BSD and MIT license "compliance" with the MS-PL

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at
Fri Apr 17 13:45:49 UTC 2009

>From: Donovan Hawkins [hawkins at]
>> Since one of the criteria of the MS-PL is that a patent grant be provided to
>> recipients of the software, and since neither the BSD or MIT license provide
>> such a grant, would not this suggest that neither of those licenses "comply
>> with" the MS-PL?

On the license-review list I believe someone had stated that implicit 
patent grants were clearly understood or something to that effect.

Evidently not.

>> I realize that cross-compatibility is not a requirement for license
>> approval by the OSI, but I still would be interested in
>> hearing opinions on this.

>License proliferation is not an issue because no one releasing code under
>MS-PL wants open source developers to use it and no open source developers
>would want to use the MS-PL. If you think about it, the MS-PL is logically
>incompatible with what most people think of as open source (see footnote).

Yes, because nobody on CodePlex that uses MS-PL cares about open 
source or is doing open source because it doesn't fit your narrow definition
that excludes even OSI approved licenses.


>It is logically valid to support open source via permissive licenses,
>since they give equally to all users regardless of how they will use it.

>It is also logically valid to support open source via copyleft licenses,
>since while they grant fewer freedoms they do so in order to keep the
>source open. Both positions support the same basic concept of giving
>people access to the source code of the programs they run and encouraging
>(but not requiring) participation in the development process. The
>disagreement between the groups is one of idealism vs. realism.

>But you cannot logically support open source via the MS-PL because there
>is no defense of closed source developer rights which does not apply as
>well or better to copyleft. 

It is highly amusing to see someone lecturing others on what is and is not
logical to blatantly imply that GPL supports closed source developer rights
better than MS-PL.

MS-PL is more aggressive in preserving close-source developer rights
than permissive licenses because it is a copyleft.  Just as GPL is more
aggressive in preserving free software developer rights than permissive
licenses because it is copyleft.

Whether you favor the free software position or the proprietary software
model better doesn't determine which is more "logical" but probably 
does determine which one you might use/advocate.

Me, I like Apache.

>It would be absurd to demonize copyleft for granting incomplete 
>distribution rights while defending closed source which grants no rights 
>at all! 

Given that MS-PL is itself a weak copyleft it would be an absurd
position but not for the reasons you imply.  Logic based on false 
premise can lead you merrily along some absurd paths.

If you really believe that copyleft is the wrong path to open source 
because it discriminates against closed source developers then you 
would be led to permissive licenses or none at all.

Or you might choose the copyleft license that preserves closed 
source developer rights instead.  Using the term "copyleft" when 
you mean the FSF family of licenses is inaccurate.

You can also use MPL.  Another weak copyleft that is more
closed source friendly than GPL.

In short, MS-PL is open source for closed source people. It meets the OSD
in that it provides the necessary rights but it does so in a way that
actively discourages open source and encourages closed. As such, it rounds
out Microsoft's collection of shared source licenses perfectly.

Footnote: If you are a developer who thinks of open source as raw
material to use in your closed source software, the MS-PL *does* fit what
you think of as open source quite nicely. It would be amusing if some
people who think that way start playing around with MS-PL and end up
getting interested in "real" open source as a result, but I'm not holding
my breath.

MS-PL is one open source license (among many) for folks working on the 
Windows and .NET platforms. There are CodePlex projects with as 
vibrant open source communities as any other.  Claiming that no
open source development occurs in the MS ecosystem is like claiming
that no open source development occurs in the Sun ecosystem because
they also have a GPL incompatible copyleft license (CDDL) that pretty
much only plays well with itself.  

Yea and verily open source occurs even under MS-PL and CDDL.

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