July 2006 Archives

Microsoft Permissive License

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As I often write here, the worst legal violation I dislike is False Advertising.

Did you ever know that there are more than just one Microsoft Permissive License? I only knew this one which is widely argued that it could be regarded as conformant to Open Source Definition.

I originally disliked the idea that this MS-PL labelled as one of that "Shared Source License", as it rather seemed an attempt to justifying existing restricted shared source licenses, while I like that MS-PL terms in general.

Now, read this Microsoft Permissive License. It is defined as:

(B) Platform Limitation- The licenses granted in sections 2(A) & 2(B) extend only to the software or derivative works that you create that run on a Microsoft Windows operating system product.

This is an excerpt from Shared Source Initiative Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What licenses are used for Shared Source releases?

A. [...] Microsoft is making it easier for developers all over the world to get its source code under licenses that are simple, predictable, and easy to understand. Microsoft has drafted three primary licenses for all Shared Source releases: the Microsoft Permissive License (Ms-PL), the Microsoft Community License (Ms-CL), and the Microsoft Reference License (Ms-RL). Each is designed to meet a specific set of developer, customer, or business requirements. To learn more about the licenses, please review the Shared Source Licenses overview.

(Emphasis by myself.)

Now I wonder if this is the exact reason why Microsoft did not submit MS-PL as Open Source Definition conformant license.

Now I ponder the legal affection on this behavior (as I was a law student). If it is not regarded as illegal false advertising, it would result that any kind of license statements lose reliability. If it is regarded as illegal, it would result that any kind of authors are imposed to keep their licenses every time they modified. Oh, maybe not all. It could be just limited to wherever SOX laws apply. Which is better?