IE8 and IP Licensing

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IE8 and IP Licensing

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Some of the first things users may notice in the Beta 1 release of Internet Explorer 8 are new features such as Activities and WebSlice. We recognize that the technology behind Activities and Webslice relies on innovations that have come out of the community, which of course has had a critical role in the development of the Internet. We also appreciate the community’s deep commitment to permissive IP licensing and to ensuring the continued ability to innovate.

So with these new features and other initiatives we’re launching in Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, we want to highlight the ways in which we’re using new approaches to licensing the various intellectual property components involved. We carefully chose these new licensing models because they are the models, or facilitate the kinds of free and open uses, that the relevant communities have adopted for themselves. While we will still evaluate the most appropriate way to make specifications and test cases available on a case-by-case basis, here we concluded that the Public Domain, Creative Commons and BSD licenses (for copyrights) and the Microsoft Open Specification Promise (for patents) are the best vehicles for making these technologies available. 

In this post I’ll briefly describe how these are all being used, and also point you to links where you can find additional information about them.

Creative Commons and Public Domain for Copyrights in the Specifications

For the OpenService Format and WebSlice Format specs, we’re using two separate Creative Commons vehicles to allow developers to freely use and build on our work.  We’re licensing our copyright in the OpenService Format Specification under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. This license lets others copy, distribute, modify and build upon the specification, even for commercial uses, as long as they simply give credit to Microsoft and license their own changes under the same terms.  This license is also consistent with the license adopted by the OpenSearch community, whose work relates to the OpenService Format spec.

We’re setting a new precedent with the WebSlice Format Specification by dedicating our copyright in it to the public domain using the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication, the first time we’ve used a public domain dedication in connection with one of our specs.  This allows anyone to freely copy, distribute, modify and build upon the specification for any purpose, without any additional conditions or obligations whatsoever. In this case, our public domain dedication is in keeping with the expectations of the hAtom Microformats community.

Our use of Creative Commons solutions in connection with these two specs continues our many years of support for and collaboration with that important organization. In addition to using Creative Commons licenses in conjunction with other other specs (including one used in conjunction with Internet Explorer 7) and on websites, Microsoft and Creative Commons have partnered on the creation of an add-in for Microsoft Office that automates the inclusion of Creative Commons licenses into Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. We’re happy to continue our enthusiastic engagement with Creative Commons with the release of these specs today. For more information about Creative Commons, including how you can use Creative Commons licenses on your own works, please visit http://creativecommons.org.

Microsoft Open Specification Promise for Implementations of the Specifications

Microsoft has developed the Open Specification Promise (“OSP”) to provide a simple and clear patent promise to reassure the broad audience of developers and customers that a given specification can be used for free, easily, now and forever. The OSP was developed with feedback from customers and the open source community, and we’re happy to be making both the OpenService Format and WebSlice Format specifications available under the OSP. The use of the OSP confirms that that these two specifications can be implemented for free. Please refer to this page for complete information and details concerning the OSP.

BSD License for Copyright in the Cascading Style Sheets 2.1 Test Suite

Finally, in connection with the Beta 1 release of Internet Explorer 8, we’re also posting a set of tests to validate our interpretation and implementation of the Cascading Style Sheets (“CSS”) 2.1 Specification.  In this case, we hope to get feedback from web designers and developers on the tests we’ve submitted to the W3C for inclusion in the W3C’s CSS Working Group Test Suite.  We’re licensing this test suite under the BSD License, which allows redistribution and modification of the tests in source and binary forms, subject to a familiar three-paragraph set of conditions. The BSD License is the license the W3C CSS Working Group has proposed using for the rest of its test cases, thus we’re using it here so that our tests can seamlessly transition over to the W3C CSS Working Group.

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We hope that users, developers, designers and testers all enjoy the new features in IE8 Beta 1. We look forward to your feedback and hope that the permissive IP licensing we are announcing today enhances the web community.

Tom Rubin
Associate General Counsel
Intellectual Property & Licensing

P.S. Creative Commons posted about this. Read more here.

Edit: updated hAtom Microformats Community link; added P.S.

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