Mozilla

Release Candidate for Updated Mozilla Public License; New Module Peers

August 20th, 2011

The Mozilla project uses the Mozilla Public License for much of its code, including that of Firefox and Thunderbird.   In 2010 we started the work of updating the MPL (The current version was written in over a decade ago.)    The process incorporates a number of  techniques we use for code:  we’ve released alpha and beta versions; we have a public comment tool, newsgroups for discussions, plus detailed feedback from a number of contributors, including both lawyers and developers.

Release Candidate 1 is now available, together with explanatory material.  I expect that the Mozilla project will adopt the MPL 2.0 for all our code that currently uses the  MPL 1.1.  The discussion about adoption and migration is also underway.

As the module owner for the MPL I am extremely fortunate to work with a group of interested and committed experts on this project.  The revision would not have occurred without this group, and the results would not be anywhere near as good without their leadership.   Therefore, I’m making the four people listed below peers of the MPL module.  Each of this group has deep knowledge about the goals of the license and the update process, the rationale for the changes we made, and our approach to thinking through the complexities.

  • Luis Villa.   Luis holds the drafting pen for this version, and is intimately familiar with every word, every piece of punctuation, and  every decision.  Luis  spent a year as a Mozilla employee while starting this, and continues to contribute as a volunteer now that he’s moved to law firm life.
  • Heather Meeker.  Heather is an attorney who has been a Mozilla contributor for over a decade.  She is a key part of the revision process.  She brings deep expertise in how licenses are used and what problems arise, along with a keen sense of balancing priorities and risk analysis.
  • Harvey Anderson.  Harvey is the General Counsel for Mozilla’s product group.  Harvey launched the MPL revision project, created a setting where Luis could devote himself primarily to the MPL for the starting phase, and has been intimately involved in the drafting.  Harvey was a key sounding board for me when I wrote the initial version of the MPL.  He is also the person who suggested the idea of a  patent defense clause in the MPL 1.1.  To my knowledge that is the first patent defense clause in a FLOSS license.  (If you know of an earlier  one, I’d love to hear about it.)
  • Gervase Markham.  Gerv is the non-laywer among the group.  Gerv has been deeply involved in Mozilla licensing discussions for at least a decade.  Gerv is leading the discussion about the migration of Mozilla code from 1.1 to 2.0  Gerv is also the key person in implementing changes such as the migration.
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4 comments for “Release Candidate for Updated Mozilla Public License; New Module Peers”

  1. 1

    Ian M said on August 21st, 2011 at 7:04 am:

    Whilst I welcome the updated MPL, I’m rather concerned about dropping the (L)GPL additional licenses.

    There’s never been a need for a tri-license, just a dual license with LGPL would have been fine (as it can be converted into GPL).

    Please reconsider dropping the multi-license aspect of the Mozilla codebase. The idea situation would be MPLv2 + LGPLv3, which allows you to convert to GPL and also allows use of Apache code (which v2 wouldn’t allow).

  2. 2

    Dave Hodder said on August 21st, 2011 at 4:02 pm:

    I think the FOSS patent defence clause is indeed a Mozilla innovation. The only other early examples I can think of are the IBM Public License v1.0 (from August 1999) and Academic Free Licence v1.1 (from 2002). The latter was interesting as I believe patent litigation would terminate the whole licence, rather than just the patent grant — however I think MPL v1.1 pre-empted it here the previous year(?). (My memory is hazy. I Am Not A Lawyer.)

  3. 3

    Mitchell said on August 22nd, 2011 at 11:45 pm:

    Dave: thanks! MPL 1.1 was in 1998 or 1999, probably the latter. I’ll see if i can find the date we first posted it.

    Ian: the LGPL is still included – see below. Is there some specific aspect that is an issue for you? if so, a comment in the mailing list / group referenced in the post would help us understand

    1.12. “Secondary License”
    means either the GNU General Public License, Version 2.0 or later,
    the GNU Lesser General Public License, Version 2.1 or later, o

  4. 4

    Pingback from Mozilla Public License Version 2.0 Released | Mitchell's Blog

    [...] particular phrases or section references along with the rationale behind them.  The MPL 2.0 is a vast improvement here as well.  It has 5 peers now,  instead of just [...]

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