For Approval: Broad Institute Public License (BIPL)

Rory Pheiffer rpp at MIT.EDU
Tue Jul 11 17:08:40 UTC 2006

Hello Discussion Board,


I e-mailed you just over two months ago with regard to my submission of the
Broad Institute Public License (BIPL) for approval.  Russ informed me today
that my original e-mail did not have the proper Subject header, and
therefore, he asked me to resubmit the license for discussion.  A discussion
on this license already occurred between May 8th and May 19th, and can be
found here:  In case you
failed to see this discussion initially because of the improperly labeled
header, please take a moment to review the license and provide your
comments.  I have also included the initial e-mail I sent to this list back
on May 8th.


We are anxious to have this license approved.  Thank you for your










I am writing to begin a discussion about the license we (the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology or MIT for short) recently submitted to the Open
Source Initiative for approval as an OSI Certified license.  The title of
the license is the Broad (pronounced Brr-ode as opposed to Brr-awed)
Institute Public License, or BIPL for short.  Below please find the three
sections which your group has asked me to address:



SECTION ONE - Most Similar OSI Certified License to the BIPL.


The OSI Certified license that is most similar to the BIPL is the Mozilla
Public License (MPL).  However, because of the Broad Institute's affiliation
with MIT, and further because of MIT's unique situation as a very large
research and educational institution, we could not distribute software under
all of the MPL's terms.


The most significant reason why we could not use the MPL is because MIT
cannot agree to grant a license to any MIT-owned patent that may end up
being associated with the software.  This is because it is virtually
impossible for MIT to know if any of its many professors, researchers,
investigators, or students have, are, or will do work that gives rise to a
patent claim that covers use of its software under the BIPL.  MIT cannot
grant rights to these patent claims because the professors, researchers,
investigators, or students involved with the patent claim would not have an
opportunity to make decisions regarding the licensing of these patent claims
if a blind patent grant was part of a license that we distribute under.  The
patent grant in the MPL is an encumbrance that MIT cannot agree to give.


In the process of modifying the MPL to not include a grant to MIT-owned
patents, other less significant changes were also made.  These changes
resulted from cleaning up the current MPL to reflect MIT-preferred language
in some areas and to clear up areas of the MPL that can often be confusing.
As a whole though, the only major difference between the MPL and BIPL is the
loss of the patent grant language found in section 2.1 of the MPL.



SECTION TWO - Use in Conjunction with Software Distributed Under Other Open
Source Licenses.


Because we have incorporated many of the ideas of the MPL into the BIPL,
software distributed under the BIPL can easily be used in conjunction with
software distributed under other open source licenses.  Both sections 3.6
and sections 12 of the BIPL allow for such distribution.  It is likely that
derivative and combined works would be licensed under the BIPL, but because
of its versatility, there is no reason the rest of the work could not be
licensed under another open source license so long as the requirements of
the BIPL are met for the Covered Code.  We are not aware of any software
license that would be entirely incompatible with the BIPL, although if a
license is entirely incompatible with the MPL, it would also likely be
incompatible with the BIPL.



SECTION THREE - Plain Text Version of the BIPL.


I have attached two documents to this e-mail to aid the discussion.  The
first is a Text and HTML version of the BIPL (entitled Broad Institute
Public License Clean 2006-05-05).  If for some reason you have difficulty
reading this attachment, you can also find the license here:  The second is a
comparison of the BIPL to the MPL, performed using Deltaview but saved as
both a Microsoft Word and HTML file (entitled DV Comparison - MPL vs BIPL



I look forward to receiving your feedback on the BIPL.  Please don't
hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns that you may have.


Best regards,

Rory Pheiffer





Rory P. Pheiffer, Esq.

Technology Licensing Associate

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Technology Licensing Office

Five Cambridge Center, NE25-230

Kendall Square

Cambridge, MA  02142-1493


E-mail:   <mailto:rpp at> rpp at

Telephone:  (617) 253-6966

Fax:  (617) 258-6790



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