For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License

Donovan Hawkins hawkins at
Wed Aug 22 00:27:19 UTC 2007

On Tue, 21 Aug 2007, Chris Fagan wrote:

> A design goal of the MS-PL is to allow developers to choose to ensure 
> that the specific rights in Section (2) continue to be available to 
> downstream developers and users through generations of adoption and 
> adaptation.

I find that very hard to believe, given that there are other licenses that 
are perfectly capable of protecting the specific rights in MS-PL section 
2. You went out of your way to prevent compatibility with open-source 
copyleft licenses like GPL v3 by saying "you may do so only under this 
license." Your license your choice, but it certainly isn't necessary for 
the reason you state.

As further evidence that this is not the reason for the incompatiblity, 
note that the requirement for BINARY distributions is "you may do so only 
under a license that complies with this license." Apparently you judge 
this to be sufficient to protect the specific rights in MS-PL section 2, 
yet you chose to use that language only for binary distributions. Had the 
same language been used for source distributions, MS-PL would likely be 
compatible with GPL v3.

MS-PL code can easily be incorporated into commercial closed-source 
projects with a few footnotes to the EULA. It cannot be used in any 
reasonable GPL v3 project. That certainly appears to be the real design 

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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