SourceForge, one of the the primary distribution hubs of the open source software movement, has shut its doors to visitors from a number of countries, saying that it is working to become compliant with US laws. In a post yesterday, the site responded to rumors around the Twittersphere that various users from outside the US were unable to access the site.
The open-source movement has always been community based, working outside of standard boundaries and borders, and some see SourceForge's move as going against those basic tenets.
Here is the reasoning in SourceForge's own words:
"Since 2003, the SourceForge.net Terms and Conditions of Use have prohibited certain persons from receiving services pursuant to U.S. laws, including, without limitations, the Denied Persons List and the Entity List, and other lists issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security. The specific list of sanctions that affect our users concern the transfer and export of certain technology to foreign persons and governments on the sanctions list."
The site began using automatic IP blocking last week and users from a number of countries, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, are now unable to access the site.
While some are calling foul and declaring that this is the death of the open-source movement, we have to assume that the technologically savvy users accessing the site would know how to get around a simple IP-based filter. Whether using a tool like Tor, or a proxy service like HotSpot Shield, it can't be all that difficult to access the site.
The SourceForge blog post reminds that "in addition to participating in the open source community, we also live in the real world, and are governed by the laws of the country in which we are located."