For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License
chris at metatrontech.com
Sat Aug 25 23:47:56 UTC 2007
I have one concern that the board should evaluate regarding whether to
approve the MS-PL.
I have recently been made aware of the report by the license
proliferation committee to the Board regarding the recommendations
relating to license proliferation. I believe that the Board should be
free to apply those recommendations to license approval processes.
I believe that the MS-PL (and the GPLv3 too-- note on the related For
Approval thread) fail one of the committee's key recommendations:
require certain things of approved licenses including that "the license
must be clearly written, simple, and understandable."
Obviously if the GPL3 meets this criteria than so does the MS-PL (in
fact, one would be hard pressed to find an example that didn't).
However, I believe that the MS-PL of these licenses are quite difficult
to understand given the other discussions on the list, opinions of
different lawyers (some of which come to us second-hand), etc. The key
questions include whether or "the software" in the MS-PL refers to mere
source code, or whether it extends to original copyrighted aspects of
the software (such as copyrighted graphical designs for screen output or
story lines), or extend in other ways to derivative works. The MS-CL is
probably less ambiguous in this area and easier to avoid running into
trouble (in my view). I think we would be well within our rights to
reject the MS-PL as "confusing" and ask Microsoft to resubmit after
including such a definition.
This is not about favoritism. I would actually like to see the GPL3
rejected on the same grounds. Of course if the GPL3 were approved, I
would favor approving the MS-PL as well.
Chris Dibona may have a point about license proliferation. It may be
time to start using reasonable guidelines in the approval process in
this area provided that they are applied both reasonably and evenhandedly.
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