Apache foundation quits 'proprietary' Java process

The Apache Software Foundation has resigned from the Java Community Process Executive Committee, claiming the widely-used scripting platform is completely under Oracle's control
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The Apache Software Foundation has resigned from the Java steering group, claiming that the widely-used scripting platform is a proprietary technology under the full control of Oracle.

In a blog post on Thursday, the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) developer community said its resignation from the Java Community Process (JCP) Executive Committee (EC) followed the committee's approval of the Java SE 7 specification, as proposed by Oracle. The ASF said the specification came bound up with licence terms that continued to forbid the distribution of independent, open-source Java implementations.

"This vote was the only real power the Executive Committee has as the governing body of the Java specification ecosystem, and as we indicated previously we were looking for the EC to protect the rights of implementers to the degree they are able, as well as preserve the integrity of the JCP licensing structure by ensuring that JCP specifications are able to be freely implemented and distributed," the post read.

"By approving Java SE 7, the EC has failed on both counts: the members of the EC refused to stand up for the rights of implementers, and by accepting Oracle's TCK [technology compatibility kit] licence terms for Java SE 7, they let the integrity of the JCP's licensing structure be broken."

In October, IBM abandoned the ASF's Apache Harmony project, an independent open-source implementation of Java, to join Oracle's rival OpenJDK project. IBM was clear that its decision was largely based on Oracle's refusal to open source the TCK for Java, and the fact that Harmony would therefore never be officially certified.

Oracle, which acquired stewardship of Java when it bought Sun in January, had before that acquisition been a critic of Sun for not open-sourcing the TCK. This about-face is central to Google's defence against a massive Android-related patent suit brought against it by Oracle in August. Google's smartphone OS is built around a virtual machine that can run Java-scripted apps and is mostly published under the Apache licence. The company accused Oracle of acting in bad faith.

The ASF said in its blog post that the EC's vote for Oracle's Java SE 7 spec showed "that JCP is not an open specification process — that Java specifications are proprietary technology that must be licensed directly from the spec lead under whatever terms the spec lead chooses".

"The commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem... it is impossible to distribute independent implementations of [Java specification requests] under open source licences such that users are protected from IP litigation by expert group members or the spec lead," the ASF wrote.

The ASF also noted that "the majority of the EC members, including Oracle, have publicly stated that restrictions on distribution such as those found in the Java SE 7 licence have no place in the JCP", and pointed out that two EC members, Doug Lea and Tim Peierls, had resigned in protest over the issue.

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