Forum: Should you restrict use of your software based on your political views ?
2
gravatar for Jean-Karim Heriche
2.6 years ago by
EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
Jean-Karim Heriche15k wrote:

This bioinformatics software got a new license stating that people in some countries are not allowed to use it because of their immigration policy. More generally, should one restrict use of their software in such a way ?

Edit: Do people actually pay attention to the license of the software they use ?

forum • 1.1k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 2.6 years ago by Manuel Landesfeind1.1k • written 2.6 years ago by Jean-Karim Heriche15k
4

The irony of stating that immigration prolongs the inevitable collapse of Capitalism whilst simultaneously asking us to respect his intellectual property and terms of use must be lost on him...

To be honest, if I ever had a reason to use Treefinder, which I don't, I now have a reason not to.

ADD REPLYlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by John12k
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The irony is someone who studies phylogenetics and genealogies having a negative view towards immigration. As if there has been none in the past? The tool in question could be used to show this! So could our (or his) genomes. You would expect that someone studying phylogentics and evolution, and developed tools for the field, would understand the irony there. 

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by SES8.1k
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citing Thomas Keane:

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Pierre Lindenbaum106k
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If you wrote the software, it's your prerogative to establish the terms of its use. Good on him for taking a stand.

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Dan D6.4k
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I agree that he can do whatever he wants. But did you read the actual reason? It is hard to stand behind that. I mean "Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy." Seriously? Sounds like a good reason to boycott his software as far as I am concerned

ADD REPLYlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by Whetting1.5k
3

FWIW typically one cannot retroactively change the license - so if you have installed the tool before and you don't want to get a new version you should be ok to use it. It is another thing of course if you'd still want to use it.

As for the rationale - everyone is free to make their own political views known and then deal with the consequences.

I remember a tool that was licensed only to people that refuse to fly on airplanes on the account of airplanes being  bad for the environment. 

ADD REPLYlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 76k
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I have read it. Whether or not I agree with him is beside the point. He is just as entitled to speak his mind as anyone else, regardless of what you think about it.

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Dan D6.4k
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Sure. I don't think anyone is arguing to censor him. 

He is using his software as the medium to voice his opinions. Good for him. I am sure he expects the potential public scrutiny that comes with that.

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Damian Kao14k

fair enough...

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Whetting1.5k
1

Yeah. Here is an article on this:

http://news.sciencemag.org/europe/2015/09/scientist-revokes-software-license-protest-immigration-friendly-policies

Looks like he has a history of saying some pretty racist things.

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Damian Kao14k
1

No, shame on him. Discriminating against all people from a country and spouting racist views because you disagree with government policies, which the citizens do not control or necessarily support, should never be supported in any form. These are the rantings of a very confused individual and it's important to recognize that.

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by SES8.1k

He can still dictate whatever terms he wants for the license. It doesn't matter if you disagree with the motivation. 

ADD REPLYlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by Dan D6.4k

I don't think anyone was discussing whether he could/should do whatever he wants with the software. That is not really important.

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by SES8.1k

Are we having the same discussion?

The topic of the post:

Should you restrict use of your software based on your political views?

My position:

If you write the software, you can specify whatever terms you want for its use, regardless of whether or not someone else is offended by those terms.

Your statement:

I don't think anyone was discussing whether he could/should do whatever he wants with the software. That is not really important.

Who's the "very confused individual" again?

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Dan D6.4k

Yes, we are talking about different things, maybe I wasn't clear. I believe wholeheartedly that he (or anyone) should have the right to say and believe whatever he/she wants, and do whatever they like with their intellectual property. We don't have to agree with all their actions though and say "good for him/her" for expressing views that discriminate and/or are designed to be harmful. The issue I have is with people saying "good on him" for discriminating against people for things they cannot control (e.g., nationality). You don't have to agree and I completely respect that. EDIT: I wasn't referring to anyone in this thread as confused if that is what you think. I was referring to what has been written by the author of this software.

ADD REPLYlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by SES8.1k
2

In an ideal world, politics would be science-based, and that would be the only connection between the two. However, as authors, people are free to do as they choose. There's a thread also at r/bioinformatics. My opinion in brief: taking in the richest people (those who could afford the trip) is a massive waste of resources, and the problem would be much better addressed by establishing large protected camps in proximity to the conflict areas. By doing the latter, with the same money, at least an order of magnitude more people would receive relief. Also, just so people understand the scale of this mass migration, e.g. my country is prepared to take 50k refugees this year (ca. 1% of total population). Even without family reunification, this already places a big burden on our welfare state model (already facing cuts due to bad economy). Also, the USA almost single-handedly cause the whole crisis by first attacking Iraq (without UN mandate), and then secondly by just leaving a huge power vacuum in the region. Cheney, Bush, Blair, etc., old men tried to justify their attack with evidence they knew was not valid. Will the USA take in and care for at least 3.8M refugees this year?

What goes for licenses, I do my best in e.g. avoiding the use of free for academic use software in commercial projects. However, thankfully the vast majority of good software out there is open source and doesn't include restrictive licenses.

edit. This will be my only politics related post here and none of the above is against any country or individual (except people mentioned by names).

ADD REPLYlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by 5heikki7.2k
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Changed post type to "Forum"

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by Dan D6.4k
3
gravatar for Pierre Lindenbaum
2.6 years ago by
France/Nantes/Institut du Thorax - INSERM UMR1087
Pierre Lindenbaum106k wrote:

answering "Do people actually pay attention to the license of the software they use ?"

Yes I do. A restrictive license can be a problem if you want to modify (+ push) the code, if you want to put your software on the web, or if you want to publish an article using this software and you were not allowed to.

ADD COMMENTlink written 2.6 years ago by Pierre Lindenbaum106k
2

...or you're trying to figure out why the program is breaking, but don't have access to the source code.  I've lost count of how many times I've had this program with scientific code, let alone other software.

It's also a big deal for people at companies, since an awful lot of academic software restricts commercial use.  Ignoring this is just asking to be sued.

ADD REPLYlink written 2.6 years ago by nathaniel.echols30
2
gravatar for Manuel Landesfeind
2.6 years ago by
Freiburg, Germany
Manuel Landesfeind1.1k wrote:

Everyone who creates a product is allowed to define it's limits of use. That is what licenses are for. If you feel uncomfortable with somebody using your product - so be it. If you want to use you product as medium to distribute your opinions - so be it. You might look like a yerk or a racist and your opinion might be - lets just say - "arguable" but that is a completely different story!

Another example: in Germany some universities agreed upon a thing called "Zivilklausel" (german Wikipedia entry) which states to not work on funding provided by military agencies and to prohibit the research results for military use - yeah, I know that it is not working perfectly (yet?).  However, this "Zivilklausel" is also emerging into the field of software development and I got aware of discussions between programmers of open source software arguing to add a statements to their licenses prohibiting the military or SigInt use of their code (the second started after the revelations upon intelligence agencies spying on their own folks etc.).

PS: A few month ago, I changed from academia to industry and had to "abandon" some of tools that I frequently utilized because they are only "free for use in academia". So, my company clearly respects licenses!

ADD COMMENTlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by Manuel Landesfeind1.1k
0
gravatar for cpad0112
2.6 years ago by
cpad01124.5k
cpad01124.5k wrote:

Most of the companies limit their software use/availability based on state politics. Here it is at personal level. I think person or company doesn't matter.

ps: People do pay attention to the software they use. Some of them have draconian use terms, some of them upload statistics, some of them need academic license for free use etc etc. People/Scientists do not want to run into trouble.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 2.6 years ago • written 2.6 years ago by cpad01124.5k
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