MS shared source licence strangely GPL-like

Non commercial, self-propagating... Heard this somewhere before?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

In his keynote to the recent Government Leaders Conference Bill Gates warned developing countries against using dreaded GPL software in their governments and universities. If they did so, he said, they would be unable to commercialise the resulting programs, and they would never be able to develop an IT industry.

Not such a bad thing that, actually. At the same conference the IDC rep explained how much faster IT spend grew than general investment in the economy, and used that as evidence that IT powers economic growth. Indeed it does, by producing jobs in IT and channeling money back to IT companies headed by people like Bill and analysed by people like IDC. But if, say, brandyballs were deemed an absolutely must-have weapon of competitive advantage, would not the effect be approximately the same, saving that the richest man in the world would be a confectioner?

But we digress. If you look here, you will see the text of something called the Microsoft Shared Source CLI, C# and Jscript License, this one being apparently aimed at the educational market. Shared Source is Microsoft's answer to the GPL, and was referred to in Bill's keynote in the sense that he said Microsoft customers and partners could get access to most of the company's source code if they needed it. So what does it say:

"You may use this Software for any non-commercial purpose, subject to the restrictions in this license. Some purposes which can be non-commercial are teaching, academic research, and personal experimentation. You may also distribute this Software with books or other teaching materials, or publish the Software on websites, that are intended to teach the use of the Software.

"You may not use or distribute this Software or any derivative works in any form for commercial purposes. Examples of commercial purposes would be running business operations, licensing, leasing, or selling the Software, or distributing the Software for use with commercial products."

It's not entirely clear how this fits in with Bill's strictures about not using GPL software because it didn't allow you to commercialise products you produced with it. Perhaps he meant you shouldn't use either GPL or Microsoft software in your universities, but go with BSD or Unix instead?

One of Microsoft's primary objections to the GPL is what it terms its "viral" nature, i.e. anything you produce with it is also subject ot the GPL. So it's a puzzle that the shared source licence says: "if you distribute derivative works of the Software in source code form you do so only under a license that includes all of the provisions of this License, and if you distribute derivative works of the Software solely in object form you do so only under a license that complies with this License."

Which sounds familiar. There is however what sounds like a possible get-out, albeit a weird one: "You may use any information in intangible form that you remember after accessing the Software. However, this right does not grant you a license to any of Microsoft's copyrights or patents for anything you might create using such information." ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story


Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.