Sun Java Desktop System Release 2's License: "Worst Software License Ever to Have Crossed My Desk"

Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 02:04 AM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

There is a review, "First look: Sun Java Desktop System Release 2," on today, and it noticed some issues with the license. In a box, called "Restricted License", the writer, Jem Matzan, says it is the most restrictive license he has ever seen:

"Sun JDS Release 2 is the most heavily restrictive software package I have ever seen. Sun takes the heavyweight championship belt for the worst software license ever to have crossed my desk. . . .

"The licensing is worse than anything I've seen come out of Redmond -- or anywhere else -- thus far. If Microsoft's EULA says, 'you can't do anything with this software,' Sun's JDS license says, 'I'll tell you every single thing you can't do, and that means everything, including unlikely possibilities, and while we're at it here is a list of unreasonable demands and obligations for you. And get me another beer while you're up.'"

There are so many restrictions that the license requires a booklet of amendments listing all the other things you can't do under this or that special circumstance. The wording, he says, is unusually complex, and he suggests you have your legal eagles look the license over before you even consider making a buying recommendation on it.

The license, he writes, "is deceptive":

"It is worded initially in such a way as to make you believe that it governs the entire operating environment -- everything on the CDs. Further in there is a quick phrase that states that Sun's binary code license only governs the included software that is not already under another license. That leaves a staggeringly small portion of the operating environment under the governance of Sun's license: the Java Desktop System Configuration Manager and the Sun Control Station. Everything else falls only under the control and jurisdiction of its governing license (mostly the GNU GPL). But if you didn't know beforehand that GNU/Linux was under the GPL, you would have no way of knowing that by looking at Sun's license. All of the "other" licenses that the software falls under are buried two directories deep on the first disc in a file called THIRDPARTYLICENSEREADME. Short of breaking the law, there is nothing more that Sun could have done to obscure the fact that JDS2 is mostly Free Software."

He states clearly: "If you're considering buying this for your personal use and your rights are important to you, Java Desktop System 2 is not for you."