restricting the use of open source software

Benjamin Rossen b.rossen at
Mon Mar 28 14:01:53 UTC 2005


OSL requires that there be no restrictions on who may use the software and 
what they may use it for, being restrictions arising from the licensing of 
the software. Why should OSL adopt restrictions that may arise because of 
legislation or decree in any one or other country? Clearly we are all bound 
by the law of the country in which we live and of which we are citizens 
(depending, perhaps, on how the law was enacted, whether it is a just law, 
whether it represents the wishes of the people and so on... that is another 
question; you seem to be an American [USA citizen] and so we may reasonably 
conclude that the laws of your country are binding on you and that you agree 
with that. I presume you are not a conscious objector to the laws against 
trade with Iran.). To the degree that one is bound by the law, this does not 
have to be written into any license. Furthermore, that does not detract from 
the OSI principle that no restrictions should be imposed by the license, per 
se. Remember too, that restrictions imposed by the US government, 
irrespective of the inclination of the US government to impose them 
extraterritorially, do not apply to most of the world's population. 

Benjamin Rossen 

On Monday 28 March 2005 15:27, Steve Quinn wrote:
> This brings up a question in my mind... I believe the government puts 
certain restrictions on the use and distribution of software and other US 
based products.  For example, I cannot sell my products to anyone in Iran or 
any one of a number of other countries.  Nor can I sell my product for use in 
a Nuclear facility or military missile installation.  I have been dealing 
with the sale and distribution of a commercial software product for more than 
10 years.  I have worked with a company in India who has asked us to get 
involved in possible deals in a number of Middle East countries.  As we have 
investigated doing so, we found that the government is very particular about 
who we can and cannot sell to.  Has the open source community taken these 
governmental restrictions into consideration?  And if so, where is that 
identified or defined.  And if not, shouldn't we make sure that we are not 
put in jeopardy by allowing someone to download and use software that 
otherwise would be restricted by law?
> Steve

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