MSPL (Was Re: Followup on Exhibit B licences)

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Wed Mar 7 10:18:31 UTC 2007

Rick Moen wrote:
> Other Exhibit B sections I've seen very definitely violate OSD#10 
> (the requirement for technological neutrality).  MSPL carefully avoids
> that pitfall by saying the splash-screen credit must appear on the
> graphical user interface screen _if any_.  

It is definitely much better.  However, it still has OSD #10 problems.
Not all GUI's allow links, but the logo "must be linked to the official
Medsphere Systems Corporation website ("  Also, is
it compliant to have a link that will *never* work (e.g. because it's
for a secure network without internet access)?  In general, these sort
of requirements are unpleasant because they don't take into account the
future.  For instance, what if the developer goes out of business and
loses control of this domain?  What if the WWW goes the way of the BBS?,
 etc.  Depending on how you define GUI, not all GUIs allow arbitrary
images to be displayed.

> Again, in sharp contrast to other Exhibit B licences, MSPL doesn't
> require credit on "every user interface screen", but rather speaks of a
> splash screen (only)

It says that in one place, but later "be located on the bottom right of
each primary interface screen"  The license still has some kinks.
Another is that the main license doesn't say the URL must be linked, but
the exhibit does.

> displayed "for sufficient duration to give
> reasonable notice to the user of the identity of the Initial Developer"

As noted before, this is vague and dependent on several variables.

The license still has OSD #3 issues.  It has the "bottom right"
requirement, which could easily conflict with other programs.  It also
requires that this code's attribution be "no less prominent" than other
attribution.  Given that all programs will require this, they all need
to be of equal prominence.  Since they also must all be "prominent" to
begin with, the total size (and arguably, duration) of the splash screen
could become very large.

I'm also a bit concerned about the clause, "All copies of the Covered
Code in Executable and Source Code form distributed must, as a form of
attribution to the original author, include the copyright notice in the
same form as the latest version of the Covered Code distributed by
Medsphere Systems Corporation at the time of distribution of such copy."

It should really just require notices never be removed. The
redistributor shouldn't have to check back for new versions of the
attribution; this is burdensome.

On the whole, it's a definite improvement, but has issues nonetheless.

Matthew Flaschen

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