Open-source software is distributed with a licence that generally allows anyone to use, study, change, or share its source code, without restrictions on how the software is used or by whom. The Open Source Initiative, which governs the most widely used open-source licences, even goes so far as to say that this means “giving evil people freedom, too.” Supporters of the Hippocratic Licence and other ethical licences like it believe it is time for programmers to take a less passive approach.
“It’s time for open-source to grow up and start taking responsibility for how it’s being used. We can’t stick to these […] libertarian ideals of ultimate freedom, when we exist in a society where the work that we do impacts others, sometimes in devastating ways,” said Ehmke. “I love the way open-source has transformed the world, and I think it has potential to continue. But we have to get our house in order.”