OpenJDK and JNI -- licensing

Martin Buchholz martinrb at
Mon Jul 20 05:22:26 UTC 2009

One fundamental queston is when something becomes a
"derived work".

The FSF has been known to strongly suggest that
linking two pieces of software creates a derived work,
but the FSF cannot decide that.

I imagine some lawyer at Sun thought as follows:

Whether an API is a published standard influences
whether or not a client of that API
is considered a separate work or not.
Most (but not all) of the interfaces to hotspot are
specified by a JCP standard (and that includes jni),
and this standard has multiple implementations,
so it is reasonable to presume that linking with
hotspot is not creating a separate program,
when not using the non-standard interfaces
(like sun.misc.Unsafe).  One can further presume
that one can use any interfaces for which the interface
specification file (e.g. a C header file) has the
Classpath exception.

In any case, it would be good for Sun to clarify its position.
In particular, engineers need to understand the policy
when creating a new source file.


On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 02:05, Florian Weimer<fweimer at> wrote:
> * Volker Simonis:
>> 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.
> There are two conflicting lines of thoughts regarding GPLed program
> loaders: The first one says that loaded programs are not subject to
> the loader's GPL license.  This is the stance taken by the Linux folks
> for their kernel.  The second one says that the loaded program has to
> be GPLed as well.  This one is sometimes cited in the Emacs Lisp
> context (meaning that anything which runs on Emacs has to be GPLed).
> So it's certainly a good idea for the copyright owners of such program
> loaders to clarify their position on this topic.
> --
> Florian Weimer                <fweimer at>
> BFK edv-consulting GmbH
> Kriegsstraße 100              tel: +49-721-96201-1
> D-76133 Karlsruhe             fax: +49-721-96201-99

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