Important Munitions Lawyering

@mjg59 If a smart weapon running Linux fails to explode is the target entitled to the GPLed source code?
"What is your one purpose in life?"

@BootlegGirl Yes, but if it's LGPL they can make the bomb itself proprietary. Ethical warmongers release weapons as CC0
@tveastman A missile is technically a deployment, and not just a distribution, so I guess the rules will be interesting for the AGPL too.
@dmarti The weapon must include a written offer to distribute the corresponding source. It doesn't matter if a recipient actually runs the software.
But what if the target is under trade embargo, and the sender can't actually fulfill the offer of source code? Do they still have a license?
@giladby I worked as a consultant on the Iron Done missile defence system It shoots Linux running missiles designed to intercept incoming missiles.
We debated many questions. If you target another missile, who you are distributing TO? Would incl. src code on missile enough to satisfy GPL
@geofft if they target civilians is it a "User Product" under GPLv3? "(2) anything designed or sold for incorporation into a dwelling"
@fanf I am reminded of the guidance computer that leaked memory about as fast as the rocket used fuel
@mk270 and those jokes about loops in Ada having "detonation" as a termination condition. Sends the Haskellers mental
@fanf C++ calls this kind of loop undefined behaviour
@vathpela Depends - would it be legal trade in the first place? (Pretty sure if the target is a State Sponsor of Terror, you can't have a contract...)
@the_lazyknight yes, but reasonable costs for the media may be be levied. So include the source on the warhead, then charge for the bomb.
@danhedron Yes, but there is no guarantee they can install their own unsigned version.
@elgarak Does this count as malware?
@schumaml Generalized, it becomes "If any device is used on you, do you become a user of the device?"
@uriy Yes, but to avoid breaking crypto/munitions export laws you should only use it against a friendly target.

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3 Responses:

  1. Chas. Owens says:

    Hmm, interesting takes, but if a thief steals my computer I am not required to provide GPL'ed source to him or her. Likewise, the software is not being distributed to the target. If it fails to detonate, then it is lost, not distributed (although the parts of the missile would be distributed quite nicely if it does detonate).

    Interesting related case: a sentient GPL'ed robot. Would it need to provide its source to any humans or other entities it creates a relationship with?

    • k3ninho says:

      > [e.g.] a sentient GPL'ed robot. Would it need to provide its source to any humans or other entities it creates a relationship with?
      That was almost verbatim one of the lines I used on Tinder: "Libre software guy would like to provide complete corresponding source code to build community."

      p.s. well, ofc I didn't. Ew.

  2. anon3494 says:

    Bonus points for the Dark Star reference.

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