#157 Support for US Embargoed Nations (#fedora FAQ)
Closed: Invalid None Opened 6 years ago by mribeirodantas.

Hello everybody,

My IRC nickname is mribeirodantas and I attend several Fedora channels. I'm a Fedora Ambassador involved in Freemedia/Localization/Marketin teams.

Recently, there was some noise about a specific section in the channel FAQ[1], on the official wiki of Fedora Project. Some people came to #fedora-latam and complained, others shared their disappointment with friends in Fedora Project and some even posted in their blogs about it[2]. Cuba is located in Latin America, so maybe that's the reason for so many latin americans complaining about this section.

As I explained to nirik a few minutes ago (who told me to file this ticket), I'm here to help. I [obviously] understand we can't change US law and I'm not interested in it. However, it seems to me some people considered the section offensive and many showed to be confused about Fedora Project intentions. Putting it in fewer words, I think the section should be better worded so that it shows why it's the way it is and how Fedora Project feels about it.

I'm not sure if I understood it correctly, but it seems to me [and I like to believe it this way] Fedora Project stands for its contributors. So if I feel bad, legal or ethically speaking, about helping someone in those countries, it's just ok. Fedora Project says to me it's ok to choose to help or not, it's not a problem. Besides, it's not that people have to join the channel with a scar saying "I'm Cuban" or something.

I like to be honest to people and in exchange to get back honesty. So if I feel that for any reason someone should know something about me, or otherwise they would feel bad, I let them know.

I hope I have managed to express myself in a good way. If you guys have any questions on how to better word it, please, I'd like to help.

Best regards,

1 - https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Fedora_Channel_FAQ#Support_for_US_Embargoed_Nations
2 - http://blog.desdelinux.net/y-sin-embargo-es-libre-el-problema-de-fedora-en-cuba/


Replying to [ticket:157 mribeirodantas]:

As I explained to nirik a few minutes ago (who told me to file this ticket), I'm here to help. I [obviously] understand we can't change US law and I'm not interested in it. However, it seems to me some people considered the section offensive and many showed to be confused about Fedora Project intentions. Putting it in fewer words, I think the section should be better worded so that it shows why it's the way it is and how Fedora Project feels about it.

If I may, I would like to propose that we remove this specific item from the FAQ. I understand that the intention was to explicitly demonstrate that nobody is forced to help someone if he/she does not want to, but using a specific case to illustrate the situation is just absurd. One of the four F's is "Freedom", and people sometimes confuse freedom with "Disrespect". We should not be disrespectful towards others, and mentioning explicitly that "some people may choose not to help you based on your nationality" is not necessary at all for this FAQ. I'm not pretending such things don't happen, but I find it very sad that we have to mention it. Should we also mention that "if you are black, you should mention that in the channel, because some people may not like your skin color and will not help you because of that"?

Moreover, I see another "interesting" part in the text: "''Some helpers may choose to not provide you support for legal or ethical reasons''". Legal reasons? I know the embargo is economical, but are U.S. citizens also forbidden to talk and help people born on "evil" soil? IANAL, but this does not sound correct.

I'm not sure if I understood it correctly, but it seems to me [and I like to believe it this way] Fedora Project stands for its contributors. So if I feel bad, legal or ethically speaking, about helping someone in those countries, it's just ok. Fedora Project says to me it's ok to choose to help or not, it's not a problem. Besides, it's not that people have to join the channel with a scar saying "I'm Cuban" or something.

If the Fedora Project wants to say "You are not forced to help anyone", it should say so, but please do this in a generic, non-disrespectful way. I propose that we replace the current text with:

Nobody is obliged to help

When you ask a question in the channel, please keep in mind that nobody is obliged to answer
it. If someone refuses to help you (because of whatever reason, prejudicious or not), please
ignore this person and try to obtain advices and answers from someone else. Also, please
understand that the Fedora Project is not responsible for the actions of users in the channel,
so if you feel discriminated, we are deeply sorry about it, but there is not much we can do.
Remember, the Fedora Project does not support any kind of discrimination.

What do you think?

If possible, please remove the whole thing from the wiki.

Otherwise rephrase it.

Rgds

So, I'm personally happy to look at rephrasing this or making it more general. The goal isn't to offend anyone or tell them they can't expect any help.

The goal was to note that if you are seeking help from an embargoed country it's only friendly to note that so people who could get in trouble for helping you could politely bow out. (Like active duty US military personel).

In every case I have seen of this everyone has been very friendly and polite. Is there a example where this has not been the case? The orig blog post I see has " (lie, make things worse and nobody says anything. " but I have no idea where this comes from?

How about:

"If you are from a nation that is embargoed from the US embargoed nations, you should note to the channel that you are in one of those nations so those helpers who cannot assist you can politely bow out and let others assist.
While you are welcome to ask your questions in #fedora, you may get better support in a region specific channel. See communicate international for a list of such channels."

I'm not sure if that helps much though. Thoughts?

Replying to [comment:3 kevin]:

How about:

"If you are from a nation that is embargoed from the US embargoed nations, you should note to the channel that you are in one of those nations so those helpers who cannot assist you can politely bow out and let others assist.
While you are welcome to ask your questions in #fedora, you may get better support in a region specific channel. See communicate international for a list of such channels."

I'm not sure if that helps much though. Thoughts?

Hi Kevin:

I'm glad to see that you want to help and collaborate with this issue, but I find that this paragraph is as offensive as the original one.

Please, remove it from the wiki, we don't need that rough words, we don't need the posibility of discrimination in the Fedora channel.

All the best,

Germán.

Replying to [comment:3 kevin]:

So, I'm personally happy to look at rephrasing this or making it more general. The goal isn't to offend anyone or tell them they can't expect any help.

I'm glad we both agree on that :-).

The goal was to note that if you are seeking help from an embargoed country it's only friendly to note that so people who could get in trouble for helping you could politely bow out. (Like active duty US military personel).

Sorry, but I fail to see the reason why one should explicitly mention where she is from before asking any question. This is insane. If some U.S. military person decides to join any Fedora channel to help others, she should be responsible for knowing her limitations, and she should be the one worried about what her "free" country will do if she disobeys some order, not the person living in the "evil" country.

My point is that it is absurd to ask the person who wants help to identify herself before asking the question. If someone told you that you should not help people from country X, you are the one responsible for taking care of yourself.

How about:

"If you are from a nation that is embargoed from the US embargoed nations, you should note to the channel that you are in one of those nations so those helpers who cannot assist you can politely bow out and let others assist.
While you are welcome to ask your questions in #fedora, you may get better support in a region specific channel. See communicate international for a list of such channels."

I'm not sure if that helps much though. Thoughts?

Sorry, but the message is still the same. I have already proposed a new way of writing this item (not sure if it is OK, though), but I wouldn't oppose German's suggestion of removing entirely this item, too. It is not necessary, IMHO.

Like I said, I'm fine with dropping this and making it more generic, but I'm not happy with your wording... let me try a counter proposal:

"Volunteers - Keep in mind that helpers in channel are all Volunteers. They may stop assisting you at any time for any number of reasons. Volunteer's should politely let you known when they cannot continue, and you should simply repeat your question or issue for others to start helping with."

Replying to [comment:6 kevin]:

Like I said, I'm fine with dropping this and making it more generic, but I'm not happy with your wording... let me try a counter proposal:

"Volunteers - Keep in mind that helpers in channel are all Volunteers. They may stop assisting you at any time for any number of reasons. Volunteer's should politely let you known when they cannot continue, and you should simply repeat your question or issue for others to start helping with."

Kevin: you seem to be not aware of the other option about removing completely the paragraph. I fail to understand why you insist in keeping this paragraph. Please, can you explain me why?

Well, we have had people in the past with some kind of expectation of support.

Just the other day we had someone saying the "Friends" part of fedora meant that people in channel should immediately go learn about their issue and help them with it, even though it was software no one had heard of and wasn't free.

We have had people maintain that if you start helping someone you are forced to keep helping them until their issue is solved. Thats great in an ideal world, but sometimes people have to step away, or see that their help isn't working with that user and want someone else to try, or simply don't understand the problem.

So, I think personally it's good to have a note about that everyone is doing their best, but they may have to step away. Do you find something objectionable in my proposal in comment 6? If so can you articulate what that is?

Note that this is just my opinion, we will discuss in the meeting tomorrow.. I don't know what others who haven't chimed in here think.

Replying to [comment:8 kevin]:

Well, we have had people in the past with some kind of expectation of support.

Just the other day we had someone saying the "Friends" part of fedora meant that people in channel should immediately go learn about their issue and help them with it, even though it was software no one had heard of and wasn't free.

We have had people maintain that if you start helping someone you are forced to keep helping them until their issue is solved. Thats great in an ideal world, but sometimes people have to step away, or see that their help isn't working with that user and want someone else to try, or simply don't understand the problem.

So, I think personally it's good to have a note about that everyone is doing their best, but they may have to step away. Do you find something objectionable in my proposal in comment 6? If so can you articulate what that is?

Note that this is just my opinion, we will discuss in the meeting tomorrow.. I don't know what others who haven't chimed in here think.

I think Kevin's most recent proposal makes sense. I'm quite active in the channel and this doesn't come up much, but you do have people from time to time who think the channel is something like paid support when it's clearly not. Such people tend to get annoyed if they haven't been helped in a while, or if someone started to assist them and then stopped for whatever reason (The reason isn't important in general as long as the helper bows out politely and lets others take over).

The channel is a just bunch of Fedora users helping each other out. There aren't any compulsions, there aren't any obligations. The text serves to clarify and document this.

Since it doesn't mention embargoed nations at all, which I thought was the crux of the issue here, I think it's OK.

I'm commenting here because I generally do not make it to the irc-sig meetings on account of my time zone.

Thanks,
Warm regards,
Ankur

"Volunteers - Keep in mind that helpers in channel are all Volunteers. They may stop assisting you at any time for any number of reasons. Volunteer's should politely let you known when they cannot continue, and you should simply repeat your question or issue for others to start helping with."

That's very good. +1 to Kevin and Ankursinha
Thank you guys for listening to our suggestion and paying attention to the comments in the ticket.
And congratulations Kevin for the rewriting of the paragraph.

Replying to [comment:6 kevin]:

Like I said, I'm fine with dropping this and making it more generic, but I'm not happy with your wording... let me try a counter proposal:

"Volunteers - Keep in mind that helpers in channel are all Volunteers. They may stop assisting you at any time for any number of reasons. Volunteer's should politely let you known when they cannot continue, and you should simply repeat your question or issue for others to start helping with."

Thanks, this sounds fine for me. I have no other complaints. Thank you for addressing this issue.

Replying to [comment:11 sergiodj]:

Replying to [comment:6 kevin]:

Like I said, I'm fine with dropping this and making it more generic, but I'm not happy with your wording... let me try a counter proposal:

"Volunteers - Keep in mind that helpers in channel are all Volunteers. They may stop assisting you at any time for any number of reasons. Volunteer's should politely let you known when they cannot continue, and you should simply repeat your question or issue for others to start helping with."

Thanks, this sounds fine for me. I have no other complaints. Thank you for addressing this issue.

OK, it is fine to me too. Thanks everyone for your opinions! :)

Germán.

Everyone is ignoring the FACT that these parties in question are not supposed to possess or have access to Fedora in the first place.

I don't give a damn if their "feelings" get hurt reading the Wiki and unable to accept that.

Replying to [comment:13 bjensen]:

Everyone is ignoring the FACT that these parties in question are not supposed to possess or have access to Fedora in the first place.

I don't give a damn if their "feelings" get hurt reading the Wiki and unable to accept that.

Are you INSANE bjensen, or are you just kidding?

Do you not know what an EMBARGO is?

Replying to [comment:13 bjensen]:

Everyone is ignoring the FACT that these parties in question are not supposed to possess or have access to Fedora in the first place.

Well, I believe I should thank you. You actually did a huge favor by raising this problem to my awareness. According to https://fedoraproject.org/get-fedora, when you click in "Export regulations", you see:

By downloading Fedora software, you acknowledge that you understand all of the following: Fedora software and technical information may be subject to the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (the “EAR”) and other U.S. and foreign laws and may not be exported, re-exported or transferred (a) to any country listed in Country Group E:1 in Supplement No. 1 to part 740 of the EAR (currently, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan & Syria); (b) to any prohibited destination or to any end user who has been prohibited from participating in U.S. export transactions by any federal agency of the U.S. government; or (c) for use in connection with the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or rocket systems, space launch vehicles, or sounding rockets, or unmanned air vehicle systems. You may not download Fedora software or technical information if you are located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions. You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions. You are also responsible for compliance with foreign law requirements applicable to the import, export and use of Fedora software and technical information.

The part I am most interested in is this one:

'''You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions.'''

This is clearly wrong, because it assumes that the jurisdiction of the EMBARGO (as you yourself put) is the whole world, which is absurd, fortunately. The Free Software Foundation (and the GPL) also says something interesting about this. If you look at https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html, you will see:

Sometimes government export control regulations and trade sanctions can constrain your freedom to distribute copies of programs internationally. Software developers do not have the power to eliminate or override these restrictions, but what they can and must do is refuse to impose them as conditions of use of the program. In this way, the restrictions will not affect activities and people outside the jurisdictions of these governments. Thus, free software licenses must not require obedience to any nontrivial export regulations as a condition of exercising any of the essential freedoms.

Merely mentioning the existence of export regulations, without making them a condition of the license itself, is acceptable since it does not restrict users. If an export regulation is actually trivial for free software, then requiring it as a condition is not an actual problem; however, it is a potential problem, since a later change in export law could make the requirement nontrivial and thus render the software nonfree.

Again, the interesting part is:

'''In this way, the restrictions will not affect activities and people outside the jurisdictions of these governments. Thus, free software licenses must not require obedience to any nontrivial export regulations as a condition of exercising any of the essential freedoms.'''

In other words, the Fedora Project cannot demand that I, a brazilian citizen, comply with an U.S. law. Therefore, "these parties" in question '''can''' and, if it depends on me, '''will''' possess and have access to Free Software.

I am contacting some nice guys from the Free Software Foundation who will gladly solve this issue with nice guys from the Fedora Project, I am sure. So thank you for bringing this topic to my attention!

I don't give a damn if their "feelings" get hurt reading the Wiki and unable to accept that.

The fact that you don't give a damn to someone's feelings, my fellow human, is an issue I can't fix, unfortunately.

But... you are bound by the agreement you make when you download and/or mirror Fedora to not provide it to parties of embargoed nations...

'''You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions. You are also responsible for compliance with foreign law requirements applicable to the import, export and use of Fedora software and technical information. '''

The ugly fact is that IF Red Hat, the owner and responsible entity of Fedora Project, did it's due diligence to make sure that it's mirrors prevented "these parties" from getting Fedora this would not be much of an issue at all.

Sadly Red Hat plays ostrich and ignores the FACT that the laws that it is bound by are being broken.

This is beyond the scope of this sig/ticket/group.

If you have questions or issues around fedoraproject legal stuff, please mail legal@fedoraproject.org

Replying to [comment:20 kevin]:

This is beyond the scope of this sig/ticket/group.

If you have questions or issues around fedoraproject legal stuff, please mail legal@fedoraproject.org

You are completely right, kevin. Thank you for the patience. I have already contacted the right people about this issue. If the text has been updated on the wiki, then this ticket can be closed. Thanks!

Sorry to hear you found the original entry offensive, this was not our intention.

We are now dealing with this as a priority, but its going to take a little while to contact the relevant parties.

Closing the ticket for now as work-in-progress

Hi dcr226,

Could you please tell us how many weeks has been established to clarify this issue and to change the offending paragraph by the new one?

Many thanks for your cooperation in this ticket.

All the best,

Germán.

Replying to [comment:23 skytux]:

Could you please tell us how many weeks has been established to clarify this issue and to change the offending paragraph by the new one?

I asked for two weeks to have time to find the reason this was added. There is no guarantee that this WILL be changed, however we are looking at the possibility.

-- Bob

I've heard back from legal and changed the text to what they said it should be:

Unfortunately, Red Hat cannot provide Fedora software, documentation or support to individuals in Embargoed Nations, because of US export law.

If you have issues or concerns with this wording, please address them to legal@fedoraproject.org thanks.

Replying to [comment:25 kevin]:

I've heard back from legal and changed the text to what they said it should be:

Unfortunately, Red Hat cannot provide Fedora software, documentation or support to individuals in Embargoed Nations, because of US export law.

If you have issues or concerns with this wording, please address them to legal@fedoraproject.org thanks.

I disagree obviously! It is people from Fedora that give support in IRC channels, not RH...

Replying to [comment:25 kevin]:

I've heard back from legal and changed the text to what they said it should be:

Unfortunately, Red Hat cannot provide Fedora software, documentation or support to individuals in Embargoed Nations, because of US export law.

Well, it's not entirely bad. I think it's a good replacement, though it leaves some room for false interpretations. I think we should add that volunteers may help you, since they're not affiliated to Red Hat, though there is no guarantee.

If you have issues or concerns with this wording, please address them to legal@fedoraproject.org thanks.
Since there is no change in the wording of the paragraph written by them, I think we could discuss this addition in here, could we Kevin?

Best regards,

Replying to [comment:27 mribeirodantas]:

If you have issues or concerns with this wording, please address them to legal@fedoraproject.org thanks.
Since there is no change in the wording of the paragraph written by them, I think we could discuss this addition in here, could we Kevin?

No. We have no control over the wording of that section.

For any changes you want to suggest to that section, please mail legal.

If they decide to change the wording they will let us know.

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