Mozilla

Updating the Mozilla Public License

March 10th, 2010

Twelve years ago I spent the month of March frantically drafting version 1.0 of the Mozilla Public License. That was a public process, a part of the launch of the Mozilla project. Approximately a year later we created the 1.1 version.

Since then a decade has gone by without any further revisions of the MPL. This is in part a great success story. At the same time, a decade is a long time not to look at something as basic as the license. Ways of working that were “best practices” a decade ago may not make sense today. FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) is far better understood today. When I wrote the MPL we drew upon the GPL v2 for many ideas, and on the MIT and BSD and early Apache license. Since then, both the Apache license and the GPL have been updated.

It’s time to look at updating the MPL. It’s time to see if we can make the MPL easier to use and incorporate a decade’s worth of experience. In particular I’m hoping to modernize and simplify the license while still keeping the things that have made it and the Mozilla project such a success.

We’ll do this through a public process of course. Here are the tools available, as of today:

Over the years we’ve received feedback about the license, and we’ll use some of that, plus early comments here, to produce an early “alpha” version of what a new license might look like. Once we have published an alpha draft, we will have time for commentary, discussion, and further drafting, followed by beta and release candidate drafts. We hope to complete the process by the end of 2010.

The organizers of this effort to date are below. We expect this group to grow.

  • Gerv Markham (who has been working with Mozilla licensing issues for almost a decade himself)
  • Luis Villa (long time open source contributor, recent law school graduate)
  • Harvey Anderson (assisted with MPL 1.0 and 1.1);
  • me; and
  • possibly you!
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