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RE: clickthrough license

From: David Holmes
Subject: RE: clickthrough license
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 12:26:00 +1000

> However, I'm sure Spec Leads can pick their license terms, at least
> within certain limits.  And some JSRs are "open-source", at least the
> implementation.

I think the spec leads can, within-limits, define the terms for the RI and
TCK - because in a sense they "own" that. But they don't own the spec itself
and I believe the PMO controls the actual license for that. But the easiest
way to know for sure is to ask the PMO. :)

> Implementing a specification is *not* copying the specification.

No it is not. But if you implement these specifications, and claim to be
doing so, then the Specification License applies.

To implement something that defines the same API's that happen to be in a
specification, without claiming to implement that specifications (which is
what Classpath seems to be trying to do) would seem to me to be copying
those API's.

> However, I assume (as a non-lawyer) that copyright law does allow
> Sun to place restrictions on downloading/reading (i.e. copying) the
> specification, and hence there is a specification license.  Interpreting
> the license is I understand more an issue of contract law than of
> copyright law.

I agree. My point was that I believe that if you tried to say "this isn't an
implementation of the specification XXX, it just happens to support the same
API's" then at best you would be breaching copyright.

> If you don't read the official specification and haven't agreed to
> the license, then you can implement whatever you want without concern
> about Sun's copyright, assuming you use public documents, such as books
> and magazine articles.

Hmmm - I'm not sure how far you can take this argument. Reasonable use
allows books and articles to describe parts of the API's. I don't think you
can get around the "reasonable use" restrictions by recombining from
multiple sources that individually would be considered "reasonable use".

> However, avoiding the official Sun-licensed specification doesn't
> protect you from patent or trademark issues.  And Sun has trademarked
> "Java", so if you implement a class called java.lang.String then you
> could conceivably be infringing on Sun's trademark.

Yes that could well be true.

> That's why I believe Sun's trademarks and patents are a more
> fundamental concern that the copyright.

Well whatever we want to call it, I don't think Classpath can pretend that
it is free from these concerns, just by not claiming to implement an actual
Java specification.

And to get back to the original issue I don't think any of the Classpath
implementors should have to be concerned about accepting the Sun
Specification License terms if they want to implement those new or enhanced
API's. Hence this issue should be clarified through FSF legal.

Otherwise, none of us will be able to quote from Sun's API docs when
clarifying the required behaviour of anything!

David Holmes

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