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Re: [govtrack] Important changes to license terms coming [NB/NN edition]

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  • Josh Tauberer
    Well I got the feedback I was asking for on these license changes! Here s the short story. Starting tomorrow this will be added to the ... This is pretty inert
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 19, 2012
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      Well I got the feedback I was asking for on these license changes!

      Here's the short story. Starting tomorrow this will be added to the generic license agreement:

      You may not disparage services for being nonpartisan.
      ( http://www.govtrack.us/developers/license)


      This is pretty inert compared to my original idea. It binds what you say, as a licensee. It doesn't require changes to your site or tool, or their terms of service for end users. I don't know of any licensee that was among those attacking NationBuilder, but I don't know everyone that uses GovTrack data.

      If this is a problem for anyone, we can talk about entering into a special agreement. (Though I would in general prefer not to.) Or we can talk about how you can help make the scraper source code more reusable. The scraper code is open source (although at the moment it isn't linked from the website because no one's ever wanted it).

      More background in my follow-up blog post:
      http://www.govtrack.us/blog/2012/07/19/data-license-changes-take-two/

      Thanks everyone,

      - Josh Tauberer (@JoshData)
      
      http://razor.occams.info
      On 07/12/2012 09:20 PM, Josh Tauberer wrote:
      Dear data re-users,

      This is advanced notice that on July 20 I'll be revising the terms of GovTrack's generic license agreement by adding the following paragraph:

      * During the time in which your organization is reusing GovTrack's database, your website must block visitors referred by the websites of sponsors of the Netroots Nation conference. If you make the data available in bulk to others, your license agreement must carry over the same terms.

      In techPresident today, Netroots Nation's executive director Raven Brooks encouraged progressive advocacy groups to boycott NationBuilder, a non-partisan technology platform that helps campaigns build their websites, because NationBuilder sells services to right-leaning organizations. There's a complicated history here that's touched on in the techPresident article (http://techpresident.com/news/22556/nationbuilders-mammoth-deal-state-level-republican-committee-sparks-calls-boycott),but Brooks's point seems to boil down to a belief that there can be no nonpartisan political tools.

      GovTrack, and most tools that reuse its database, is a nonpartisan tool that has played an important role in political activism over the last several years on both sides of the political aisle. It is astonishing to me that anyone would think that technology infrastructure should choose sides. Especially since it appears that the sponsors of past Netroots Nations conferences have been users of nonpartisan political technology platforms like GovTrack. If they are going to boycott tools like GovTrack, they certainly won't notice the change to GovTrack's license terms.

      Your feedback on these changes is welcome, especially if the feedback is in the style of satire. But this isn't a joke. Ridiculous boycotts of technology startups require ridiculous responses.

      -- 
      - Josh Tauberer (@JoshData)
      
      http://razor.occams.info


    • Aaron Swartz
      ... progressive movement that partisan services tend to be more poorly-built than nonpartisan ones and, therefore, by acting so vehemently against
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 22, 2012
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        You may not disparage services for being nonpartisan.
        ( http://www.govtrack.us/developers/license)

        In response to your original license draft, I told friends in the progressive movement that partisan services tend to be more poorly-built than nonpartisan ones and, therefore, by acting so vehemently against NationBuilder, they would reduce the quality of tools available to them. This morning, I further observed that, on the flip side, this means that if the entire progressive movement refused to use NationBuilder, it would effectively be forced to be a partisan service, and that would probably make the product worse than it otherwise would be and thereby keep better tools out of the hands of their political opponents. Does that qualify as disparagement under the license?
      • Josh Tauberer
        I don t see where in there you are being disparaging, let alone for NB being nonpartisan. You re basically just repeating NB s business model ... Feel free to
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 22, 2012
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          I don't see where in there you are being disparaging, let alone for NB being nonpartisan. You're basically just repeating NB's business model --- selling to everyone is better.

          Feel free to rephrase if I didn't understand.

          - Josh Tauberer (@JoshData)
          
          http://razor.occams.info
          On 07/22/2012 09:50 AM, Aaron Swartz wrote:

          You may not disparage services for being nonpartisan.
          ( http://www.govtrack.us/developers/license)

          In response to your original license draft, I told friends in the progressive movement that partisan services tend to be more poorly-built than nonpartisan ones and, therefore, by acting so vehemently against NationBuilder, they would reduce the quality of tools available to them. This morning, I further observed that, on the flip side, this means that if the entire progressive movement refused to use NationBuilder, it would effectively be forced to be a partisan service, and that would probably make the product worse than it otherwise would be and thereby keep better tools out of the hands of their political opponents. Does that qualify as disparagement under the license?


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