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Special November 2006 Coverage, Day Four

Posted by editor on November 16, 2006 at 8:37 AM PST

Thoughts about dual licenses

Tim Bray talked with Artima on What GPL'ed Java Means, and one of the key points they cover in the interview is the dual-licensing model: keeping the existing commercial license for one group of customers that's comfortable with it, and add GPL:

We have lots of commercial licensees. The obvious major players, like IBM, BEA, and lots of others who take the Java code and improve it and put it in their products. In the area of Java ME, obviously a huge portion of the mobile phone industry in the world is a commercial licensee of that technology. We can't cancel those, those are contracts. It would not only be illegal to cancel them, it would be unethical to not offer to renew them when they expire.

For that reason, Java will go on being offered under the existing commercial licenses that we have offered. For those who have commercial licenses with us, when those licenses expire, they will have the option of dropping them and going with the open-source GPL'd version for free, of course. That will be their choice. I suspect that some will, and some won't. It's a complex set of trade-offs.

But do two licenses mean, effectively, two Javas? Robert Cooper fires back with some concerns in his ONJava blog Think of a number between 1 and 10...:

Here's the thing, Tim. That is all well and good, except you maintain the dual licensing model. Unless *Sun* wants to fork Java -- an all internal version, and an all GPL version -- that is just not going to happen. All those improvements that might float around on the internet can