SourceForge versus the Export Laws news flurry has erupted over SourceForge’s policy denying access to users in nations sanctioned by US export law.  A blog states that The Obama administration insisted that Sourceforge adopt this policy — though the restriction in Sourceforge’s terms of service has already been in place for many years.  Sourceforge, of course, is caught in the cross-fire between US export regulation and the open source definition.  But statements that such a policy contravenes open source licenses are misguided — there are plenty of reasons why the rights granted under open source licenses may not be freely exerciseable: regulatory law, trademark law, patent law to name a few.  Those who are complaining about Sourceforge’s actions are probably unaware of the regulations that apply to software, and that they used to be far more egregious before they were revised in the early 1990s.  But the kerfuffle points up that the regulatory policy of the US is counterintuitive and awkward to apply to software.  It strains belief that any nefarious actor would be truly thwarted by a technical limitation on downloading code to a certain location.
The language of Sourceforge’s terms of use is standard in the on-line content industry, and if you read to the end, in almost every on line terms of service and end user license. 


Update 2/19/22: the ZDNet link above broke; here are alternatives:

Syria: Netizens Discuss SourceForge Ban

Author: heatherjmeeker

Technology licensing lawyer, drummer, dancer

%d bloggers like this: