We have the beginnings of a butterfly effect in the works here. The small, seemingly inconsequential ripple event started here:
It was here that Microsoft published the WPF Ribbon and a corresponding usage sample under the MS-PL license.
The ripple grew a bit larger when Patrick Danino stated that the WPF Ribbon and sample published at the above address had been pulled with the qualifiers that this posting was not in keeping with Microsoft quality
concerns, not in line with needed community feedback and not consistent with the official release of the WPF Ribbon. Is this a display of retroactive prejudice?
The one ripple then sets off a few more when Alexis Roosa clarified that the WPF Ribbon published at the above address was actually taken down because the sample only required acceptance of the MS-PL license,
not the Office Fluent UI license. Thus the remarks made by Patrick Danino become questionable and perhaps disingenuous. Unfortunately, the qualifiers made by Alexis Roosa were also factually incorrect since he had stated that the WPF Ribbon published
at this address was the same version as the one published under the Office Fluent UI license, which was not the case.
At no point was there any recognition given to the fact that posting the WPF Ribbon under an MS-PL license is not subject to an arbitrary repeal and not something that can merely be undone without consequence.
Why? Because of this:
Let’s say that one day SHMACME Corp. invents this really cool widget called a Sibbon Bar, incorporates it into various products, releases a bunch of marketing spiel about the stellar invention, and issues a fancy license for the technology (the very
stringent “Off Ice Fluent UI license”, because the big boss likes Hockey). SHMACME Corp. also makes several prominent statements about how critical this Sibbon Bar thingy is to the business, future plans, and the great value it brings to
its products, implying that it might be worth a billion dollars.
Then on the following day SHMACME Corp. posts the Sibbon Bar widget on one of its official web sites with something it calls an NS-PL license. This license happens to be quite permissive and generous to adopters. SMACME Corp. immediately (one
minute later) sees this and goes woohoo, since it can now incorporate the Sibbon Bar into its product without concern for stringent licensing issues, costs, and patents now that the strict Off Ice Fluent UI license no longer applies because it has been replaced
by the very liberal NS-PL license. Best of all, SMACME doesn’t have to worry about massive law suits coming from SHMACME. On the same day SMACME Corp. releases a product featuring a shiny new Sibbon Bar, immediately followed by a deluge of
product orders worth a billion dollars.
The day after that SHMACME Corp. retracts the post it made on the previous day stating that it was all a big mistake. Shortly thereafter (one minute later) SHMACME Corp. sues SMACME Corp. for one billion dollars because it so egregiously violated its
Off Ice Fluent UI licensing terms which strictly forbids the type of use SMACME made of the Sibbon Bar.
As the corresponding TV commercial implies … even a kid can see the fault in this scenario. If this was actually possible, corporations would start making these mistakes intentionally as a means of creating revenue.
SHMACME Corp. will have to eat it, as do all other companies when such mistakes are made. The Off Ice Fluent UI license was effectively replaced by the more liberal NS-PL license issued the following day. The NS-PL License is not subject to arbitrary
repeal. Such a prospect is simply ludicrous. Ask any kid.
There are a number of other interesting things to consider when a .Net assembly is released with the MS-PL license. Since .Net assemblies are easily reverted to source code form, does that mean that a .Net assembly released in binary under the MS-PL
license implicitly includes an MS-PL source code license? I am inclined to think that would be the case since MS-PL includes no provision for disassembly or reverse assembly. Just think about the implications to IP.
This suggests that one has to include specific qualifiers for elements of a project published with an MS-PL license; otherwise everything that is part of the project is subject to its terms when those components are from the same source/publisher.
There are clearly common sense exceptions, third party components being one example.
Caveat emptor. What’s stated here is merely supposition.