Playboy, Pornography, and Eclipse

Summary:After using free bandwidth donated by Playboy Enterprises for 5 months, the Eclipse Foundation bows to concerns from the community and removes Playboy from the list of mirrors. Although Playboy hosts many other open source projects such as Apache, apparently they were a little too controversial for the conservative Foundation.

Back in October 2005, Playboy Enterprises requested permission to host a mirror for Eclipse. At that time, Webmaster Denis Roy wrote:

"The Playboy 'tech nerds', as they call themselves, love Open Source. They're in the process of becoming an Eclipse Mirror Site. I got the request from Playboy Entreprises last week, and they got the OK to rsync with us today."

Apparently Playboy host mirrors for many other Open Source projects such as Apache, Fedora, and FreeBSD. So permission was granted and playboy.com started showing up on on the Eclipse mirror list. According to mirror records, some 32,775 downloads were made from the Playboy servers.

However, a few vocal users objected. One wrote that his corporate firewall blocked the domain, so downloads from there would always fail. Another worried about getting in trouble at work:

"Playboy is usually among web addresses whose access can get an employee fired in many organizations. And since your mirrors may get decided automatically, a person may attempt to download software from your organization and inadvertently end up in playboy."

The Apache Foundation went through a similar discussion last year but decided to leave the mirrors intact. Denis objected to removing the mirrors, writing this in his blog:

"I think it's ridiculous. Why not remove the word 'blow' from the dictionary, because we all know that blow is an offensive word, right? I'm not allowed to blow on my soup, because blowing is wrong."

After some open discussion, however, the mirror was removed from the list. The final straw was probably this post from another Eclipse user:

"My best friend from college got sucked into Internet porn. That was five years ago. This winter he was just released from jail--he had gotten so addicted that he became a pedophile. He has become someone very different from the person I knew in college.

While obviously not everyone who gets involved in porn winds up a pedophile, I am very concerned about the social implications of an organization like Eclipse becoming associated with Internet pornography."

This argument touched me personally as well because something very similar happened to a friend of mine.

Playboy was notified of the decision but declined to comment. While their site still shows Eclipse 3.2M5a, their IP address has been removed from the access list so they will be unable to keep their mirror up to date in the future. So I guess you can't tell your boss that you "only visit playboy.com for the Eclipse downloads" anymore.

What do you think, was this a reasonable decision, or another example of political correctness run amok?

Topics: Browser

About

Ed Burnette has been hooked on computers ever since he laid eyes on a TRS-80 in the local Radio Shack. Since graduating from NC State University he has programmed everything from serial device drivers and debuggers to web servers. After a delightful break working on commercial video games, Ed reluctantly returned to business software. He... Full Bio

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