Software Licenses Revoked

@everyone, As of January 31, 2020, all licenses for my software for Snips are revoked. You may not continue to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the software after that date. If, for some reason, you want to continue using the app, you can contact me (franc6) on the Home Assistant forums ( via a private message. There are no guarantees that I will issue you a new license.

So, why am I posting this, and bothering everyone with a mention? Because, if you’ve developed software for Snips, you might want to revoke your licenses as well. If you released your software under an open source license, and do not revoke the licenses, your software may be subject to distribution by Sonos without any credit to you; at least not that anyone would ever see.

I don’t know about you, but I’m OK with Sonos taking their new toy home, and not letting developers like me play with it anymore. I’m not OK with Sonos selling products that include my software after taking such an action. Had they chosen to keep the console open and available, I wouldn’t be revoking the licenses – I’d be happy if they wanted to distribute the software according to the license granted.

I’m not so conceited as to believe my software is especially valuable, so I don’t expect this to have any real impact on Sonos. However, if everyone revokes their licenses, and if Sonos’ management had been under the mistaken impression that they were purchasing software to do everything that was available on the Snips Console, at least they’ll be awakened to the truth, and have to put in a lot of effort to get things working. Let’s face it – none of the example apps written by Snips personnel actually work with the current version of Snips. :slight_smile:


This is a good idea, so everybody, copy this, fit it to your case and post it just as I did: [Psycho] Software Licenses Revoked

1 Like

I don’t want to spoil your party and IANAL, but as far as I know you can’t “revoke” an open source license:

If you want to prevent Snips/Sonos from using your existing open source work, you’re too late: you shouldn’t have open sourced it in the first place then :wink:

If you still believe in the open source development model, just accept that not everyone is an equally good citizen in the open source world and don’t be bothered by it; channel your energy on positive things instead, like developing or contributing to open source voice assistant projects :slight_smile:

I’m not a lawyer, but in the US, at least, my understanding is that open source licenses can be revoked, as a general rule. The only legal basis for an open source license agreement is the same one that allows for shrink wrap licenses. My understanding is that shrink wrap licenses can be revoked, even though the license didn’t indicate any conditions under which it could be revoked. Even when the license agreement uses terms like “irrevocable” or “for ever” (which the licenses I chose do not), the license can be legally revoked (in the US). It’s been done, more than once.

One of my former employers faced this kind of question once. The lawyers indicated they believed the license (MIT) could be revoked, and they indicated we had to be certain we were not using that code, because the lawyers (who had a monetary stake in the company, too), were confident that any legal action against users of the software would be upheld. There was something about liability for including the software in our software, and being sued by our customers, too.

I note that changes in licensing are also allowed. You can’t do that if you can’t revoke the previous license. :slight_smile: See the arguments surrounding the licensing change for OpenSSL, e.g. There are a number of lawyers prepared to argue they’re allowed to make such a change, and I haven’t heard of anyone with a lawyer claiming otherwise.

The case referenced in the link you posted doesn’t support the comments of the person who gave the answer. Not even a little bit! The appeals court determined that the lower court arrived at its decision incorrectly, not that it arrived at an incorrect decision. Additionally, the court case is on copyright violation due to failure to follow the terms of the license agreement. It’s not about an author claiming someone doesn’t have a license agreement at all. I note that the penultimate sentence of the ruling is likely to serve as a warning to large companies that might violate an open source license granted by an individual. So thanks for posting that link!

Given that I’m in the US, and so is Sonos, I feel confident Sonos’ lawyers will conclude that it’s not worth the risk. And really, given the nature of my software, how could it possibly be worth any risk at all to them?

I do not “believe in the open source development model”. If I did, I’d make use of the GPL. :slight_smile: I release a lot of code under open source licenses because I simply don’t care if or how someone else wants to use it. It’ll be used or not, and as long as it amuses me, that’s what’s important. The action of closing off my ability to make use the code means that it can no longer amuse me. This also has the odd effect of making me care about it.

Additionally, I’ve been in the software business a long time. I’ve seen a lot of cases where company executives fail to understand what exactly they bought when purchasing a software company and/or its assets (see SCO’s purchase of the Santa Cruz Operation, for a nicely convoluted example). I’ve no idea if that was the case with Sonos or not. I would hope a company that’s made as many purchases as Sonos has in the past would be aware of such things, but I don’t know. If they were mistaken about what they purchased, any controversy (including messages like yours, so thank you!) will help to clarify the situation, which is likely to make life easier on Sonos’ development staff, who will likely get to do the things they expected to do, without having to explain why they have to do it. :slight_smile:

Thanks for your extensive reply! I still don’t understand why you would bother doing this, but that’s no problem, you have given me a couple of things to think about, so I’m glad that I replied :slight_smile:

Another interesting article about “taking back” open source code:

Note the conclusion:

At the end of the day, talk of revoking open source licenses is misguided. To paraphrase the character of Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park: angry developers are so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they haven’t stopped to think if they should.

I’ve probably spent too much time with my replies so far. :slight_smile: So, I’ll just re-iterate a few things, since taking so much time with my earlier reply was probably counter-productive to my goal.

  1. I don’t think anyone else should necessarily revoke licenses. But I’ll still “like” posts from anyone who does. :slight_smile:

  2. I think a large number of people revoking licenses might ensure Sonos’ management is aware of the issues – not directly, but through their development staff, the first time they’re asked why it’s taking so long to integrate snips with their products. Face it, snips solves the hard problems, the ones that require a lot of specialized knowledge to solve. None of my apps do that – anyone could write code for the same purposes. :slight_smile:

  3. I don’t think Sonos has done anything wrong. There’s no reason for anyone (including me!) to be angry with Sonos.

Finally, if you see any inconsistencies with my comments, please let me know. Maybe I’m wrong about myself. I’d like to fix that.

I’m not saying you’re wrong or inconsistent :slight_smile:

It’s just that I find this whole license revoking exercise (in this order of importance for me):

  1. pointless
  2. ethically muddy
  3. legally muddy

From your first reply I learned that at least the legal part is more complex than I thought, but I hope you understand that because of 1. and the fact that IANAL I have no interest in discussing all the fine legal details :wink:

I just replied to your first post because I saw it in the community summary email I received yesterday and I had my doubts about it, but other than that I have moved on from the Snips community. So let’s just agree to disagree on the point of your action :slight_smile: