[License-discuss] "Ethical open source" and the Persona Non Grata clause.

Gil Yehuda gyehuda at verizonmedia.com
Mon Feb 24 17:46:40 UTC 2020

OSI has two public email lists related to licensing. One is for review, one
is for discussion. This one is for discussion.

I happen to agree with those here who think conflating "ethics" (or various
proxies thereof) into the open source licenses does great disservice -- in
irony to the benevolent intent of many of those who propose these options.
However, this list is for discussions. In the course of the conversation,
we all learn things -- why, how, and what else -- not just who supports or

The most recent proposal to use a license preamble as shame-vehicle reveals
a potential loophole to the OSD. Currently approved licenses include
terms requiring the redistribution of notice texts. Someone can create
their favorite shitlist and inject it into a notices text. I'm not saying I
like where this is going -- but before declaring a discussion closed, I'm
curious if / how the OSD prevents this from happening.

Tons of respect for those here who literally created this industry we all
enjoy. But one of the reasons this industry is so vibrant is that we are
open to discuss the contributions of others since by so doing, we enrich us
all. In the spirit of understanding licensing mechanisms better, I'm still
curious if someone can get away with creating a license that technically
conforms with the OSD but creates the chilling effects that we'd all want
to avoid (e.g. imagine what someone could put in their notice or license

Gil Yehuda:

On Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 12:13 PM Johnny A. Solbu <johnny at solbu.net> wrote:

> On Monday 24 February 2020 14:44, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
> > I reject the "Persona Non Grata" clause, and all other attempts at
> > so-called "ethical" open-source licensing, in the strongest possible
> > terms.  To get entangled in this sort of thing would not merely
> > be against OSI's charter as expressed in the OSD, it would invite
> > second- and third-order effects that would be gravely harmful.
> Not to mention it makes all software using this clause in a licence
> proprietary software.
> > With whatever moral authority I still have here, I say to all
> > advocates of soi-disant "ethical" licensing not just "No" but "To hell
> > with you *and* the horse you rode in on."
> I could not agree more with Eric's statement.
> I'll repeat here, what I already said in the original thread:
> This clause is Evil. Pure and simple.
> --
> Johnny A. Solbu
> web site,   https://www.solbu.net
> PGP key ID: 0x4F5AD64DFA687324
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