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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Microsoft Corp has re-worked a controversial license for a .NET developers' hosted community, after concern the company granted itself wide-ranging rights over developers' code.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has apparently loosened the terms under which ISVs post code to GotDotNet Workspaces, granting all community users rights over intellectual property for an estimated 1,500 .NET applications and projects.

The changes, though, have not proved sufficient for some. Bulletin board postings to the Workspaces site called the changes a step in the right direction, but others have asked why Microsoft needs any rights over stored material.

Jason Pace, GotDotNet group manager, said in a posting to Workspaces: "We want to be clear that our intent was never to assume ownership of your code." Further licensing changes are planned.

Workspaces is Microsoft's growing community for .NET developers, targeted at those working in distributed groups. The service - in beta and due next spring - provides a centralized source for source code control, bug-tracking and discussion boards.

These features emulate the open source community's hugely popular SourceForge.NET, targeted at distributed and enterprise developers working in Linux and open source code. Under Workspaces' previous license, developers posting code to Workspaces granted Microsoft wide-ranging rights over the use and dissemination of source code.

The license said: "By posting Your Stuff [source code], You grant to Microsoft, under all of Your intellectual property and proprietary rights the following worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty free, fully paid up rights:

"1: to make, use, copy, modify and create derivative works of Your Stuff; 2: to publicly perform or display, import, broadcast, transmit, distribute, license, offer to sell, and sell, rent, lease, and lend copies of Your Stuff (and derivative works thereof); 3: to sublicense to third parties, including the right to sublicense to further third parties; and ii) You agree You won't commence any legal action against Microsoft or any Participant or Visitor for exercising any of these rights."

With the changes, the Workspace license reads: "By posting Your Stuff to a Workspace, You understand and agree that you're giving a license under your intellectual property rights to all authorized users of the Workspace, including the rights to download, copy, modify, distribute and repost. In addition, you're giving Microsoft all the necessary rights to make Your Stuff available as part of the Project."

Shawn Nandi, Microsoft product manager, attributed the licensing changes to "a lot of feedback" from customers over how "source code relates to Microsoft ownership." Pace said Microsoft plans additional changes in time for launch of Workspace version 1.0. He said changes would tackle private projects.

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