The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

Summary: When they ran off to competitors Oracle bought them. When that competitor was open source Oracle bought them. What the community thinks is open source can be taken back. Open source lives by the contract and it will die by the contract.


It's really quite clever.

Tie Google up in court, sign a deal with Apple to coordinate development of Java, and ignore the open source community.

It's all about the Great Game, and you're not invited to play. (Pictures from Wikimedia, mash-up by The Gimp, lame skills by the author.)

When the ASF made its decision to threaten withdrawal from the Java Community Process there was an implied assumption that it represented the muscle behind Java development, and Google represented the money.

What Oracle is saying in response is both can be replaced, easily, by signing an alliance.

It appears to all be part of a coordinated strategy. Oracle wants to prove to large enterprises that there is no place to hide from it.

When they ran off to competitors Oracle bought them. When that competitor was open source Oracle bought them. What the community thinks is open source can be taken back. Open source lives by the contract and it will die by the contract.

That's a message Apple can get behind. Apple has never had any interest in the open source community. It's a nuisance, a bunch of so-called idealists who copy its ideas and prevent it from gaining the monopoly rents it feels its innovation deserves.

Who knows, after this latest thing with Kinect, and the ongoing TurbuHercules drama maybe Microsoft and IBM are ready to stop flirting with open source and start playing hardball again.

It's hard to believe open source might be put back into its bottle, but with a coordinated legal attack, a discouraging set of acquisitions and coordination with lobbyists to make copyright and patent rights more enforceable worldwide, maybe Oracle thinks it can pull it off.

If it can cause the top end of the market to surrender and admit that scaled development requires a proprietary partner, Oracle comes out ahead. And as those enterprises see open source threatening their market leadership, they will fall in line with its political goals.

It's just business. It's not like we're talking about a movie plot here.

Topics: Apple, Open Source, Oracle, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

    Let's hope, for the good of the many, that the open source genie stays out of the bottle. As you say, it is seemingly impossible to put it back in (how could it still fit? New Bottle?) I sure hope that lawyers, antiquated copyright laws, and unintelligibly broad patent laws don't unite for this disingenuous movie-plot disguised as "just business." The fact that we live in a world where this movie plot is actually conceivable, however unlikely, makes me doubt human society a little bit. Let's leave the crazy plot stuff to Hollywood.

    Great Gimp skills, BTW. The charm is in the hard edges.
    • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

      @K_REY_C I know my Gimping is very gimpy. Word processors are more my thing.
      • What makes FOSS worthy targets then?

        When Lebron James join Wade in Miami, they are thinking of fighting Lakers, Celtics and so on. They are not targeting at some community basketball teams in a nameless neighborhood so those street kids can just relax a little.
      • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

        @DanaBlankenhorn never had any interest in opensource? Do you really need clicks to the linux part of zdnet this bad? webkit?
      • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

        @DanaBlankenhorn It really is part of the charm here. Really enjoy your posts. Thanks.
    • Right, Oracle can not "take back" open source projects, but, they CAN

      disrupt the development and and cause FUD about things like independent Java implementations (Harmony). Buying MySQL and Java certainly disrupted the open source development of those projects, and at least around Java, they are creating FUD by suing Google over a questionable interpretation of the GPL. So, they can not put those genies back in the bottle, but, they can slap them around.
      • GPL ??? What GPL ?

        @DonnieBoy:<br>With respect to Java, Sun's license assignment requirement has always been utterly weird, definitely not GPL. The Apache license isn't as firm as GPL in it's requirements to "give back", either, but it's definitely got more of the Freedoms in place than the Sun licenses do. The mess, as you've just pointed out, is Sun's "IP" versus the Apache code. The original Oracle filing against Google, IIRC, actually claimed ownership of Apache-written classes, with the Apache license headers stripped off (which was a violation of the Apache license right there, of course.)

        Larry could send out his lawyer-Hounds to harass the Apache Team over and over again, he's got plenty of money which he can dedicate to weakening them.<br><br>I think that the right lesson to be learned from all this is: If it's GPL/LGPL, then it really is Open Source. If it's any other license, then you might find yourself utterly screwed in the future - read it carefully, and trust only the written words. Statements which aren't in the license are undependable; people can be replaced; and companies can be bought for the purpose of wrecking them (as happened with MySQL).
        Rick S._z
    • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

      This is the sort of idiotic, brain-dead commentary that has been on ZDNet lately.

      I used to believe that ZDNet was an intelligent, trust-worthy source of tech information...

      ... Not anymore!!!
      Harvey Lubin
      • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

        @Harvey Lubin

        I agree Harvey.

        This same source has an interesting article about Apple stealing websites. What a headline?

        It is just to drive page clicks and rouse up the Android OS fanbois who drive it even more from Mommies basement.
      • He must be a manager.

        @Harvey Lubin I agree, this guy must be a manager. Seriously, these retard businessmen are getting on my nerves lately with their biased and uninteligent opinions about everything they don't know. It's not like open source is dying, quite the opposite really. Java is not my platform of choice in any case, but if I had Java code, and I could still compile it, middle finger to them.
  • Not so fast Dana

    "open source" software licensed under the GPL among others cannot be taken back. If Oracle or any other interest tries to take back their toys (providing they retain ALL copyrights) the last version under the GPL is available to all.

    I've said for years that Apple was no friend to FOSS. As far as freedom goes Apple is worse than MS. I've never understood why so many FOSS advocates are Apple fans. Perhaps they also seek to boost their self esteem by associating themselves with Apple "coolness".
    Tim Patterson
    • BTW Dana

      The Oracle Google suit will take years and there's no telling how it will end up. By that time Android will have already beaten iOS and WP7.
      Tim Patterson
    • Well, they are trying to enforce a more stringent interpretation of the GPL

      on Java. The idea is that the Harmony code is not a derivation of Java, and thus copyright and patent protections do not apply.

      But, even then, if they buy up the project and developers, and then own all of the copyrights like with MySQL, then they are free to fork changes under a different even proprietary license, though they can not prevent forks of the original code, under the GPL.
      • No interpretation


        There is no interpreting about it.

        Some parts of Java are open source and others are not. The portions of Java at issue in Oracle v Google are not.
        Tim Patterson
    • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

      @Tim Patterson<br><br>So many are Apple fans because Apple has done much for open source, even though some don't like to admit it.<br><br>But a company has to grow, and it has to make a profit or it's out of business. They do what they have to, to ensure that. Open source is just another competitor they have to beat. Nothing sinister there.<br><br>They have plenty of problems in the open source community all by themselves. Some of the worst, and stupidiest fights are between competing open source <br>projects. Let's not pretend that open source is all goody goody. There's lot's of greed there. And greed doesn't always have to be about money, it's about power and prestige as well.<br><br>Even with Linux we can see where that goes. Look at how Torvold stopped the 3.0 kernel, even though there were plenty of people who thought it should go ahead. In his way, he's just as bad as anyone.<br><br>If a company has spent time and money developing IP, then they should be allowed to protect it against competitors. And if those competitors are open source, well, too bad. Let them develop something from scratch that doesn't infringe.
      • question WRT 'Torvold stopped the 3.0 kernel'

        @melgross:<br>This first part is not an argument, it's a genuine question: I <i>think</i> that you're talking about Linus refusing to attempt an "upgrade" to the GPL3 license.<br><br>I have the impression that the current Development strategy, creating alternate Trees (e.g., Andrew's MM tree) for testing major changes separately, makes it unlikely that a technical need for a new "Version" will ever occur. So, if that's what you mean by "stopped 3.0", no one except you has any problem with the current 2.6.x nomenclature. Was this the case?<br>- - - - -<br>But if you were talking about the GPL V3 license decision, then I WILL argue with you- Because that decision was made after very sensible and thorough discussion on both sides. Unlike the JCP process, which Oracle/Sun can wreck <i><b>because of</b></i> the non-GPL, non-Apache license assignments Sun has used, the Linux decision making process is very clear and effective- and anyone who doesn't like it take ALL the code they want, create a Fork under the same licensing terms.<br>The decision to stay with GPL V2 had nothing to do with "greed" or "prestige" - it was based on the fact that large numbers of GPL V2 kernel code contributors are likely to object to a GPL V3 "upgrade" when they are contacted, and even worse, many other contributors would be impossible to find and ask at all. (Thus creating unknown "IP" risks into the indefinite future).<br><br>To say that Linus Torvold "is as bad as anyone", in a world full of proprietary software companies which have been found GUILTY, in Court, is unfair. And in this particular case, the comparison is with Larry Ellison -- I think you need to retract a lot of these statements, starting with the "Nothing Sinister there" claim. Remember those stock options, and his $100M "settlement" agreement? Yeah, he's not a <b>convicted</b> felon- but I think that the the price tag on the settlement is a pretty clear indication of where the case was going. (IMO, he's about as "decent" as Doug Lay was.) Linus has done no such thing, obviously.
        Rick S._z
      • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

        @melgross If we continue to believe that continuous growth is possible, then the big corporations will just get bigger until all we are left with is a monopoly that can charge what it wants without any recourse for the consumers AND we will run out of resources to raise funds to pay for the continuous growth. Remember that we are already outconsuming what Earth has available and new markets in developing countries are coming on stream.
        There's profit and there's obscene profit. And that just about sums up Oracle and its thirst for more blood. It has been out of control for many years.
    • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

      @Tim Patterson Probably.
    • RE: The Apple-Oracle plot against open source

      @Tim Patterson If they own the new trademarks, etc the projects can always be forked.

      The community did this with already. The Documentation Foundation now "own & don't own"* LibreOffice. Which is based on the source code.

      Both communities are apparently contributing to each project though, as the source code is >= 97% the same. (Plus it is completely legal for each side to do so).

      *(If you get my gist)
  • Well, the one thing that Oracle can not buy or attack effectively is Linux.

    Heck they even sell their own Linux distributions. So, maybe they are happy to permit Linux, but, use patents, copyrights, buyouts, legal attacks, etc, against applications.