June 24, 2005 · Lessig
You’ll find at the Microsoft IEBlog an announcement that will surprise some. I’m happy it doesn’t surprise me.
Following Dave Winer’s decision to release his spec for RSS 2.0 under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, Microsoft has now released its spec for “Simple Feed Extensions” under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
This isn’t the first Microsoft site licensed under a Creative Commons license. There’s a very cool PatternShare site that builds on Microsoft research licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. But this is the first under a ShareAlike license. That’s right – the “copyleft” “ShareAlike” license. People are free to modify and redistribute the spec so long as the modifications are licensed under a similar license.
Also notable is Microsoft’s representations regarding patent:
As to software implementations, Microsoft is not aware of any patent claims it owns or controls that would be necessarily infringed by a software implementation that conforms to the specification’s extensions. If Microsoft later becomes aware of any such necessary patent claims, Microsoft also agrees to offer a royalty-free patent license on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions to any such patent claims for the purpose of publishing and consuming the extensions set out in the specification.
These steps signal important flexibility and sophistication within Microsoft. For anyone who knows people at that place, this is old news. But even if old news, very very good news.