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Oracle Likely to Own MySQL Shortly, European Commission’s Credibility at Stake

Posted in Database, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Oracle, SUN at 2:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“As if you could kill a dolphin by swallowing the ocean…”

Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL

Larry Ellison eats dolphin

Summary: Oracle commits to swallowing but not devouring the dolphin, whereas the creator of MySQL database, who is now with Microsoft’s CodePlex Foundation, lobbies with Microsoft against it

WE HAVE mostly abstained from saying whether MySQL should or should not be acquired by Oracle. Sun is at stake too, along with projects like Java and OpenOffice.org, so it’s a tough situation. Either way, based on reports, there is at least a promise from Oracle, which means that pressure from the European Commission paid off in some way.

A pledge in Oracle’s commitments to European regulators would continue to license MySQL, a key Web site software, for five years after Sun is acquired

An approval for Oracle is foreseen despite all the lobbying from Microsoft and SAP. Groklaw points out that Microsoft has just acquired the Toronto-based Opalis, which is a MySQL partner. Could this be strategic and intentional in some way? Who knows, but Groklaw found that important enough to mention.

“Monty could have changed the license prior to selling it to Sun, and he didn’t, so it’s a bit late now to worry about who owns it.”
      –Pamela Jones
Now that Michael Widenius is lobbying to block the acquisition, Groklaw’s Pamela Jones also writes: “I’m a MySQL user on Groklaw, and I think he’s serving up baloney, and definitely not anything to do with Open Source, since he’s suggesting the license on MySQL be changed to one that allows him proprietary possibilities. Monty could have changed the license prior to selling it to Sun, and he didn’t, so it’s a bit late now to worry about who owns it. I doubt the EU Commission will care about emails like this, but there’s no reason why people can’t send emails if they so choose. If so, it’s to comp-merger-registry@ec.europa.eu and mine, if I wrote one, would say, I see nothing wrong with Oracle buying MySQL.The GPL rights are irrevocable, so it doesn’t matter who owns the copyrights.

Here are some opinions that Groklaw cites for support:

But the Oracle filing quotes several customers who said practically the opposite in response to the EU’s market survey. Vodafone Group PLC said it “does not consider that Oracle’s database offerings constitute direct substitutes to Sun’s offerings.” McAfee Inc. also said the two don’t “constitute direct substitutes.” As did General Electric Co., which added that while “both parties’ offerings may on the face of it share some functionality, they are qualitatively different.” Said Fujitsu Services Ltd.: “They operate in different markets.”

Widenius has said that Oracle’s promise is useless, but Jones disagrees when she writes: “If he claims the promises are empty, I’d not call that a success. If it is a success, then the promises must not be empty.”

What do our readers think? Is the European Commission doing the right thing by obstructing Sun (and Oracle)? Is it defending MySQL from a hostile takeover? We lost a great deal of confidence in the European Commission when Steve Ballmer met Neelie Kroes and bamboozled her until she accepted software patents. The president of the FFII wrote a few hours ago: “Nellie Kroes in bed with Microsoft for protecting their soft patents, commercial software redefined, champagne in Redmond!

This was indeed a disappointment which we wrote about yesterday and also covered in [1, 2, 3]. Initially, the Commission caved and obeyed Microsoft lobbyists, later inviting Microsoft again. With several Microsoft cronies inside the Commission, this might not be entirely shocking. As someone who maintains about 20 MySQL databases, I’d appreciate input from readers. Who’s “right” and who’s “wrong”?

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  1. dyfet said,

    December 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm


    Certainly Oracle is no favorite company of mine, but I have to agree in the end what matters is the license (GPL) is strong, and assures freedom and continuation that makes Oracle’s promise ultimately unnecessary and offers no possibility even for someone else, like say Microsoft, to clutch it away and then banish it to a software abyss. In the GNU GPL I trust. You can add that to the currency if you like :).

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Are you worried that Microsoft could fork MySQL and ‘pull a Zend’ on it?

  2. williami said,

    December 22, 2009 at 12:39 am


    Even through Oracle does have a propertary database, they mentioned that they will change the MySQL license to GPLv3, and I think GPLv3 is a awesome license, so I’m up for Oracle+Sun.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Did they really say something like this?

    Either way, Oracle is already in OIN and it hardly ever sues with patents.

    williami Reply:

    Sorta forgot what they said, but they (Oracle) will relicense MySQL under the GPL, I honestly don’t know what version it is.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Ah, well… probably not GPLv3. I spoke to MySQL’s CEO last year trying to convince him to adopt the licence.

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