For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License

Donovan Hawkins hawkins at
Sat Aug 11 02:04:50 UTC 2007

On Fri, 10 Aug 2007, Chuck Swiger wrote:

> I very much doubt that Microsoft missed the point with regard to GPL 
> incompatibility by accident.  It's probably safe to assume that the situation 
> is quite intentional.  :-)

I was referring to their poor choice of the "file" as the unit of 
copyleftness in the MSCL, as was pointed out by a previous point. It's 
ambiguous, easy to circumvent, and may cause problems depending on what a 
"file" is.

I don't disagree that GPL incompatibility was a design goal. In and of 
itself, that's not really a crime since GPL represents a specific 
philosophy and not everyone agrees with it. However, I think omitting a 
provision like clause 13 of the MPL is more problematic if it leads people 
to avoid releasing under multiple licenses.

> Um, no, the BSD license is not the almost the same thing as "public domain".

Actually, I said modified BSD was basically public domain with a 
disclaimer. I did forget about the copyright notice though. So, what 
exactly are you not permitted to do with code released under modified BSD, 
other than omit the copyright notice and sue the author?

I'm going to resist replying to the remaining points because most of them 
are debating the value of a permissive vs. non-permissive license, or 
whether there are lots of other non-permissive licenses. My point was 
simply that the MSPL is not a permissive license. The name is misleading 
and I offer the suggestion that it should be better chosen.

Donovan Hawkins, PhD                 "The study of physics will always be
Software Engineer                     safer than biology, for while the
hawkins at                   hazards of physics drop off as 1/r^2,                biological ones grow exponentially."

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