License compatibility of MS-PL and MS-CL (Was: (RE: Groklaw's OSI item (was: When will CPAL actually be _used_?))

Zac Bowling zac at
Sun Aug 26 18:07:53 UTC 2007

Sorry, that should of been "verisioned" in the secound paragraph.
Stupid spell check.

On 8/26/07, Zac Bowling <zac at> wrote:
> It really comes back to the basic issues with Microsoft's Shared
> Source licensing program that people have been talking about for the
> last few years. While they are legal licenses in a conventional sense,
> they don't follow all the unwritten rules of open source licences that
> we use in the F/OSS world.
> For one, for the most part, our licenses are visioned and shared
> source licenses are not yet. Second, our licenses have distinct names.
> For a while Microsoft did not do any of that (everything was just a
> "Shared Source license") and apps are still out there that simply have
> the title "Shared Source" with entirely different licenses for each.
> Just go take a look at Microsoft's CodePlex,
> (Microsoft's version of SourceForge) at the IronRuby, IronPython,
> Phanlanger, and other projects and all their variations of Shared
> Source.
> Microsoft recognized some of these issues with the new program to try
> and start licensing under 3 different licenses (and the one variation
> to each that restricts to Windows only). Still the license keeps a
> good part of the confusing nature of the Shared Source licenses.
> One of the best parts to many of our licenses is that they usually
> have a preamble that explains the intent and purpose and goals.
> Sometimes they even go into philosophy to some extent (GPL, MPL, etc).
> What I'm afraid is that Microsoft would have a hard time writing up
> their intent and putting it into the license clearly. They are not
> used to it. No license except those in the F/OSS world do you see that
> all that often.
> What is odd is that in the F/OSS community, developers like you and
> me, end up worrying about software licenses on our own without the
> assistance of an attorney. Some of use doing this as our full time job
> will take the time to look into it, but for the rest of us, we start
> our projects out by ourselves, in our free time, and don't want to or
> lack the money to not hire an attorney to figure it out. If we had to
> get consulting from a lawyer everytime we wanted to start writing
> code, it might kill most of the enthusiasm that makes our community
> thrive.
> From my experience, the developers in the F/OSS community are the
> adventurous type. Many of us learned how to use the software and tools
> that exist now by our self, we loved the software and and we got
> involved in the community that made it happen, we learned out how to
> program and contribute to projects in our world, and managed to do it
> all on our own.
> A good portion of the people I know in our community managed to get
> started so without worrying about all the legal ramifications involved
> because we could trust leaders of our community and follow what they
> did to know what is ok. The OSI is one of those leaders in our
> community for many of us and I know I can trust what the OSI approves
> because of what is stated in the open source definition on the site
> meets with my own goals.
> The problem comes about when we get more into it and we become more
> dedicated. We move on to new technologies and want to mix and match
> software, or port software to run on another platform, or link to
> other software to add functionality. That's when us as the developer
> has to play lawyer, and try to do what we do best, and figure
> everything out on our own. The only thing we have to go on is our
> experience with the licenses we already use to help us out.
> The problem is that we are not lawyers and we don't think like them.
> You see a lot of lists, forums, and blogs with developers talking
> about their own interpretations of a particular license. Things
> usually get corrected pretty quickly as more people comment on the
> subject of that license and a consensus of what is ok and what is not
> ok to do with a license is finally met (sometimes the topic is about
> using this license in conjunction with another license, like this
> thread with GPL and Ms-PL mixing).
> The problem with the Shared Source licenses is that its hard to
> leverage our experience against it. This is horrible for us when
> Microsoft creates a new Shared Source license for each product they
> release. Then when the text is so similar to other variations we might
> know we think it might be ok, but it turns out that the entire intent
> is completely different of that variation, it causes issues.
> Zac Bowling
> On 8/26/07, Donovan Hawkins <hawkins at> wrote:
> > On Sun, 26 Aug 2007, Zac Bowling wrote:
> >
> > > I get what you are saying about the different intents of Ms-CL and
> > > Ms-PL. I was looking at Ms-PL as being lesser then the Ms-CL since
> > > they have a lot of the same text where the Ms-CL only seems to add
> > > more bullet points. If you look at it simply as they are only adding
> > > to it, you don't think they are changing the entire intent of license.
> >
> > That's a good point...I had forgotten when people discussed the fact that
> > there is only one place where the two licenses differ. It's reasonable
> > that someone would expect more similarity in their intent.
> >
> >
> > > What is confusing is that same line about "any portion of the
> > > software" is used in other shared source licenses including the first
> > > shared source license I can remember, the Rotor project (now the
> > > Shared Source CLI). I've attached a copy of that version of the shared
> > > source license for reference.  In that case that same exact section is
> > > used but if what Jim said was true for the Ms-PL, the same exact
> > > phrase means something entirely different for the other licenses.
> >
> > Actually the license you attached appears to be worded a bit differently,
> > and "the software" still seems to apply to the unmodified version. In the
> > section on modifications, they write "You may modify this Software and
> > distribute the modified Software for non-commercial purposes, however, you
> > may not grant rights to the Software or derivative works that are broader
> > than those provided by this License." However I do agree that there is
> > much to be said for defining your terms in advance and using them
> > verbatim in the license body, rather than relying on English to
> > disambiguate.
> >
> >
> > Of course, the license you attached also says:
> >
> > "You may use any information in intangible form that you remember after
> > accessing the Software.  However, this right does not grant you a
> > license to any of Microsoft's copyrights or patents for anything you
> > might create using such information."
> >
> > Uh, so I can use what I remember, unless I can't? Gee, thanks...
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > 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."
> > ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >
> --
> Zac Bowling
> ---
> I support Mozilla Firefox.

Zac Bowling

I support Mozilla Firefox.

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