Thursday, 25 November 2010 09:58

Being US-centric does not serve GNOME Foundation well

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The GNOME Foundation has been forced to change the rules for a design contest it is holding after one of its members objected to the exclusion of certain countries.


The contest, to design a new T-shirt, initially excluded people living in Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, and Myanmar (Burma).

Those living in areas which are restricted by US export controls and sanctions were also not allowed to participate.

Developer Baptiste Mille-Mathias pointed out the hypocrisy of these rules, stating, "GNOME being based on people and openness, I wonder how a Free Software & Non-profit organisation would comply with such US embargo related laws.

"How it could (sic) make sense to refuse a proposal for a contest, but coding contribution and translations are accepted everyday?"

Another developer, Tristan Van Berkom, pointed out, "These rules sound outright offensive to residents of some countries, furthermore they make the GNOME foundation publicly appear to be actively supporting US embargo laws."

Mille-Mathias asked: "If there's no way around such restrictions, could it be possible for the foundation to look for some way to avoid them in the future (by creating a delegation in another country perhaps)?"

Paul Cutler, one of those organising the contest, said the Foundation, being a non-profit based in the US, had no choice but to comply with the government's embargo laws.

Free Software Foundation chairman Richard Stallman then suggested a way out: "If giving the person a prize is what causes the problem, we could still invite people in those countries to enter, but inform them it won't be possible to give them the prize if they win. They would still get the honor (sic) of winning. It is better than excluding them."

The rules were then changed to reflect Stallman's suggestion.

 

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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