Apache, Sun Tangle over Licenses

The Apache Foundation is accusing Sun of holding out on a license related to a Java test kit. In an open letter, Geir Magnusson Jr of the Apache Foundation says to Jonathan Schwartz, the Sun CEO:

“Since August 2006, the ASF has been attempting to secure an acceptable license from Sun for the test kit for Java SE.  This test kit, called the ‘Java Compatibility Kit’ or ‘JCK’, is needed by the Apache Harmony project to demonstrate its compatibility with the Java SE specification, as required by Sun’s specification license.  The JCK license Sun is offering imposes IP rights restrictions through limits on the ‘field of use’ available to users of our software.

“These restrictions are totally unacceptable to us.  As I explain below, these restrictions are contrary to the terms of the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA) – the governing rules of the JCP – to which Sun is contractually bound to comply as a signatory.”

Interoperability in the software context — especially the free/libre/open source software context — so often turns on field of use and similar provisions in the relevant intellectual property licenses.  Sun has been a huge supporter of the open source movement in many ways, so Mr. Schwartz certainly knows this.  One wonders whether this decision, presuming Apache’s claims are true, to deny such a compatible license was a high-level policy decision or one that just hasn’t been run past the right person at Sun.  We’ll find out, I suppose.

4 thoughts on “Apache, Sun Tangle over Licenses

  1. Seems like Apache’s just pissed off that Sun chose the GPL – they’re free to do what they want with the code, just typical sour grapes. Apache should give up on their variant license and join the real open community.

  2. This issue is about Sun not fulfilling their contractual obligations from the JCP. As such they are making a mockery of the independence of the JCP itself. The terms Sun are trying to impose would be equally unacceptable to the GPL licensed Classpath project.
    Stephen Colebourne – ASF member speaking in a personal capacity

  3. Give me a break guys, I read the letter. You’re just pissed off that Harmony’s incompatible with the GPL, and as such, you can’t harvest Sun’s brand. Why would they just give it away, you have the code, go ship a product.

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