the public under any license. They have large restrictions on how it may be used and copied.

May questions are directed at red hat because there is no mention of any of the freedoms that a student has, only the restrictions that they have.

Invariant sections aside, the spirit of the GFDL is still missing from RedHat's educational offering.

As far as I can tell, the entire purpose of red hats educational efforts is to take away the freedom of the students by various licensing agreements. This is what I would like to see addressed by redhat.

mike

GFDL not free? In the extreme. RedHats courseware and acedemy is not free at all, posted 12 Aug 2003 at 13:58 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

That is very interesting, do you have any links on that?

That is because of invariant sections not being free?

http://www.debian.org/News/weekly/2003/27/ " Licenses for Documentation. Emma Jane Hogbin received feedback that her choice of the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) for a howto that she wrote may not be free according to the Debian Free Software Guidlines (DFSG). She does not intend to use invariant sections, so could not see why there would be a problem. Brian Nelson pointed out that Anthony Towns' proposal views the FDL as DFSG-free if invariant sections are not used. "

In any case, the creative commons offers other an alternative license.

As far as I can tell, redhat is offering *none* of its academy or online materials at all to the public under any license. They have large restrictions on how it may be used and copied.

May questions are directed at red hat because there is no mention of any of the freedoms that a student has, only the restrictions that they have.

Invariant sections aside, the spirit of the GFDL is still missing from RedHat's educational offering.

As far as I can tell, the entire purpose of red hats educational efforts is to take away the freedom of the students by various licensing agreements. This is what I would like to see addressed by redhat.

mike

God, so many posts., posted 12 Aug 2003 at 14:00 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

Soory that all these got posted so many times!

mike

I repeat my request ..., posted 12 Aug 2003 at 17:02 UTC by jbuck » (Master)

Dear maintainers of advogato, please fix the site! Because it is often extremely slow, double-posts and triple-posts are common. I recommend that the problem be solved by providing a half-hour window for the author to edit or cancel a posting, as many sites do. After that, it stands.

Hey Joe, you are here too!, posted 12 Aug 2003 at 17:04 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

What a small GNU world.

I am not saying redhat should open up its content, it has the right to sell content, but not at the Expense of the students basic freedoms, posted 12 Aug 2003 at 17:08 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

I am not saying redhat should open up its content, it has the right to sell content. The FSEDU project seeks to compete with RedHat and others by providing content.

The point that I have a problem with is the licenses of the software that the students have to use to take part in the redhat online course.

The courseware, and acedemy, when used are designed to remove the basic rights of the students to view and edit the source code of the software used.

1. A student should not be forced to use non-free software and non-standard file formats to take part in the learning experience.

2. An school offering from an opensource vendor using non-free software is questionable to me. But it is thier right to choose the vendor. The issue I have is support of open standards and the freedom of the students. The software used by redhat is not free and the licenses are designed to remove the rights of the students http://www.redhat.com/training/elearning/faq.html#nineteen " No, our courses are delivered 100% over the internet, and there is no special software required. All you need is a current Java-enabled browser on a Windows, Macintosh, or Unix platform. To complete the exercises in this course you will need to access the lab feature using an SSH (Secure Shell) client. Flash from Macromedia, Inc, enhances the eLearning graphic environment, and can be downloaded for free. "

Java and Flash are not free or standard software.

3. As a provider of education about "opensource" I find it a great omission to conver the open content licences. I also find that the wording of the following section strange :

http://www.redhat.com/training/student_guide/documentation.html

"Users of Linux depend on the market and IT publishing industry to supply useful printed reference guides and keep them up to date. Red Hat does not endorse particular guides, since we cannot vouch that they are accurate or up-to-date without reviewing them extensively, by which time they are likely to be out of date."

3.1 The content that redhat is working on that would make it up to date is not being contributed back to the community.

3.2 Open content books can be printed anywhere, you dont need to have a printing industry.

3.3 Free software developers dont depend on printed reference manuals, they depend on up to date content. This content does not need to be printed at all by an large printer..

We need more ways to allow people to collect and distribute up to date information about free software. We also need to make sure that you can learn all about this software without giving up your freedom.

http://fsedu.org/fsedu.pl?DefendStudents Students Bill of rights , posted 12 Aug 2003 at 17:10 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

http://fsedu.org/fsedu.pl?DefendStudents

1. You have the right to use free software instead of proprietary software for all school-related tasks. The school shall not impede this right in any way.

2. You have the right to demand open file formats:

1. Allow sincere choice of software/operating system

2. Openly specified and freely implementable

3. Work with completely Free systems

3. You have the right to publish your homework assignments as you see fit, for profit or gratis.

4. You have the right to publish what you learn, in your own words, for profit or gratis.

RFC , posted 14 Aug 2003 at 19:23 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

The argument of the DRM proponents is that it is not possible to protect their content without taking away the rights of the students. That is why I have sought to design a solution for content distribution based on free software and open standards that still protects the content from illegal distribution.

I seek with this proposal to address these issues in the context of free software without violating the rights of the students.

Lets say that we have some content that an author worked hard on, and it should be distributed to people who decide that paying a reasonable fee.

Now the one issue is that even if the users should have the right to examine the source code of the software, we still need a way to prevent them from extracting the content out of that software.

If you allow the user to modify the viewing software as to create an human readable and machine processable of the content instead of displaying it, then you are opening up the content for further duplication. Now we are precluding screen shots and OCR software here. Lets say that you want to deliver a rastrasterizedy of the content to the user at an agreed upon resolution. Vector graphics would again allow too much export control.

So we have an agreement between a content provider and a content consumer for a delivery of a certain amount of content that meets a certain level of quality to a viewer that limits the users rights in a predefined manner.

Now, the viewer cannot store the content in a internal data format that is readable by an debugger, because it would be too easy to snarf that data out.

So, I think we can solve this problem very simply : You need to trust that the user will only use an agreed upon version of the viewer software. This software can be free software, and the full source code may be made available, but the content provider does not agree to provide the content to any but an specified and verified set of modules to the user.

So I proposed the following architecture :

1. The users are to be validated by a chip-card system, each user must have a way to authenticate their identity using a card issued by the content provider or a certificate authority. Simple PGP PGP SSH certificate can also be agreed here.

2. The users agree to have a free software client module installed that is of a specified version. This software is able to make a network connection to the content provider and send a digitally signed and encrypted signature of itself to the content provider by a secure channel. This creates a secure session that can only be understood by the client module. The user agrees that he does not have the right to intercept this content which uses open and free software that he can inspect on his leisure. The session however is only good for one set of package, because the user might swap out the software once the session is set up. Hardware based checksumming might help speed up this signature process. BSD has such a software signature built in as well. The user agrees to allow the server to re-check/audit the validity of the client software on its leisure on a predefined interval,that way the server administrator and users can agree on a set of security levels that are appropriate for the given application performance requirements.

3. The user uses this session to request content that is sent securely to him/her. The content is encrypted with an agreed upon encryption standard that will prevent the user from viewing the content. Only the client software session, given an authentication token from the provider and from the client will be able to for one time be able to decode the content. The software then deletes that content according to the agreed procedure.

4. The user can then view the rastrasterizedge. That image could also be water-marked and Id-ed. The agreement between the content provider and the user may define various rules preventing the removal of the various security water-marks. Of course the user can take that one raster and distribute it illegally. There is nothing that any of the DRM DRM do to prevent that.

You see, this is a consent based security system that requires no freedoms are removed from the user. The content provider reserves the right to refuse delivery of content to any other version of the software, the client however has the freedom to modify this software and submit it to content providers for certification.

I think such an consent based content management is much saner than using non-free file formats and non-free software.

What do you think?

Too heavy, posted 15 Aug 2003 at 05:07 UTC by Omnifarious » (Journeyer)

I think that any kind of content protection will drive people away and is ultimately not in the best interests of the course creators.

Put in different words... The architectural constraints should be light and live within a framework of social constraints that support them. Content control achieved by architectural constraints will just cause people to change the architecture to no longer be so stifling.

"protect content", posted 15 Aug 2003 at 11:08 UTC by slef » (Master)

As soon as you agree that the content authors have a right to protectionist legislation, you are lost. Why do they need it? Are they not sufficiently skilful to survive using the same methods that writers have been using for years or centuries? What stops me duplicating the book of an impoverished author against their wishes? If they allow anyone to copy it, how do they make enough money from it? The answers are already well-known, I think. Technology hasn't fundamentally changed them.

Free Content protection will promote commerce, posted 15 Aug 2003 at 14:17 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

My proposal of a possible free content encryption system serves two purposes :

1. To try and decide once and for all if free software and content protection are theoretically impossible, IE: is it impossible to grant the users freedom and to protect the content from interception.

This is still a worthy cause, because if possible, then content providers could not claim that they need patents, and non-free software to sell content. If this is possible to implement using software, then we can also eliminate the need for a trusted computing hardware.

2. To be able to offer a framework for people to sell content in a fair and secure manner using free software. The price function of the market has a regularitory function and motivates people to provide better services. This is needed for the FSEDU project to attract teachers and educators to producing low cost learning materials that are using free software. The other issue is that the cost of the material can be amortized over time, so that after an author has collected a certain amount of money on one work that is could be released into the public under a free license.

If the first point is not possible, then It would make a good topic to write a paper about anyway.

mike

This is for the corporate world, posted 15 Aug 2003 at 17:55 UTC by johnnyb » (Journeyer)

I think this thread is really, really silly. Red Hat provides excellent materials for free. However, they provide another set of tools to large businesses. If you're going to sell courseware to large businesses, it is GOING to be in DigitalThink format. Period. That's what they all use. I don't see any real problem here. All the needed documentation is provided, and this is just corporate gravy that is _required_ to sell to the big dogs.

The problem here are the rights to use free software, posted 17 Aug 2003 at 09:02 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

My argument is that you are not prevented from using free software by law. You have the basic right to use only %100 free software untill this right is taken away from you explicity by contract.

It is very disturbing that a company supporting F/OSS software would use contracts that take away these rights.

mike

In defense of consent based client certification, posted 22 Aug 2003 at 10:12 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

After a long discussion on freenode.net/#GNU yesterday, I find my aguments for a secure system to distribute data without allowing cheating in line with the spirit of the GPL.

These are my arguments in favor of a certified client :

1. There are valid applications where a group of people agree to use one version of the software and want to eliminate cheaters. A First person shooter for example would be a good example

2. By allowing for a auditing of the clients on a random basis, and the inclusion of the entire memory of the software including of the data at a specified timepoint you can get a secure fingerprint that is very very difficult to fake.

3. By allowing for a secondary protocol to use a secure cipher to encrypt and slightly change the binary of the file, you can increase the cost of binary hacks. This application of a cypher can take place on the original binary before starting using a key that is agreed apon by the group.

4. These techniques do not eliminate crackers, but make the cost prohibitive, random and frequent changes to the binary form using a secure algorithm will increase the cost of making binary patches very much.

5. The users are free to review and edit the source code of all the components of the system, Each user is free to join any group that they wish. Groups are free to certify any on binary that is proposed.

The only restriction that the user must agree to is the client software is not hacked, cracked or changed during execution. There are many applications that could use this type of security and it does not take away the users rights, it just protects the group.

In closing, my proposal is based on the idea of game theory, that having a the "game" the binary changed often will in the long term root out "cheaters".

By only allowing certified users access, and having a trust metric, it should be possible also to eliminate long term abusers.

mike

protectionist legislation? noway. Consent, Yes!, posted 26 Aug 2003 at 19:04 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

I agree with you slef when you said :

>>As soon as you agree that the content authors have a right to >>protectionist legislation, you are lost.

My proposal is based on consent, the main purpose is *not* to allow the current crop of publishers to continue their stranglehold on the education.

If we have a simple way to allow people to offer tutoring, training, testing and customized, personalize content with a fair pricing system using only free software then we will inside the spirit of the GNU system.

We need to distinguish between content that you pay for and free information, they are not exclusive.

People will pay for free information if delivered on a timely basis, if they can be the first ones to get it, and have a personal advantage, then you pay for the service!

That is the whole idea of training yourself in skills you need.

mike

Silly? sorry Jonnyb, I think you are thinking way to simply, posted 26 Aug 2003 at 19:47 UTC by mdupont » (Master)

johnnyb >>I think this thread is really, really silly.

I respectfuly disagree. I think you are not looking at the big picture.

>>Red Hat provides excellent materials for free. Of course. They are not the topic here.

>>However, they provide another set of tools to large businesses.

That is not the problem either, the question is not just large buisnesses, it is tax funded organisations, and anyone who wants to further themselves.

>>If you're going to sell courseware to large businesses, it is GOING to >>be in DigitalThink format. Period. That's what they all use.

Who are they? On the open source now a person from Redhat said that they would use an alternative provider if it existed.

>I don't see any real problem here.

The real problem is that you have your choice to use free software taken away from you. Why does redhat need you to use flash and java to take part in the course ware?

>All the needed documentation is provided, and this is just corporate >gravy that is _required_ to sell to the big dogs.

The big dogs might sell the rights of their employees to redhat, but I think that taxpayers should not be financing the removal of students rights.

mike

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