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

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at
Sun Apr 19 03:17:36 UTC 2009

>From: Donovan Hawkins [hawkins at]

>Evidently neither is quoting, since I didn't write what you are
>referring to.

I did not say you had.

> 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.

>Obviously it excludes even OSI approved licenses since MS-PL was
>approved (and correctly so unless someone wants to change the OSD). Which
>other OSI-approved license virally preserves the right to use all
>downstream code in closed-source projects while being explcitly
>incompatible with all other open-source licenses?

All copyleft licenses are incompatible with all other open source licenses (ignoring dual licensing).

MS-PL is not special in this regard.

>> 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.

>You find strawmen amusing then, since I said no such thing. I said
>there is no logical argument consistent with the idea of open source which
>could defend the rights of closed source developers without defending GPL
>equally or better.

Sure there is given that MS-PL is more permissive than the GPL.  Permissive licenses are built that way and are not inconsistent with the concept of open source.

>Why would anyone who believes in open source want to protect the
>ability of closed source developers to take away all rights over the
>ability of GPL to take away some rights? What argument makes it ok for
>closed source developers to allow no one to use their source code but
>wrong for GPL to allow everyone except those who would not convey that
>right downstream? To be fine with people taking your work closed source
>but angry when they put it under GPL would mean you want code to
>have more restrictions, not fewer. I don't see that being consistent with
>any reasonable definition of open source.

You're essentially asking why anyone would want to do permissive licenses.  Because some of us don't really care if folks use the code in closed source.  We write code to scratch our own itch and hope it's useful for someone else.  It would be very nice, however, if there were code released that it was always under a license that ensures that we can use it.  

A copyleft license enforces this courtesy.  A permissive license allows reuse in closed source projects.

A permissive copyleft allows more flexible combinations than other weak copylefts and contributions are always voluntary.  Only the form in which the contributions occur are insure the upstream folks have the opportunity to use your enhancements if they want.  

The downsides are those common with all other copylefts...

>An open source developer who wants to protect the downstream right to
>go closed source is screwed because closed source itself doesn't protect
>that right. Closed source developers are no more able to use the source
>code of other closed source projects than they are able to use source code
>under GPL.

Closed projects are just that. Closed.  They don't matter that much in the equation.

>The only thing MS-PL protects is your own right to go closed source
>after a bunch of other people have added to your work. The most effective
>way would be to take small pieces of a much larger closed source project
>and release them under MS-PL as seeds. Wait for them to grow on the effort
>of others, then harvest them for reinclusion in the original project. You
>get free (as in beer) software development with minimal risk since
>you only released a small part of your program and the vast majority of
>the open source developers can't use any of it.

Yah...and the probability that the "fruits" of these seeds are usable in a larger project no one else has seen without immense refactoring seems rather remote.  And those seeds have to be compelling enough to form useful communities in the first place.

That's a pretty tall order and in the end, there's still more code in the commons than otherwise AND you'll never get to play that trick again if people feel you've used them.

I'm not likely to contribute to a seedling unless it's an itch I want to scratch.  I don't really care that the person that planted the seed has some other use for it so long as I get to use that code too.  Everyone brought something to the table, everyone went home with more than they had before.

How is that not a win-win for everyone involved as long as folks are up front about what's going on?

>If you feel my definition of open source is narrow because I don't
>include that, so be it. As the introduction to the OSD says: "Open
>source doesn't just mean access to the source code."

No, I say your definition of open source is narrow because you believe that no one using MS-PL is doing open source.  If there are OSI approved licenses that aren't open source then the OSD is seriously borked.

Apologies for not replying earlier.  I missed this.

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