Re: Concerns about GPL-licensed Java

; Date: Tue Nov 14 2006

Tags: OpenJDK

( Concerns about GPL-licensed Java goes into some well known issues with copying code from one project to another.

The first concern, 1) When code is GPL, the license tends to infect things that aren’t intended to be GPL. is indeed why we chose the Classpath exception. It's so that the GPL-ness of the runtime classes do not pass along to programs that subclass the runtime classes.

Though an interesting conundrum came into mind ... suppose one vendor uses GPL for their Java runtime classes, and another does not. Or in Sun's case we're intending to distribute under the old binary license in some cases, and under the GPL in other cases. So, if someone compiles their program subclassing from a library that's not under GPL, and then runs their program under a different instantiation of the library that is under GPL, then what. Is that like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters and either the world ends or Xul appears from beyond the 10th dimension and we all end up running Firefox?

Anyway .. his second point is far more interesting and strange at the same time.

2) All of us who program in Java for a living refer to the JDK source code from time to time.

And, your point is... what? Well, his scenario is this:

Suppose one day, you read something from LinkedList and decide that you need a MappedList, so you copy some snippets from LinkedList into your MappedList class to create it.

And, congratulations he says, you've just now transferred the GPL to your program.

Uh huh, that's a problem? If you're going to be sloppy about where you get your code from, and the licenses that code is under, then you deserve whatever problem that befalls you.

I haven’t seen that Sun has adequately addressed this concern regarding the GPL. And just why is Sun supposed to fix this supposed problem with the GPL? Especially as it's not a problem at all.

Source: (

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.