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PETA Creates New Animal-Friendly Software License 356

Anders writes "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the largest animal rights organization in the world, endorse a new FLOSS license. From the article: 'The Harm-Less Permissive License (HPL) is a permissive, non copyleft, software license. It is based on the FreeBSD license but with one additional restriction; the "harm-less" clause. It prevents software, licensed under the HPL, to be used for harming humans or animals.'" I guess this leaves the bunny-fueled power plant in Stockholm out in the cold.
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PETA Creates New Animal-Friendly Software License

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  • FLOSS software? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:35PM (#32295576)

    It is not free software. If you want to promote free software, you also have to make it available to parties or uses you might disagree with. Otherwise it is not free.

    • Re:FLOSS software? (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:41PM (#32295674) Journal
      They seem to be aware of that:
      "As great as we think this license is, it has a number of limitations and drawbacks: * It's incompatible with the Open Source Initiatives (OSI) definition of open-source software, since it does not comply with their 6th condition "No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor". * It is not considered "free software" according to the Free Software Foundation (FSF), since it does not comply with their requirement "The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0)". * It adds to the problematic proliferation of software licenses in the open-source community. * It is not compatible with any version of GPL. This is a major drawback, since it prevents the combination of HPL and GPL licensed software. Read a good argument for why software should comply with GPL in the article "Make Your Open Source Software GPL-Compatible. Or Else.".
      • Someone obviously did their homework here W.R.T. software licenses. My guess is that the name mentioned at the bottom of the license page [] (Anders '4ZM' Sundman) is someone who works with FLOSS licenses often, and (like many of us on /.) can easily rattle these concerns off pretty easily.

        Still, I'm impressed that PETA would allow that kind of critical analysis on the license page. Usually advocacy groups concentrate on the advantages of their position, and avoid active pro/con debate, at least on official pa

    • Re:FLOSS software? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tiger4 ( 840741 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:52PM (#32295880)

      PETA is anti-free all on their own. By definition, they want to people to either voluntarily, or by restriction of law, to behave in their version of "Ethical" or face serious consequences. Most reasonable people oppose animal cruelty and torture. But PETA's definition and most everyone else's are far different things, as in No pets, No work animals, Veganism for all.

      It is a silly, shabby, and soon to be ineffective ploy for attention whoring.

      • True, but I have a funny feeling you might agree with PETA's stance on hunting tigers :P

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'll take it even further. A number of years I was asked to "debate" a member of PETA in a local hogh school. I was representing a local ag group. The PETA rep quite pointedly said that if she could get away with it she would "cut the brake lines on your car if in some way your death would help save animals". (Which is also why I'm posting as AC!)

    • Yup. Freedom 0 (to use the FSF's nomenclature), the freedom to use software for any use, should be absolute. That is what distinguishes a distribution licence (like the GPL) from an EULA. EULA's should be illegal, in my opinion. You should not have to accept a licence to use software that you obtained legally, a principle which is adhered to by every free software licence.
    • It is not free software. If you want to promote free software, you also have to make it available to parties or uses you might disagree with. Otherwise it is not free.

      Sure, because it's written as something that you can't do rather than extra responsibilities you sometimes have. They'd probably be fine if they rewrote that section to say that any person or animal about to be harmed by use of the software, must first have the opportunity to replace it with their own modified version...

  • Thats nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the_one_wesp ( 1785252 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:38PM (#32295618)
    But in order for it to matter, someone has to USE it.
    • If they program a great software for sorting and handling animals in animal shelters, they've effectively made it that anyone who uses the software cannot euthanize animals. Not a bad move, though it could open a whole can of worms.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        This license may not be used for the opening of cans of worms, as it may harm the precious creatures during the opening phase.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RatBastard ( 949 )

        Too bad PETA routinely euthanizes animals by the thousands. They classify these poor animals as unadoptable.

        • You mean the SPCA??? As far as I know, PETA is just a militant web site that's better at grabbing headlines than the SPCA.
        • They classify these poor animals as unadoptable.

          I classify them as "the enemy."

      • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @02:14PM (#32296230)

        If they program a great software for sorting and handling animals in animal shelters, they've effectively made it that anyone who uses the software cannot euthanize animals. Not a bad move, though it could open a whole can of worms.

        Fortunately PETA is rabidly against canning worms, so that problem will solve itself!

    • HPL is not a free software license. But one way to use it is as part of a multi-license to force downstream users to choose between not harming animals and not harming other developers. Dual-license your software under HPL (a pro-animal rights license based on BSD) and the Sleepycat License [] (a copyleft license based on BSD), and the developers of products intended for causing bodily harm will have to free their changes to your code.
    • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )
      Well, I wouldn't want my work to be used to kill and maim someone, and I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way. The licence may be a bit to restrictive for my tastes, as I have no objection to testing medicine on animals, but I wouldn't mind telling the military (of whatever nation) to go screw themselves. Naturally, that would assume that the military would honor the licence (and want to use something I wrote), but that is another story entirely.
      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Mod parent -1 ad hominem and stupid.

        The US Military is actually one of the organizations that *does* honor licenses.

  • I like PETA but.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:38PM (#32295626) Homepage Journal

    I don't think PETA should be wading into the waters of making a new license - the mess they make in doing so is not worth the negligible benefit for the cause of animal welfare they're trying to serve.

    If we had a time machine and could hop back in time to make initial versions of the GPL involve a broader cultural conscience, *maybe* this kind of thing would be appropriate, but it's too late now and adding another license that's likely to be incompatible with the GPL means that this is the license equivalent of "straight to videocasette".

    • I should note that I support PETA's goals and have nuanced/partial support for ALF/ELF, I just don't think this could possibly be effective.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )

        I don't like PETA and think folks who are convicted of eco-terror should be sent to Gitmo.

    • For every problem, there is at least one solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

      And another sig becomes eerily appropriate ...

    • I suspect that this action is one part "Hey, assuming you don't need strong legal assurance, writing a license is trivial" and one part "PETA likes publicity.

      If PETA had devoted major resources to getting into software licensing, that would obviously be stupid. However, this seems to fairly clearly be the product of a single animal-rights enthusiast who just decided to write a quick mod of the standard BSD license. Probably took an afternoon, and was done on that individual's initiative. Once done, it is
    • I'm a fairly radical leftist and even I find PETA to be utterly ridiculous and ineffective. They harm their own cause with their hard line stance and near-terrorist (some would say, get rid of the 'near' part) actions. Sea Kittens? [] Really? And PETA have 'rescued' animals, only to let them die because they did not know how to care for them or did not have the resources. They are buffoons.

      If you want to support a legitimate group with the same or very similar goals, support the SPCA I'm all about reducing suffering and cruelty, in animals and humans. But animals are delicious. An animal, raised right by humans for food, suffers FAR LESS than its wild counterpart. Being raised by a good rancher is a great bargain for a cow. A pleasant life with plentiful food and no predation, in exchange for a quick and painless death. If I were a cow, I'd take that over constant fear of predators and the threat of starvation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        > If I were a cow, I'd take that over constant fear of predators and the threat of starvation.

        You pre-ordered and iPad, didn't you?

      • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @02:12PM (#32296198) Homepage

        and still can't stand PETA. "Buffoons" is the best way I've heard them described. Lavish expenses while they euthanize pets brought to them with the expectation of care. Financial support and a personnel revolving door with the ELF/ALF/HSUS crowd. Ridiculous campaigns that will only appeal to young children which seems appropriate to them since they often leaflet K-6 institutions and events with graphic material.

        For every friend they make and funnel into a life of sad social marginality and constant maudlinity, they make a dozen enemies that after having contact with PETA will never, ever consider going vegetarian or vegan for any reason whatsoever.

      • and near-terrorist (some would say, get rid of the 'near' part) actions.

        Let's list terrorist-like actions they have done. I'll let you start.

        • by topham ( 32406 )

          They give money to ELF.

          • And who does this harm? Who has been killed?
      • Sea Kittens?

        Much as I dislike PETA's immature, attention-whoring, hardline, hypocritical, etc. etc. stance in general, the "sea kittens" thing at least (somewhat) raises the issue about people's double standards when it comes to animal cruelty, etc. Let's be honest, if you're a cute animal, you'll get *way* more people fighting to protect you. Baby seals vs. nasty looking insects? No competition.

      • I have spoken to many a cow regarding this subject matter. The general consensus amongst them was "MmmmmmoooOOOOOOooooo".

        Take that as you may, I think we can all agree that PETA is crazy.

      • by bmajik ( 96670 )

        Well, the obvious critique of your post is this

        An animal, raised right by humans for food, suffers FAR LESS than its wild counterpart. Being raised by a good rancher is a great bargain for a cow. A pleasant life with plentiful food and no predation, in exchange for a quick and painless death. If I were a cow, I'd take that over constant fear of predators and the threat of starvation

        Here, let me fix that for you

        A black slave, raised right by humans for work, suffers FAR LESS than its wild counterpart. Bein

    • I don't think PETA should be wading into the waters of making a new license

      As with virtually everything PETA do, the license is simply a means to an end, that being to get themselves and their message into the papers on the back of a story.

      They're undeniably good at that, though whether it ultimately benefits or weakens their ostensible goal is strongly open to question.

      Anyway, I'm sure that they'd be happy if the license took off for its own sake, but that wasn't the reason they created and launched it like that.

      License proliferation is only a problem if a license is likely

    • Open Source licenses are not allowed to discriminate against fields of endeavor. When I was writing the Open Source Definition, there were Berkeley SPICE license that prohibited use by the Police of South Africa. Apartheid had ended, those Police were Black, and they were still prohibited.

      I didn't want to see anti-abortion licenses and pro-choice licenses, etc. Just licenses for software that people could use without having to read the license or ask a lawyer.

      Too bad that software patents broke the "not ha

  • by masterwit ( 1800118 ) * on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:39PM (#32295636) Journal

    I'll be sure to "FLOSS" after eating my delicious manly steak tyvm.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You can no longer pen them in cages to achieve the desired marbling. This confines this license to small projects.

  • Whether or not it's in the license, if PETA finds out that you're harming animals with ANYTHING they're gonna get all up on, and sue you anyway. So what difference does it really make if it's in a license or not?
    • It gives companies another way to show their support for animal rights. It may just be a token gesture, but it's there nonetheless.

    • which is really kinda ironic considering how many animals they put to death each year themselves.

    • Because euthanizing animals isn't a crime in most states. But if you break their license, well, that is a crime.

  • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:41PM (#32295678) Homepage Journal

    I refuse to use software that's been tested on animals.

    I've seen video from hidden cameras of researchers stuffing javascript into bunnies eyes and ears. It's horrific.

  • by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:42PM (#32295700)

    I misread that as hamless and thought it was a Moslem/Jewish licence!

    • Interesting idea, but I'd really miss the bacon-double cheese software I've been enjoying recently. I'm such a bad Jew.

  • Not "free" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by isilrion ( 814117 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:42PM (#32295712)

    endorse a new FLOSS license. [...] It prevents software, licensed under the HPL, to be used for harming humans or animals.

    Then it is not a FLOSS license. It restricts use ("freedom 0"), however noble the cause may be. (emphasis in "may"). It may not even be an EULA instead of a Licence.

  • Define 'Harm' (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:42PM (#32295716)

    I'm reminded of Asimov's 0th law of robotics, "A robot may not harm humanity or through inaction allow humanity to come to harm". Hunting deer, for instance, certainly harms the deer that are killed but in many areas the natural predators have been all but wiped out and not hunting would lead to massive overpopulation. Eventually causing much more harm to both the animals not being hunted and to the ecosystem in general.

    So, what is 'harm'? Is a nuclear power plant harmful to humans or animals? Is a prison harmful to humans or helpful? How about a nuclear power plant? How about a video game that depicts the harming of humans or animals?

    • by Tiger4 ( 840741 )

      By the way, what's with the distinction between human and animal? Hearts (or pumping organ), blood (or some kind of circulating fluid), bodies (or protoplasm) we're all just members of the same kingdom, right?

      The Protists, Plants, and Fungi can get stuffed, but we Animals all hang together!

      • Sapience. If you are sentient you get all the rights of any free person.

        The next level to me is the ability to feel pain. If a species can feel pain, we shouldn't necessarily and cruelly afflict it. That doesn't mean I won't breed or euthanize (mmm steak), but I want it done "humanely" (whatever that means).

        Below that it's all a blur. I don't think insects or crustaceans able to feel pain, so I treat them just like I do plants - killable when I feel like it. (Not that I don't get upset if a plant I've

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If I use this license, I am using a computer, which uses energy, which expends carbon dioxide from coal production, which harms the environment, which harms animals living in that environment. Am I legally unable to apply this license of my own volition?

    If I use this license to create an alarm clock to wake people up, is that harm enough to them? Are they considered animals for the purpose of this license?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PitaBred ( 632671 )

      It's PETA. Of course humans don't count as animals. They'd prefer all humans on earth to just die and let the animals live in peace and harmony and never experience pain or fear again.

      Yes, they are that stupid.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:43PM (#32295736)

    "No mules were flogged in the making of this software."

  • It's not free software if you can only use it for some things (for which reason labeling this license ('permissive' is an absolute joke). Open-Source I'll grant, but please don't lump it in with the FLOSS acronym.

    It's also not particularly unique. Extending the 'no-harm' clause of the license to animals is an interesting novelty, but such clauses are not at all unprecedented.

    It's not as though it's a serious attempt to influence software development anyway -few PETA things are ever anything more than public

  • So I have to go to proprietary software to run my killbots?
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:45PM (#32295782)

    If you're going to use the rights granted under the license, you then must grant those same rights to others. Unfortunately, this license does not grant the right to be free from harm - so it doesn't make sense to address causing or not causing harm as a responsibility.

    Still, it's a contract, and you can say pretty much whatever you want in a contract - the real goal would seem to be to make it expensive for people to disagree with PETA's stances (whatever they happen to be at the moment), which tends to be the real goal of most contracts.

    Ryan Fenton

    • by Arker ( 91948 )
      NO. A license is NOT a contract. A contract is (at least) two-sided, created by agreement between the parties, "party A does Z and in return party B will do X." A license is one-sided, take it or leave it, "party A grants permission for X under Y conditions."
  • 6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor []

    The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

    Since it violates one of the key elements of the definition of Open Source this is not an Open Source license, and clearly _not_ a Free/Libre Open Source Software license.

    I think it may even violate Wheaton's First Rule [], the one about being

  • The animals are to be protected, but the end-user humans are SoL? *and* it's known by its developers to be GPL-incompatible? ( Guess I can see their priorities.
  • by Infernal Device ( 865066 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:50PM (#32295848) [] [] []

    and so on and so forth.

    Fuck PETA. I feel my money and time would be better spent supporting the ASPCA. At least they don't make me want to cringe every time I hear or read about them.

    I've pretty much reached the point where I equate PETA to Scientology. They're both a bunch of loonies with more money than sense.

    • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @02:23PM (#32296356) Homepage

      more a kooky religion than anything else. In the mid 2000's I ended up being closely associated for career reasons with several people inside PETA, a couple of coordinators and some field workers, and had a chance to lunch with them a few times.

      Their "ethical" position as we talked was that all pets must die and pet ownership ended, because it is inherently a form of suffering to lead the "unnatural" life of a pet. Furthermore, they carried this largely to humans; they made snide comments about people around us with children and often linked having children to the creation of suffering, since to live is to suffer (and therefore to create a human is to cause them suffering). They agreed that they could never take part in such an unethical thing.

      Anytime you get into "all of humanity ought to die out because all humans do is suffer; oh, how glorious a world without humans and thus human suffering would finally be," you're deeply into cult territory, which matches up well with PETA's tendency to impose pressure on employees to end contact with intentionally non-vegan/non-vegetarian friends and family members.

  • Bringing "do no harm" into a software licence will(assuming anything other than toy software every gets thus licensed) really give the courts some exercise.

    Ethics has, more or less since its inception, been tying itself in knots with ever subtler and more clever hypothetical conundra concerning harm, what it is, whether one can inflict lesser harm to avert greater, etc. Even better, to know whether you are "harming" something, you pretty much have to have decided what that something's interests are.

    • Also potentially amusing, this is perhaps the only software license I know(other than perhaps the not-publicly-disclosed ones regarding DRM system robustness), where a software bug could put you in violation of the license.

      Read the license. It mentions intent to cause bodily harm. A clearer example of bug == violation is AGPL section 13 [], which puts you in violation if you break "view source".

  • A big problem with this kind of license is that it doesn't work well with other licenses, like the GPL, that don't allow people to add restrictions. If you wanted to combine HPL and GPL code in a program, you couldn't do it - making it GPL would violate the HPL; making it HPL or "GPL-plus-don't-hurt-animals" would violate the GPL.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... Fuck PETA. Fuck them right up their stupid terrorism-supporting asses. Until that vile cunt ringleader who is dependent on animal-derived insulin gives it up and just accepts the fact the she was born defective and the natural pecking order has singled her out for death, then they can all just eat me. If all animals are equal to us, then she can just suck it up and die.

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @02:00PM (#32296010)

    Use of any software consumes power and requires hardware. The creation of the power or the hardware for the creation of the power or the system hardware itself required the destruction of some component of the environment.

    Also the consumption of power emits waste heat which contributes to global warming.

    The plain simple fact is software in general is bad for animals.

  • Given the number of them which are euthanized: []

    To see their hypocrisy, look at the statements made by their lawyers in the trial of PETA employees, or by their president, "We are not in the home finding business, although it is certainly true that we do find homes from time to time for the kind of animals people are looking for. Our service is to provide a peaceful and painless death to animals who no one wants."
    -- Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA President, The Virginian-Pilot, July 20,

    • Our service is to provide a peaceful and painless death to animals who no one wants.

      They should not only not condemn, but wholeheartedly endorse kosher slaughterhouses since their service is to provide a peaceful and painless death to animals - not for liberal "think of the animals" guilt complexes, but because a peaceful, painless death provides better meat for other animals (homo sapiens) to eat - we are omnivorous animals - go look it up, PeTA wackos! The only difference here is that the carcasses of the

  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @02:12PM (#32296194) Homepage

    This license is a permissive license, similar to the BSD license; however it requires at least one animal sacrifice when software is distributed. Note: 1 human sacrifice can be used to create a pool of 10 animal sacrifices. This reduces the amount of cleanup required.

  • Attention whores (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @02:15PM (#32296248)
    I've been vegetarian nearly my entire life and vegan for several years, and I have to say that PETA annoys me to no end. One attention seeking stunt after another, and might I add, several that make animal-rights advocates look downright petty. This looks like yet another stunt by them, trying to stay relevant, and get as much exposure as possible. I often interact with people who assume I like what PETA does, but I should say here that I am far from alone, as an animal rights advocate, and as a vegan, when I express my dislike of their tactics. But beyond attention-whoring tactics, they are also intensely hypocritical (google for PETA stockholders Tyson foods). I hope they die soon.
  • I'm from a species classified as an animal. Part of being an animal is we eat other living things - or living things that were recently alive...

    I eat other life forms. I don't have an irrational bias that eliminates entire classes of food energy. As a sensitive, enlightened, 21st century animal, I choose not to let prejudices decide what living things I eat. If it will keep my body going, I'll consume it as a chemical energy source. If it has cells, I'll eat it. I don't care what its metabolism is. I

  • I want to write a game which involves beating animals to death in inventive and needlessly painful and prolongued ways. What licence do I use?

    Why would I want to write such a game? Just to piss off PETA and its retards who anthropomorphize animals as ickle wickle bunny wunnies. Particularly sexy animals who'd they'd love all night long.

    There are dozens of more deserving animal welfare organisations. Organisations like the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, World Wildlife Fund etc. who are too busy actu

  • by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross.quirkz@com> on Friday May 21, 2010 @03:42PM (#32297618) Homepage
    Heck, I can one-up whatever they're doing. At least 50% of my own software was written with a cat on my lap or a dog curled up under my desk. All of my software doesn't just avoid harming animals, it was created while actively bringing animals love, warmth, and satisfaction.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears