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Apache Backs Up Its Threat: Leaves the JCP EC

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DZone has just learned that the Apache Software Foundation issued a formal letter annoucning their resignation from their seat on the Java SE/EE Executive Committee.  95% of the JCP voting community had recently ratified Apache for another term on the committee.  Now they are removing all official representatives from the JSRs and will refuse any renewal of their JCP membership. 

Here was the ASF's explanation:

The recent Java SE 7 vote was the last chance for the JCP EC to demonstrate that the EC has any intent to defend the JCP as an open specification process, and demonstrate that the letter and spirit of the law matter.   To sum up the issues at stake in the vote, we believe that while continuing to fail to uphold their responsibilities under the JSPA, Oracle provided the EC with a Java SE 7 specification request and license that are self-contradictory, severely restrict distribution of independent implementations of the spec, and most importantly, prohibit the distribution of independent open source implementations of the spec.  Oracle has refused to answer any reasonable and responsible questions from the EC regarding these problems.

In the phrase "fail to uphold their responsibilities under the JSPA", we are referring to Oracle's refusal to provide the ASF's Harmony project with a TCK license for Java SE that complies with Oracle's obligations under the JSPA as well as public promises made to the Java community by officers of Sun Microsystems (recently acquired by Oracle.)  This breach of the JSPA was begun by Sun Microsystems in August of 2006 and is a policy that Oracle explicitly continues today.  For more information on this dispute, see our open letter to Sun Microsystems (LINK).

This vote was the only real power the Executive Committee has as the governing body of the Java specification ecosystem, and as we indicated previously we were looking for the EC to protect the rights of implementers to the degree they are able, as well as preserve the integrity of the JCP licensing structure by ensuring that JCP specifications are able to be freely implemented and distributed.  We don't believe this is an unreasonable position - it should be noted that the majority of the EC members, including Oracle, have publicly stated that restrictions on distribution such as those found in the Java SE 7 license have no place in the JCP - and two distinguished individual members of the EC, Doug Lea and Tim Peierls, both have resigned in protest over the same issue.

By approving Java SE 7, the EC has failed on both counts : the members of the EC refused to stand up for the rights of implementers, and by accepting Oracle's TCK license terms for Java SE 7, they let the integrity of the JCP's licensing structure be broken.

The Apache Software Foundation concludes that that JCP is not an open specification process - that Java specifications are proprietary technology that must be licensed directly from the spec lead under whatever terms the spec lead chooses; that the commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem;  that it is impossible to distribute independent implementations of JSRs under open source licenses such that users are protected from IP litigation by expert group members or the spec lead; and finally, the EC is unwilling or unable to assert the basic power of their role in the JCP governance process.

In short, the EC and the Java Community Process are neither.

Java Champion Stephen Colebourne agreed with Apache's decision to vote against the four new JSRs, and he lamented the fact that most EC members weren't willing to fight Oracle on the issue:

"Today, Oracle won its battle in the JCP. But it was a stupid battle to have. Submitting a JSR whose licensing terms are in conflict with the JSR itself and with the JSPA was simply unnecessary. Voting "Yes" to it was simply cowardly." 

Update:  Doug Cutting wanted to clear up some of the confusion going around as part of this announcemen, saying: "This action has little impact on existing ASF projects.  The board reiterates its commitment to all Apache projects that implement Java specifications. There is nothing being considered that would require any Apache project to stop what it is doing based on the JCP crisis. Projects that currently license TCKs will continue to do so. If maintenance leads for JSRs propose to change the terms of license for existing TCKs then Apache will vigorously lobby against these changes. New projects will continue to be considered on their merits and on the appropriateness of the proposed licenses."

Are you concerned about Oracle's successful approval of the JSRs or Apache's departure?  Were the other EC members cowardly for not voting against the JSRs?


Geoffrey Knauth replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 1:49pm

Good on you, Apache. My opinion of Apache goes up--it was already quite high--and now I wonder, where do we go from here? We're not going to go down a closed Oracle path in the long term, so what will replace the Java technologies we grew used to that must now be changed for something else?

Marcel Offermans replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 1:53pm

I fully support this move too. A community process should have only open specifications that can be implemented by anyone for any application. The current JCP clearly has nothing to do with this.

Changsu Jiang replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 2:24pm

I have observed for a while all those fiasco. I am really disappointed with those big entities, no matter is it Oracle, or Google, or Apache, no one knows how to compromise. It is really bad move for average developer. Seems these big entities only hold on their selfish thinking.

Chris Arthur replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 2:46pm

I think this was the move that was required in this situation and I am happy to see that Apache didn't hesitate to make this decision. I've said it on other blogs that the large companies that voted yes and attached notes denouncing Oracle's licensing issues were being no less than hypocrites. I hate to see Apache leaving the JCP, but like they said, it really isn't.

James Imber replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 2:54pm

Yes I am concerned about all this and I do not like to know that the language I'm using is Oracle's possession and that they can do whatever they want with it. But that's a fact of life. I don't like it but I will have to put up with it because there is no alternative. I do no see anyone with the capacity to fork java successfully and organize all those specification meetings and do the implementation. I would love to be wrong on that one. Time will tell.

RAZAFIMAHEFA Na... replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 4:48pm

I do respect Apache's decision to leave the EC and I personally think that it was the right move. As a JCP member, ASF really made a very good job, and this last battle showed to the whole world that they really were an open organization, protecting the rights for an open community for the Java ecosystem, always willing to stand up for their principles and rights. As an and user, and an open source supporter, I can tell you with no doubt that I will remember this day as one of the worst day of my life and so for the Java community.

Even though I am very disappointed for Java, I do firmly believe that ASF will continue to grow and I will always support its initiatives for building open softwares with an open community in an open world...

thanks a lot Apache and good luck for our next big move ...

Slava Imeshev replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 8:06pm

Come on, JCP has always been nothing but a gathering of major vendors trying to pull the spec in whatever direction they saw benefitial.

Developing quality software takes time and money. Oracle should stop playing those comminist games and start doing what a normal software company does - developing quality software and getting paid for it. I am pretty sure Oracle will be more than happy to move Java forward privided they can profit from it.

Just look at how far .NET jumped ahead of Java with Microsoft sengle-handedly leading .NET advancement. 


Slava Imeshev


Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Thu, 2010/12/09 - 9:36pm

And just look how much better the open source ecosystem is in the Java world compared to many more interesting solutions (despite Java falling behind as a language).
And besides...if all the smart people (e.g. Doug Lea) are going to leave the EC/JCP, who will be reviewing any new JSRs / APIs to confirm they are really good? We'll get an Oracle version of .Net...all the APIs wil come from the mothership and it will be a "take it or leave it" scenario...just like in .Net.
Not sure that is really what many of us would want Java to become.
Oracle can still win this *if they come through* and deliver kick-ass Java 8 (we all know Java 7 will be mediocre at best in terms of new features.) We'll have to wait and see till then.

Igor Laera replied on Fri, 2010/12/10 - 6:11am


I think, Oracle is a product company, who just wants to bring out products. For them, the late delivery of Java 7 and 8 is the larger problem. They had to fast-track things (Sun was weary) and on the way they picked up some diffuse legal views.

Currently, lots of people asking for profound answers from Big O. and they simply have none. If you force a billion dollar company to give you quick answers on any topic, there is a 99% chance that you will get the one you don't like.

In a realistic assessment: Java was never 100% free. Neither will it be in v7 and v8. Some people put all of their eggs in one previously fine basket and are maybe forced to make hard decisions. But who is really affected? 0.1% of customers. It's clear that the mobile area will be a huge down the road and Oracle doesn't stay silent on "it" like Sun did. They want their payday.

It's never a perfect world. Java might be different. But until millions are ready to move to other pastures (which the JCP vote on 7 and 8 showed they probably wont), this will the way it was for years.

The "simulation" of participation is not the same as true participation. People tend to forget that easily.

Igor Laera replied on Fri, 2010/12/10 - 6:23am in response to: Jacek Furmankiewicz


If Java itself was so "special", than we wouldn't have important developments like Groovy(++) or
Scala or JRuby outside of it. And Java wouldn't be so much behind as a language. 

Shouldn't we see it like it is: People like a modern interpreted language - but they even more like
a free JVM that runs everywhere with a huge corporate backing.

Java isn't Linux. A huge % of important things did happen outside of the JVM since years.




Thomas J. Clancy replied on Fri, 2010/12/10 - 8:17am

Congratulations to Apache and those who have resigned. It's time we begin creating whole new, completely open source languages and virtual machines to implement them.

Vinay Soni replied on Sat, 2010/12/11 - 9:04am in response to: Jacek Furmankiewicz

Totally agree.

Gar Labs replied on Tue, 2011/08/23 - 11:58am

Oracle wants to make money, not to improve open source -GAR Labs

James Kear replied on Tue, 2011/09/06 - 3:22pm

Rather than lighting a peace pipe, the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has shot an arrow at the Java Community Process (JCP) and quit the JCP executive committee (EC) as the group said it would if certain restrictions were not lifted. hire a programmers

Passion Lab replied on Fri, 2012/08/31 - 2:57pm

This breach of the JSPA was begun by Sun Microsystems in August of 2006 and is a policy that Oracle explicitly continues today Home Remedies for Gout

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