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

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Wed Aug 29 22:51:38 UTC 2007

Chris Travers wrote:

> How does the GPL effectively alter what you can do with the code?  If it
> doesn't alter it, isn't the point moot?

Yes, it is essentially moot if the BSD code is unmodified.  I've been
saying that for a while now.  In other words, unmodified BSD code can
also be sublicensed GPL (even though people can still use it under BSD).
 But unmodified MS-PL can't be sublicensed under GPL.

>> It might be better if you reply with a full license, since BSD is short
>> and you've made so many changes.
> Ok, modified based on the OpenSource.Org version:


>> But this includes "the accompanying software" when it is part of a
>> derivative work.
> Is the BSDL not in effect for the accompanying software when it is part
> of a derivative work?

Yes, but "in effect" only means the BSD license still needs to accompany
the code.

> Ok. here is my view of the sublicensing issue and why it doesn't apply
> in this case.  In a literary work, an author may grant a publisher the
> right to sublicense the work.  This means that the publisher would now
> be able to grant additional permissions to third parties.

No, sublicensing means licensing under a license that grants a subset of
the original license rights.

> Define sublicense.  I have effectively prevented any other licenses from
> altering exactly what you can do with the code.  Is there another
> definition of sublicense I should be aware of?

Simply, putting it under another (more restrictive) license besides or
in addition to the original.

>> Copyright elements of /which/ code present after modification?
> Copyrighted original elements of the MS-PL code.
> For example, suppose I take MS-PL code and the internals of every
> function but leave the overall structure of the code intact (ordering
> and selection of each function and which file it belongs to).  One might
> argue that this is a derivative work because the ordering of the
> functions in the code is expressive.  Does the MS-PL require that these
> elements remain under the MS-PL?

Yes.  Any copyrighted MS-PL source code must remain under *only* MS-PL.
 It can't be under GPL *also*, even if putting it under GPL also would
have no real effect (e.g. for unmodified MS-PL code).

> If interpreted this way, the license could have no differences in effect
> from the MS-CL...

The main difference is that MS-PL allows binary-only forks.

> IANAL, etc.


Matt Flaschen

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