OSI Approves Microsoft License Submissions

A few moths ago, Microsoft submitted the Microsoft Permissive License (Ms-PL) and the Microsoft Community License (Ms-CL) to the OSI for approval. Both have been approved, albeit with some modifications, including name changes for both. From the official announcement:

Acting on the advice of the License Approval Chair, the OSI Board today approved the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) and the Microsoft Reciprocal License (Ms-RL). The decision to approve was informed by the overwhelming (though not unanimous) consensus from the open source community that these licenses satisfied the 10 criteria of the Open Source definition, and should therefore be approved.

The formal evaluation of these licenses began in August and the discussion of these licenses was vigourous and thorough. The community raised questions that Microsoft (and others) answered; they raised issues that, when germane to the licenses in question, Microsoft addressed. Microsoft came to the OSI and submitted their licenses according to the published policies and procedures that dozens of other parties have followed over the years. Microsoft didn’t ask for special treatment, and didn’t receive any. In spite of recent negative interactions between Microsoft and the open source community, the spirit of the dialog was constructive and we hope that carries forward to a constructive outcome as well.

Some in the community wanted these licenses to be rejected solely on the fact that it was Microsoft that submitted them. While it’s easy to be mistrusting of MSFT, that would have been being petty for the sake of being petty and not at all in the spirit of the Open Source community. If you truly believe in choice and these licenses meet the OSD (and the OSI thinks they do), then it’s reasonable that they should be legitimate options, regardless of who came up with them. Russ has more to say in this blog post:

Of course, Microsoft is not widely trusted in the Open Source world, and their motives have been called into question during the approval discussions. How can they be attacking Open Source projects on one hand, and seeking not only to use open source methods, but use of the OSI Approved Open Source trademark? Nobody knows for sure except for Microsoft. But if you are confident that Open Source is the best way to develop software (as we at the Open Source Initiative are), then you can see why Microsoft would both attack Open Source and seek to use it at the same time. It is both their salvation and their enemy.

It should be interesting to see where Microsoft goes from here. This isn’t carte blanche for them to start claiming Open Source after all, as only code licensed under one of these two licenses qualifies as Open Source.

Additional coverage:
Matt Asay
Matthew Aslett

–jeremy

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