Open source licenses that forbid use by bad actors:

(Of course, they add nuclear energy to the list of forbidden activities which, given climate change, is maybe not a good option.)

I guess the term "open source" doesn't really apply to these since the OSI forbids restricting fields of endeavor.

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@suetanvil Exactly... these are laudable attempts, but the terms are incompatible with Open Source and Free Software, both at the legal level and the philosophical.


Philosophically, Free Software is ultimately about improving the lives of everyone so if you can do that better by adding more restrictions, I'm for it.

My default assumption has kind of been that FOSS is a good compromise and moral restrictions are a net loss because they diminish its moral use. Analogous to how non-commercial licenses tend to kill developer communities.

But I'm starting to question that. Maybe there's room to improve.


What if the GPL had a clause saying that users must take reasonable steps to prevent this software from being used to cause, aid or incite violence or other significant harm against a person or group of people? Would that seriously impede it?

Maybe it means Linux can't be used in missile guidance systems but I don't really see a problem with that.

@suetanvil I cannot speak for FOSS in general, but my opinion is: the decision not to impose ones' morals and ethics on others, is itself a valid ethical stance.

We all have strongly held opinions, whether we're vegan or poor or pacifist or fundamental Christian or gay or nazi.

Agreeing to disagree, so we can together build useful things that benefit everyone, is one way to respect diversity of opinion and still make the world a better place.

That's my philosophical take.

(to be cont'd)

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@suetanvil The practical take is:

Once you start putting restrictions on use like this into the software license, they will proliferate and the group of users who can use the combination of tools A, B, F and Z will rapidly approach to zero.

This problem happened in practice, with the much less onerous advertising clauses that used to be in the BSD family of licenses.

This stuff quickly makes collaboration between projects very hard.


@suetanvil That said, I fully respect peoples right to license their work any way they see fit.

I myself might be tempted to use a hypothetical Pacifist Shared Software License for some projects. But only for some projects.

I think it's a problem space worth exploring further, but I don't think such licenses will be able to have the positive impact we've seen from the traditional FOSS approach.


I'll point out that the GNU GPL is already a moral stance. Stallman believes that proprietary software is immoral and the GPL is a direct result of that.

And agree or disagree, it hasn't hindered collaboration and has as a whole been a force for good.

So maybe there are other basic moral positions that can also be encoded. Is it really onerous if you are forbidden from using the software to commit violent crimes?

And yet, a clause like that could probably have locked out Gab.

@HerraBRE @suetanvil I know you're going to be upset for me saying this, but I don't want to agree to disagree with Nazis about my right to live.

I hope you can respect that?

@maloki Yes, I'm vaguely upset, because I think you're trying to pick a fight. Please don't.

Nothing I wrote implied that I intended to impose my opinions on you. Quite the opposite in fact.

So you do you.

@HerraBRE Saying "agreeing to disagree, so we can together build useful things that benefit everyone" is a very... finely worded way of saying "your existence as a person matters less than building cool stuff". so. no. We can't "agree to disagree". Saying you are neutral in political matters goes exactly one way: it gives power to the oppressors. Every. Single. Time. Never once in history has this been different.
Don't wanna feel like people are picking fights with you? Then don't damn well say that a queer person saying "i just want to live" is the same as a fucking nazi saying "well you shouldn't live because i *don't like you and don't want you to*."

doesn't matter if you want to impose your opinions on others. you posted it, on a public (if maybe unlisted) timeline and that, in public -- saying "agree to disagree" -- gives the oppressors power.

@lindsays You're putting words in my mouth. Please stop.

I didn't say I was neutral. I'm not neutral, I have many strongly held opinions and suspect I agree with you on most of the things you care strongly about.

But I still consider pacifism and similar neutral ideologies, such as are common in academia and yes, in FOSS, to be ethically valid.

If you really think I'm an enemy, please just block me. I'd rather you didn't, because I enjoy what you have to say, but it's your call. โค๏ธ

@HerraBRE if i didn't care about having you as a mutual/friend and largely appreciate what you have to say, i already woulda burned the bridge, blocked you, and salted the earth. Except that i do care.

Do you realize that an absolutely enormous portion of both academia and FOSS are cishet white men? These are men who have a majority population on many portions of the globe, and their pacifism and "neutral" ideologies are not affected by the reality the rest of us have to deal with. They're not the ones who get put in concentration camps, they're not the ones who get sent to the gas chambers. They don't get thrown off roofs because of who they are.
being in the majority means that the backlash from their "neutral" ideologies isn't anything they have to experience, while the rest of us who *aren't* the majority do experience it. they aren't neutral, their ideologies aren't neutral, and their pacifism is an easy way of washing their hands of the results of their ideologies.

but if you already know that, and still feel that way... then this is pointless and i'd like to know that.

@lindsays I know all those things, and I still think it's worth engaging with and (carefully) including people who hold horrid views, if only because it's the only way there's hope they'll change.

As a person with privilege, who is not at risk, I am in a position to do that. I'm not saying I expect everyone to do this. And I'm still going to iron fist enforce a CoC in my projects, and look out for my people.

I also intend to give blood. I won't be asking about the politics of the recipients.

@lindsays If you think my attitude towards donating blood is ethically bankrupt, then block away my friend.

Block away. I'm not arguing this further.

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