Monday 15 November 2010

Oracle replies to the ASF

Oracle have responded to the Apache Software Foundation board statement.

Oracle nominated Apache for a seat on the Executive Committee in recognition of Apache's continued participation and valued contribution to the community. The recently released statement by the ASF Board with regard to their participation in the JCP calling for EC members to vote against SE7 is a call for continued delay and stagnation of the past several years. We would encourage Apache to reconsider their position and work together with Oracle and the community at large to collectively move Java forward. Oracle provides TCK licenses under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms consistent with its obligations under the JSPA. Oracle believes that with EC approval to initiate the SE7 and SE8 JSRs, the Java community can get on with the important work of driving forward Java SE and other standards in open, transparent, consensus-driven expert groups. This is the priority. Now is the time for positive action. Now is the time to move Java forward.
Don Deutsch, Vice President of Standards and Architecture

Update 16 Nov: And the ASF responded to the response!!! Here it is:

Oracle statement regarding Java: "Now is the time for positive action (and) to move Java forward."

The ball is in your court. Honor the agreement.

I've used this blog to highlight the role of politics in the development of Java, especially in this dispute. Personally, I'm glad that this story is coming to an end, as I can write more code and less blogs!

Basically, I see this statement from Oracle as expected and well written. Expected, because it simply states the known position. Well written, because it puts a spin on what Apache actually said.

The key sentence is "Oracle provides TCK licenses under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms consistent with its obligations under the JSPA."

Bear in mind that the TCK offered would result in the tested Harmony code not being able to be released under any open source license, not just the Apache license. See my previous detailed explanation with pictures. I'm almost amused that anyone would describe those terms as "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory".

Actually, the sentence doesn't talk about Harmony at all. Technically, it doesn't claim that any fair terms were offered to Harmony. All the sentence actually claims is that Oracle provides TCK licenses under fair terms, which is true for every other JSR expect Java SE. Yes, I really am reading this statement as a lawyer could!

I'd also point out Don's previous actions from 2007:

Resolution 1 (proposed by Oracle, seconded by BEA)
"It is the sense of the Executive Committee that the JCP become an open independent vendor-neutral Standards Organization where all members participate on a level playing field with the following characteristics:
* members fund development and management expenses
* a legal entity with by-laws, governing body, membership, etc.
* a new, simplified IPR Policy that permits the broadest number of implementations
* stringent compatibility requirements
* dedicated to promoting the Java programming model

Furthermore, the EC shall put a plan in place to make such transition as soon as practical with minimal disruption to the Java Community."

Oracle (Don) voted yes

Resolution 2 (proposed by BEA, seconded by Intel)
"The SEEE EC requests Sun to submit a Java SE7 JSR with the following characteristics:
* EG members will share costs by contributing to the TCK and RI submitted under common licensing terms that will allow any implementer to use them;
* accompanied by public spec, tck, ri licenses at JSR initiation;
* licenses do not contain Field of Use restrictions on spec implementations. * the JSR is operated by the Spec Lead under democratic principles (e.g. Java SE6)

Furthermore, from the time of submission, TCK license(s) for Java SE5 and later will be offered without field of use restrictions on spec implementations enabling the TCK to be used by organizations including Apache."

Oracle (Don) voted yes

Only Don can truly answer why his opinion changed once he was in a position to action what he called for.

So what next?

Well, barring an earthquake, the Java SE 7 vote will proceed, the vote will go Oracle's way, and the ASF will leave the JCP entirely. I do not see either the ASF or Oracle slowing down the Java SE 7 timetable at this point.

Finally, we sometimes need to remember that Oracle continues to invest heavily in Java, from ME to SE to EE to FX. We all want an end to stagnation. I simply object to the approach chosen to end the stagnation.

Stephen Colebourne
Apache Software Foundation member, speaking personally
Oracle Java Champion, speaking personally
Not a committer on Harmony or OpenJDK


  1. Daniel Latrémolière16 November 2010 at 20:01

    Oracle provides TCK licenses for JavaSE under clearly discriminatory terms: they have rights to build an embedded release, but disallows this possibility to Apache.

  2. "Only Don can truly answer why his opinion changed once he was in a position to action what he called for."

    No, it's obvious. In 2007 Oracle did not own Java IP, now they do. By then, they wanted to get more for free, by now they want to give less for free. As simple as that.

    Of course, Sun's policy of giving pretty everything away has proved suicidal. Oracle wants to revert this policy since, unlike Sun, they'd rather make money than please the community. And even Sun wasn't suicidal enough to give up the FOU restrictions, expecting this from Oracle would be at least naive.

  3. You claim that the TCK Field of Use restriction is incompatible with *any* open source license. Could you point out which of the 10 terms of the Open Source definition it violates?

    I wonder what has change here. Why would the JavaSE 7 JSR pass now, when it wouldn't have passed a few months ago? Has individual board members just suddently decided that moving Java forward is more important than making Apache happy?

  4. Stephen Colebourne17 November 2010 at 22:27

    Jacek, you may be right, or you may not. I'm avoiding speculating on that.

    Andy, "6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

    The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research."

    Java SE 7 will pass because IBM changed sides and everybody else appears to have folded.


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