Allow “special exception” to the Orchard codebase for the Monero Project

Fwiw, a Reddit poll isn’t a sensible way to judge whether it’s appropriate to use a certain cryptography implementation and transaction protocol. It’s most certainly not a reasonable conclusion to say no devs or researchers are interested 2 hours into a Reddit poll. Posting a complicated cryptography question on Reddit is just asking for drama and is going to result in misunderstandings.

The BOSL license may be “open source” by some definitions, but that doesn’t mean open source projects can use it. As you can see in Seth’s original post, the Zcash repository and the Zcash Foundation repository would not be able to use the code either unless they were given this “special exception.”

Edit: And while it’s perhaps sloppy to preemptively issue exceptions before they are necessary, community sentiment is not a blocker in any sense in the way of the Electric Coin Company stating that if the Monero Project was to decide to move forward and use Orchard code, for whatever reason, that they would support issuing a “special exception” in the name of furthering privacy adoption. The ECC announced they would issue the code under the BOSL license instead of the MIT license without prior discussion in a public forum, after all. Just as they announced they are changing the Halo 2 license to MIT after discussions with the Filecoin Foundation without prior forum discussion, as far as I can tell.

Edit 2: I also want to make extremely clear that I respect the ECC’s rights to the code that they have written, and they have absolutely no obligation to allow anyone else to use their code. This forum post here is asking if the ECC would potentially be willing to, in the open-source collaborative ethos, share their code for the betterment of privacy, research, financial sovereignty, and other public goods, just as Zcash has built on other FOSS software like Bitcoin.

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edit 3: whatever ECC decides to do, we will copy or write the code in C++ from scratch.

  • that’s how i read it on your twitter profile

don’t get me wrong justin, but you are one of the monero folks that harmed zcash a lot.
i would feel ashamed to write a post in this forum.

i know we should not get personal here, but some things need to be said.

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For those following along; apologies to @sethforprivacy , they hit the Discourse new user post limit and can’t respond to posts until a 24hr timer has elapsed.

We have since bumped Seths trust level so they should not hit the limit in the future, but it does not reset the timer. We will just have to get some rest this evening and continue the conversation tomorrow.

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I’m new to the forum but have been lurking for quite some time. Sad to say this is my first forum post, was hoping it would be more positive but fwiw, here’s my view:

I purchased Zcash because after my months long research thought it was the most advanced coin in existence. Some may quibble about the funding methods but it has produced results unseen in the crypto community.

I’ve owned Monero as well as many other coins and IMO nothing compares to Zcash. Many in this community have been here for a long time. It would be a slap in the face to those who have put their blood, sweat, and tears into this project to have software funded by community consent handed over to people who have no respect for the community that produced it.

I vote NO.

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I would need to know more about the business reasons for using BOSL to say definitively what I think should happen here.

But I’m very uncomfortable with all of this (that is, whether Monero can use Zcash code) hinging on how nice the Monero folks were to us on social media, or some informal polling, or for that matter any decision-making process that isn’t formally established.

@sgp is totally right that ECC created the need for this conversation by its own decision to use a non-standard license.

Am I right in saying that for other pieces of Zcash code this conversation wouldn’t even have to happen, because the licensing is chosen to facilitate not ever having to ask for permission? If so, I think we should lean heavily towards taking the high road and giving permission. That “high road” approach is baked into the code of everything we’ve built and been a part of so far, so it’s in our deep values, and if it’s in our deep values it shouldn’t depend on how much we like a person, or a group of people, or whoever happens to participate in this thread or that poll.

As a Bitcoin fork, Zcash stands on the shoulders of software freedom and permissionlessness. It’s always been built for software freedom and permissionlessness. And so whatever the business reasons are for BOSL, our default answer to “can we have your permission” should be “YES!”

(And then we should go into some serious reflection on whatever decisions we made that ended up requiring them to ask for our permission and be really, really sure that those decisions–in this case BOSL–were absolutely worth it.)

Disclosure in case it’s helpful: I’m a ZEC holder, a Zcash fan since it launched, an inaugural ZCG member, and a passionate supporter of private, censorship-resistant digital money. I don’t hold any XMR.

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I have a novel suggestion: lets remove the licensing restriction, MIT license orchard, and let monero and anyone else use it. Any competent competitor, including Monero, can already build a circuit on top of the halo code base which is MIT licensed. Simple circuits are easy and cryptocurrencies don’t compete on circuit complexity (or, a la axie infinity, even security).

Beyond that, the license is a very very strange restriction. Add into this some weird issues with who owns it vis-à-vis the community that paid for it via the dev fund and who the revenue would go to for a hypothetical paid license, and having a weird license just seems like a governance risk for the community. Having a restrictive licensee turns the code base into a resource that we have no plans to use and no (ethical or even easy) way to exploit, but contention for how it could be used will cause infighting. In contrast, removing the licensing restriction and taking the human freedom maximalist position, would avoid this entire problem.

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It’s also worth considering that Monero and Zcash working similarly under the hood could be good for both Monero and Zcash, for example by reducing the perceived weaknesses in both, or by focusing more developer energy, academic attention, and real-world testing on their common libraries.

I can see where it seems like a zero sum game, but it probably is not!

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I respectfully reject the request. It’s not going to make Monero community accept Zcash for what it is.

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Let’s keep this a separate discussion!

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I voted no. My reasoning is that I don’t believe the Monero community is aligned with the Zcash mission to empower people.

They spent years advocating for weak, decoy based privacy methods. I suspect many Monero users have been and will be harmed because they were misled into believing that decoy privacy can protect them.

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You are missing a huge sentiment here. Hope you understand it.

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the Zcash mission to empower people.

If the mission is to empower people then why use a restrictive license? Does that not explicitly withhold power and keep it centralized to the ECC?

Are intellectual property licenses not the antithesis of being a committed privacy/FOSS activist?

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You can say they want to change it with Orchard but that’s not the point. I know lot of Zcashers are thinking of greater good & provide this exception to Monero. Remember, Monero community pretty much wanted Zcash to die.

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I am 100% against this. As a former member of the Monero community, I know how they operate and the way they have treated us over the years is shameful. Monero has become a cult.

I came to the Zcash community after seeing the amazing team here and the hard work they’ve shown the world. The research and development that went into Halo/Orchard was funded by us and costed the team time and energy. It would not be fair to give away this work for free.

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I’ve been a spectator for several years now but signed up today to weigh in on this. This license is indeed very strange and unnecessarily restrictive given it was funded by dev fund.

Why? He raises valid points that are relevant to this discussion.

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There is a separate thread on this decision. Please visit that thread & add your thoughts there. This is about a exception to specific project which constantly attacks Zcash on every public platform.

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If this is not the place to have this conversation, please point me in the right direction.

Monero should not be granted any “special exception” to the codebase. The licensing should be standard and non restrictive.

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Searched for “license”

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I’d strongly support everything produced via funding from the dev fund to be MIT licensed.

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