Strangely enough, an open source developer seems to be doing just that- he’s adding an exclusion that forbids someone he’s in a legal argument with to use the open source project he develops. I first saw this mentioned on the ZDNet Blogs which pointed to TechCrunch– and my first reaction was to laugh. But it’s really not funny. It’s mostly sad.

Software licenses are all about restrictions- restrictions on use, on liability, on rights. The “bad guys” like Microsoft use licenses to say “you must buy this software”. Now iText says “you must not be in the Belgian government.” We already have similar restrictions in licenses- for countries that sponsor terrorism, etc., certain software is illegal to use by people in those countries. And I’m certain when they see that in the license agreement and cancel the installation, cursing such a specific restriction. In short I think such restrictions are ineffective.

Make your software license more open- not less so. It’s what you would want if you needed to use it!

Wouldn’t it be more effective/funny to write something into the software that whenever it spotted the word Belgium, it refused to display it? 🙂