DRAFT FAQ: Free vs. Open - ethicality

Ernest Prabhakar ernest.prabhakar at gmail.com
Fri Jan 11 20:37:11 UTC 2008

Hi David et al,

On Jan 11, 2008, at 11:20 AM, David Dillard wrote:
>> Indeed.  However, using the GPL and other FSF licenses is not
>> a principle of the FSF; it is a pragmatic means to an end,
>> the end being the freedom of software users.
> Pragmatism and principles are often at odds with one another, but we
> aren't here to debate about the FSF.
> So, getting back to Nigel's post and my response: Presumably, one
> principle of the OSI is to act ethically.  Is it ethical to promote
> something that you believe is unethical?  I don't believe that it is.
> Thus, *if* the OSI believes that open source is ethical and closed
> source is unethical then it should not approve licenses which allow  
> open
> source to be used in closed source applications.  Admittedly, one can
> dispute that the OSI is promoting closed source by doing this, however
> since it would be easy enough to not approve such licenses I believe
> that it does constitute a form of promotion.
> Conversely, I think it would be reasonable to say to Nigel that since
> the OSI does approve licenses that allow open source to be used in
> closed source applications, that demonstrates that the OSI does not
> believe that closed source is unethical.

I think this conversation is getting a bit off-topic.  The OSI has not  
interest in branding particular licensing models "ethical" or "non- 
ethical".  We believe Open Source is (in general) a superior  
development model, but that is all that we (as an organization) take a  
position on.  Various OSI Board Members hold various positions about  
different ethical questions, but the whole point of the OSI is that  
_those_ issues are peripheral to our main position.

If this is somehow non-obvious and in need of a FAQ, please propose  
one. :-)

-- Ernie P. 

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