The Hippocratic License: A new software license that prohibits uses that contravene the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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I like this. The UN has declared privacy to be a right and so this license would block companies like Google or Facebook from using the software.

It might even block ad-supported sites like BoingBoing if your advertisers track users.


There is some technology where this license is required. Bad people and organizations will probably not comply but we should still try.

That being said, I am a GPL guy and to think that the project owner will be a judge is a little disconcerting.


Agreed. This is based on the BSD license. If there were one based on the GPL I’d consider using it instead.

You can’t build systems that can be weaponized against marginalized people and take no responsibility for them.

Actually, I can, because that’s how personal responsibility works.

Bill Barr could say Ehmke’s sentence in regard to sex traffickers using software that encrypts communication, and which way would you clutch your pearls then?


This assumes that people who are doing, or going to do, various very much immoral and/or illegal things will be bothered by a mere software license. It’s basically like putting up a “no trespassing” sign to deter psychopathic axe murderers from entering your property and killing you in your sleep, in the hope that they see it and say to themselves “well, in that case …”.

Related is the Nonviolent Public License. It doesn’t lean on the UN for its definitions but it aims for the same goal pretty much.

I prefer free software to include all possible freedoms, and will continue to publish my code under the WTFPL for the time being.

This license is not only in conflict with the definition of the Open Source Software, it also does not comply with the definition of the Free Software. That is, it’s non-free.

It’s fine if you want to prevent human right violations, but a software license is not the way to do that.

Somewhat surprised by the pushback I’ve seen to the idea (both here and in other fora). A lot of it seems to focus on very doctrinaire ideas of what software “freedom” is.

The GPL and other viral licenses have strings attached. What’s more, they work. It’s not unusual to hear of business refusing to adopt some GPL library or package because they’re concerned about that same viral character.

As I said, to me these seem like really dogmatic ideas of what “freedom” is; software can’t be free because it doesn’t fit a specific, contingent and effectively unlimited definition of freedom? And because it seeks to limit the harm that might be done with the software?

Fuck that. As far as I’m concerned, this is no more than a software-specific version of the kind of free-speech absolutism that insists that every reactionary’s ideas deserve a place in the public debate.

Why not? Free software licenses have been and are incredibly valuable, but they were initially designed to protect the authors and users of that software from corporate and monopolistic abuse.

Now that those same licenses are being used to defend the rights of software users to do harm, I see no reason why software authors shouldn’t try to extend those protections to the people affected by our software.

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What’s wrong with dropping freedom 0? IMO the FSF’s never really made a good argument for it, the best they’ve got is “Well it could keep some people from using your software” which is kind of the point.

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