Feeds

Google Code blacklists Mozilla Public License

Less is more

Boost IT visibility and business value

OSCON The Mozilla Public License (MPL) is the latest casualty of Google's decision to remove open-source licenses from its popular code hosting service.

The search giant has said Google Code is no longer accepting projects licensed under MPL, although existing MPL-licensed code is allowed to stay.

The move comes two years after Google Code launched, when MPL was one of just seven licenses Google allowed developers to use. Others included Apache, BSD and the Free Software Foundation's GPL and LGPL.

Google's MPL ban follows the block on FSF's Affero GPL. That decision's seen a number of projects abandon Google Code for rival hosts.

As with Affero, the reasons for Google's decision are not entirely clear.

On the one hand, it sounds like Google is using its critical mass to force an industry reduction in the number of open-source licenses. Open source programs manager Chris DiBona said - as with Affero - the move is designed to stop license proliferation inside Google Code. A decent objective.

He told the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) developers are welcome to host MPL projects elsewhere, just not on Google Code. He noted you could still build plug-ins for Mozilla's Firefox browser without licensing under MPL.

Here's where the proliferation argument stumbles, though. DiBona said MPL is not widely used to justify a place on Google Code - also the reason given for blocking Affero.

OK, so proliferation as a concept is bad.

Proliferation is not bad, though, when a license grows in popularity. Two things are needed to pass muster on Google Code: to be used in "thousands" not "hundreds" of projects, plus a dose of "gut measure" from DiBona and his team. "It's so arbitrary," DiBona told The Reg.

It’s Kafkaesque in its simplicity.

It really, though, sounds like Google is concerned about the threat some licenses might pose in terms of code authors and hosts (Google) getting prosecuted by holders of intellectual property (IP) and by the degree of ownership over its own code Google might have to surrender.

Recalling Microsoft saber rattling (here and here) over IP in open source, DiBona told OSCON: "Most open source licenses have not a thing to say explicitly about patents or trade marks."

He added: "That's the reason we use the Apache license as the default license," for Google's projects.

So, no surprise: Apache is considered "safe" for developers, and safe for Google's own business.

This could certainly explain Google's aversion to Affero, which says companies like Google running services are distributing code and must allow consumers of those services to modify and pass on that code. That could threaten the Google's secret algorithmic sauce.

MSL, though, seems relatively harmless. And, how can Google dump MPL when it still seems to accept GPL, a license Microsoft takes strong exception to.

As DiBona told us of the decision to drop MPL: "We [Google] will be unpopular for a while."®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.