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From Sven de Marothy <s...@physto.se>
Subject RE: Stop worrying about licenses!
Date Tue, 17 May 2005 14:12:18 GMT
On Tue, 2005-05-17 at 10:58 +0930, Nick Lothian wrote:
> One specific question that I haven't seen addressed elsewhere:
> 
> Currently the FAQ for classpath says:
> 
> "If you are going to contribute source code to GNU Classpath we must
> make sure that you have not studied the source code of the JDK/JRE or
> decompiled any of its classes." [1]

Yes. GNU Classpath has a strict clean-room policy.

> The FAQ for the new Java Research Licence says:
> 
> "18. Does the JRL prevent you from being able to create an independent
> implementation of J2SE?
> 
> The JRL is not a tainting license, and includes an express "residual
> knowledge" clause. Under the JRL, merely looking at Sun's code does not
> prevent you from being able to create your own independent
> implementation of J2SE, and in any event, you can terminate the JRL at
> any time for any reason. So, yes, you can look at Sun source code and
> then later on go and work on an open-source J2SE implementation." [2]

>>From what I understand, FSF-legal hasn't said anything official on this
yet, but it's still a grey area. See this thread:
http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/classpath/2005-05/msg00013.html

> Given these inconsistencies is it safe to look at the Sun JDK if we are
> planning to work on Classpath (and/or Harmony)

Bad wording. There is no inconsistency here. 

No. I would STRONGLY advise against looking at Sun's sources, no matter
what Sun's license says. In my experience hacking on Classpath, and as a
Java coder, there are very few cases where you would ever need or want
to look at Sun's sources anyway. Even though it might be OK with this
new license, why take the risk?

Harmony hasn't decided how to relate to this either, but the Harmony
proposal suggests a cautious stance as well:

"Historically, there has been wide exposure to VM and class-library-
specific source code that is the property of Sun Microsystems as well
as others, as it is common for commercial J2SE implementations to be
based on licensed Sun code.  We wish to make every effort to ensure
that the licenses and rights of external projects and efforts is
properly respected.  To that end, we will explore additional ways to
work with the Apache Incubator to ensure that all IP is carefully
monitored and tracked as it enters the project."

Let the FSF and ASF lawyers sort it out.

/Sven


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