**NB: this post is not intended to start a flamewar. It is intended to express my dismay at limitations that have been placed on supposedly libre software, and to highlight an issue that some *nixers and FOSS advocates might not be aware of.**
Wow - I've just gotten a real shock, and it's not one I ever imagined I'd get in the FOSS world.
I've been solidly sold on (GNU/)Linux's "libre" credentials for some time now - I see the right to be able to freely modify, copy, and redistribute Linux as one of its' core strengths, even if I don't yet contribute to the "modify" part.
It seems, to some extent at least, that the Fedora project agrees with this position - their official website announces that freedom is one of their core values. They go further:
"We provide free alternatives to proprietary code and content to make Fedora completely free and redistributable for everyone. That way, anyone can use any of our work for their own purposes, without legal hassles, to further spread free software."
So, you can imagine my astonishment when I discovered the following caveat on the bottom of the download page on the official Fedora site:
"By clicking on and downloading Fedora, you agree to comply with the following terms and conditions:
"Fedora software and technical information is subject to the U.S. Export Administration Regulations and other U.S. and foreign law, and may not be exported or re-exported to certain countries (currently Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria) or to persons or entities prohibited from receiving U.S. exports (including those (a) on the Bureau of Industry and Security Denied Parties List or Entity List, (b) on the Office of Foreign Assets Control list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, and (c) involved with missile technology or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons). You may not download Fedora software or technical information if you are located in one of these countries, or otherwise affected by these restrictions. You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise affected by these restrictions. You are also responsible for compliance with foreign law requirements applicable to the import and use of Fedora software and technical information."
So, Fedora is free to use and redistribute, unless you happen to live in a country that isn't on the U.S. government's Christmas card list. Presuming that Fedora is released under the GPL or similar license, where does it enable bias on the grounds of a person's geographic or geopolitical situation (or any other basis)?
Of course, M$ and Apple probably adhere to policies like the one above, but to me it seems a travesty for FOSS to hold this line. The requirement isn't universal across the Linux landscape - I remember reading that Cuba has adopted their own Linux distro. So, Fedora, what gives?