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

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Feb 23 02:03:11 UTC 2020

Quoting John Cowan (cowan at ccil.org):

> That is true, but not yet applicable.  So far we have only seen a request
> to discuss the idea, and we have discussed it.  No request to draft a
> license has been forthcoming.

The commonality lies in spending everyone's time on what, in my opinion,
and that of most regulars who've weighed in, is a particularly bad idea.
The fact that Eric hasn't _technically_ been drafting licence text
distracts from the point that license-discuss time/effort is better not 
expended on bad ideas.  (Obviously, some others starting with Eric
himself would dispute my assertion of it being a bad idea.  I gladly
acknowledge this, just in anyone is unclear.)

Also, FWIW, I think the distinction about him not yet drafting a licence
is just a bit questionable.  He's discussed particular wording for a
Persona non Grata Preamble (not 'Prelude' as I stated upthread, sorry).
At that point, I would suggest we're talking licence wording, even if
carefully constrained to a NO-OP Preamble prepended solely to make an
ideological point.

(The point is valid that some GNU invariant texts are considerable
annoyances, but we don't have to encourage and help more such things.)

> Very simply, people who have strong emotions about these companies are
> usually against them, whereas people have strong emotions both for and
> against RMS.  Using him as an example would just invite even more
> Sturm und Drang.

My point about that was two-fold.  My larger point is that Richard
Stallman, against whom Eric and some other signatories speaking for
LibrePlanet have a very public and very recent grudge, seems like an
excellent advance indicator of the typical uses to which a Persona non
Grata Preamble would be put, in practice.  We would expect others to
quickly follow following that model, not so much the Exxon-Mobils and
ex-Monsanto Bayers of this world than the -- oh, I'm not sure who else
would be a recent target of two-minutes hates -- Jörg Schilling, maybe,
or was that all over by the late 2000s?  Anyway, the names would
accumulate, gathering dust and reading like the typically grubby and
increasingly antique peeves they mostly would be, I predict, no matter
how prettied-up some were as merely required to make a project more
'safe and inclusive'.[1]

My smaller point is that I am disappointed Eric didn't disclose, while
making his proposal for a way to 'discourage and shame morally corrupt
users', that he'd recently spearheaded a major public anti-Stallman
effort for LibrePlanet, but that this inquiry is different and has
nothing to do with that.

Had I been in Eric's shoes, I'd have said so to avert criticism in
advance, in the knowledge that the first thing attentive readers would
do is look up one's recent writings to look for signs of conflict of
interest or hidden agendas.

If Eric now wishes to say this was not in any way part of his agenda,
fine, but it's curious he didn't anticipate that suspicion.

[1] At some risk of retribution from the gods of irony, I think I'll
advise Eric here about one additional serious problem (among many) in
his Persona non Grata Preamble proposal.  His text included:

  These organizations and their employees are not welcome to participate
  in PROJECT_NAME community. We intend to reject any issue submissions, 
  pull requests and support requests....

Over time, the primacy in any open source code of the right to fork is
going to make the above text look extremely clueless.  Let's say Org A 
compiles a no-goodniks list with finger-wagging text such as is quoted
above.  Two years later, there's a fork, Org B manages the dominant
fork, and Org A dissolves.  Three years further on, it's Org C.  Yet,
the Persona non Grata Preamble for the covered code still proclaims to 
all comers that no-longer-extant Org A, may its memory be for a
blessing, is firmly devoted to extending a non-welcome mat to a certain
list of evil people.  This effect would be amusing if the comedy were
not inadvertent.

Basically, Eric's conception assumes One True Management speaks for a
codebase.  Which is exactly what open source avoids.

Cheers,                          "I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; 
Rick Moen                        I am a vegetarian because I hate plants."
rick at linuxmafia.com                                    -- A. Whitney Brown
McQ! (4x80)        

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