[License-discuss] proposal to revise and slightly reorganize the OSI licensing pages

Chris Travers chris at metatrontech.com
Tue Jun 12 02:17:00 UTC 2012

On Mon, Jun 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Anyway, as I just got through saying to Ben Tilly:   (1) People
> can and do perform pretty much whatever screwball actions they wish to
> perform with their own property.  (2) You should take care to understand
> all of the implications of any licence you use, because somebody else
> definitely may, and you'll look really silly acting surprised.

Sure.  But these are not always clear.

For example, suppose I start selling a binary-only table engine for
MySQL which offers real benefits over Innodb.  Let's say less bloat,
less maintenance, faster performance, and no issues with thread
deadlocks when multi-row inserts are done.  Suppose this is
dynamically linked and I ship with an installer that detects installed
MySQL versions and installs against this.  The installer asks for a
license key which is used to determine how many client access licenses
you have purchased.  I sell CAL's for $50/client.

Suppose furthermore that I only ship this in to customers in the US so
we can limit this discussion to US copyright law.

Do I even need Oracle's permission to release my project?  My money
would be on "no" and so the GPL really would have no implication.
After all, *all* have done is use an API owned by Oracle (my money
would also be that they'd sue me to try to win anyway, see Google v.

Allowed?  Not allowed?  Only talking about what the *law* requires in
this case.  There may be other ways of pressuring certain behaviors
other than court.  But only talking about US law here.  European law
may be different.  But I think that the current case law and statute
strongly suggests that this would be allowed without any copyright
license from Oracle at least in the US.

I think that Oracle would lose as a matter of law and that you can't
use copyright to restrict linking as a technical matter.  Static
linking would be arguably different *only* because one is distributing
a compiled work containing a component of someone else's and therefore
a copyright license would be required (providing a module which is
statically linked only during install would not pose this problem
though).  But if Lexmark v. Static Control settled anything it's that
you can't use copyright to control secondary markets for practical

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers

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