Subject: RE: OSD#5 needs a patch?
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2003 09:01:53 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 8 Oct 2003, Lawrence E. Rosen wrote:
> 6. Open source licenses may not discriminate against persons or groups,
> fields of endeavor or types and brands of technology.
> Proponents of open source software insist that software not be a
> battleground on which political or philosophical or business wars are waged.
> In many jurisdictions around the world, discrimination on the basis of race,
> age, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, health status, and
> other personal characteristics is always illegal.  This open source
> principle is intended to extend that broad list, not to replace it.  To be
> consistent with this open source principle, all terms and conditions of the
> license must demonstrably encourage rather than discourage software freedom
> for all licensees.

My concern is that even with the explanation, simply stating that the
license "must not discriminate against persons or groups", without
explaining the *basis* on which the license must not discriminate, is
still too vague, as nearly any criteria one could put in a license leads
to a "discrimination" between one party and another.

I think we need to be specific about what basis a license is not allowed
to "discriminate" against.  It's not hard.  Furthermore the rule should be
able to stand on its own when analyzing a license and not require the
explanation to get the complete picture.   A suggestion:

  Open source licenses must not deny any part of the license to any person
  group based on that person's or group's vocation, nationality, language,
  name, age or any other biological attribute.

I think this captures the intent behind the original example ("This
software may not be used by the South African Police").  I think
"vocation" is a much better term for this purpose than "fields of
endeavor", for I may "endeavor" to a business model that requires me to
combine GPL and proprietary code.

Your example also included "types and brands of technology".  Is an
application that attempts to link to a GPL'd library a type of technology?
I think licenses that would seek to block specific companies, e.g. "no
one from IBM may use this software" would be prevented by the "group's
name" term.

I echo the other comments that state that existing OS license *have* been
used to promote specific political or economic philosophies, by favoring
specific definitions of software freedom.


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