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

Ryan May rmay31 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 15:59:50 EDT 2020


I can respect where this comes from, especially as someone who works in
atmospheric science. I'm glad people are trying to do what they can.

With that said, I am -1000 on this. In my opinion, a software license is a
wholly inappropriate venue for trying to do this. At the top of the home
page for the Free Software Foundation: "Free software developers guarantee
everyone equal rights to their programs". What you're proposing is
essentially "everyone equal rights so long as they aren't working on things
I disagree with". The nobility of the cause in my opinion doesn't justify
compromising the values behind free software.

As someone with some miniscule commits in the numpy codebase, I would not
want them distributed under the modified license. As a developer of other
downstream projects, I would switch to the BSD fork of the project that
would inevitably materialize.


On Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 12:35 PM John Preston <gizmoguy1 at gmail.com> 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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Ryan May
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