Subject: Re: For Approval: Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL)
From: Mitchell Baker <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 23:20:50 -0800

Russell Nelson wrote:

>John Cowan writes:
> > My overall judgment:  I strongly urge the OSI to approve this license,
> > and to consider using it as part of a list of recommended licenses in
> > place of the MPL.
>[ At which point, Mitchell Baker (the author of the MPL, in case
>anybody is just tuning in) had an official cow. ]
>Mitchell is obviously correct in saying that the Mozilla license has
>withstood the test of time, both in that the Mozilla project has not
>felt the need for changes to the license, and in that other parties
>have used its philosophy and language in their own licenses.
>However, the fact that they have had to create a new license rather
>than simply applying the MPL to their own software says that the MPL
>is seriously flawed as a standard license.
The fact that Sun has created a new license means that *all* existing 
licenses are seriously flawed for their purposes.  Sun isn't using the 
GPL, the OSL the ASL, the CPL, the GPL, the BSD or any of the other 
licenses Sun has created.  So *all* of these licenses must be seriously 
flawed as a standard license for Sun's purposes. 

Sun new license may ultimately prove to be an improvement.  It may not.  
Sun's experience may not represent those of the entire open source 
community.  Some of the changes may sit well with one constituency and 
not another.  The patent changes are one example.  I've heard that some 
people don't want to use the Sun Public License (a clone of the MPL) 
because they feel that the patent protection offered to those who 
contribute code to the project is too strong.  That's a fine view and 
it's fine for Sun to wrote a license that strikes a different patent 
balance.  It's fine for Sun to strike a different balance for any number 
of reasons.  But that new balance may *not* be better for the open 
source community at large.  It may favor large patent holders for 
example.  It may work better in practice, or it may not.  We don't know 
yet.  But to assume that because some of  Sun's  partners want different 
terms doesn't mean that the MPL is seriously flawed.  (The MPL is 
undoubtedly imperfect and is in need of updating, I agree with this.)  I 
also understand that there have been suggestions for changes to the 
patent balance Sun initially struck.  One again, these may be good 
changes.  They may work well in practice.  They may not.  

This rush to judgment is extraordinary to me.