I have been looking for a few weeks now for a license that has the same force as the HESSLA, namely, restrictions on the use of software for human rights violations or user surveillance, but applied to data sets (which I believe present more risk than program code anyway). Are there any candidates for this? Restrictions like this prevent the license from being libre, but I think it's worth it.

Desirable features:

  • Ability to limit government/commercial use
  • Ability to limit surveillance/rights violation use
  • Actionable legal force
  • 1
    I seem to recall there being a software license years ago what was basically 'you can't use this if your company sends spam'. But it wasn't mail software (it might've been CGIwrap). This would likely be different, as it's a limit on more than just what you can use the data for, but who's allowed to use the data at all.
    – Joe
    Jun 6, 2013 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


Such a license would require that the publisher provide one on one individual approvals for data use and analyze or have the potential user express all the impacts of the use of their application or analysis. This essentially would not be open data.

Trying to stay with the theme of this group, there is a license that could apply:

An example of the licensing used by Thomson Reuters and many of their partners might provide insights as well.

  • In what sense would it "require...one on one approvals"? I feel like a clickthrough agreement in order to receive an API key might suffice, but I'm not experienced in this. Also, do you think it's possible to combine ethics/morality without compromising openness, especially regarding source code and data? Jun 7, 2013 at 6:02

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