Bad Things Happen Can Happen With Good Software

Mr. Serdar Yegulalp of Information Week recently published the post When Bad Things Happen With Good Software, which says in part:

If you create a piece of open source software and discover that it has been put to use in a way you find personally distasteful or immoral, what would you do about it?

What sort of social stipulations, if any, would you place on your software? Or, if you do already, what are they?

The article raises an important point, and Mr. Yegulalp’s analysis is quite extensive.

The essential aspect of the article can be expressed quite succinctly, with my answers to the questions posed by him in italic:



If you create a piece of open source software and discover that it has been put to use in a way you find personally distasteful or immoral, what would you do about it?

If software is open-source then it must meet the terms of the Open Source Definition. Part of the definition is as follows:

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

You cannot limit how open-source software is used. Them be the rules.


What sort of social stipulations, if any, would you place on your software? Or, if you do already, what are they?

You can’t place any social stipulations on open-source software, as to do so would limit its fields of endeavor. All that is required of the user is that they meet the terms and conditions of the license. No more, no less.


By the way, bad things can also happen with bad software, as is all to often demonstrated by Microsoft.

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