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

Eric Schultz eric at wwahammy.com
Mon Feb 24 17:11:30 UTC 2020


Could you explain where in the non-legally functional Persona non Grata
Preamble that anyone is being "denied" use of the software? I'm not sure I
see that. Shame, annoyed, socially discouraged perhaps but I don't see how
it is "denied".

My horse and myself will be over here waiting for clarification.


On Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 7:44 AM Eric S. Raymond <esr at thyrsus.com> 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.
> This is really what I joined the list to say. The fairness-vs.-mission
> issue I discussed in my previous post, though serious, probably
> wouldn't have been enough to motivate me in itself.
> I initiated the founding of OSI so it could pursue and defend freedom.
> Thomas Paine had an apposite quote: "He that would make his own
> liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he
> violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to
> himself."
> Whatever hypothetical good might be done in individual cases by
> denying the use of open-source code to putatively evil persons and
> organizations would be swamped by the systemic harm from enabling
> people to use open-source licenses in political vendettas.  Because
> such precedent, as Paine understood, always comes back to bite you;
> there would be no end to the feuds, the divisiveness, and the erosion
> of freedom if we went down that path.
> Clauses 5 and 6 are in the OSD in part for that reason, and approving
> mechanisms to end-run them - such as the Persona Non Grata clause -
> would be a direct and egregious violation of OSI's charter and
> my intentions in founding OSI. Such clauses are not even a fit topic
> for *discussion* here outside of a swift recognition that they are
> out of bounds.
> 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."
> --
>                 <a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/">Eric S. Raymond</a>
> As the Founding Fathers knew well, a government that does not trust its
> honest,
> law-abiding, taxpaying citizens with the means of self-defense is not
> itself
> worthy of trust. Laws disarming honest citizens proclaim that the
> government
> is the master, not the servant, of the people.
>         -- Jeff Snyder
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Eric Schultz, Developer and FOSS Advocate
eric at wwahammy.com
Pronouns: He/his/him
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