Recently I was reading about embargoes and sanctions on Iran (also this link) and before Sudan, and it got me thinking about how they could impact Open Source Software. Sanctions being applied not only by USA but sometime by other states and unions of countries (EU for example).
I know that equipment from, say, an American manufacturer, could not be supplied to North Korea (for example an Oracle Server or a Cisco router) pending legal action. Thus i wondered if there was anything that restricted the use of an American made Open Source Software in say, North Korea.
What I understood
On the Open Source Initiative website, they state that :
Can I stop "evil people" from using my program?
No. The Open Source Definition specifies that Open Source licenses may not discriminate against persons or groups. Giving everyone freedom means giving evil people freedom, too.
The notion of "good people" and "evil people" is beyond the scope of this question, but this tells me that anybody, anywhere could in fact use it without any troubles at all (talking about only the usage of the software). However, naively, even if I would see the MIT License as an Open Source License, I see it as well, naively, as a License created under US Law by an American Institution (MIT License).
My question is divided as this:
- Can developers from a state under such sanction, use Open Source Software as they want ?
- Could developers of the Open Source Software be sued for the use of their creation by the states under sanction ?
- If a team of developers of another country were to help the developers to use the Open Source Software (support, online help etc.), could they face legal action ?
NB : I am a software developer in Europe, I do not have prior knowledge of international or laws in the USA.