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SourceForge Clarifies Denial of Site Access 396

Recently there were some complaints from certain users outside the US stating that they were no longer able to access SourceForge.net. SF.net (who shares a corporate overlord with Slashdot) has outlined the reasons for these bans, and until someone with sufficient power to alter US law or the lists governing who is allowed to access what data from where, there is unlikely to be a change in these bans. It is worth noting that SF.net is not alone in these difficulties, as the same problems have been reported from other repositories, like Google Code. "As one of the first companies to promote the adoption and distribution of free and open source software, and one that still puts open source at the center of its corporate ideals, restrictions on the free flow of information rub us the wrong way. 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. Our need to follow those laws supersedes any wishes we might have to make our community as inclusive as possible. The possible penalties for violating these restrictions include fines and imprisonment. Other hosting companies based in the US have similar legal and technical restrictions in place."
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SourceForge Clarifies Denial of Site Access

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  • Failure of thought (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Antidamage ( 1506489 ) * on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:13PM (#30894064) Homepage

    If this rubs SF.net the wrong way so much, why do they continue to operate in the US? Why is SF.net specifically reinforcing their position in the US by adhering to its exclusion of US enemies? Doesn't this make US enemies SF.net enemies?

    To follow hatred, you must be blind. Being blind relieves you from following the natural train of thought outlined above. I wonder which step SF.net stopped thinking at. It was probably the "there's more twinkies in the US" stage.

  • by TofuMatt ( 1105351 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:16PM (#30894108) Homepage

    Would moving the servers, or serving certain countries from another one (Canada? Europe?) help at all? This is obviously incredibly shitty.

  • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:37PM (#30894404) Journal

    There's nothing stopping a separate legal entity from doing so however. So hypothetically, Sourceforge could fork into separately funded/controlled operations to get around the ban. Correct?

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:39PM (#30894442) Journal

    Hosting location does not equal legal liability freedom.

    Couldn't SF.net just incorporate in a country other than the US, using non-US citizens as the principals in the incorporation? Then they wouldn't have to deny access to people just because the US says they should.

    That's one of the ways lots of US corporate "citizens" manage to avoid US laws.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:46PM (#30894560)

    12. No Surrender of Others' Freedom.

    If conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot convey a covered work so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not convey it at all. For example, if you agree to terms that obligate you to collect a royalty for further conveying from those to whom you convey the Program, the only way you could satisfy both those terms and this License would be to refrain entirely from conveying the Program.

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @03:58PM (#30894708) Journal
    Yeah but it gets a bit more inconvenient if you happen to put your project on sourceforge.

    Ironically I just started my first SourceForge project[1] (uploaded files, created repo etc) before I saw this. Still, I guess it'll be a while before the US puts my country on the ban list...

    [1] a win32 python project that allows quick linking of hotkeys to windows (to allow easier switching amongst arbitrary windows - coz I'm just too stupid to learn how to alt-tab quickly amongst 4 or more windows ;) ). Figuring out how to handle MSO2007 Excel/Powerpoint took a while.
  • by 644bd346996 ( 1012333 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @04:08PM (#30894886)

    Which would be more successful for SourceForge: near-universal accessiblity, with some politically imposed limits, or universal accessibility to a site that can't handle the load because they can no longer afford the servers and connection they need?

    Imperfections don't preclude the US from being the best place for SourceForge to be hosted. I'm sure that if they can find a way to cheaply migrate to a country where the political climate isn't likely to produce this kind of problem in the foreseeable future, then they will. But until you can suggest how this might be achieved, I think it's a safe assumption that the US is the best place to base an English-speaking open-source community site that needs lots of servers, fast internet connections, and major financial backing.

  • by Demonantis ( 1340557 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @04:10PM (#30894936)
    It doesn't even matter if they want to be a corporate entity. I worked for an international company that came into close contact with US export laws all the time. You can't ship a product to one country in transit to another country so if they did move they would still have to enforce an export control on the data that was exported. Secondly, US export law also has this wicked "taint" rule to it. If a US corporation(or citizen, I think) provides technical knowledge towards the product then that product can come under US export laws. It made it really hard to tell the US what we were doing as we did not want to deal with US export law when possible.
    The physical location has no bearing on what the US can do to you if you want to deal with them. Just tell that to the "prince" of pot [wikipedia.org].
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Monday January 25, 2010 @05:04PM (#30895718) Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma [wikipedia.org]

    I never said it would be peaches and cream for them to pick up and go to Finland. I merely pointed out that there is direct conflict arrising between operating in the US and their stated objectives.

    I realize it isn't just as simple as moving to Finland.

    I think you and I have different definitions of 'simple.' How do you propose they move to Finland? Lay off everyone (like Malda and the other fine folks of Slashdot) and rehire Finns? Or pay to move everyone to a foreign country? That's not a false dilemma, those are the only two options. Neither one of which is anything remotely approaching the common definition of 'simple.'

  • by makomk ( 752139 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @06:07PM (#30896736) Journal

    There are already mirrors of the downloads hosted by third parties in other countries that SourceForge redirects users in those countries to. Sourceforge has deliberately decided not to do so in this case, for whatever reasons.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.