OpenJDK and JNI -- licensing

Volker Simonis volker.simonis at
Wed Jul 8 08:47:44 UTC 2009

My only point was that I don't think that Sun's interpretation of
"linking", "derived work" and "classpath exception" is in accordance
with the FSF view of these terms, especially in the case of the
HotSpot shared library which is build from files licensed under both
"pure" GPL and GPL plus classpath exception.

I don't even understand how the HotSpot shared library itself can be
build in accordance to the FSF rules, because it obviously contains
statically linked files with two different licenses, one of them
beeing the GPL!

But I may be wrong here as I'm not a lawyer...

On 7/8/09, Kevin Regan <galabar at> wrote:
>  So, let me get this straight.  I need to first understand the Classpath exception, then find this entry in the FAQ about alternate licenses (that I otherwise would not be looking for), track down these demo applications, notice that at least one of them is JNI, and then assume from the wording of "Because these components are not part of the JDK but rather are
> application programs, they need not be under the GPL license because of
> the Classpath exception" that my JNI applications are also not encumbered by the GPL?
>  You are absolutely serious in putting forth that this is sufficient for most developers to answer this question (are JNI applications subject to the GPL)?  You are stating that most developers will come to the FAQ and easily track down this information?
>  So, clearly, from following this procedure, we've surmised JNI applications are not subject to the GPL, correct?
>  --Kevin
>  > Date: Wed, 8 Jul 2009 01:58:03 +0200
> > From: Dalibor.Topic at Sun.COM
>  > Subject: Re: OpenJDK and JNI -- licensing
>  > To: galabar at
> > CC: discuss at
> >
>  > Kevin Regan wrote:
>  > > I'm asking for samples explaining how the license applies to JNI and pure Java applications.
>  >
>  > Let me quote from the FAQ I referred to in the mail you're just replying to:
>  >
>  > "Q:
>  > Are there any other licenses used in the OpenJDK code base besides the ones you've already described?
>  > A:
>  > Yes. The demo and sample code modules are released under the BSD license. These code elements are intended to be very widely distributed, freely modified and used. Accordingly, we've chosen the BSD license as most appropriate for these uses. *Because these components are not part of the JDK but rather are application programs, they need not be under the GPL license because of the Classpath exception.*"[emphasis mine]
>  >
>  > You can find the samples you're looking for (both pure Java applications, and those using JNI) in the folders containing BSD licensed demo and sample application programs.
>  >
>  > I can only assume that the issues you're having with the FAQ are based on an assumption that using or not using JNI makes a major difference in terms of the effect of the license, so I'd kindly suggest reading the license terms, and/or the FAQ and/or asking a legal professional for advice.
>  >
>  > cheers,
>  > dalibor topic
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