HEADLINE:  License To Chill -- Hackers Hamstring Rights Violators

SUMMARY:  International hacker organization issues software license that
allows the group or its licensees to take human rights violators to court.

CROSSHAIRS:  This story is important for anyone interested in hacking,
human rights, information security, open-source software, Internet
censorship, international law, international politics, or technology

LUBBOCK, TX, November 25 -- Hacktivismo, an international group of hackers
and human rights activists, today issued the Hacktivismo Enhanced-Source
Software License Agreement (HESSLA).  The license offers open-source
transparency, enhanced by legal remedies both for Hacktivismo, as
licensor, and for end-users.

"The Hacktivismo Enhanced-Source Software License Agreement marks the
first time technology transfer has been linked to protecting human
rights," said Oxblood Ruffin, founder of Hacktivismo.  "Our clients and
end-users aren't building the firewalls to keep democracy out.  They're
locked inside trying to break free."

In contrast with more-traditional "free" or "open-source" software
licenses, the HESSLA contains some novel terms unique to the history of
information technology.  These enhanced terms are designed to promote a
broad range of human rights worldwide, as well as to empower end-users to
seek new and additional remedies against human-rights violations by
governments and governmental officials.

"Hacktivismo has sought to preserve, to the maximum degree, the primary
advantages of 'free' and 'open-source' software," said Eric Grimm, an
attorney with CyberBrief, PLC, who assisted Hacktivismo with drafting the
license.  "These advantages include ease of customization, the ability of
any end-user to redistribute the software to friends and colleagues
without paying any license fees, transparency, and enabling collaboration
among volunteer and commercial developers worldwide."

The license enables both Hacktivismo and its end-users to go to court if
someone tries to use the software in a malicious manner, or to introduce
harmful changes into the software.  It also contains more robust language
than has previously been used to maximize enforcement against governments
around the world.  The HESSLA explicitly prohibits anybody from introducing
"spy-ware, surveillance technology, or other undesirable code into
modified versions of HESSLA-licensed programs.  Additionally, the license
prohibits any use of the software by any government that has any policy or
practice of violating human rights.

The most novel innovation in the license distributes enforcement power
instead of concentrating it in Hacktivismo's hands.  If a private citizen
happens to violate the license, then Hacktivismo is in charge of
enforcement.  But the situation is different if the violation is by a
government or a governmental official.  When Governments subvert human
rights, and try to use Hactivismo-licensed software as part of any aspect
of such a project, then the license empowers end-users act as enforcers

It is not unusual for victims of torture and other human rights abuses in
other countries, to seek a remedy for violations of international law in
U.S. court.  But there's a difference between suing Slobodan
Milosevic, and suing Republica Srpska for the official policies and abuses
of the Milosevic regime. When victims have tried to name foreign
governments as defendants, they have run into a brick wall called
sovereign immunity.  The Hacktivismo license makes it clear that the act
of voluntarily using Hacktivismo software, if it is used by a government
as a part of any project that has the effect of violating human rights,
explicitly constitutes a waiver by that government of its sovereign
immunity in the courts of other countries.

In other words, if Myanmar or China want to keep violating human rights --
then they have no choice but to steer clear from using Hacktivismo's
software in connection with any of their  wrongful projects. If not, then
this software license just may be the victims' long-needed ticket into
court; their pathway over the obstacle to justice previously presented by
sovereign immunity.

Full text of the Hacktivismo Enhanced-Source Software License Agreement is
available at:

Krass Katt

Hacktivismo is a group of international hackers, human rights workers,
artists and others who seek to further the goals of human rights through
technology.  They operate under the aegis of the CULT OF THE DEAD COW
(cDc).  Hacktivismo is committed to developing technologies in support of
the highest standards of human rights.  For more information, please visit

Based in Lubbock, Texas, the CULT OF THE DEAD COW (cDc) is the most
influential hacking group in the world.  The cDc alumni reads like a Who's
Who of hacking and includes a former Presidential advisor on Internet
security, among others.  The group is further distinguished by publishing
the longest running e-zine on the Internet [est. 1984], stretching the
limits of the First Amendment, and fighting anyone or any government that
aspires to limit free speech.  For more information, please visit

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, CyberBrief, PLC is a law firm specializing
in cutting-edge issues at the intersection of law and information technology.
CyberBrief, PLC, has represented clients in high-tech cases in federal
courthouses all over the United States, and provides legal representation to
clients from all over the world.  CyberBrief's hallmark and greatest source
of pride is its generous and resolute commitment to donate time and resources
to public-interest projects and representations involving issues that matter.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:  Hacktivismo would like to express its gratitude to Eric
Grimm for his tireless work and personal generosity in drafting the
Hacktivismo Enhanced-Source Software License Agreement.  Eric was a model of
calm and reason throughout the entire project, and we shall forever be in his