For approval: MXM Public license

OSI review osi-review at
Wed Apr 8 13:23:50 UTC 2009

Dear all,

I am submitting this license on behalf of Mr. Leonardo Chiariglione, the
convenor of the MPEG Working Group (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11). MPEG is
currently working on the ISO/IEC 23006 MPEG eXtensible Middleware (MXM)
standard, which has reached the Committee Draft status, and this license
is intended to cover the reference implementation of said upcoming standard.

** Rationale for submission

I and Mr. Chiariglione, as well as other people familiar with the
matter, have been discussing about the possibility to make the reference
implementation that would accompany the above mentioned upcoming
International Standard under a Free/Open Source Software that could meet
the concerns of the technology contributors' community (mainly, the
multimedia software and content industry). We have come to the
conclusion that the Mozilla Public License was the closest to meet the
constraints, but for the patent deals into it. So we have worked to
modify the MPL into what we called the MXM License, which has gathered
interim consensus from the Working Group.

The ISO/IEC Working Group have expressed the desire to receive the
approval from OSI, and Mr. Chiariglione has asked me to volunteer for
going through the process. Therefore I am submitting the license here,
but the steward of the license is going to be Mr. Chiariglione himself,
who receives a carbon copy of this email.

As you will notice, we have removed some of the patent conditions that
existed in the MPL. This is because none of the contributors would have
accepted to encapsulate their patents in a FOSS license without the
ability to ask for a license separately from the copyright. This is a
basic tenet that is enshrined in the so-called ISO/IEC Directives for
the development of International Standards. Some of you might know about
my public stance against software patents and my approval to some of the
licenses which impose implied licensing to or patent retaliation against
all who distribute FOSS software while relying on patent protection.
However, the sad truth is that if we did not offer a patent-agnostic
license we would have made all efforts to have an open source reference
implementation moot.

I have insisted and obtained, however, that an explicit patent covenant
be inserted, to the effect to exclude from any patent concern all who
don't distribute the compiled version of the software and to those who
compile it only for internal purposes without direct commercial
exploitation. This covenant being irrevocable, unconditioned and
detached from the copyright licensing conditions. I have asked myself if
this could work and if it complied with the OSI definition. My  final
conclusion is that if the BSD family is considered compliant, so shall
be the MXM, as it does not condition the copyright grant to the
obtaining of the patents, just as the BSD licenses don't deal with them.
And insofar an implementer is confident that the part of the code it
uses if free from the patented area, or it decided to later challenge
the patent in case an infringement litigation is threatened, the license
works just fine.

I also have added some modification to the "litigation" section, where I
introduced the concept of RAND patent pool. At least.

** Closest OSI-Approved license: MPL

See above for a discussion about the main differences with the MPL

** Proliferation category: Special purpose licenses

Please be informed that this license is conceived and intended to be
used only to cover a specific use, possibly only extended to similar
standards and to serve an example to ISO/IEC that a reference
implementation could be made open source.

Not for general use

** Status of the license and my personal

Despite the license being unofficially approved, we are most keen to
receive any feedback from the reviewers and will gladly accept any
suggestion or improvement, as long as possible. I will humbly take any
blame for the legal mischief done and will work to sort things out.

I am a lawyer qualified in Italy and before the European Court of
Justice. I am legal counsel to the Free Software Foundation Europe, as
well as to some Free/Open Source Software projects, and I am an
outspoken Free Software and Digital Liberties advocate, but I am here
acting independently from any of my appointments and solely upon
instructions from my Client Mr. Chiariglione. None of my words shall be
attributed to any other clients or entities to which I am publicly

I attach hereto a plaintext version of the license.

Thank you for your attention.

Carlo Piana

Avv. Carlo Piana

Piazza Castello 24 - 20121 Milan - Italy
phone +39 02 72 00000 3
fax +39 02 86 90 901 (firm) (blog)
email carlo at

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