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Free platform

Free platform

Posted Aug 17, 2010 16:51 UTC (Tue) by fandingo (subscriber, #67019)
In reply to: Free platform by gmaxwell
Parent article: A very grumpy editor's thoughts on Oracle

The standard implementation of Java is free, and there's nothing that Oracle can do about that. The code is GPLv2, and there is a separate patent grant that grants impunity to users as long as they stick to the standard. Google made their own version of Java, and hence is not immune to patent suits.

Java is not a "trap" because of the GPLv2 and explicit patent grants for standard Java.

I forget where I was reading it (maybe here), but an author made a great point: Oracles open source projects are perfectly fine to use. There is nothing they can do because of the OS licenses and patent grants. However, developing for Oracle projects (or forking them for your own one) gives no such protection.

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Free platform

Posted Aug 17, 2010 18:13 UTC (Tue) by Aliasundercover (subscriber, #69009) [Link]

If you must adhere exactly to their standard, can not extend, modify or make a subset, then isn't much of the freedom in free software lost? Forks may often be a bad thing but if you can't fork it isn't really free.

I may be mistaken as this topic is so confusing but I am under the impression Sun's patent promise applies only to the exact unmodified feature set of a Java frozen in time.

Free platform

Posted Aug 18, 2010 1:28 UTC (Wed) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

Forking won't destroy the patent protection. (I disagree with the last sentence of fandingo's comment.)

If Oracle publishes software under the GPL (v2 or v3), the recipients receive patent protection sufficient to allow the things described in the four freedoms, which includes forking.

So Google could have used OpenJDK as a starting point for Dalvik, and they wouldn't be having this patent problem. AFAICT.

Free platform

Posted Aug 18, 2010 2:35 UTC (Wed) by foom (subscriber, #14868) [Link]

I don't understand where people are getting this "Releasing software under the GPLv2 gives an implicit patent grant, therefore it's safe to base software on OpenJDK" idea from. It can't be the GPLv2 license agreement itself, since Oracle (as author and copyright owner) isn't bound by that...

Free platform

Posted Aug 18, 2010 6:10 UTC (Wed) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

> since Oracle (as author and copyright owner) isn't bound by that...

The GPLv2 does bound Oracle. Namely, it can not rescind the permissions it gave to others as part of a software license. This is basic legal theory, you can not tell others “you can do foo, if bar” then change your mind once others have expended resources reaching bar (at least, not in a legal document). Otherwise, no license would be worth the words used in it.

The only thing Oracle can do is define new conditions for new software releases, or relax conditions on old software releases. They are not allowed to add restrictions on old software releases people already licensed under specific terms (and the GPL is worded in such a way the license can be transmitted from user to user and from version to derivatives).

Oracle *is* bound by the GPL

Posted Aug 18, 2010 23:55 UTC (Wed) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

I don't know the legal answer to that, but let's assume you're right and Oracle doesn't need to comply with the GPL in order to distribute. That would mean they can give you a copy of the OpenJDK source code without giving you a copy of the GPL. However, that's not what they did. What they did is, they distributed OpenJDK *with* a legal document saying.

They gave people a copy of the OpenJDK source code with a legal document which has a load of paragraphs that start with "You may...".

If you're right, then you've only proved that they didn't have to give you that legal document. That doesn't change the fact that they *did* give you that legal document, and so, Oracle is bound by that legal document.


field of use restrictions

Posted Aug 18, 2010 21:17 UTC (Wed) by SilverWave (guest, #55000) [Link]

I would be interested in your opinion on this comment by jilocasin:

"It's Oracle upset that Google has routed around their lucrative Java Mobile licensing by out developing them. If you were unaware, Sun's official Java test suite comes with field of use restrictions that keep it limited to the desktop space. If you certified your open source Java JVM to comply, you can't use it on servers or mobile devices (or anything else for that matter like TV set top boxes). For anything else you have to pay Oracle a license fee. It's these field of use restrictions (among other reasons) that has kept the Harmony project from certifying their project as "Official Java"."


Posted Aug 18, 2010 22:00 UTC (Wed) by mjw (subscriber, #16740) [Link]

Although the TCK is proprietary and you only get access to it under NDA, it doesn't come with such restrictions. See e.g the OpenJDK JCK
Note that Google actually has access to this:

That said, it is still a big problem if you care about freedom, java and the JCK and it is a long and somewhat sad story:

Google created their own VM (Dalvik) they don't use the JVM!

Posted Aug 17, 2010 18:23 UTC (Tue) by SilverWave (guest, #55000) [Link]

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