The Ethical Source Movement

The Ethical Source Definition (ESD)

The Ethical Source Definition

Software is considered Ethical Open Source (EOS) when it meets all of these criteria:

  1. It benefits the commons. The license under which the software is released must not prohibit modification, derivative works, and linking or compiling with other software (unless under a copyleft provision), in the general spirit of open source, source available, or other commons distribution.
  2. It is created in the open. The source code must be publicly available, developed and maintained in public view, and welcoming of public contributions (subject to review and approval by the software project’s maintainers.)
  3. Its community is welcoming and just. The software project’s community of maintainers and contributors must publish clear rules for project governance and adopt a comprehensive code of conduct that is consistently and fairly enforced.
  4. It puts accessibility first. If the software has a user interface, it must be designed with accessibility in mind, ensuring all software functionality is available to all users, including users who may rely on assistive devices.
  5. It prioritizes user safety. The software must be designed with features and safeguards that minimize the risk of abuse or harm to others through the use of the software.
  6. It protects user privacy. If the operation of the software collects end-user data, the software must be designed with provisions for its operators to completely delete or provide to the end-user any and all data generated and stored from the end-user’s usage of the software. The export mechanism must provide the data in a human-readable or widely interoperable open format.
  7. It encourages fair compensation. The software project’s maintainers may, at their discretion, request remuneration in the form of code contributions, financial consideration, or other forms of voluntary support from organizations that derive commercial value from the software.

Ethical Open Source projects are encouraged to use the “Open|Ethical” badge in their project’s documentation:

Attribution and Contributions

Maintaining this definition is the collaborative work of the Ethical Source Working Group. Pull requests and issues in our source code repository are encouraged. Special thanks are extended to Nate Berkopec, Will Barton, Steve Phillips, and Madalyn Parker for their contributions.