[License-discuss] linking exception in OpenJDK

Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz pe.schmitz at googlemail.com
Tue Dec 1 15:22:49 UTC 2015

As we periodically return to this famous discussion on "Linking requesting
a specific license exception or a permission from the author", I just
remind once again that - at least according to EU legislation, the "linking
exception" is - under specific conditions -  a rule that is not depending
on any license (even the GPL).
Directive 2009/24 EC - section (15) states: "the necessary information to
achieve the interoperability of an independently created program with other
programs can be reproduced by or on behalf of a person having a right to
use a copy of the program. This is legitimate and compatible with fair
practice and must therefore be deemed not to require the authorisation of
the rightholder. The objective of this exception is to make it possible to
connect all components of a computer system, including those of different
manufacturers, so that they can work together. Such an exception to the
author's exclusive rights may not be used in a way which prejudices the
legitimate interests of the rightholder or which conflicts with a normal
exploitation of the program."

For more detail on this, see "Why viral licensing is a ghost" - published
on Joinup -

Kind regards,

2015-11-15 20:59 GMT+01:00 Thufir <hawat.thufir at gmail.com>:

> Bradley said that all android applications would now have to be GPL were
> Google to put Android under the GPL in the last few minutes of this podcast:
> 0x44: Oracle v. Google Federal Appeals Court Decision
> 05/13/2014 07:33 AM
> http://faif.us/feeds/cast-mp3/
> When I read the wikipedia articles about OpenJDK and IcedTea, they don't
> mention this notion.
> A GPL linking exception modifies the GNU General Public License (GPL) in a
> way that enables software projects which provide library code to be "linked
> to" the programs that use them, without applying the full terms of the GPL
> to the using program. Linking is the technical process of connecting code
> in a library to the using code, to produce a single executable file. It is
> performed either at compile time or run-time in order to produce functional
> machine-readable code. There is a public perception, unsupported by any
> legal precedent or citation, that without applying the linking exception,
> code linked with GPL code may only be done[clarification needed] using a
> GPL-compatible license.[1] The license of the GNU Classpath project
> explicitly includes a statement to that effect.
> -Wikipedia
> Wikipedia says that On 13 November 2006, the HotSpot JVM and the JDK were
> licensed[12] under the GPL version 2. This is the code that became part of
> Java 7 (codename Dolphin[13]).  I believe that IcedTea ultimately uses the
> HotSpot JVM, which comes from OpenJDK. In any event, they all have this
> linking exception in their license.
> Two questions:
> 1.)  There seems no technical problem in running proprietary binaries on
> IcedTea and HotSpot in Ubuntu, which is what I use.  Is there a legal
> prohibition or problem in doing so?  I think not, because of the linking
> exception.
> 2.)  Were, or had, Google forked OpenJDK and IcedTea, and kept the GPL,
> would Bradley be correct in stating that all Android apps would then have
> to be licensed under the GPL?  I think not, there's a linking exception in
> the license...
> thanks,
> Thufir
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Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz
pe.schmitz at googlemail.com
tel. + 32 478 50 40 65
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