Microsoft banishes GPLv3-licensed content from the Marketplace

An interesting point has come up regarding the limitations on applications accepted to Microsoft's Marketplace for both Windows Phone and Xbox: no open source code may be used in the application.

Jan Wildeboer ran across a forum entry and preceded to search through the Microsoft Application Provider Agreement to see exactly where Microsoft stood on the issue of different licenses within their own Marketplace. The section in question comes from the Microsoft Application Provider Agreement in article 5, point E:

e. The Application must not include software, documentation, or other materials that, in whole or in part, are governed by or subject to an Excluded License, or that would otherwise cause the Application to be subject to the terms of an Excluded License.

While at first this may not seem too odd or even unacceptable, it is the definition of just what an "Excluded License" is that becomes disappointing. Basically an "Excluded License" is any that requires the license to be distributed with the software subject to the license. This means your GPLv3, LGPLv3, Affero GPLv3, as well as any others that force coders to include the license with a distribution of the product.

“Excluded License” means any license requiring, as a condition of use, modification and/or distribution of the software subject to the license, that the software or other software combined and/or distributed with it be (i) disclosed or distributed in source code form; (ii) licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (iii) redistributable at no charge. Excluded Licenses include, but are not limited to the GPLv3 Licenses. For the purpose of this definition, “GPLv3 Licenses” means the GNU General Public License version 3, the GNU Affero General Public License version 3, the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3, and any equivalents to the foregoing.

Now this doesn't exactly mean that Microsoft is against all things open source, but more likely that they want to attempt keeping applications cleaner in their Marketplace by not having to display the open source license for just one tiny part used in an application. This is probably done just to streamline the process of installing and quickly using applications without having to deal with all sorts of licenses.

It is a bit disheartening though that Microsoft has chosen to forbid any open source software that uses these licenses as there are plenty of good code samples about that would save developers time by implementing the already-existing technologies. However, there is probably a good reason, even maybe just as simple as stated above to prevent any clutter or extra work in installing and using an application.

Don't forget to check out the thread in the forums to see what people are saying on the issue, too.

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This article has been completely and thoroughly debunked:
http://thenextweb.com/microsof...e-from-the-wp7-marketplace/

This is classic anti-Microsoft viral propaganda, presumably originating in the Google/Apple complex.

There's a very specific type of rumour which has a consistent tendency to flourish in this way: anti-MS rumours. What we are witnessing here is essentially the interplay between (1) corporate propaganda from Apple, Google, and their fan communities, and (2) websites like this one willing to report and promote viral propaganda stories like this one without question, unmoderated, no matter now blatantly speculative or unfounded the rumour may be.

Microsoft doesn't help itself by explicitly naming the GPL3 does it? So basically that article is stating the reason for the exclusion boils down to DRM. O, Microsoft, the fabled advocate of DRM. How does this show them in a good light again? If you buy a WP7 phone you are supporting digital restrictions management. Didn't companies learn from the mp3 debacle?

It's interesting, because in the commercial world of building business applications for customers, it is often preferred that our custom built applications make use of less rather than more open source software (even if it's permitted to be used commercially). These often include 3rd party control tools or application frameworks.

For some organizations it's more legal work to ensure that use of open source software in their product is legal. This means that some customers would rather pay for 3rd party tools because those are more explicitly licensed to be used whereas open source software often has fuzzy lines.

This actually makes sense in that it is not likely that MS will want to have src code distributed within the market place and an unfortunate aspect of most of these license were designed when app store like places and closed ecosystems have not evolved to the iOS or Windows Phone 7 market envionment. Apache license should be ok I think.

Basically if apple is not doing this, then are any developers that are using source code from any of the excluded licenses category in violation of the very terms there in?

Maybe the Excluded licenses will be upgraded for app store like conditions with additional terms that will releave the enclusion of source in a market place, but must present and-or require the source code to be distributed at a named URI. IE a special conditions clause in the license.

These are different times. If it were physical, you could just put put it all on the disk with the app. There is really not obvious attack on open source. It just looks like MS is not opening up does for attack or being pushed into turning the Market place to a hybrid Codplex in order to help developers keep to their licensing obligation.

mranderson1st said,
This actually makes sense in that it is not likely that MS will want to have src code distributed within the market place and an unfortunate aspect of most of these license were designed when app store like places and closed ecosystems have not evolved to the iOS or Windows Phone 7 market envionment. Apache license should be ok I think.

Basically if apple is not doing this, then are any developers that are using source code from any of the excluded licenses category in violation of the very terms there in?

Maybe the Excluded licenses will be upgraded for app store like conditions with additional terms that will releave the enclusion of source in a market place, but must present and-or require the source code to be distributed at a named URI. IE a special conditions clause in the license.

These are different times. If it were physical, you could just put put it all on the disk with the app. There is really not obvious attack on open source. It just looks like MS is not opening up does for attack or being pushed into turning the Market place to a hybrid Codplex in order to help developers keep to their licensing obligation.

I don't think the problem is whether or not microsoft would be forced to comply with the licenses (ie, distributing code using the marketplace). From the way I understand it, Microsoft kinda acts as the distributor of every app sold through the marketplace, right?
So if the author doesn't comply with the terms of the excluded license, then that means microsoft is distributing software that includes code that violates its license. If the author published the code outside of the marketplace there would be no problem either.

The funny one is this one "(iii) redistributable at no charge". If the software submitted to the market contains code that is subject to a clause like this, and the developer doesnt care and still sets a price for it, that means microsoft is also making profit (I'm assuming an apple/android-like 30% cut), thus, they would actually be liable, from my understanding. So this clause pretty much saves them from such a problem.

mranderson1st said,
This actually makes sense in that it is not likely that MS will want to have src code distributed within the market place

Source code need not be distributed with the app, only that it needs to be made available. This policy is clearly anti-GPL.

mranderson1st said,

and an unfortunate aspect of most of these license were designed when app store like places and closed ecosystems have not evolved to the iOS or Windows Phone 7 market envionment. Apache license should be ok I think.

Linux has had app stores (repositories) since its inception. The source code isn't always distributed with the binary itself. Often it's available through a website.

mranderson1st said,

There is really not obvious attack on open source.

It's an obvious attack on the GPL, for we only have to look at the wording to see that. The GPL is the corner stone of FOSS.
mranderson1st said,

It just looks like MS is not opening up does for attack or being pushed into turning the Market place to a hybrid Codplex in order to help developers keep to their licensing obligation.

Microsoft is acting like it normally does. Anti-FOSS, anti-Linux, and pretty much anti-Anything that takes away its control.

Flawed said,

blablabla

have you not noticed that repositories are basically CLOSED as well?
anyone may submit items to the repositories as with windows marketplace.
then a bunch of guys allow or dissallow an app based on guidelines.

WOAH! MS uses a similar policy and usage on their 'repositories' and now they are beeing boo'd at by *nix fanboys?

Although I like open source, I do not have any problem with closed platform. I mean not to the extent of Apple though. I mean, Adobe suite creative, Auto CAD and Photoshop are all closed platform and/or software and yet no one complain about them. If a closed platform offer qualitative software, I don't have no problem using them.

Hardware are as importnat so are software. If people are advocating for open software, what about open hardware or whatever that means.

The Black Mamba said,
Although I like open source, I do not have any problem with closed platform. I mean not to the extent of Apple though. I mean, Adobe suite creative, Auto CAD and Photoshop are all closed platform and/or software and yet no one complain about them.

All proprietary software is evil. You can't modify it for your needs, nor can you examine it for self-edification.

The Black Mamba said,

Hardware are as importnat so are software. If people are advocating for open software, what about open hardware or whatever that means.

Actually most open source people advocate open specifications for hardware too. That is still a problem on Linux today. Manufacturers refuse to release specifications/open source drivers lest they be sued for patent infringement, yet another reason for the abolition of software patents.

Flawed said,

All proprietary software is evil. You can't modify it for your needs, nor can you examine it for self-edification.

Out of every 10.000 windows desktop/phone users, maybe 1 knows how to code a little.
whats the big deal?
dont want a closed source, go run off to linux... wait its behind as both a desktop and since 2008r2 server OS aswell?
boohoo fanboy


Actually most open source people advocate open specifications for hardware too. That is still a problem on Linux today. Manufacturers refuse to release specifications/open source drivers lest they be sued for patent infringement, yet another reason for the abolition of software patents.

the world would be china if it wasnt for patents. and they dont want to release specifications because with closed source they can hide how and what they do from competitots
GFX drivers is a bad example as both ATI/AMD and Nvidia would never want others to know how they design their cards. that would cost them allot of money.
most closed source software is closed source for a reason.
if open source would be so good, it would be used outside mainly linux environments.

And if you want actual 'free' stuff... linux wasnt completely free untill not to recent (it used Unix licensed code in the kernel).
Most Linux Distro's arent completely free either.
Debian has DFSG and those guidelines garantee free software in ANY way, not limited to sh*t as with other 'free' software. And even Debian is not a 100% free linux distro

debian's DFSG are kinda compared to what MS wants to do with their marketplace
yet the mother distro of package managing has been doing this since Debian 3.0 and noone ever complained

HalcyonX12 said,
Does this mean we won't be seeing any mobile Paint.NET or anything based on that source code?

No, this means that you will not see any apps that are built with OSS that require that the OSS licence be posted in the marketplace listing

Paint.net is not open source.
The developer did release complete sources until 3.36 but not after that.
If fact the older released source files are no longer available.

Sraf said,

No, this means that you will not see any apps that are built with OSS that require that the OSS licence be posted in the marketplace listing

that's not even what the marketplace agreement says

Sraf said,

No, this means that you will not see any apps that are built with OSS that require that the OSS licence be posted in the marketplace listing

No, it means you won't see any apps that have a license that requires source code to be disclosed or distributed, allows derivative works, and requires it to be redistributable at no charge. It isn't about the license _text_, it's about the terms themselves.

hdood said,
No, it means you won't see any apps that have a license that requires source code to be disclosed or distributed, allows derivative works, and requires it to be redistributable at no charge. It isn't about the license _text_, it's about the terms themselves.

I reread the terms, and you are correct, consider my statement withdrawn

figgy said,
Paint.net is not open source.
The developer did release complete sources until 3.36 but not after that.
If fact the older released source files are no longer available.

IIRC the PDN dev stopped distributing the source around v3.20

HalcyonX12 said,
Does this mean we won't be seeing any mobile Paint.NET or anything based on that source code?

Paint.NET is a Microsoft sponsored project written by a Microsoft employee, hence you will never see it released under the GPL or similar licences.

The title of this article is misleading.
From what it seems like they are not excluding BSD or Apache type licenses. Only the GPL type licenses.

mikefarinha said,
The title of this article is misleading.

Yep, I read the article because of the title and afterwards that's what I thought too.

WTFPL is allowed too

mikefarinha said,
The title of this article is misleading.
From what it seems like they are not excluding BSD or Apache type licenses. Only the GPL type licenses.

Not even that, this is specifc to GPLv3. GPLv2 licenced code is fine.

kl33per said,

Not even that, this is specifc to GPLv3. GPLv2 licenced code is fine.

I'm not so sure about that. I don't think the GPLv2 would meet these stringent requirements. From my understanding, the GPLv2 also falls prey to this so called exclusion policy. I could be wrong though and I welcome any qualifications.

This is not really surprising given that Steve Ballmer has referred to GNU as a cancer. The GPL is the Free Software Foundation's license, and the mostly widely used open source/free software license currently available. Again, my concern is in the number of project that could be afflicted by this. Again, it is of course their platform, and they can do what they want... but I think it's a stupid decision.

If they weed out all applications that require the display of a license, they are essentially going after most free software. They key to open source is the license, that is the whole point.

Microsoft is cutting its nose off to spite its face. A policy like this excludes a great number of current and future applications. And I agree with you about Steve Ballmer's comments; it's not a coincidence, as some would claim, that the policy wording is tailored to exclude the GPL.

Flawed said,
Microsoft is cutting its nose off to spite its face. A policy like this excludes a great number of current and future applications. And I agree with you about Steve Ballmer's comments; it's not a coincidence, as some would claim, that the policy wording is tailored to exclude the GPL.
or MS doesnt want no legal issues with software that falls under licenses that are not their own, its MS's OS and MS's marketplace....

So what they're saying is that they won't accept code that affects how they must operate the marketplace. This is all about licenses.

This has nothing to with open source code whatsoever.

DonC said,
So what they're saying is that they won't accept code that affects how they must operate the marketplace. This is all about licenses.

This has nothing to with open source code whatsoever.


I can't see how the GPL and licences like it would affect the marketplace to be honest. It's not like you have to ship the code with the app or anything. It seems to me that Microsoft wants absolute control over its markshare place plain and simple. Typical MS really. They are no better than Apple in this regard.

Flawed said,

I can't see how the GPL and licences like it would affect the marketplace to be honest. It's not like you have to ship the code with the app or anything. It seems to me that Microsoft wants absolute control over its markshare place plain and simple. Typical MS really. They are no better than Apple in this regard.

whats wrong with having absolute control over the marketplace? they will remove the limitation of outside installs at some point (otherwise someone else will).
They want a safe and secure environment which any user can download from without getting any problems with incompatibilities and what not?
Something monitored by people who know more about the OS then any outsider ever will?
which is nothing different from Windows Update.... and you want any random tard beeing able to put software in windows update? or you want MS to decide what drivers and what not get in there?

oh noes...

its still better then apple how they handle their marketplace.

no need to mention the fact that people that want to add homebrew apps with open source apps can add them to their phones using XNA like they always could.

Tom W said,
Ugh. This isn't all open source at all. Just a small subset. Non news.
Really? From the quote it sounds a lot like it covers the most common open source licenses, but not the less used BSD-like ones (the do whatever you want type licenses.) So how is it a small subset?

Tom W said,
Ugh. This isn't all open source at all. Just a small subset. Non news.

That's EXACTLY what I thought when reading it, the title, to put it bluntly is false.

hdood said,
Really? From the quote it sounds a lot like it covers the most common open source licenses, but not the less used BSD-like ones (the do whatever you want type licenses.) So how is it a small subset?

This is about gplv3 not v2. Small part of all open source licenses like I said.

Northgrove said,

So that makes it kind of OK?

It's not that they're deliberately excluding GPLv3 code, it's that they *can't* because of the Tivoization clause in GPLv3 that conflicts with how XBox/WP7 code compilation works. Including any GPLv3 code in Windows marketplace would make it instantly in violation, so they just don't allow it.

It's still not cool, but it's unfortunately necessary.

Tom W said,

This is about gplv3 not v2. Small part of all open source licenses like I said.
No. The GPLv3 is an _example_:
"Excluded Licenses include, *but are not limited to* the GPLv3 Licenses."


"“Excluded License” means any license requiring, as a condition of use, modification and/or distribution of the software subject to the license, that the software or other software combined and/or distributed with it be (i) disclosed or distributed in source code form; (ii) licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (iii) redistributable at no charge."

That also includes the GPLv2.

Tom W said,
Ugh. This isn't all open source at all. Just a small subset. Non news.

I have to disagree with you here Tom. It's excluding a large proportion of the FOSS ecosystem.

Tom W said,
Ugh. This isn't all open source at all. Just a small subset. Non news.

If it's relating only to GPL3 when it's written in the context of "Excluded license" it would pertain to a license beyond that of which microsofts market distributes. Like as if apple would not allow any other rules other then the terms of use of itunes for applications/outlines/licenses (which they do anyway pretty much lol).

Flawed said,

Considering most new open source software uses the GPLv3, that excludes the vast majority of FOSS code. It's good to see Microsoft hasn't changed their anti-GPL stance.

ofc not, MS supports **** going through marketplace, if it falls outside of their legal juristiction (i.e. GPL licenses) they are going to burn when some of those non-MS licensed products will toast a WP7 phone.
Offcourse they dont want those legal risks hanging.

Flawed said,

Considering most new open source software uses the GPLv3, that excludes the vast majority of FOSS code. It's good to see Microsoft hasn't changed their anti-GPL stance.

Microsoft allowing GPLv3 code on the marketplace would be like flipping a switch that engaged "auto-sue" mode. It's not being anti-GPL or anti-FOSS or whatever, it's resolving a conflict of interests.

Don't let the truth get in the way of a good rant eh .

"Basically an "Excluded License" is any that requires the license to be distributed with the software subject to the license."

That is not what your quotes say.

hdood said,
"Basically an "Excluded License" is any that requires the license to be distributed with the software subject to the license."

That is not what your quotes say.


i noticed this as well. License comprehension FAIL.

Well ya.. because they dont want the person to be making money off of something that is open source.. I would not be happy if I contributed to something on the internet to find out that someone is selling it in the WP7 market place..

Lachlan said,
Well ya.. because they dont want the person to be making money off of something that is open source.. I would not be happy if I contributed to something on the internet to find out that someone is selling it in the WP7 market place..

Then that person could licence it as such. Creative Commons NC licence states that you can't make money from the code. If you don't want people to be able to make money from your code, either (a) use a licence that prevents commercial use, or (b) don't release it. Simple.

Some people would be honoured to have their open-source featured in commercial software.

Lachlan said,
Well ya.. because they dont want the person to be making money off of something that is open source.. I would not be happy if I contributed to something on the internet to find out that someone is selling it in the WP7 market place..

That's fine. Just use a closed source license. But the whole point of open source licenses is that you do want that.

Rudy said,
Lame

Not really, since there is no method of distributing source code (required by GPL) to the end user via marketplace then i guess you can't put the software on marketplace.

Deviate_X said,

Not really, since there is no method of distributing source code (required by GPL) to the end user via marketplace then i guess you can't put the software on marketplace.

You don't have to include the actual source code? You just have to include the license, i.e. where you got it from and who developed it. Most of the time it's nothing more than a simple paragraph and perhaps a web site where others can go to get the source code right?

Edited by Tim Dawg, Feb 18 2011, 12:20am :

Actually I just found the answer. I think I was on the right track. From the GNU licensing terms:

You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code

So it sounds like as long as you include where the recipient can get their own copy of the source code then you're okay.

Tim Dawg said,

So it sounds like as long as you include where the recipient can get their own copy of the source code then you're okay.
Exactly, all you need is to have the source code on your site.

Rudy said,
Lame

“Because version 3 of the GPL family of licenses includes what has been dubbed the "anti-Tivoization" clause. Tivoization, from the name TiVo, is what that company did to its hardware in order to prevent unauthorized firmware modifications. In essence, they released the complete source code to the firmware that runs on TiVo boxes, but compiling such source code does not yield binaries that can run on the TiVo. That is because the authorized, official binary code is modified by TiVo to include a digital signature that must be accepted by the hardware before said code is allowed to run. GPLv3 includes a clause that prohibits this behavior.”

Source:
http://www.arktronic.com/cms/b...pen-source-from-marketplace

Tim Dawg said,
You don't have to include the actual source code? You just have to include the license, i.e. where you got it from and who developed it. Most of the time it's nothing more than a simple paragraph and perhaps a web site where others can go to get the source code right?

the sourcecode has to be publically available to anyone.
but your right, it doesnt have to go through the marketplace, GPL isnt like debians DFSG.