7 Replies Latest reply on Aug 11, 2003 6:38 PM by Joel Vogt

    MySQL license

    Joel Vogt Master

      Hi,

      Just wanted an opinion from a different perspective. We have an application running on jboss using MySQL as the datasource. The application also uses MySQL through jdbc for some faster lookups.
      Now I want to sell this application to a few clients all installed on a linux box ready to go. MySQL and the MySQL driver are GPL'd.
      From talking to the MySQL people they tell me that I either need to buy a commercial license (to be 'safe') or make my application GPL.

      Do you think this is right? Is MySQL safe to use with Jboss then? Specifically I am confused by

      http://www.mysql.com/products/licensing.html

      a) If you include the MySQL server in your non Open Source application, you need a commercial licence for the MySQL server

      b) If you include one of the MySQL drivers in your non Open Source application (so that your application can run with MySQL), you need a commercial licence for the driver(s) in question. The MySQL drivers currently include an ODBC driver, a JDBC driver and the C language library.

      c) If you use MySQL Software within your organisation and you don't want to risk it falling under the GPL license, you are welcome to purchase a commercial license.

      d) Many users opt for the commercial licence simply because under it MySQL AB takes responsibility for its products. Under the GPL licence, there are no warranties or representations from the developer (i.e. from MySQL AB).


      Thanks for any opinions on this matter

        • 1. Re: MySQL license
          Master

          To me it looks like you need to purchase a commercial license to their JDBC driver in order to distribute it with your application.

          -- Juha

          • 2. Re: MySQL license
            Joel Vogt Master

            Thats the way it seems to me too.

            Then again, if I distribute the app without mysql, then the end user downloads the driver and sets up the datasource, then as I understand it this would be 'OK' except the client could then not distribute that further without making it GPL.

            It's a bit confusing for me. Things were a lot simpler when you had to give people money for everything :)

            • 3. Re: MySQL license
              Darran Lofthouse Master

              If you recomend that users of your application use MySQL you will also require a licence for the driver and a licence for the MySQL installation for each server that it is installed on regardless of what you distribute.

              • 4. Re: MySQL license
                Corby Page Newbie

                If you recomend that users of your application use MySQL you will also require a licence...

                Uh, no. At least not under US copyright law. If you are not distributing MySQL software, then you do not have to comply with terms of MySQL copyright licenses, GPL, commercial, or otherwise.

                Copyright law only governs your right to copy. It does not restrict what you can say about a property, or how you can recommend that someone use a property.

                Joel's original question is a somewhat murky legal area. When it was recently discovered that JBoss is GPL, Scott linked to the following legal opinion:

                http://rosenlaw.com/html/GL18.pdf

                It basically says, 'If you're not doing static linking, you're not violating the GPL.' This directly contradicts MySQL's assertion that you need to acquire a commercial license if you ship the JDBC driver with your product.

                So what you can conclude is:
                1) Different lawyers have different interpretations of the license
                2) Most likely, the 'right' (as opposed to legal) thing to do is to respect the intentions of the original copyright holder.

                • 5. Re: MySQL license
                  Darran Lofthouse Master

                  Most likely, the 'right' (as opposed to legal) thing to do is to respect the intentions of the original copyright holder

                  According to http://www.mysql.com/products/licensing-examples.html MySQL say :-

                  You need a license if you sell a product designed specifically for use with MySQL or that requires the MySQL server to function at all. This is true whether or not you provide MySQL for your client as part of your product distribution.

                  They then go on to say :-

                  It also depends on what you're doing for the client. Do you plan to provide your client with detailed instructions on installing MySQL with your software? Then your product may be contingent on the use of MySQL; if so, you need to buy a license.

                  The application in question is making direct JDBC calls, do these use any specific MySQL features or would they work with a range database server?

                  Would it be possible for the application to be sold with a list of database servers that it has been tested against?

                  The intentions of the original copyright holder are that if you are selling a commercial application that will not run without MySQL you must buy a commercial license for each installation.

                  Alternatively you can take the risk of legal action and ignore the clarification of licensing requirements provided by MySQL.

                  • 6. Re: MySQL license
                    Corby Page Newbie

                    The intentions of the original copyright holder are that if you are selling a commercial application that will not run without MySQL you must buy a commercial license for each installation.

                    I completely agree that this is their intention. It is also wholly unenforceable under modern copyright law.

                    You can not require someone to acquire a copyright license from you to distribute material that is entirely their copyrighted work. You can only license material that you own a copyright to. No matter how much you want it. No matter how many times you say it.

                    I'm sure MySQL AB can bring legal action against anyone they please. But if they sue you for a copyright license violation when you are not copying or distributing their material, their action will be dismissed very quickly.

                    (Of course, you can require someone to acquire a patent license from you to distribute their own copyrighted work, but MySQL AB gives up the ability to make patent claims when they distribute under GPL.)

                    • 7. Re: MySQL license
                      Joel Vogt Master

                      I agree it is the intention of mySQL that you need to buy a commercial license. No big deal, we are just going to use postgres or something similar. I also think they are using doubt over the issue to try to sell commercial licenses.
                      Thats the thing though, this just involved setting a property about which driver to use. There was nothing mySQL specific about the application. If using the driver in this way makes it GPL then this would to me be a problem for a lot of applications. If it doesn't, then to me that makes the driver license largely irrelevant for this purpose.
                      To me it seems to be make up your own mind (own lawyers mind) and see what happens if it ever goes to court. It is a shame though because mySQL and JBoss should go well together.