Blocking the Biggest Open Source Site in Syria

Blocking the Biggest Open Source Site in Syria

Source Forge has banned downloads from Syria, Iran, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea. Funny enough, the decision came after US Secretary of State speech on Internet's freedom.

We really do not know if we have to blame Source Forge, but like other companies based in the United States, they have to follow a strict export control law that sees these countries as 'terrorism supporters'. US Companies cannot export any kind of goods -including software- to Syria.

(CC-BY-NC-SA fabuleuxfab)

One thing is clear, there is contradiction -a big one- with the Open Source definition that states that Open Source software must not discriminate against any person or group of persons and it must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

Take into consideration that although a Syrian user downloading from Source Forge is something illegal in the US, this does not mean that Syrians cannot download the software from other mirrors outside US.

Syrian Open Source supporter Amer Jazaerly gave Jordan Open Source Association an on the ground eye-witness statement:

The open-source small community in Syria is very upset, we are already suffering because of the bad infrastructure of the internet and electricity, I know the last one is so funny but true.

Source Forge is not the first or the only site banded Syrian users, Google, Activestate, Mysql, Sun and much more had banded Syrians from downloading/uploading projects or software, for sure that will make our life more difficult than now, and again that will reflects badly on the software industry that's almost dead, increase piracy, and creates huge problems for university students and educational processes that is BASED on open-source software, as well as it will kill the small open-source projects that has been started recently in Syria.

All we know that Free Software Foundation's Freedom 2 is the freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor. We will try to take care of this freedom -literally- and see how can we help our neighbors.

Amer Jazerly contributed to this blog post from Damascus.