For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License

Michael R. Bernstein michael at
Sat Aug 18 08:34:54 UTC 2007

On Fri, 2007-08-17 at 01:58 -0400, Matthew Flaschen wrote:
> Chris Travers wrote:
> > I won't comment here except to say that having read both licenses, I
> > think this is a bigger issue for the Permissive license since the terms
> > seem pretty analogous to the new-style BSD license.
> No, there's a significant difference, in that MS-PL isn't compatible
> with copyleft licenses because it explicitly prohibits sublicensing.

I think you're missing the point that both of these licenses are
incompatible with *any* other license, no matter how permissive. A file
under MS-PL can't even incorporate BSD-licensed code. That takes
*special* effort.

As far as I can tell, the MS-PL and MS-CL licenses aren't even
compatible with each other, in either direction.

When we talk about 'license proliferation' as a problem, it's important
to note that aside from the annoying confusion that the number of
licenses per-se engenders, the real problems are side effects such as
immiscible codebases.

This Highlander[1] requirement deliberately and explicitly cranks the
imiscibility up to eleven, for no good reason I can see.

In the spirit of license-discuss, where it is not uncommon to suggest
general improvements to submitted licenses even if they are not strictly
required for OSD-compliance, I want to know if Microsoft is willing to
improve these licenses by changing 'you may do so only under this
license' to 'you must do so under this license' or similar phrasing in
order to leave the door open for compatible licenses and dual-licensing.

- Michael R. Bernstein

[1] ie. 'There Can Be Only One'
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