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MySQL's Influence On the GPL 183

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the throwing-your-weight-around dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ex-MySQL'er Brian Aker goes into the history of MySQL and the GPL. His point is that MySQL used the GPL in an over-reaching manner; and now that MySQL is gone as an entity, and the campaigns are over, that the GPL may return to an accurate definition."
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MySQL's Influence On the GPL

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  • by Entrope (68843) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:19PM (#31238024) Homepage

    The FSF also requires contributor agreements, and I would argue that the practical reason for this is the freedom to choose otherwise incompatible licenses in the future (such as migrating from GPLv2 -- not GPLv2-or-at-your-option-any-later-version -- to GPLv3). One common reason that the FSF says they want contributor agreements is to make it easier for them to pursue enforcement actions, but that should be available if they hold any copy rights in the work. They don't need to own all copy rights, but they require that as a condition of distributing the code anyway.

    Setting aside all the arguments over whether it's a good idea to require contributor agreements, given that the FSF requires them, it's really hard for me to see how it constitutes any kind of "over-reach".

    • by teg (97890) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:26PM (#31238084) Homepage

      I don't think the "overreached" was about the contributor agreements, but rather the MySQL claim that the protocol for talking to the database (sending SQL queries) was GPL. Thus non-GPL software was not allowed to use the database, and you should buy the commercial versions.

      • Was that really it? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Monday February 22, 2010 @09:08PM (#31239126) Homepage

        I don't have time to look this up at the moment, but what I recall as the most important and least conventional GPL interpretation is that MySQL (the company) took the position that applications that depended on MySQL (the RDBMS) as one of their components were derivative works that incorporated the RDBMS--and that details about linking or protocols were just not relevant. Therefore, unless you bought a commercial license from the company, such applications had to be distributed under GPL terms.

        Put more carefully, the idea is an application is a derivative of MySQL is whether if it relies critically on MySQL to provide its functionality. So, for example, a blog management tool that absolutely required MySQL as its backend would be a derivative work, while a graphical SQL client that could connect to many different RDBMSes and generically examine and modify the schema might not be (at least not under this criterion).

        They may have additionally taken the position that the protocol is subject to the license, or something similar to that, but that would hardly be the whole position they've taken.

        Note that the FSF itself takes a similar position with regards to linking to libraries, as shown by this old exchange about CLISP and readline [sourceforge.net]. Quoting from one of RMS's emails there:

        The FSF position would be that this is still one program, which has only been disguised as two. The reason it is still one program is that the one part clearly shows the intention for incorporation of the other part.

        I say this based on discussions I had with our lawyer long ago. The issue first arose when NeXT proposed to distribute a modified GCC in two parts and let the user link them. Jobs asked me whether this was lawful. It seemed to me at the time that it was, following reasoning like what you are using; but since the result was very undesirable for free software, I said I would have to ask the lawyer.

        What the lawyer said surprised me; he said that judges would consider such schemes to be "subterfuges" and would be very harsh toward them. He said a judge would ask whether it is "really" one program, rather than how it is labeled.

        So the lesson here is one should not put too much stock on arguments about static vs. dynamic linking, linking vs. network protocols, or other such technical details, because judges will most likely find that none of those details are really the essential issue.

        • So the lesson here is one should not put too much stock on arguments about static vs. dynamic linking, linking vs. network protocols, or other such technical details, because judges will most likely find that none of those details are really the essential issue.

          While that is true, I don't know how relevant your example is. In that case, Next was contemplating de-coupling parts of GCC, but database applications are already very loosely coupled with the RDBMS through generic driver layers. (absent any proprietary SQL statements)

          MySQL's position also created all kinds of weird quandaries. For example, if you had a pre-existing proprietary ODBC application, you supposedly could not simply reconfigure it to use MySQL's GPLed driver. That creates a restriction on runnin

        • I don't have time to look this up at the moment, but what I recall as the most important and least conventional GPL interpretation is that MySQL (the company) took the position that applications that depended on MySQL (the RDBMS) as one of their components were derivative works that incorporated the RDBMS--and that details about linking or protocols were just not relevant. Therefore, unless you bought a commercial license from the company, such applications had to be distributed under GPL terms.

          Not quite. The client library is GPL licensed, so any app that links the client library has to be GPL.

          This does not apply to PHP apps that use the PHP native driver (mysqlnd) [mysql.com] as that was developed by PHP devs who wanted a PHP licensed (BSD like) MySQL driver.

          Presumably, there is nothing stopping anyone else who wants to from developing their own BSD licensed client or client library (they could probably reuse at least some of the mysqlnd devs work). The fact that it has not happened probably demonstrates t

        • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

          ``So the lesson here is one should not put too much stock on arguments about static vs. dynamic linking, linking vs. network protocols, or other such technical details, because judges will most likely find that none of those details are really the essential issue.''

          That makes sense to me. If you use functionality provided by other code in your own, does it really matter if that code is exposed to yours as an .so file, a .a file, a .rb file, or even an executable which you communicate with over pipes or sock

      • I don't think the "overreached" was about the contributor agreements, but rather the MySQL claim that the protocol for talking to the database (sending SQL queries) was GPL. Thus non-GPL software was not allowed to use the database, and you should buy the commercial versions.

        To programmers and tech weenies such as ourselves, this statement seems absurd: An SQL stream is part of the product? Surely you jest! We can all point to many products that are database agnostic: there are perhaps a billion such produc

        • If you take that (the opinion of every random person who hasn't a clue about technical stuff defines what is GPL) approach then any piece of code which has ever run on a server situated in the same room as another server running a piece of GPL code would be covered.

          I like the GPL but making it that dangerously contagious would make me nervous about ever using anything that's ever been GPLed.

        • The GPL and the LGPL are written assuming a C linking model from the early '80s. They are not really applicable for a lot of other languages. Even something like Objective-C, in spite of being very C-like, has problems with them. If you have an LGPL'd Objective-C library, you are required to release modifications to your clients, and allow them to link against an updated version. Objective-C comes with a mechanism that allows you to add or replace methods on existing classes. This means that you can sh

    • by belmolis (702863)

      I think that the point of the article is that MYSQL overreached in claiming that the MYSQL protocol was subject to the GPL. Protocols cannot be copyrighted and therefore cannot fall under the GPL.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by hardburn (141468)

        Protocols cannot be copyrighted and therefore cannot fall under the GPL.

        [citation needed]

        • You can't copyright a protocol. A protocol is a logical construct. Compare it to something like COM. Microsoft couldn't copyright COM. They could patent it though. They copyrighted MSDN articles about COM, and the COM libraries themselves are copyrighted, but the interface itself is not encumbered by copyrights.

          You could however copyright a manual or other "artistic" work describing the protocol, but not the header files required to use the library. Additionally, a protocol could be patented. The MySQL name was trademarked as well. They had their bases covered, but saying the MySQL protocol itself was copyrighted is just blowing hot smoke.

        • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:53PM (#31238352) Homepage Journal
          A protocol is a method, process, and system of communication. Here's what United States copyright law has to say on methods, processes, and systems [copyright.gov]: "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work." Likewise, the IBM PC BIOS syscall interface is a protocol for applications to communicate with hardware drivers, yet Compaq and Phoenix were able to clone it by having one team of programmers make a description of the protocol (which isn't a derivative work) and having another team implement it.
        • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:54PM (#31238366)

          [citation needed]

          Vendors selling knock-off print cartridges have been allowed to use code copied outright from legitimate cartridges in order to fulfill a "security protocol" between the cartridge and printer -- a finding which has held up on appeal.

          You might also find Groklaw's analysis of whether the set of values found in the SysV UNIX headers (not the comments, but the functional portions) are copyrightable interesting. Hint: they're not; this is because there's no artistic choice in making them what they are -- their form is precisely dictated by their function.

          In the same way, the minimal necessary set of similarities between a 3rd-party MySQL driver and the official one compromises the MySQL protocol, and that protocol (as opposed to documentation describing it or code implementing it at an abstract enough level that the implementer has choices to make in the process) is uncopyrightable for the reason given above.

          • by cenc (1310167)

            I wonder if I could use that as defense to legally download all the crappy music and movies on bittorrent I want. I am almost 100% certain no creativity went in to most of it (at least in recent years).

        • by segedunum (883035) on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:16PM (#31238592)
          Read the article.

          If this is true, and protocols are subject to the GPL, then Linus's understanding of it is flawed and userspace in a Linux based system cannot talk to Linux kernelspace in the trouble-free way he describes. A non-GPLed piece of software cannot talk to a GPLed piece of software via HTTP......... The list goes on. Obviously we know that this does happen and that the concept is bullshit. MySQL merely used it to muddy the waters, confuse people over licensing and get people to pay for licenses when perhaps they didn't really need to. Certainly, the vast majority of software for internal use doesn't require licenses from MySQL. Monty is now off into his own little world railing against that when it was what made his company money and got it sold to Sun for a stupidly overpriced amount, making him some pocket change as well I wouldn't wonder.

          Thankfully, the article knows this is silly and not only says so, but blames MySQL for it. This is the way the GPL has always worked in other projects, and was known to work. MySQL simply used it as an avenue for confusion and to get people to cough up, which had the side-effect of people being more afraid of the GPL than they needed to be.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I agree with you, but I believe you to be wrong on a technical point. The license applied to the kernel is the GPLv2 with the specific stipulation that the userspace boundary was not considered a derivative work by the author. Otherwise, I believe distributing a binary that linked with the Linux kernel would have been a GPL violation (depending on the weird interpretation about OS/tools libraries "get out of jail free" clause in the GPLv2).

            See COPYING [kernel.org] from the linux kernel. The absolute top clarifies

            • by einhverfr (238914)

              I agree with you, but I believe you to be wrong on a technical point. The license applied to the kernel is the GPLv2 with the specific stipulation that the userspace boundary was not considered a derivative work by the author. Otherwise, I believe distributing a binary that linked with the Linux kernel would have been a GPL violation (depending on the weird interpretation about OS/tools libraries "get out of jail free" clause in the GPLv2).

              Wouldn't that make ndiswrapper and the Nvidia drivers into GPL viol

              • Linus has also stated publicly: "The NVIDIA driver is not a derivative work, because it existed outside of the Linux kernel, and runs almost totally independent of any of the Linux internals". Note, that the small section that is Linux specific, is GPL'ed, and is distributed in source form. I can find the exact quote for you, if you'd like. If we applied the same logic for the NVIDIA to the kernel to a new back end optimizer for the GNU C Compiler (aka GCC), you can bet that the owners of the copyright

          • by Kjella (173770)

            MySQL merely used it to muddy the waters, confuse people over licensing and get people to pay for licenses when perhaps they didn't really need to. Certainly, the vast majority of software for internal use doesn't require licenses from MySQL.

            Shocker, dual licensing company points people in direction of product with highest margins. In other stunning news, this applies to retail clerks and pretty much everyone else. I remember Trolltech's site also went very far into pointing you in direction of the commercial version, you'd have to know the GPL to know you could use it in a commercial setting with some caveats.

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          You're the one who needs to provide the citation. What exactly is being copyrighted in order to copyright a protocol?

          Sure the code that implements is would be a computer program, that's copyrightable.

          A document that specifies it would be a literary work, that's copyrightable.

          But the protocol itself??? So my clean room implementation without ever seeing any of the work of the protocol author violates their copyright? What did I copy?

          • by russotto (537200)

            But the protocol itself??? So my clean room implementation without ever seeing any of the work of the protocol author violates their copyright? What did I copy?

            Ask the Eighth Circuit, which ruled that bnetd infringed upon Blizzard's copyrights (as well as violating the DMCA) despite the bnetd authors not even having access the code for the servers which implemented the protocol they reverse engineered.

            • by belmolis (702863)

              You misunderstand the case. The Court did not rule that Blizzard could copyright protocols. Rather, it ruled that BnetD violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions as well as provisions of Blizzard's EULA forbidding reverse engineering.

          • by hardburn (141468)

            You're the one who needs to provide the citation.

            That's an interesting statement. Usually it's the one making assertions that needs to back up their info with facts, not the one asking for clarification.

            I can see plenty of reasons why protocols shouldn't be copyrightable. I can see plenty of reason why "Method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network" shouldn't be a patentable invention, but it technically still is. I'm looking for a direct court case ruling on this sort of thing. Until that happens, it's all just armchair lawy

            • by belmolis (702863)

              Actually, I was just explaining what the article meant, not making an independent claim about copyright, so a citation was hardly required. And no, this is not a borderline case like the example that you cite. The circumstances under which methods may be patented are a matter of contention. That pure ideas like protocols are not subject to copyright is not a matter of contention.

              • by hardburn (141468)

                So let's say you were a lawyer for MySQL/Sun/Oracle/whoever owns it now, and you were told to prosecute a case involving the company's supposed copyright on the protocol. The argument on the defense involves many of the case laws cited in this thread (printer cartridge case, header files, etc.)

                On hearing those arguments from the defense, are you just going to roll over and take it? Or are you going to find an obscure piece of case law from the 1950s involving a local dispute involving a bizzare combination

            • by cduffy (652)

              I gave you everything you needed to look up some on-point rulings elsewhere, but to make it more explicit, here's the print cartridge case [wikipedia.org], and . See also section 1201(f)(3) of the DMCA [harvard.edu], which explicitly permits reverse engineering for purposes of interoperability. To make it even more clear, see Title 17, Circular 92, Chapter 1, Section 102 [copyright.gov], which lays it out explicitly:

              (b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of oper

            • by shaitand (626655)

              "That's an interesting statement. Usually it's the one making assertions that needs to back up their info with facts, not the one asking for clarification."

              In an academic paper or a news source I would agree. When it comes to slashdot postings I think everyone is free to state opinions and verifying their accuracy is up to the reader.

        • Because they can be patented.
        • by belmolis (702863)

          It follows immediately from the definition of copyright. Contrary to the views of many people, including /.-ers, copyright is not some vague and general form of ownership of intellectual property but applies specifically to the expression of ideas, not ideas. A document describing a protocol is subject to copyright, but not the protocol since it is merely an idea, not the expression thereof. Virtually any competent treatment of copyright, including the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org], will explain this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nedlohs (1335013)

      Since the contributor agreement had nothing to do with the over-reaching, that's pretty much irrelevant.

    • I personally think the FSF does overreach in this area. Certainly RMS's rhetoric about what the GPL requires overreaches. If we believe RMS, the GPL reaches well beyond areas traditionally covered by copyright law and into areas like interoperability, which I think is just plain wrong. Indeed, I think linking itself is in no way sufficient to argue derivation.

      I think more level heads, like some of the more moderate lawyers at the SFLC, and more level-headed engineers like Linus are closer.

      • Note that, although the FSF requires copyright assignment, they then grant you an unconditional, non-exlusive, license to the code that you contribute to them. This means that you can do anything with the code (including use it in proprietary code and sublicense it under any other set of conditions). The only thing you can't do is sue someone else for infringing the copyright (because you don't have standing to do so).

        some of the more moderate lawyers at the SFLC

        Uh, what? When did the SFLC get moderate lawyers? They're incredibly shill-like, omitt

        • by einhverfr (238914)

          Note that, although the FSF requires copyright assignment, they then grant you an unconditional, non-exlusive, license to the code that you contribute to them. This means that you can do anything with the code (including use it in proprietary code and sublicense it under any other set of conditions). The only thing you can't do is sue someone else for infringing the copyright (because you don't have standing to do so).

          That's not my complaint.

          The issue has more to do with RMS's discussions of relicensing BSD

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:23PM (#31238058)

    People loved when CDDB offered to identify CD's so when ripping you could not have to type everything in for your music app. Many people donated time to this "project"... but once it was done, suddenly developers started to have to pay Gracenote for the data, and "free" music programs went away for paid-for-somehow models like Windows Media Player, iTunes, and the such.

    It seems like bait and switch is a viable business model these days. Start off as a free project taking free help, then turn around and exercise your copyright burning your former free help but having plenty of money for paid help to take their place.

    • by Night Goat (18437)

      Oh, why did you have to remind me of that? That was the most infuriating thing.

    • You are mixing up things, causing confusion, most probably unintentionally.

      As unfortunate the CDDB/Gracenotes was, it is very different from MySQL.

      First, MySQL is code, not data. The GPL is a good license for free software, but should not be used to non-code stuff. It was not meant to be used for things that are not code.

      Second MySQL is GPL, the CDDB data is, well, there is a dispute about it. The GPL protects a given version that it will remain free forever. The copyright holder, if they so chose, can lice

      • The GPL protects a given version that it will remain free forever. The copyright holder, if they so chose, can license newer versions under something else, but the old version will remain GPL.

        So, Oracle can choose to not license future versions of MySQL under the GPL, but the existing versions will remain GPL. If enough people care for it, and rally behind it, it can be a viable fork of the product by a community team and/or sponsored by other companies.

        Two good examples would be xf86ree/xorg and cdrecord/cdrkit

    • People loved when CDDB offered to identify CD's so when ripping you could not have to type everything in for your music app. Many people donated time to this "project"... but once it was done, suddenly developers started to have to pay Gracenote for the data, and"free" music programs went away for paid-for-somehow models like Windows Media Player, iTunes, and the such.

      They just used Free DB [freedb.org] instead. K3B works just fine apart from the dd typo (and checking track names when you rip is not a huge issue).

  • by Martin Foster (4949) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:33PM (#31238150) Homepage

    MySQL caused a bit of a stir where I worked for the same reasons mentioned in the article. It is not always about doing the legwork, as anyone can pretty much take a few hours of research to find out licenses, variants in code and so forth.

    What IS the problem however, is the fact that the GPL is a complex legal document and some companies don't want to pay the fees necessary for a small battalion of lawyers to confirm its use on a server platform or within a product. Its polar opposite the BSD license however is far easier for anyone to interpret and has a lot of legal precedence behind it.

    The MySQL dual licensing issue reminds me of another project I encountered. iText PDF (http://www.itextpdf.com) is a Java open-source license that was traditionally released under the Mozilla Public License 1.1.

    Oddly enough, just as their tutorials disappeared when the author of the library published a book. To which is used exclusively when asking for help in the forums, they also changed the license to the AGPL.

    This seemed to be a way to force companies into buying their dual license. Apparently a lot of people used their product on a back-end servers to generate PDF invoices and so forth. By forcing the license change it meant that their changes to the code would have to be released and the viral nature of the AGPL forced the hands of many formerly legal products.

    Fortunately, their MPL licensed version is only a few months older then their new code and oddly works with their Tutorial files they have hidden away in an old archive on Source forge.

    Not that myself or my organization was opposed to licensing legally. However when you have a small, no fee, in house product being distributed within your organization and they are looking for 100$ US or more per instance for licensing fees, it rather makes it a hard pill to swallow.

    MySQL had the same problem some of their fees seemed to range in the 300$ US per instance depending on the type of licensing involved and overhead of the company you used to get them. Some individuals at our organization recalls getting Oracle licenses for that price!

    In a way, are these open source products or are they simply using the moniker as a way to attract people and force them into costly solutions?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AlXtreme (223728)

      In a way, are these open source products or are they simply using the moniker as a way to attract people and force them into costly solutions?

      In most cases they start out the former and end up the latter.

      The problem is that some people expect to be able to live off of their open source projects, or at least feel they are entitled to earn a buck. Feel free to ask for donations, add a couple of ads to your website or even offering an "enterprise version", but having a successful project doesn't mean that peop

      • by Kjella (173770)

        The problem is that some people expect to be able to live off of their open source projects, or at least feel they are entitled to earn a buck. Feel free to ask for donations, add a couple of ads to your website or even offering an "enterprise version", but having a successful project doesn't mean that people should pay you for it. Those people you are demanding cash from are the same people who made your project a success. Then again, it is their project. If they want to shoot themselves in the foot by alienating their community, nobody can stop them. There are always alternatives.

        In order to be able to relicense the project, you must be the sole copyright holder. So basically you are saying the author should be grateful for doing all the work and being allowed to give away his application? Almost sounds like it. If you feel like it yon can come work as my personal slave too, I promise lots of work and no pay but I may give you a trinket from time to time. Open source is a great way to show that you are a capable developer and project manager, but as the project grows so will the wor

    • of course most people don't pay anything. they wait to be slapped on the hand because the issue is complicated and there's just enough leeway to claim ignorance. unless the GPL nazi's come knocking they coast...
    • I tell people, look for multi-vendor projects. This avoids a lot of this crap. PostgreSQL, Linux, Apache, etc. are all great projects because the authors have cultivated commercial involvement from a variety of companies. The other side are the single-vendor ones like MySQL, SugarCRM, etc. which have dual-license models. They are the companies to avoid.

    • some companies don't want to pay the fees necessary for a small battalion of lawyers to confirm its use on a server platform or within a product.

      It doesn't take a "battalion of lawyers". It just takes a working relationship with qualified legal counsel, who is knowledgable in modern software copyright issues. It used to be that such folks were scarce as hen's teeth, but now you mostly just have to know enough to ask for and retain the right attorney or firm, on the terms appropriate for your size of business. Development will need to participate, but mostly this comes down to educating the team(s) to percolate up requests like: "hey, I'd like to

      • by russotto (537200)

        Development will need to participate, but mostly this comes down to educating the team(s) to percolate up requests like: "hey, I'd like to use package X which has license Y, is that license OK?" This query either hits cache ("license Y is known to be {good,bad}"), or misses and becomes a review request to an attorney.

        The problem is that unless you're in a large company which considers the occasional copyright lawsuit as a method of sharpening its lawyers' claws, the lawyer is going to tell you in ambiguous

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday February 22, 2010 @09:43PM (#31239472) Homepage

      > What IS the problem however, is the fact that the GPL is a complex legal document

      Nonsense. As legal documents go, it's ridiculously simple. The only time the question of it's "complexity" come up is when people want to either bash it or violate it.

      • The only time the question of it's "complexity" come up is when people want to either bash it or violate it.

        You may have noticed that we're discussing a situation where a GPL vendor pushed a significantly more complex interpretation.

        • by Per Wigren (5315)

          The only time the question of it's "complexity" come up is when people want to either bash it or violate it.

          You may have noticed that we're discussing a situation where a GPL vendor pushed a significantly more complex interpretation.

          So what he said. The GPL is only complex for those who are searching for ways to only follow the letter of it, not the spirit.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by IntlHarvester (11985)

            Absolutely not what he said. Unless you are claiming that MySQL intended to violate the GPL. IMO they honestly believed in their unconventional interpretation.

            Sorry, but you boys can't turn this into the typical internet strawman argument when a database vendor is pointing a legal gun at your head. MySQL had a particular interpretation and the financial means to enforce it, this went beyond the "below your threshold" GPL debating society here. You can't just dismiss a major GPL company as wingnuts. .....

            And

  • by jupo (717073) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:37PM (#31238204) Homepage

    Well the GPL used to be much longer, but was somehow mysteriously truncated.

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:58PM (#31238418) Journal

    I don't know every little detail of what's happened and frankly I don't care. If people want it to live on and Oracle don't live up to their agreement, and assuming the code is readable, the community can fork it and move on. If that's no longer legally possible, as far as I'm concerned it's not GPL code. Regardless, my guess is that MySQL will decline but that other projects like Postgress will fill the niche for small free databases. As for the effect on the GPL, things cannot be undone. Once a license is challenged or abused in some way the only possible response is to adapt it to take that into account.

    I'm MUCH more worried about Java, OpenOffice, VirtualBox. I'm also concerned about zfs and MySQL, but not as much. Roughly in that order.

    • So, um, I take it you didn't read the article?

      • by syousef (465911)

        So, um, I take it you didn't read the article?

        I skimmed it. One of the authors of MySQL I presume self-agrandising and taking credit for "saving" MySQL even though none of Oracle's promises are legally binding.

        • I skimmed it. One of the authors of MySQL I presume self-agrandising and taking credit for "saving" MySQL even though none of Oracle's promises are legally binding.

          Those two sentences are completely contradictory. :-)

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:10PM (#31238544) Homepage Journal

    Brian works for Monty. Monty made something around USD$130M selling MySQL to Sun, who then sold themselves to Oracle. Monty, instead of buying a yacht and taking a vacation, wants to stay in the MySQL business. The problem is that he sold his rights. If someone was "over-reaching" with the GPL at MySQL, Monty was one of the three people behind that. Now, Monty wants to both take back the licensing scheme that made him a very rich man, and keep the money.

    Give it up, Monty. Work on something else.

    • Hi Bruce!

      I don't work for Monty :)

      I also don't work on MariaDB (and never have).

      Please get your facts straight.

      Cheers,
            -Brian

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) *

        Brian,

        Well, your article sounds identical to the presentation we've been hearing from Monty for some months now, and you are behind the Drizzle fork.

        • Hi!

          My article sounds like something Monty would publish? I don't think so, Monty is a firm believer that the GPL does influence the protocol (aka, you can have a GPL based protocol). If you would bother to read some of the published material around what was said for the benefit of the EU you would know that. Quite a bit of his argument to the EU is based on the belief that the protocol follows GPL.

          Drizzle? Monty has nothing to do with Drizzle. He has never committed a line of code, and I doubt he has even looked at it. MariaDB, the databases he works on, is very different. The two are nothing alike other then sharing a common ancestor.

          Once again Bruce, read up a bit, and get your facts straight.

          Cheers,
                -Brian

          • Well, protocols are the subject of patents rather than copyright so I never felt any need to listen to Monty about that particular point. It's more his protesting the GPL's terms now that they are being applied to him rather than by him. And in that regard your presentation sounds really familiar.

            Bruce

            • by krow (129804) *

              Hi!

              Would you please find a single "your presentation sounds really familiar" to backup anything you say?

              As I have had to point out a number of times, you should spend some time reading up on a subject before you post on it.

              Cheers,
                  -Brian

              • Brian, it is the meme of "we must now reform GPL over-reaching" which has risen only because Oracle is now the entity enforcing the GPL on others rather than MySQL. I agree that MySQL used FUD to cause customers to buy, especially before MySQL 5 came out. But the only folks who ever believed that the GPL applied to a protocol were those who didn't know the scope of copyright from that of patent. This was not an issue that anyone who could discuss the situation intelligently with an attorney ever believed, with one exception, and it does not need reform now because it's not for real. The one exception was the MySQL principals themselves. They got the most draconian read from a lawyer at some point, something that wouldn't ever have flown in court, and Monty still believes it today.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Well, protocols are the subject of patents rather than copyright so I never felt any need to listen to Monty about that particular point.

              So, although you never listened to Monty on the subject on which this article was written, it seems very similar to what Monty said? This fails the logic test, and your subsequent weasel words do nothing to change that.

              In response to one of the comments under TFA Brian says "You can choose to pay based on FUD, but really it is just FUD." Brian does not protest the GPL's terms; he only states that Monty's interpretation of same was FUD-fodder. Actually, he says it was FUD, but from Monty's position on the fi

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by weicco (645927)

              Well, protocols are the subject of patents rather than copyright

              I second that. I live in Finland which is part of EU. Of course Finnish laws applies only in Finland and not in other EU countries. Here's my translation of our copyright law's opening section. I couldn't find official translation.

              He, who has created literary or artistic creation, has copyright on the said creation, may it be literary or explanatory, in writing or spoken representation, composition or performance, a film, photograph or other ar

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Bruce Perens (3872) *
                Start with patent 4,549,302 on the guard time in the Hayes Modem protocol. That's from 1985. I'm sure there are others. Surely the touch-tones were patented before then. Indeed, there must be telephony ones going back to the 1920's.
                • That's a U.S. patent, I forgot to mention.
                • by weicco (645927)

                  Yes, but I wasn't talking about patents. I was talking about copyrights and especially EU since Brian brought it up. I don't have much knowledge about patents.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by montywi (1713110)

            Brian, as you should know I never said that GPL affects the protocol. (See my previous answer to Bruce)

            What I have told you is that Richard Stallmans opinion is that if you have a client/server application (both GPL) and the protocol is proprietary (ie not public), then if someone creates a new client for the server this client will also be GPL.

            However, this was never an argument that I have used with MySQL; My argument has always been that if someone has an application that require MySQL and this applicati

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by montywi (1713110)

      Bruce, before claiming something, you should do some basic resources to ensure that you get your facts right.

      - Brian Aker doesn't work for me. He is an old friend, nothing more.
      - You know Bryan and should know, as all his friends does, that you can't influence what Bryan is saying; He is always speaking his own mind!
      - I personally never got any 130M USD; Not even a fraction of this. (Can easily be verified as all tax information is public in Finland)
      - I am not doing business with any rights that has been so

  • Companies don't make money by giving anything away, except in a very restricted set of circumstances where the gift is of no particular value and induces customers to spend actual money, or when there are substantial money-based strings attached. Why is this so hard for the FOSS world to grasp? A for-profit company, particularly a publicly-traded company, is always going to extract every last penny from its customers in exchange for the least value they will settle for. That's how capitalism works. Altruism

    • by XanC (644172)

      It does occasionally contribute to the common good, but because that contribution is itself an inefficiency in the system, there is a very strong incentive for all companies to reduce the amount of public good they do in order to cut costs and maximize profits.

      Every voluntary transaction introduces new wealth into an economy. It actually creates wealth.

      I do agree with your point about companies being directly altruistic, though, which is either misguided or the result of an ulterior motive.

      • Every voluntary transaction introduces new wealth into an economy. It actually creates wealth.

        In a certain metaphoric sense, yes, though not in any remotely concrete way, which would involve a violation of the Second Law.

        The important detail that is being overlooked by such a simplistic account is the matter of who receives that wealth. In this case, a relatively small amount of wealth ended up in the hands of MySQL AB's shareholders, and a tremendous amount of wealth ended up in the hands of Oracle's shareholders. How? By effectively killing off one of their major competitors, a significant number

    • Re:Basic economics (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:49PM (#31238914) Homepage Journal
      If you want to understand the economics of Open Source, read this [perens.com]. It pokes some pretty big holes in your thesis.
      • I read it when you first published it, Bruce. It looks good on paper, but the failure of Open Source to do more than carve out some specialist professional niches -- its impact on the general consumer approaches zero -- strongly suggests an enormous gap between theory and practice.

        Given the available resources, there is no reason Microsoft and Apple should even exist today. At least part of the blame for that, I believe, lies with the essentially self-serving and narcissistic worldview that has been at the

        • Re:Basic economics (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @02:55AM (#31241522) Homepage Journal

          It's not that the general impact on the consumer is zero, but that the consumer uses us all the time and doesn't realize that we're there. We're in those other software platforms you mentioned, in their SONY TV (literally hundreds of models), and every time they type a domain name into their web browser.

          I remember leaving Pixar, and discussing with Steve Jobs that I was going to work full time on Open Source. Steve didn't think we'd ever be able to make a successful GUI. Two years later he went on stage at MacWorld and announced that Safari would be based on KDE, standing in front of a slide entitled "Open Source, We Love It".

          We own a big piece of the smartphone market now, which is the platform of tomorrow. The world isn't going back. How much did you expect us to achieve in 10 years.

          As far as FSF vs. Open Source, not many people care any longer that RMS and Eric Raymond don't get along. I can't see that it's getting in the way of anything.

          We did have a FOSS segment that was oriented toward public service. Ubuntu ate them. Actually, they're still around, they just don't matter much any longer. It's not clear that the public wanted the service.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Companies don't make money by giving anything away, except in a very restricted set of circumstances where the gift is of no particular value and induces customers to spend actual money

      That's more or less true, except that it also works when the gift IS of value, but not of enough value to solve a problem worth spending money on. The remaining piece for the value to be adequate can be service, or it can be targeted development. MySQL was worth $0 to many (most?) potential customers as a lump of code or even a compiled, packaged set of binaries and their requisites, but MySQL with a support agreement was worth more. And of course, MySQL plus peace of mind (a guarantee not to be dragged int

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 22, 2010 @09:52PM (#31239556)

    Postgres.. the REAL free alternative. Mysql licensing has always been hairy at best, and the performance has not been up to enterprise levels.. unless you only do reads. I've switched all my customers to Postgres about 3 years ago, and everybody is happy.. and this whole Oracle/Mysql debate is a non-issue.

    When you SELL something.. and then you want to CONTROL it.. it's like being an Indian Giver.. There is nothing that Mysql can do that Postgres can't and there's plenty that Postgres can that Mysql can't. So stop the whining, if you want to pay for Oracle, go for it. If you don't want to pay, sqlite and postgres area available.

    The only person Mysql has to blame is itself; ridiculously overreaching licensing made me dump it, and I encourage everybody else to do the same. If you want to donate time to a database, sqlite and postgres.

    I know you mysql'ers aren't use to hearing the truth; the sky is not falling but mysql usage is. Live with it.

  • I mean, how hard can it be to implement a clean-room version of a mysql client library and make it BSD-like licensed? it's just a client that talks to a server over a socket, using an open and well known protocol. The fact that it never happened tells me that mysql wasn't very irreplaceable at all.

  • DieSQL: The Sequel!

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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