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NewsForge: On Java Licensing, Sun Settlement

Apr 12, 2004, 19:45 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Richard M. Stallman, Rick Ross)

Free But Shackled: The Java Trap

"If your program is free software, it is basically ethical--but there is a trap you must be on guard for. Your program, though in itself free, may be restricted by non-free software that it depends on. Since the problem is most prominent today for Java programs, we call it the Java Trap.

"A program is free software if its users have certain crucial freedoms. Roughly speaking, they are: the freedom to run the program, the freedom to study and change the source, the freedom to redistribute the source and binaries, and the freedom to publish improved versions..."

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Commentary: Where is Java in the Settlement?

" I can neither endorse nor denounce the Sun/Microsoft settlement at this point. Those of us on the outside have no access to the particulars of the settlement and have no way to know whether Sun has sold us out. In truth, precious little of the corporate messaging has specifically referenced Java. It would be nice to paint a positive picture, but experience has proven that we shouldn't be too quick to believe what corporations convey in their highly managed dog-and-pony shows.

"They made a similar set of happy announcements when Microsoft originally signed on as a Java licensee. Look how many years it took before we got to see the bad faith that finally surfaced in the courtroom evidence. We should be smart enough to learn from history that things may not ultimately be as happy as the spin doctors want us to believe they are..."

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