For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. roddixon at
Sun Dec 11 00:13:10 UTC 2005

As it is, I think the Ms-PL should not be approved. First, I agree with 
those who have suggested that it is appropriate to determine whether 
Microsoft WANTS OSI-approval of its license BEFORE reviewing it for 

Generally, I have nothing against encouraging Microsoft to produce open 
source software (the Ms-CL actually seems to be an interesting license), but 
the Ms-PL is troubling for a couple of reasons. The Ms-PL does not 
explicitly grant a right of access to source code.  On this point, I would 
expect Microsoft to be at least as clear and explicit as IBM is in the IBM 
Public License. In addition, section 3(D) is nearly incomprehensible. For 
example, the phrase "only do so under a license that complies with this 
license" does not seem all that permissive to me. More fundamentally, I am 
unsure how that provision is intended to work? To review section 3 fairly, I 
would suggest that it be redrafted to state what must be complied with since 
compliance with the entire license sounds a lot like a sublicense.

Rod Dixon

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Cowan" <cowan at>
To: <license-discuss at>
Sent: Friday, December 09, 2005 4:07 PM
Subject: For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License

> Microsoft is adding new licenses to its Shared Source Initiative which I
> believe qualify as open-source licenses.  The first of these is a simple
> permissive license called the Microsoft Permissive License (MS-PL).
> The HTML is online at
> I include the full text in plain form here for convenience in commenting.
> I believe that this license should be approved by OSI even though it
> is basically similar to more widely used permissive licenses, because
> it is better to encourage Microsoft in particular to release under an
> OSI-approved license than not -- I think it very unlikely that they will
> go back and adopt some existing license.
> As noted earlier, I have no connection with Microsoft.
> Microsoft Permissive License (Ms-PL)
> Published: October 18, 2005
> This license governs use of the accompanying software. If you use the
> software, you accept this license. If you do not accept the license,
> do not use the software.
> 1. Definitions
> The terms "reproduce", "reproduction", and "distribution" have the same
> meaning here as under U.S. copyright law.
> "You" means the licensee of the software.
> "Licensed patents" means any Microsoft patent claims which read directly
> on the software as distributed by Microsoft under this license.
> 2. Grant of Rights
> (A) Copyright Grant- Subject to the terms of this license, including the
> license conditions and limitations in section 3, Microsoft grants you a
> non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free copyright license to reproduce
> the software, prepare derivative works of the software and distribute
> the software or any derivative works that you create.
> (B) Patent Grant- Subject to the terms of this license, including the
> license conditions and limitations in section 3, Microsoft grants you
> a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under licensed
> patents to make, have made, use, practice, sell, and offer for sale,
> and/or otherwise dispose of the software or derivative works of the
> software.
> 3. Conditions and Limitations
> (A) No Trademark License- This license does not grant you any rights to
> use Microsoft's name, logo, or trademarks.
> (B) If you begin patent litigation against Microsoft over patents that you
> think may apply to the software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim
> in a lawsuit), your license to the software ends automatically.
> (C) If you distribute copies of the software or derivative works, you
> must retain all copyright, patent, trademark, and attribution notices
> that are present in the software.
> (D) If you distribute the software or derivative works in source code form
> you may do so only under this license (i.e., you must include a complete
> copy of this license with your distribution), and if you distribute the
> software or derivative works in compiled or object code form you may
> only do so under a license that complies with this license.
> (E) The software is licensed "as-is". You bear the risk of using
> it. Microsoft gives no express warranties, guarantees or conditions. You
> may have additional consumer rights under your local laws which this
> license cannot change. To the extent permitted under your local laws,
> Microsoft excludes the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness
> for a particular purpose and non-infringement.
> -- 
> John Cowan  cowan at
> Nobody expects the RESTafarian Inquisition!  Our chief weapon is
> surprise ... surprise and tedium  ... tedium and surprise ....
> Our two weapons are tedium and surprise ... and ruthless disregard
> for unpleasant facts....  Our three weapons are tedium, surprise, and
> ruthless disregard ... and an almost fanatical devotion to Roy 
> Fielding....

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