[Numpy-discussion] Proposal to add clause to license prohibiting use by oil and gas extraction companies

gyro funch gyromagnetic at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 15:22:20 EDT 2020


I greatly respect the intention, but this is a very slippery slope.

Will you exempt groups within these companies that are working on
'green' technologies (e.g., biofuels)?

Will you add to the license restrictions companies who make use of oil
and gas extracted by these companies (automotive, chemical/polymers, etc.)?

Will you follow the chain from extraction to consumption and add the
links to the license 'blacklist'?


On 7/1/2020 12:34 PM, John Preston wrote:
> Hello all,
> The following proposal was originally issue #16722 on GitHub but at
> the request of Matti Picus I am moving the discussion to this list.
> "NumPy is the fundamental package needed for scientific computing with Python."
> I am asking the NumPy project to leverage its position as a core
> dependency among statistical, numerical, and ML projects, in the
> pursuit of climate justice. It is easy to identify open-source
> software used by the oil and gas industry which relies on NumPy [1]
> [2] , and it is highly likely that NumPy is used in closed-source and
> in-house software at oil and gas extraction companies such as Aramco,
> ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and others. I believe it is possible to use
> software licensing to discourage the use of NumPy and dependent
> packages by companies such as these, and that doing so would frustrate
> the ability of these companies to identify and extract new oil and gas
> reserves.
> I propose NumPy's current BSD 3-Clause license be extended to include
> the following conditions, in line with the Climate Strike License [3]
> :
>     * The Software may not be used in applications and services that
> are used for or
>        aid in the exploration, extraction, refinement, processing, or
> transportation
>        of fossil fuels.
>     * The Software may not be used by companies that rely on fossil
> fuel extraction
>        as their primary means of revenue. This includes but is not
> limited to the
>        companies listed at https://climatestrike.software/blocklist
> I accept that there are issues around adopting such a proposal, including that:
> addition of such clauses violates the Open Source Initiative's
> canonical Open Source Definition, which explicitly excludes licenses
> that limit re-use "in a specific field of endeavor", and therefore if
> these clauses were adopted NumPy would no longer "be open-source" by
> this definition;
> there may be collateral damage among the wider user base and project
> sponsorship, due to the vague nature of the first clause, and this may
> affect the longevity of the project and its standing within the
> Python, numerical, statistical, and ML communities.
> My intention with the opening of this issue is to promote constructive
> discussion of the use of software licensing -- and other measures --
> for working towards climate justice -- and other forms of justice --
> in the context of NumPy and other popular open-source libraries. Some
> people will say that NumPy is "just a tool" and that it sits
> independent of how it is used, but due to its utility and its
> influence as a major open-source library, I think it is essential that
> we consider the position of the Climate Strike License authors, that
> "as tech workers, we should take responsibility in how our software is
> used".
> Many thanks to all of the contributors who have put so much time and
> energy into NumPy. ✨ ❤️ 😃
> [1] https://github.com/gazprom-neft/petroflow
> [2] https://github.com/climate-strike/analysis
> [3] https://github.com/climate-strike/license
> _______________________________________________
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> NumPy-Discussion at python.org
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