For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License

Donovan Hawkins hawkins at
Sun Aug 19 17:30:03 UTC 2007

On Sun, 19 Aug 2007, John Cowan wrote:

> Donovan Hawkins scripsit:
>> You both made your choice not to associate with each other and that's
>> fine, I never said MS-PL couldn't do that. I said it's not permissive
>> and should not be called permissive.
> Well, consider this counterevidence, from the FSF licenses page at
> :

<snipped descriptions for brevity>

> Apache License, Version 1.1
> Apache License, Version 1.0
> Original BSD license
> Old OpenLDAP License, Version 2.3
> XFree86 1.1 License
> Zope Public License version 1
> Note the presence of the Yang Worship Word you are talking about in each
> and every one of these entries.  I'd say your complaint is rather too
> little, too late.

Looking through all those licenses, all but two (discussed below) are 
incompatible due to a flawed advertising clause like that of original 
BSDL. For the other two:

OpenLDAP 2.3 appears to be compatible with GPL v3. Section 4 of OpenLDAP 
is specifically allowed by section 7d of GPL, and section 5 of OpenLDAP is 
specifically allowed by section 7c of GPL.

XFree86 1.1 appears to be compatible with GPL v3. Section 7b of GPL 
specifically allows "requiring preservation of specified reasonable legal 
notices or author attributions in that material or in the Appropriate 
Legal Notices displayed by works containing it." I don't see anything in 
XFree86 1.1 that is obviously unreasonable in that regard.

So the only thing standing between these "permissive" licenses and 
compatiblity with GPL v3 is the flawed advertising clause from BSDL, 
something that is widely regarded as an impractical mistake. Whether you 
call these "non-permissive" or "permissive but flawed" is a minor 
point...I would choose "non-permissive" myself.

>> Incidentally, why is public domain not an option? I joined this list
>> recently and haven't heard your discussions in the past on that subject.
> Rick's reasons are mine.

Ah ok, I see the problem. (thank you to those who posted on that subject 

>> If restrictions like those in MS-PL still count as a permissive license,
>> could we at least reserve a term for the licenses that BSDL that don't
>> tell me, the developer, how I'm supposed to license my derivative code?
> MS-PL doesn't do that either.  It simply requires that you not impose
> a license that tries to waive the patent peace clause.  If the GPLed
> code in question is your own, you can always add an additional clause
> to the GPL either waiving the conflict or imposing the patent peace as
> a further restriction.

Yes, that would be "telling me how I'm supposed to license my derivative 
work". I can't license my entire derivative work under BSDL or GPL v3 or 
another MS license or any other license. Your suggested workarounds don't 
change this fact.

> Or you can use the GPLv3.

Why do you believe that MS-PL is compatible with GPL v3? Section 5c says 
of modified versions of GPL works:

"You must license the entire work, as a whole, under this License to 
anyone who comes into possession of a copy.  This License will therefore 
apply, along with any applicable section 7 additional terms, to the whole 
of the work, and all its parts, regardless of how they are packaged."

At best I could release my changes under GPL v3 together with other code 
under MS-PL, but no further derived works could be created under either 
license because 5c cannot be met. If you mean I can waive this requirement 
with an additional permissive term, and that all derivative works can do 
the same for the code they add, well...that's not GPL v3 that I used 
anymore. I've simply created a new license (GPL v3 + that term), and this 
new license is not compatible with GPL v3.

This also requires that my changes be separable from the MS-PL code so 
that different licenses can be applied to each. This is the more serious 
problem which applies to any license you use for the derivative work.

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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