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By | Dan Goodin 26th January 2010 07:02

SourceForge bars 5 nations from open source downloads

Some countries more equal than others

Open-source code repository has begun automatically blocking the internet addresses of users from countries such as Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, and Syria in an attempt to enforce a policy forbidding them from downloading free software.

The move infuriated many purists of the free and open-source software movement, who argue such code should be available to anyone willing to uphold the covenants of the licensing agreement. Like Google's open-source code repository, SourceForge terms of service have long barred people from uploading and downloading code if they reside in countries on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list.

Starting last week, SourceForge started blocking certain IP addresses to enforce that prohibition. In a blog post Monday, SourceForge didn't say what prompted the move, but it did claim the change didn't sit well with the organization's ideals.

"However, in addition to participating in the open source community, we also live in the real world, and are governed by the laws of the country in which we are located," the post stated. "Our need to follow those laws supersedes any wishes we might have to make our community as inclusive as possible."

Critics wasted no time lambasting the restriction. One person commenting on the SourceForge blog argued the restriction is a violation of Section 5 of the open source definition which states licenses must not discriminate "against any person or group of persons." Critics also claimed the restrictions fly in the face of comments made last week by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging internet freedom. ®

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