Subject: Re: For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License
From: "Chris Travers" <chris.travers@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2007 09:53:47 -0700
Wed, 22 Aug 2007 09:53:47 -0700
IANAL, etc.  Maybe someone should hire a lawyer to send a writeup of the
concepts under this discussion here, however.

Do you disagree that:
1)  Copyright licenses are additive (i.e. one gets the sum of permissions
from *all* copyright licenses granted to one for a given work)?
2)  Only the copyright owner or his/her agent can grant licenses or issue
restrictions?
3)  Only the copyright owner or his/her agent can enforce violations of
copyright licenses?

On 8/22/07, Wilson, Andrew <andrew.wilson@intel.com> wrote:
>
>
> Chris Travers wrote:
>
>
> > Matthew Flaschen <matthew.flaschen@gatech.edu> wrote:
> >>      Chris Travers wrote:
> >>> Note that I am *not* allowed to change the license of BSDL code I
> distribute
> >>> as part of my GPL'd application.  How is the MS-PL different?
> >>
> >>      You can't remove the BSD license text.  But you can add a
> license
> >>      (sublicense).  The latter is not true of MS-PL.
> >
> > What exactly do you think a license is?  Under what right do you have
> to add one to someone else's code?
> >
> > I always thought a license was essentially a grant of permission to do
> something that might otherwise be restricted.  To > add a license in
> this case would mean?  Are you adding permissions not granted by the
> BSDL?  Is that allowed?
>
> Chris ... many of us have tried to educate you on this issue, and you're
> not listening.  BSD is a permissive license.  Everything that is not
> forbidden
> under BSD (such as removing the copyright notices, or suing the original
> authors)
> is permitted.



I am listening.  However, my points aren't being answered.  I hear the same
"this is how it works" mantra repeated over and over (always preceded with
'IANAL'), but no discussion over the points.  If you want to convince me,
address my points.  The issue is this:

The issue is whether what you are proposing is even allowed under copyright
law.  I think we both have the same reading of the BSDL and the MS-PL
(permissive grants to use/distribute the work provided that certain broad
conditions are met).  Where we disagree is whether what you propose is
allowed under larger legal frameworks absent a clear transfer of copyright
*ownership.*  In short, I think that no amount of adding licenses would
allow me to go after someone for infringing any copyright licenses on
sections of code which I had merely included with the permission of the
copyright owner.

And since licenses are permissive grants (rather than restrictive
contracts), adding licenses has no effect anyway since I cannot remove
conditions placed on the work by the original copyright owner.  The original
section of code is *still* only licensed under the original terms even if
the larger work (and even my changes) may grant different permissions for
the aggregate.

If I am wrong on any of the above points, please point me to where I am
wrong and provide resources to back up your point.

For more detail:

Someone owns the copyright to a section of code, a work as a whole, etc.
The copyright owner and the copyright owner alone can issue permissive
grants to use that work in ways otherwise prohibited under copyright law.
This is *separate* from the rights granted in such a license because it
*requires* assignement of copyrights to the licensor and such language is
lacking from the BSDL (if it were not, then one could remove the license,
etc. because one would have the permission to change the terms under which
it was distributed).

Those permission grants are "copyright licenses" and they are additive.
Neither the GPL nor the BSDL is a set of restrictions, but rather a
permissive grant to do something that otherwise would be restricted by law.
Only a copyright owner can make such a grant so the fact that it is not
forbidden in the BSDL does *not* mean you can do it.

In this view, the GPL does not require passing on restrictions to original
components of derivative works.  It only requires granting rights such that
the derivative work could be used in all cases as if it were under the GPL.
Nothing prevents a superset of rights from being granted.

  Yes, adding another license in a derivative of BSD code
> is permitted
> as long as said license doesn't violate the short list of
> thou-shalt-nots in BSD.



But it requires copyright transfer rather than license.  Therefore it is
still forbidden because copyrights are not effectively transferred.  I could
be wrong.  IANAL, but I thought that only copyright owners (not mere
licensees) could dictate such terms.  If I am wrong on this point, please
educate me by pointing me in the direction of resources which prove it.

That's what makes it permissive, for crying out loud.



No.  WHat makes it a permissive license is that a) it does not mandate a
license for derivative works and b) does not require that you publish the
source code for binaries you create.  It does *not* transfer copyrights to
an extent required for one to tell people what they can do with code you did
not create, however.


Your misreading of BSD, I suppose, would not be an issue, except
> it is blinding you to a salient point about a license under
> review, e.g. MS-PL.



The issue is not the BSDL.  It is whether what you are proposing is even
allowed under copyright law.  I think we both have the same reading of the
BSDL a permissive grant to use/distribute the work provided that certain
broad conditions are met.  Where we disagree is whether what you propose is
allowed under larger legal frameworks absent a clear transfer of copyright
*ownership.*


>   MS-PL is not permissive in the same sense
> as BSD, MIT, or Apache, because it does not allow overlaying
> a compatible license in a derivative work.


Does it?  As long as the rights are a superset of the rights granted (since
licenses are additive) under other licenses, this is moot.  My reading of
the MS-PL does *not* extend to altered portions of the code or derivative
works.

I.e. the question of adding the GPL to BSDL code is a moot question because
nothing in the BSDL prevents you from adhering to the terms of the GPL if
you want to.  The GPL restrictions do not extend to BSDL code that is merely
included in the work with the permission of the copyright owner (i.e. under
the terms of the BSDL  because licenses are additive.


IANAL, etc.  Maybe someone should hire a lawyer to send a writeup of the concepts under this discussion here, however.

Do you disagree that:
1)  Copyright licenses are additive (i.e. one gets the sum of permissions from *all* copyright licenses granted to one for a given work)?
2)  Only the copyright owner or his/her agent can grant licenses or issue restrictions?
3)  Only the copyright owner or his/her agent can enforce violations of copyright licenses?

On 8/22/07, Wilson, Andrew <andrew.wilson@intel.com> wrote:

Chris Travers wrote:


> Matthew Flaschen <matthew.flaschen@gatech.edu> wrote:
>>      Chris Travers wrote:
>>> Note that I am *not* allowed to change the license of BSDL code I
distribute
>>> as part of my GPL'd application.  How is the MS-PL different?
>>
>>      You can't remove the BSD license text.  But you can add a
license
>>      (sublicense).  The latter is not true of MS-PL.
>
> What exactly do you think a license is?  Under what right do you have
to add one to someone else's code?
>
> I always thought a license was essentially a grant of permission to do
something that might otherwise be restricted.  To > add a license in
this case would mean?  Are you adding permissions not granted by the
BSDL?  Is that allowed?

Chris ... many of us have tried to educate you on this issue, and you're
not listening.  BSD is a permissive license.  Everything that is not
forbidden
under BSD (such as removing the copyright notices, or suing the original
authors)
is permitted.


I am listening.  However, my points aren't being answered.  I hear the same "this is how it works" mantra repeated over and over (always preceded with 'IANAL'), but no discussion over the points.  If you want to convince me, address my points.  The issue is this:

The issue is whether what you are proposing is even allowed under copyright law.  I think we both have the same reading of the BSDL and the MS-PL (permissive grants to use/distribute the work provided that certain broad conditions are met).  Where we disagree is whether what you propose is allowed under larger legal frameworks absent a clear transfer of copyright *ownership.*  In short, I think that no amount of adding licenses would allow me to go after someone for infringing any copyright licenses on sections of code which I had merely included with the permission of the copyright owner.

And since licenses are permissive grants (rather than restrictive contracts), adding licenses has no effect anyway since I cannot remove conditions placed on the work by the original copyright owner.  The original section of code is *still* only licensed under the original terms even if the larger work (and even my changes) may grant different permissions for the aggregate.

If I am wrong on any of the above points, please point me to where I am wrong and provide resources to back up your point.

For more detail:

Someone owns the copyright to a section of code, a work as a whole, etc.  The copyright owner and the copyright owner alone can issue permissive grants to use that work in ways otherwise prohibited under copyright law.  This is *separate* from the rights granted in such a license because it *requires* assignement of copyrights to the licensor and such language is lacking from the BSDL (if it were not, then one could remove the license, etc. because one would have the permission to change the terms under which it was distributed). 

Those permission grants are "copyright licenses" and they are additive.  Neither the GPL nor the BSDL is a set of restrictions, but rather a permissive grant to do something that otherwise would be restricted by law.  Only a copyright owner can make such a grant so the fact that it is not forbidden in the BSDL does *not* mean you can do it.

In this view, the GPL does not require passing on restrictions to original components of derivative works.  It only requires granting rights such that the derivative work could be used in all cases as if it were under the GPL.  Nothing prevents a superset of rights from being granted. 

  Yes, adding another license in a derivative of BSD code
is permitted
as long as said license doesn't violate the short list of
thou-shalt-nots in BSD.


But it requires copyright transfer rather than license.  Therefore it is still forbidden because copyrights are not effectively transferred.  I could be wrong.  IANAL, but I thought that only copyright owners (not mere licensees) could dictate such terms.  If I am wrong on this point, please educate me by pointing me in the direction of resources which prove it.

That's what makes it permissive, for crying out loud.


No.  WHat makes it a permissive license is that a) it does not mandate a license for derivative works and b) does not require that you publish the source code for binaries you create.  It does *not* transfer copyrights to an extent required for one to tell people what they can do with code you did not create, however.
 

Your misreading of BSD, I suppose, would not be an issue, except
it is blinding you to a salient point about a license under
review, e.g. MS-PL.


The issue is not the BSDL.  It is whether what you are proposing is even allowed under copyright law.  I think we both have the same reading of the BSDL a permissive grant to use/distribute the work provided that certain broad conditions are met.  Where we disagree is whether what you propose is allowed under larger legal frameworks absent a clear transfer of copyright *ownership.*
 
  MS-PL is not permissive in the same sense
as BSD, MIT, or Apache, because it does not allow overlaying
a compatible license in a derivative work.

Does it?  As long as the rights are a superset of the rights granted (since licenses are additive) under other licenses, this is moot.  My reading of the MS-PL does *not* extend to altered portions of the code or derivative works.

I.e. the question of adding the GPL to BSDL code is a moot question because nothing in the BSDL prevents you from adhering to the terms of the GPL if you want to.  The GPL restrictions do not extend to BSDL code that is merely included in the work with the permission of the copyright owner ( i.e. under the terms of the BSDL  because licenses are additive.