Procedure for using an approved license

Dave Nelson dnelson at
Mon Oct 7 18:46:11 UTC 2002

Thanks to all for the helpful replies.

I'll use the MPL as-is like David Johnson recommends. I'm not really
concerned about Netscape changing the license terms, but would probably
feel differently if it was Microsoft...

Regarding section 11, by dumb luck I happen to be located in Santa Clara
County, so that paragraph works for me.


    On Mon, 2002-10-07 at 08:25, Mitchell Baker wrote: First I'll
    respond to the question of renaming the license.  Then to some of
    the particular issues raised with the MPL.
    Using the MPL unchanged is helpful for combining code from projects
    and avoiding complexity.  But if this is not acceptable, then Dave's
    technique is a good one.  First, it lets people know of the only
    change quickly.  Second, the only change concerns a potential future
    event -- the possibility of a different future version.  Until that
    possibility occurs, the code from the two projects is effectively
    licensed under the same terms.  So combining code from the two
    projects is simplified.  Not as simple as if both used the MPL of
    course, but still well within the realm of possibility.  
    I can't speak as to OSI's practices for certification.
    As to the particular issues raised, I can give some background as to
    why the MPL is the way it is  And James, if there are other things
    in which your lawyers are interested, please feel free to have them
    contact me.  I can explain the thinking when the MPL was written, as
    well as what we've learned since.  Also, I'm interested in learning
    what works well for people, and what doesn't.  
    Section 6.1.  We felt some provision for changing the license was
    necessary.   We realized that the chance of the MPL being perfect in
    its first release (or really, any particular release) was small to
    nil.  Perfection is the goal, but we we're not so arrogant as to
    think we've reached it :-)   Code evolves, a license might need to
    as well.  The GPL has been undated several times.  New laws might be
    enacted which would suggest changes be made (UCITA perhaps being
    one).  A lawsuit could do the same thing.  Also, as time goes on,
    the community might find new needs arising, and some way to respond
    in the licenses will be required.
    Once we decided that some way of accommodating change was needed,
    the obvious question is:  who will make this decision.  I'd prefer to Netscape immensely, but is not a separate
    legal entity for historical reasons.  For practical purposes, the
    MPL is managed by staff, but that's hard to write into a
    legal document.  So we ended up with Netscape.  It is clearly
    understood that this right to change the license is one of
    stewardship.  Changing the license without a consensus is dangerous,
    and changing the license to benefit Netscape is deadly.    
    Section 11.  Venue and jurisdiction is an area where I don't think
    we have a good solution yet.  It seems to me that the next version
    of the MPL should allow different choices for new Original Code. 
    (That is, code not based on releases.)  So others could
    adopt the MPL for use with their project and make their own
    choices.  I think the MPL community would want this, though we
    haven't yet had extensive discussions.  I suspect there will be some
    issues when code with different choice of law and venue provisions
    are combined and end up in court, but I haven't done research on
    this lately.
    Hope this is of interest.
    James E. Harrell, Jr. wrote:
        Open Source friends,
        I've been looking at MPL 1.1 as well. One of the reasons I would
        replace the word "Netscape" with my own company name is #6.2:
            6.2. Effect of New Versions.
            Once Covered Code has been published under a particular
            version of the License, You may always continue to use it
            under the terms of that version. You may also choose to
            use such Covered Code under the terms of any subsequent
            version of the License published by Netscape. No one other
            than Netscape has the right to modify the terms applicable
            to Covered Code created under this License.
        The last sentence is a difficult one for me- why would I ever want
        to be able to supplant this license with what they deem to be another
        version? That version might say "All covered code automatically becomes the
        sole property of Netscape corporation..." Not suggesting that they would,
        Further, if I take this license to legal review and finally do find it to
        be acceptable for my product, what happens when MPL 1.2 comes out? The legal
        review is then pointless (or at least has to be re-done); but worse, if I
        like the terms of MPL 1.2, now I have a product that is licensed under terms
        that I don't find acceptable- and I have now way to keep you from using it
        the terms of MPL 1.2.
        Now, give that MPL 1.1 is probably one of the most suitable licenses for
        commercial Open Source products... but there are some minor things that
        not be acceptable for our lawyers... does that mean it's time to try another
        one specifically geared to Open Source commercial products that solves the
        templating problem (and maybe some others?)
        -- OR --
        Perhaps someone can really address the question that Dave asked- or maybe
        really my re-phrase of the original question:
        Is this *a* correct procedure? (I change "the" to "a")
        Given this procedure, is this license automatically 'OSI certified'?
        *NOTE* MPL 1.2 is solely used in conjecture for the purposes of this email!
        Thanks for help understanding this too!
            -----Original Message-----
            From: David Johnson [mailto:david at]
            Sent: Sunday, October 06, 2002 10:03 PM
            To: Dave Nelson; OpenSource Licensing Discussion Group
            Subject: Re: Procedure for using an approved license
            On Sunday 06 October 2002 02:10 pm, Dave Nelson wrote:
                I wish to use the Mozilla 1.1 license, but don't know the exact
                procedures here.
                I copied the Mozilla 1.1 license from your site, replace 'Netscape' with
                my company, and 'Mozilla' with my product, and Netscape trademarks with
                mine. No other changes were made. Then added a line under the title
            You did too much unnecessary work. The MPL is sufficiently
            "templatized" that
            you don't need to do all this.
            You only need to change the words "Mozilla" and "Netscape" if you make a
            derivative license of the MPL. This does not seem to be your intent.
            Far simpler: Just fill in EXHIBIT A with your name, software,
            etc., and you
            are done!
            You *do* want to keep the name "Mozilla Public License", because people
            already know what it is and what rights it confers. Changing the name will
            only cause confusion.
            David Johnson
            pgp public key on website
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