The Ethical Source Movement

This is so nice :hugs:

Software is considered Ethical Source if it meets the following five criteria:

  1. It is freely distributed with source code and can be used or combined with other software without a royalty or fee.
  2. It is developed in public and is welcoming of community contributions.
  3. Its community is governed by a code of conduct that is consistently and fairly enforced.
  4. Its creators have the right to prohibit its use by individuals or organizations engaged in human rights violations or other behavior that they deem unethical.
  5. Its creators have the right to solicit reasonable and voluntary compensation from the communities or institutions that benefit from the software.

It seems that the disgrace of RMS is opening brand new perspectives…


Sounds cool. The idea is to create a license? We were thinking with Leo that it would be cool to have a cooperative license. (Some software that only can be used if it is used in a coop organisation). This sounds good.

That’s an interesting idea but might it be complex to enforce & depend heavily on how co-ops are defined. Is open source is more “self-enforcing”.


I think the key difference is perhaps what is being enforced, the Ethical Source criteria is motivated by the desire to place moral restrictions on the type of people and organisations that are allowed to use the code, whereas free / open source licenses don’t place restrictions of this nature, there are broadly three types of free / open source licenses:

  1. MIT/X11/Apache/BSD style licenses generally require you to preserve the authorship of the code and include a copy of the license if you distribute it, however you don’t have many other restrictions, you are allowed to include the code into proprietary products and distribute these without source code, this is why capitalist corporations such as Apple, Microsoft and Google generally only support and use these permissive licenses — they allow them to do what they wish with the software to make money and they don’t have to share any improvements they make.
  2. GPL/CopyLeft style licenses require you to share any changes you make to the code if you distribute the code and require you to pass on the same rights that you have. Corporations often ban the use of these licenses, they hate them as sharing isn’t something that is in their nature, some people are of the view that Google’s development of an alternative to the GNU/Linux kernel, Google Fuchsia, is motivated by a desire to escape the restrictions of the GPLv2 that the GNU/Linux kernel is released under.
  3. AGPL style licenses these place an additional restriction over and above those of the GPL, if you provide a service that uses code under these terms you have to let the users of the service have access to the code. This is to close the loophole that the likes of Amazon have made billions from — AWS is based on charging people for using free open source software, however they don’t share the improvements they make as they don’t distribute the code.
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I’m not a licenses expert, but I’m interested in this topic. I remembered the Peer to peer license or copyfarleft:

c. You may exercise the rights granted in Section 3 for commercial purposes only if :
i. You are a worker-owned business or worker-owned collective; and
ii. all financial gain, surplus, profits and benefits produced by the business or collective are distributed among the worker-owners

There is an interesting debate here :


Quite a fan of this sort of licensing. It has the virality of say the GPL but what it encourages is not simply exposure of the code but also the organisational format and keeps the cash within the cooperative movement.

Really good quality software of this kind (say if someone did the next Nginx…) could convince some that they need to be a cooperative in order to benefit…

Oh, I didn’t know about that license. Sounds very bueno.