MS-PL/GPL compatibility, was Re: For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License

Chris Travers chris.travers at
Thu Aug 23 15:45:33 UTC 2007

On 8/23/07, Tobia Conforto <tobia.conforto at> wrote:
> Chris Travers wrote:
> > Tobia Conforto wrote:
> > > If I take a MS-PL file (not mine) and a GPL file, combine them into
> > > a derived work and release it as GPL, the GPL requires the whole
> > > work (including the MS-PL part) to be released with permissions
> > > exactly equal to the GPL
> >
> > Read section 7 of the GPL v3 again, or section 2 of the GPL v2.
> > Additional permissions are not prohibited.  However the MS-PL is not
> > compatible with the GPL v2 on other grounds.
> >
> > The GPL v3 also allows for reasonable legal notices to be included, so
> > the requirement that source code be identified as being still under
> > the MS-PL does not seem to be a problem.
> You are right, I was reading the GPL wrong!  (It's so long... :-)

One reason why I will never choose the GPL v3 all other things being equal.
It isn't just long, but some parts are genuinely vague.  Fortunately this is
not one of them.

I am now convinced that MS-PL code is compatible with the GPLv3*.
> Thanks.
> > I see one danger with the MS-PL and probably would not use code for it
> > in any of my projects outside some sort of discrete component division
> > simply because relicensing derivative works in a source distribution
> > seems risky to me.
> It seems to me that the most sensible course of action is placing
> clear-cut boundaries around MS-PL code (source file, class, or function
> boundaries) and just keep what is derived from MS-PL code under MS-PL.
> Is that what you're saying?

Pretty much.  It just seems a lot safer to me :-)

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers
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