License Policy/Mozilla Project Licensing

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This page is a quick survey of the copyright licenses used for code created by different Mozilla projects.

It's not complete; there are a load of website projects missing, most of which I suspect are 3-clause BSD because Playdoh is. We do so many of those I can't keep track.

Projects And Their Licenses

Project Name License
Firefox MPL 2
Thunderbird MPL 2
SeaMonkey MPL 2
Camino MPL 2
B2G Platform MPL 2
Fennec MPL 2
Lightning MPL 2
Chatzilla MPL 2
Venkman MPL 2
DOM Inspector MPL 2
OrangeFactor MPL 2
Addon SDK MPL 2
BrowserID (Persona) MPL 2
OpenBadges MPL 2
Rhino MPL 2
Tamarin MPL 2
Test Pilot MPL 2
IonMonkey MPL 2
Sync MPL 2
Socorro MPL 2
Bedrock (new MPL 2
MCS (Mozilla Community Sites) MPL 2
Hackasaurus MPL 2
Bugzilla MPL 2 (Incompatible)
BrowserQuest MPL 2 (code) / CC-BY-SA (content)
AMO 3.0 (Remora; SVN, obsolete) MPL 1.1
Playdoh (web framework) BSD (3-clause) - fwenzel, 2011-01-04
AMO 4.0 (Zamboni) BSD (3-clause) - see bug 539671; clouserw, 2010-05-10
SUMO (Kitsune) BSD (3-clause) - see bug 661022; rrosario, 2011-05-31
Mozillians BSD (3-clause) - see github commit, tofumatt, 2011-09-23
Gladius BSD (3-clause) - alankligman, 2011-08-14 (not originated at Mozilla)
DXR MIT - humph, 2009-06-27 (not originated at Mozilla)
popcorn.js MIT - Anna Sobiepanek, 2011-02-08
Butter MIT - Bobby Richter (secretrobotron), 2012-03-01
Shumway Apache 2.0
Rust Apache 2.0/MIT
pdf.js Apache 2.0
Gaia Apache 2.0
Circus Apache 2.0
MXR Unlabelled; GPL? (because LXR is)
Phonebook (internal) Unlabelled
TBPL Unlabelled
Pancake Unlabelled ("Undecided", apparently)

Arguments Deployed for Non-Copyleft Licenses

Zamboni (AMO)

There was a newsgroup discussion. The following arguments were advanced:

  • The boilerplate of MPL 1.1 is far too long
  • The community webdev are working with (Python) uses BSD
  • The MPL's copyleft is not relevant in a website context, where code is not distributed
  • Corporate environments avoid copylefted code

clouserw checked in a BSD license file. Gerv objected and said the licensing team felt the core should be MPL, but fixing it dropped off the radar. And then it became a precedent.

Kitsune (SUMO)

"Just copy what zamboni did (BSD?) ?" -- rrosario, 2011-05-31


"Playdoh/webdev projects are BSD-licensed, and no code from Domesday is left over." -- tofumatt, 2011-09-23


"[W]e want to keep Shumway BSD to maximize adoption by others." -- agal, 2012-01-08


Rust did not originate at Mozilla and so is not bound by our licence policy; however, graydon said the following were factors in his decision:

  • Corporate wariness of copyleft
  • The "per-copy royalty" model is dying out anyway, hence copyleft is less relevant
  • Copyleft is appealing, but the fights (data/network effects/privacy) are different now
  • It helps make sure Rust has a single reference implementation for a long time, to promote interoperability


DXR did not originate at Mozilla, and so is not bound by our licence policy; however, humph said:

[Shaver recommended MIT for DXR, and if he had the choice to start over, would use it for Mozilla.] "Since then I have spent a lot of time working with other open web libraries and frameworks, and so many of them use MIT. I've come to the place where I go for MIT by default now. I honestly think that part of it is the simplicity of the license itself--I feel like I understand what it says. I'm also attracted to something that allows commercial uses, so that I can get support from commercial entities."

Developer Opinions

bsmedberg feels that all non-product code should be BSD.