non-military use license

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Thu Jan 11 18:56:14 UTC 2007

Just as a license can't require the breaking of the law ["this software may
only be used to kill and maim innocent people" is not a valid provision],
the license need not require that the licensee obey the law ["this software
cannot be used to physically harm or injure others" is unnecessary].

Why does this list spend so much time on hypothetical discussions?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew C. Oliver [mailto:acoliver at]
> Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 10:39 AM
> To: License Discuss
> Subject: Re: non-military use license
> Out of curiosity what if someone were to phrase a license that it the
> software could not be
> used to "physically cause harm or injury to others" rather than
> expressly prohibiting military use.  This might mean that it gets some
> military use but probably would achieve much of what the authors
> intend.  I understand the key concern (although I don't share the same
> general political philosophy), and the OSI concerns, but it seems like
> there ought to be some middle ground that allows a non-discriminatory
> usage clause.   Broadly speaking "not harming or injuring others" seems
> like the kind of usage restriction that might be allowable...
> Granted I agree if the idea is out there and its that good then the
> reimplementation is a trivial matter for a motivated large organization.
> -Andy
> Matthew Garrett wrote:
> > On Fri, Jan 12, 2007 at 12:32:03AM +0800, gilemon wrote:
> >
> >
> >> That's the reason why I'd like to discuss the option on using a license
> that
> >> could protect the source code from being used by the military industry.
> >>
> >
> > Depending on how it's phrased, that would be a breach of either clause 5
> > or 6 of the open source definition. While some people may have moral
> > qualms about the military using their work, other people may have qualms
> > about homosexuals, scientists, people of a specific ethnicity and so on
> > using their work. Rather than get into a debate over which groups of
> > people can be discriminated against, we just forbid all discrimination.
> >
> > Practically speaking, bear in mind that most military groups probably
> > have sufficient resources to "borrow" your ideas and reimplement your
> > work regardless of what license you put it under.
> >
> >
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