For Approval: Broad Institute Public License (BIPL)

Karin Rivard rivard at MIT.EDU
Fri Jul 14 14:43:01 UTC 2006

Dear BIPL Discussion Group:

I am writing on behalf of MIT.  It's not clear to me if this is how 
the process works, but the group has raised a few issues on which I 
would like to comment.

It appears from discussion that there are three concerns raised about 
the BIPL license:

1.  MIT does not explicitly license MIT-owned patent rights that 
might cover the open source software.
2.  The license isn't fair because the BIPL requires "contributors" 
to license their patent rights that cover their contributions, while 
MIT does not do the same.
3.  The license is unlikely to be "used."

Here are my comments:

1.  The requirements for OSI certification do not include a 
requirement that the originator of the software offer a license to 
originator owned patents.  As has been pointed out in the discussion 
group, MIT's position  on not offering a patent license in the BIPL 
is consistent with the GPL, the BSD license, the MIT license, the 
Educational Community License, and others.

2.  There is a lack of parity in treatment of the Originator of the 
code and future contributors to the code.  This is true.  MIT will 
not offer the patent license; however, the requirement on 
contributors was an attempt to procure for users as many "freedom to 
use" rights as possible.  If this disparity in treatment is so 
abhorrent to OSI, it is easily remedied.  MIT will delete from the 
BIPL all references to any patent grants from contributors.  Thus the 
BIPL will simply be another open source license that is silent on 
patent rights.

3.  I do not understand the last comment from the list.  The software 
is what is used.  The license is the mechanism by which the software 
is used.  If no one contributes to the development of the software 
because they do not like the license terms, that is ok.  The fact 
remains that the software remains freely and openly available for use 
by the public, which I thought was the goal.  Further, "use" or 
"usability" is not one of factors that is stated as a requirement for 
OSI approval.

General comment:  MIT's BIPL license, as submitted, complies with 
each and every factor listed on the OSI site for achieving 
approval.  Nevertheless, if the approval committee demands parity of 
treatment among MIT and the contributors, MIT will delete all 
references to patent licenses in the BIPL.  If this remedy is 
acceptable to OSI in order to achieve approval, please let me know 
and the change will be made.

Thank you.
Karin Rivard

Karin K. Rivard, Asst. Director and Counsel
MIT Technology Licensing Office, Room NE25-230
Five Cambridge Center, Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02142
Phone:  (617) 253-6966; Fax: (617) 258-6790
Email:  rivard at
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