Charging that Oracle has willfully disregarded the licensing terms for its own Java technology, the Apache Software Foundation has called upon other members of the JCP (Java Community Process) to vote against the next proposed version of the language, should Oracle continue to impose restrictions on open-source Java use.
The nonprofit organization has also indicated that it could end its involvement in the JCP if the licensing restrictions stay in place.
[ InfoWorld's Paul Krill reported last month on the conflict brewing between Oracle and JCP over Java. | For the latest in Java news, sign up for the JavaWorld Enterprise Java newsletter. ]
"Why would we want to be in an organization where the rules of law don't matter? Our being on the [JCP Executive Committee] would be a sham. It would show that the community doesn't matter, that we'd basically cave into Oracle pushing stuff through, whether or not it would be in the best interest of the community," said Jim Jagielski, president and cofounder of the ASF (Apache Software Foundation), in an interview with the IDG News Service.
This is not a new battle for the ASF, and for the JCP as a whole. It has been such a contentious issue, in fact, that it has long delayed the voting process of the next version of the Java standard, Java 7. But the battle lines have recently been redrawn and the discussion over the JCP itself has reached a fevered pitch.
In October, the ASF was ratified for another three-year term on the JCP EC (Executive Committee), by an overwhelming 95 percent margin. Now, the ASF is hoping to use this influence to get Oracle to relinquish the Field-of-Use (FOU) restrictions that the Java trademark's former owner, Sun Microsystems, placed on the technology. Oracle purchased Sun in January.
It was a victory in an otherwise dire month for the ASF. At that time, IBM announced that it was shifting developer support from Apache's own open-source version of the Java Standard Edition, called Project Harmony, to another open-source project, the OpenJDK.
IBM was one of the staunchest supporters of Apache's position on the FOU, and its move to the OpenJDK at least suggests that the company would support Oracle in an upcoming vote on Java 7, Jagielski speculated.
The battle revolves around whether restrictions should be placed on how open-source versions of Java are used.
Under the JCP's Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA), the ASF can use the Java Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) to test compliance of Apache Harmony to the Java standard. Jagielski said that after the agreement was struck, however, Sun imposed the additional restriction, called a FOU (Field of Use) restriction, that prohibits the software's use on mobile platforms (which presumably would cut into the licensing sales of Sun's own Java mobile edition offering). Ironically, Oracle had protested Sun's additional restriction, but since purchasing Sun, it has reversed its stance.