Session: Neither Rogues nor Saints: Ethics in Open Source

Open source software has unleashed a flood of innovation and created amazing, worldwide communities. It has also exposed tricky ethical quandaries. Do maintainers owe bug fixes to open source users? Should open source companies relicense code from community users to make more money? Do users have an obligation to be welcoming to other users? To answer these we’ll need to think about what it means to be “ethical” in open source communities. First, we’ll explore a reasonable set of mutual obligations that help communities function better. Next, we’ll discuss how to structure projects to make it easier to uphold obligations without being a saint. Finally we’ll consider how to escape obligations you can’t meet without acting like a rogue. Open source ethics are intensely personal and I don’t claim to have the answers. I hope this talk will help you find them yourself and make your projects better for you and the community around you.

Session Speakers:

Robert Hodges

Robert is a hacker who has been working with computers since he was 12. For most of his professional career he has worked with databases, with forays into distributed systems, QA, and security. He [Read More]