Limiting the use of an OpenSource application

David Johnson david at
Sun Mar 3 04:43:54 UTC 2002

On Saturday 02 March 2002 14:55, John Richter wrote:

> Are there any software licenses that are like OpenSource licenses, but
> restrict the use of the code in certain domains?

There's a whole class of them, but no one's bothered to give them a name. 
Take an open source license, add restrictions on to it, and *don't* call it 
open source.

> I ask this because this requirement puts companies with "ethical
> practices" rules in a strange position. A company might have a rule saying
> that it won't do business with companies that use sweatshop labor, for
> example. They couldn't release any code they wrote as open source, because
> to do so could violate their ethical practices rule (a sweatshop-using
> company might decide to use their open source accounting software, for
> example).

Personal opinion coming up. You have been warned...

To sell a product to a sweatshop is immoral. To deny someone else the ability 
to sell a product to a sweatshop is also immoral. You have the legal and 
moral right to refuse to license your software to anyone. But that is a much 
different thing from telling others what they can or cannot do. Tyranny in 
the name of freedom is still tyranny.

> Does anyone know if there is a sort of "socially responsible" open source
> license (a la socially responsible mutual funds)?

Socially responsible mutual funds do not tell me how I may or may not spend 
my profits.

David Johnson
pgp public key on website
license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list