In a recent development, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has taken a firm stance against Meta, accusing the tech giant of misrepresenting its LLaMa 2 AI system as “open source.” The OSI, a global non-profit championing open source software, argues that Meta’s portrayal of LLaMa 2 as open source is misleading. They contend that Meta is conflating the concept of “open source” with “resources available to some users under some conditions.”
LLaMa 2 is not open source
The OSI defines “open source” according to the Open Source Definition (OSD), which stipulates that software under an open source license should not discriminate against any persons, groups, or fields of endeavor. However, Meta’s license for the LLaMa models and code seems to fall short of this standard. The license imposes restrictions on commercial use for some users and limits the application of the model and software for certain purposes.
An authentic open source license, as per the OSI, empowers developers and users to decide how and where to use the technology without needing to engage with another party. However, the commercial limitation embedded in the LLAMA COMMUNITY LICENSE AGREEMENT contradicts this promise inherent in the OSD.
While the OSI does not contest Meta’s desire to limit the use of Llama for competitive purposes, it asserts that this restriction takes the license out of the “open source” category. The OSD does not permit restrictions on the field of use, as it is impossible to predict future developments.
Furthermore, Meta’s policy prohibits use in areas that could potentially be beneficial to society, such as regulated substances and critical infrastructure. This policy further underscores the fact that the license for the Llama LLM does not qualify as an “open source” license, as it is not universally available and not for any purpose.
In response to this controversy, the OSI is initiating a series of events to define “open” in the AI context and is inviting submissions of ideas. This move is expected to foster a clearer understanding of what constitutes “open source” in the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence.
Why LLaMa 2 is not considered open source:
- Misunderstanding of the Term: Meta has confused “open source” with “resources available to some users under some conditions,” which are fundamentally different concepts.
- Non-Compliance with Open Source Definition (OSD):
- LLaMa 2’s license does not meet the specific characteristics defined by the OSD.
- The license discriminates against persons or groups or fields of endeavor (contrary to OSD points 5 and 6).
- Restrictions on Commercial Use:
- The license puts limitations on commercial use for some users, as stated in paragraph 2 of the LLAMA COMMUNITY LICENSE AGREEMENT.
- Restrictions on Purpose of Use:
- The license restricts the use of the model and software for certain purposes (as outlined in the Acceptable Use Policy).
- Such restrictions contradict the OSD’s premise of allowing everyone to share, regardless of who they are.
- Lack of Sovereignty for Users:
- An Open Source license typically allows developers and users to decide how and where to use the technology without needing to engage with another party.
- LLaMa 2’s license does not ensure this sovereignty.
- Prohibition in Specific Fields:
- The Meta policy prohibits use in several areas that might be beneficial to society, such as regulated/controlled substances and use for critical infrastructure.
- Legal Complexity:
- Even a requirement as simple as “you must follow the law” becomes problematic due to inconsistencies and potential injustices in laws across different jurisdictions.
- Limitation on Availability:
- Meta is making some aspects of LLaMa 2 available to some users, but not to everyone, and not for any purpose.
- Contradiction with Open Source Philosophy:
- The commercial limitation in the license agreement is contrary to the OSD’s promise.
- The license’s restrictions on field of use undermine the flexibility and adaptability that have allowed technologies like the Linux kernel to become popular across various fields.
LLaMa 2’s licensing, restrictions on use and other factors place it outside the category of “Open Source,” according to the principles laid out by the Open Source Initiative. To learn more about the Open Source Initiative and its analysis of the documentation relating to LLaMa 2 and it’s open source usability jump over to the official Open Source Initiative website.
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