[License-discuss] Ethical open source licensing - Persona non Grata Preamble

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Fri Feb 21 13:28:41 UTC 2020

On Fri, Feb 21, 2020 at 4:58 AM Johnny A. Solbu <johnny at solbu.net> wrote:

> The moment you add a clause/Preamble like this in a license, it is no
> longer a Free Software license and many distros will refuse to include it.
> The restrictions you suggest will make any software using this license
> proprietary, it will no longer be Free software.

What the OP is proposing is *not* restrictions.  The license remains free
and open source.  Since all licenses require that they be preserved intact
in all modified copies, it is a way to use the license as a virus to spread
the opinions of the licensor, just as the various FSF licenses do.

My concern with it is that license texts are potentially immortal.  Suppose
the preamble says "John Cowan is a bad, nasty guy and we hate him; please
avoid him."  Well, in ten years the licensor's opinion of me may change,
and then what?  And in 100 years, who'll know or care who John Cowan was?

One of the reasons for the non-discrimination clauses of the OSD was
precisely to prevent such unwanted persistence.  A particular software
package (forgive me if I forget its name) had a license provision that
prevented use by the police of South Africa.  After 1994 that  no longer
made sense as an attempt to protest or injure the apartheid regime, as the
regime had fallen.

On Fri, Feb 21, 2020 at 8:23 AM Jim Jagielski <jim at jimjag.com> wrote:

So who defines who is "morally corrupt"? Who exactly is a "bad actor"? What
> is "evil"?

The licensors, just as it's the FSF who tells us in every copy of the GPLv3
that Tivoization is an unacceptable practice.

John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
This great college [Trinity], of this ancient university [Cambridge],
has seen some strange sights. It has seen Wordsworth drunk and Porson
sober. And here am I, a better poet than Porson, and a better scholar
than Wordsworth, somewhere betwixt and between.  --A.E. Housman
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-discuss_lists.opensource.org/attachments/20200221/2844f84f/attachment.html>

More information about the License-discuss mailing list