Microsoft has stated that its Windows Phone Marketplace will reject any apps that use the GNU General Public License (GPL) and similar licenses. As stated in Article 5 of Microsoft’s Application Provider Agreement:
“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.”
The Agreement defines an Excluded License as “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.”
Microsoft has responded with the following statement: “The Windows Phone Marketplace supports several open source licenses, including BSD, MIT, Apache Software License 2.0, MS-PL and other similar permissive licenses. We revise our Application Provider Agreement from time to time based on customer and developer feedback, and we are exploring the possibility of modifying it to accommodate additional open source-based applications in upcoming revisions.”
This rule should not affect Mono apps running on Windows Phone, but it may prevent Microsoft’s new mobile partner Nokia from using its GPL-licensed Qt graphics environment.
While on the surface this rule appears to be a Microsoft attack against open-source software, it’s more likely that Microsoft doesn’t want to be in the business of having to manage and include source code with apps submitted under the GPL license. The Windows Phone Marketplace is intended to be a consumer software hub, not a replacement for CodePlex. Open-source developers can instead release their Windows Phone apps under an accepted open-source license such as BSD, MIT or Apache.
Article published on February 18, 2011
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