Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Is the JCP really open?

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and I speak only for myself.

Geir: Today, the Apache Software Foundation sent an open letter to Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, regarding the ASF's inability to acquire an acceptable TCK license for the Java SE TCK (also called the "JCK") in over 7 months of trying.
Roughly speaking, JCP standards are supposed to be open, or, at least, many of us contribute with that expectation. The JSPA, the standard agreement every JCP member signs, prohibits restrictions on standard-compliant implementations.

Since the JSPA doesn't allow restrictions, Sun is trying to put restrictions on use of the final product into the license for the test suite. These restrictions would prevent Harmony from distributing their code under the Apache license, and Apache believes those restrictions violate the JSPA.

What's at stake? Much more than an open source JSE implementation: the JCP itself. My esteem for the JCP hinges on its openness; I hope Sun doesn't let me down.

8 Comments:

Blogger Casper Bang said...

I have personally never been impressed with the JCP. It seems heavyweight and unfriendly to a true open source community - a fairly new concept in Java probably only happening because Sun felt threatened by open source Mono and dynamic languages.

A related blog entry, 6 months ago by Ken Arnold addresses similar issues:
http://weblogs.java.net/blog/arnold/archive/2006/05/jcp_wants_you_s.html

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Blogger Stefano said...

Well, I posted the following comment to a SUN(tm)'s technical director blog and my comment disappeared... maybe someone is interested in the content:
---
As far as I understood it, it is not only a trademark issue, and it is not a technical issue. It is a LEGAL issue.

My understanding is that JVM implementors are granted patent licensing only if they passes the JCK tests and they are declared Java(r) compatible implementations.

This means that ASF is not allowed to distribute the JVM as is even if they don't want to use the Java trademark and simply use their own code!

They cannot do this because SUN(tm) is preventing them from obtaining Patents rights.

I believe T.Ball is either "too easy" in his analysis or he knows exactly what is happening and is simply trying to defend SUN in the mud.

I don't know which one will paint a better picture for him: I would not feel comfortable in both.
-----

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