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Re: MariaDB and the SCA


Hi Arjen,

Thanks for giving us the inside on that one. It has been a point of confusion for me, and I have read the GPL a few times to try to figure it out.

In the meantime I am certain that my understanding is correct, that there is nothing illegal about shipping mysqld with a closed source program (as long as you don't link any part of the MySQL code).

And now that Sun themselves are maintaining a BSD client library, that pretty much clears up the question of whether that is legal as well (i.e. none of this, as discussed by Mark and yourself, the protocol is GPL, therefore a client library must be GPL as well).

On Sep 4, 2009, at 1:09 AM, Arjen Lentz wrote:

Hi Paul

On 03/09/2009, at 10:54 PM, Paul McCullagh wrote:
As far as I know, with the advent of the BSD licensed libdrizzle (https://launchpad.net/libdrizzle ), which also runs with MySQL (and I assume MariaDB), the dual licensing model is now irrelevant.

You're legally correct (apart from libmysqld type apps that link in the entire server) but that's not how it's been sold for the last 5 years. The sales people's definition of "embedding" is not the same as what you and I see. They also futz with the definition of linking, and do some scare-mongering on IP risk (see, someone is making money -indirectly- off the SCO mess ;-) The result is that they have clients that purchased licenses that didn't need them, for various reasons.

In 2007-2008 they even made the creator of an independent client library pay for interacting with the server; again that was done on the basis of risk. When I found out at the MySQL conf I slapped MySQL legal (I was already external) and told 'em if I ever saw it again I'd be quite public about it. They knew fulwell that there was no legal basis, and admitted as much. But it's happened since, this year in fact. So despite sane and conscientious lawyers, the fun continues. Revenue comes first.

With "risk" as the validation force, the sales attitude will not chance until that leverage no longer exists anywhere in the server. The sales people run on commission and work with quarterly goals; they will do whatever it takes to close, including twist and lie. There is no "be a good citizen" or "be nice for the future". It's do the slick talk, close, and move on to the next client aka victim. It's essentially become an extortion scheme. But since clients can be presumed to be savvy enough to stand up for themselves or take appropriate legal advice, it's -as far as I know- legal. Doesn't make it right though.

There are good people at Sun, there are good people at MySQL, and there are even good Sales people at Sun/MySQL. But MySQL AB regarded it was valid tactics ("necessary freedom to do their work" was what VP Kaj told me when I raised concern about tactics employed by Louis Fahrberger and Kerry Ancheta), and while Sun explicitly stating that this was not how it wanted to conduct its business, it has continued. It's very difficult to change what's essentially corporate policy. Specifically when the renumeration method for sales encourages (I won't say necessitates) it. And thus I no longer direct anyone to a MySQL sales person; it wouldn't be a fair thing to do to a fellow human being.

Hence my opinion that dual licensing needs to go, from all parts of the server. Otherwise this will not stop. Having the BSD client library by Eric Day is fabulous both for licensing and for its nice design, but unfortunately it hasn't made the sales problem go away yet.

Arjen Lentz, Exec.Director @ Open Query (http://openquery.com)
Exceptional Services for MySQL at a fixed budget.

Follow our blog at http://openquery.com/blog/
OurDelta: enhanced builds for MySQL @ http://ourdelta.org

Paul McCullagh
PrimeBase Technologies

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