Does free software/free culture accept discrimination?

Update: Mr. Stallman responded.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about moving from Fedora. After a lot of discussions with my friends, I finally decided to send an email message to Mr. Stallman about Fedora’s notice. I’m now waiting for Mr. Stallman’s response. Here’s my email message:

Dear Dr. Stallman,

Mr. Stallman, I’m a free software activist for more than 7 years now and I’ve using free software since I found out about the concept of software freedom. There’s not a single proprietary software in my computers. I even didn’t have a smart phone till a year ago. My phone currently runs LineageOS.

My operating system was Fedora untill I found out about a notice on Fedora GNU+Linux distro download page.

I believe parts of this notice are violations of software freedom. The notice says that Fedora complies with “Unites States Export Administration Regulations (the “EAR”) and it’s prohibited for use in connection with the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or rocket systems, space launch vehicles, or sounding rockets, or unmanned air vehicle systems.”

Isn’t it violation of freedom 0 (The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose)?

The other part says “You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions.”

Isn’t it a violation of freedom 2 (The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others)?

The four freedoms doesn’t mention any country or specific software so I believe the terms of software freedom are applicable to all software no matter what country they’re based in.

A friend of mine told me that section 8 of GNU General Public License version 2 accept this discrimination.

“8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License. “

So does that mean that I, a typical user of free software, am restricted from using and distributing a software that is licensed free? Do you and free software movement accept this discrimination?

All my life, I fought for freedom. I’m an Iranian and I live in a country that basic human rights are violated and I fought for freedom and my people’s rights in the streets with my bare hands. If free software movement, FSF, and you sir, accept this discrimination, I no longer will fight for free software as it’s just a lie to me.

I know that companies and maybe projects based in U.S. should comply with USA’s laws but it’s not a good reason for discrimination like this. If free software can be restricted for some people or it can only be used by a group of people a country or a company chooses, then I believe free software movement is not what it says it is.

I remember you once said that free (as in freedom) software leads us to a free society. If this freedom is only for some people, then it’s just a lie, isn’t it?

Can you please explain to me and my friends how free software movement reacts to this?

Thanks a lot.

Ali Reza Hayati

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Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.