Microsoft just released it’s ASP.NET MVC 1.0 framework source code the other day, and it’s under Microsoft public license, an open source approved license. Just for fun I went to the Open Source Initiatives license pages and read it. And to my surprise it was short, to the point, no nonsense information on what you could and could not do with the software. For once I didn’t feel I had to go through five years of law school just to understand the basics. So ho short is it? It’s 408 word in plain understandable English.
But how well does this compare to other licenses? Well a comparison between some other popular licenses gave some interesting facts:
The only popular license that is simpler is the New and Simplified BSD licenses that lands on 443 words but actually the license part is only 222 words in plain English.
And for a fun comparison: the legal designers at Apple came up with a 3155 words, hard-to-read license called Apple Public Source License.
Beside MS-PL and Simplified BSD there are only one more readable license I found and that’s the Simple Public License 2.0 with 447 words.
So, do people really understand what the license they are using are telling them or are they using GPL or Apache licenses just because everyone else are using it?
// Håkan Reis