Subject: Re: For Approval: Microsoft Permissive License
From: "Alexander Terekhov" <>
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2007 12:30:04 +0200

On 9/25/07, Chris Travers <> wrote:
> On 9/24/07, Smith, McCoy <> wrote:
> >
> > Well, here's one lawyer that will quote another (who does post on this
> > list with some regularity):
> >
> > "The BSD license even allows software to be taken from that public commons
> > and used in proprietary applications. There is no obligation for the
> > licensee to return anything to the commons. But despite the absence of such
> > an obligation, the BSD "gift of freedom" is being repaid over and over by
> > companies and individuals who see more value to them in giving software away
> > under an academic license than in keeping it private."
> First, this does not require sublicensing since the BSD license addresses

I just note... here's same lawyer and same book (and even same chapter):

"The Right to Sublicense

The MIT license also grants the right to sublicense, a word missing
entirely from the BSD license grant."

> every downstream recipient of the source code so licensed.  It does *not*
> require that other content *added* to such a work carry the same license.
> Hence these components can carry with them arbitrary copyright restrictions.
> The only comment I have been able to find by Mr Rosen on this particular
> issue of sublicensing is that it is not clear.  Please see the thread on OSI
> Approval Process and read both Mr Rosen's email and the message it was in
> reply to.
> Also see
>  My main point being that the BSDL works in this way.

And here comes the arch paragon of "software freedom" jurisprudence:

"The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has prepared this document for
developers who wish to incorporate permissive-licensed1 code into
GPL'd projects.2"

"1 We refer to terms as "permissive terms" or "permissive licenses" if
they grant relatively broad copyright permissions with few conditions
and are understood to be permissive enough to allow incorporation of
code into a larger work, the totality of which is governed by the more
restrictive terms of the GPL. Examples of permissive licenses include
the modified BSD license" and the ISC license (sometimes called the
2-clause BSD license).

Note "totality".

"2 For simplicity, we refer to versions 2 and 3 of the GNU General
Public License simply as "the GPL" when our observations apply to
either version. In accord with longstanding free software community
usage, we use "GPL'd" to mean "licensed under the GPL".

I gather that removal of additional permissions under GPLv3 is to be
addressed separately...

"The other half of the question is whether the non-GPL license
presents any obstacle to incorporation of the code it covers into a
larger work that is covered as a whole by the GPL's copyleft. For most
who are familiar with such licenses, the answer might appear to be
obvious, but it deserves some attention. The terms of permissive
licenses allow unlimited modification and redistribution in source or
binary form, so long as the stated minimal notice preservation
requirements are met. An isolated reading of these simple licenses, in
ignorance of historical community practice, "

LOL. I smell Eben The Historian.

"can in some cases support more than one interpretation, depending on
whether certain permissions are implicit or explicit and on the
treatment of that difference under local law."

Hmm. Sounds like admission of a problem.

"From the beginnings of their use, however, the permissive licenses
have been understood by their licensors and licensees alike to permit
the code they cover to be incorporated within larger works covered as
a whole by more restrictive terms,"

Note magic "as a whole". GNU speak 101.

"including more restrictive FOSS licenses like the GPL"


"as well as, indeed, by proprietary licenses."


"This understanding represents the uninterrupted, longstanding
practice and expectation of the global information technology
industry, including both its free and proprietary divisions, with vast
commercial reliance on the result. As such, disruption of the
established interpretation of the permissive licenses is neither
likely nor desirable."


Eben as a spokesman for proprietary division of global information
technology industry!!!

My, what a comedian.


"PJ points out that lawyers seem to have difficulty understanding the
GPL. My main concern with GPLv3 is that - unlike v2 - non-lawyers can't
understand it either."
                              -- Anonymous Groklaw Visitor