Apache drops the hammer on Oracle over Java

Summary:With no money and no muscle, Oracle could be left with a proprietary technology everyone has abandoned

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has issued an official threat to leave the Java Community Process if Oracle doesn't play fair with it.

The action was an overhang at last week's ASF North America conference in Atlanta, which I attended, but it was surprising to see it happen so soon.

As noted by ASF president Jim Jagielski in my interview with him last week, Apache believes it has no choice here but that it also has a strong hand.

Java's acceptance as a standard is based on its being open source. Much of that credibility comes from various Java projects initiated by the ASF. The ASF representative was recently re-elected to the Java Community Process (JCP) executive committee (EC) with 95% of the vote while an Oracle nominee was rejected.

Google can no longer support Java given that Oracle is suing it, and they were "the money" behind a lot of what was going on. The ASF was the muscle.

With no money and no muscle, Oracle could be left with a proprietary technology everyone has abandoned, as Unisys found when it sought to assert its rights to the .gif file format in the 1990s.

The official statement is couched in the passive and careful language Apache is known for. There's also an FAQ for those who need some background on the controversy.

But here's the money quote:

The ASF will terminate its relationship with the JCP if our rights as implementers of Java specifications are not upheld by the JCP Executive Committee to the limits of the EC's ability. The lack of active, strong and clear enforcement of those rights implies that the JSPA agreements are worthless, confirming that JCP specifications are nothing more than proprietary documentation. (Emphasis mine.)

Mr. Ellison, your dice.

Topics: Oracle, Open Source, Software Development


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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