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

Russell Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Sat Feb 29 07:12:41 UTC 2020

There are, as one might expect, multiple aspects of this idea.

Is it legally enforceable? Not even lawyers can answer that question 
because it depends (as Larry Rosen once said) on which side of the bed 
the judge has gotten up on. Probably a better question is whether you 
intend the new terms to be legally enforceable? Eric makes it clear that 
enforceability is immaterial since he does not intend it to restrict 

Well, given that, the entire thing is moot. We deal in licenses which 
give permission to licensees to further sub-license the software. We 
don't have licenses which do not permit would-be licensees to retrieve 
or accept ownership of a copy of the software. We don't have licenses 
which restrict -- in any way -- their use of the software. All of this 
has been hashed out literally decades ago.

If Eric wants somebody to refrain from using his software, he is free to 
ask them to refrain. He doesn't need any change in the Open Source 
licensing regimen. If, however, he ships his software under a modified 
license, even if that license merely importunes people to not use it, he 
has removed himself from the Open Source community.

Given that such a discriminatory importunation (that probably wasn't a 
word until just now) facially violates OSD#5 (or #6, depending), I'm not 
sure that we should welcome discussion of such a thing on opensource.org 
mailing lists. It is simply off-topic. Not good, not bad, just 
off-topic. People might think that we don't hold ALL the terms of the 
OSD in equal stead. Another thing the valuable and useful Larry Rosen 
(former OSI lawyer) said is that if you want a judge to believe you, you 
have to believe yourself. If you don't take yourself seriously, why 
should the judge?

On 2/20/20 9:16 PM, eric at wwahammy.com (Eric Schultz) wrote:
> Over the last few weeks, I've been exploring ideas around ways in which
> licensing could be used for dealing with unethical behavior in FOSS.

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