Google extends its investment in Mozilla, restores MPL license

Mozilla has renewed its agreement with Google that was set to expire in November, extending it into 2011. The deal carries with it the reinstatement of the Mozilla and Eclipse Public Licenses that were recently cast aside.

Though the terms of the existing agreement between Mozilla and Google are confidential, its value to Mozilla has already been made apparent. In Mozilla Chairman Mitchell Baker's blog earlier this year, she said that the vast majority of his company's 2005 revenue was associated with search functionality in Mozilla Firefox, "and the vast majority of that is from Google."

The default front page in Firefox is indeed from Google, and the browser does have a branded Google search box in its upper right hand corner. It is believed that every Google search done in Firefox earns Mozilla a share of money, and if an advertisement is clicked, it ups Mozilla's commission. Google also provides anti-phishing services with the "Ask Google" protection feature.

In 2006, over 85% of Mozilla's revenue came from its partnership with Google. Because it is a non-profit group, Google's interest helps the Mozilla Foundation remain "sustainable," or able to meet its expenses and reinvest the remainder.

In May, Greg Stein of Google's Open Source team posted a blog discussing the popularity of open source licenses among the hosted Google Code projects. While GPLv2 and v3 constituted 42.6% of projects at the time, only 2.7% were under the Mozilla Public License (MPL).

"Based on the low popularity, and in an attempt to limit this artificial segregation of code, we plan to remove the MPL from the set of licenses on our project hosting service (for new projects; existing projects will not have to relicense)."

It should be no surprise that with the pending expiration of Mozilla's and Google's agreement, that the MPL -- which is largely only used by Mozilla anyway, according to Google -- would be canceled.

However, with the renewed agreement, Chris DiBona of Google's Open Source team said late Wednesday night, "Our removal of the MPL from the site seemed a little absurd. So, our bad. We're putting that option back up for new projects. The groups that want to use the MPL to enable their additions, extensions and more for Firefox and other Mozilla projects are legion and considering their recent summit, represent a very healthy global collection of developers."

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