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

Rick Moen rick at
Thu Aug 23 23:16:27 UTC 2007

Quoting Chris Travers (chris.travers at

> I thought this was a list for discussing licenses in general.

You would be quite mistaken.

If you visit the listinfo page, , you might come across,
among other things, one of the very earliest postings, one from Brian
Behlendorf, which addressed this matter:

  Subject: What may or may not be appropriate for this list
  From: Brian Behlendorf <brian at>
  Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 00:34:48 -0700 (PDT)

  On Wed, 14 Apr 1999, Derek J. Balling wrote:

  > I think a discussion like this should be out in the open. If the listowner
  > wants to deem it off-topic, I'm sure that they'll say something (unless
  > you're the listowner *grin*)

  I'm not the listowner, but I am an OSI board member and one who
  supported the creation of this list, and I hope it's used for its
  purpose, which is to evaluate licenses that get posted for conformance
  to the OSD, and *not* as a general license debate forum.  There are
  god knows how many places to discuss the GPL and IP issues.  

  While we don't have a license in front of us right now, let's try to
  keep the traffic low; I'd like this to be one of those lists people
  don't filter into their "read later when I've got free time sometime
  next week" mailboxes, since license evaluation will need to happen
  quickly when one is posted.


Navigating from the front page of, 
Home -> How to get involved with OSI -> Mailing lists takes you to , which has a roster of the available
mailing lists but is sadly lacking in descriptions of their charters.

_However_, either
Home -> Certification Mark -> The Licence Approval Process or
Home -> Projects/Initiatives -> The Licence Approval Process 
guides you to, which clarifies:

   4. Prepare an email with three sections as described in the next
   three paragraphs. Send that email to the license-discuss mailing list
   (license-discuss at our domain name, The subject of
   your message should be "For Approval:" followed by the name of your
   5. You are invited to follow discussion of the licenses by
   subscribing to license-discuss-subscribe at This
   mailing-list is archived here
   6. If license-discuss mailing list members find that the license does
   not conform to the Open Source Definition, they will work with you to
   resolve the problems. Similarly, if we see a problem, we will work with
   you to resolve any problems uncovered in public comment.

_That_ is the intended purpose of this mailing list, and is how you
might have known that fact without assistance -- as opposed to making a
very bad (and convenient) guess.  _Or_ you could have asked.

Obviously, offtopic digressions are legion.  To quote a rule of thumb I
articulated long ago, on a Usenet newsgroup far, far away, offtopic
digressions are probably welcome to the degree they're some combination
of amusing, brief, infrequent, socially decorous, and non-annoying.

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