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Re: oracle server for learning purposes?

From: <>
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2007 20:14:22 -0700
Message-ID: <>

On Jul 23, 12:15 pm, HansF <> wrote: [...]
> However, I note that the license has a complete section on the
> rights. That has 3 major parts:
> 1) What you are permitted to do
> 2) Who owns the Oracle softwarly
> 3) Confirmation of what you are permitted to do by giving specific
> exclusions, presumably as examples.
> Part 1 states "We grant you a nonexclusive, nontransferable limited
> license to use the programs only for the purpose of developing a
> single prototype of your application, and not for any other purpose."
> That "not for any other purpose" is pretty explicit.

Well, as I said earlier and elsewhere, it's only pretty explicit if you leave off the next sentence, where they clarify that it is the commercial or production use of any application so prototyped that is the issue. The inclusion of that second sentence actually seems to be contradictory to the first, in fact, because it implicitly allows other uses that the first sentence seeks to deny. That's bad drafting and leaves the matter of 'explicit prohibition' up in the air.

There's also the point that learning how the Oracle RDBMS works is a valid part of a prototyping exercise: you can't write code if you don't know how the engine that is going to run that code behaves. If I spend six months using the download to learn how to do backup & recovery, data guard and RAC... sounds like a reasonable part of 'developing an application' to me. Arguably so, at any rate. There is certainly no time limit placed on the prototyping exercise, nor any requirement for a finished prototype to be furnished in evidence of compliance with the license terms.

> Howard's blog isolates the exclusions and he specifically locks in to
> the idea that - paraphrased - seems to indicate "if there is a list of
> exclusions, and your activity isn't on the list, then it must be an
> inclusion". If my interpretation of his interpretation is
> correct ...'T'aint necessarily so!

The license doesn't say 'what follows are merely examples of what you are not permitted to do'. It says simply 'you may not do X, Y and Z'. Normally, there would be rubric along the lines of 'for example, but not limited to,...' when one means a list to be exemplary rather than explicit. The lack of such rubric means the list can be taken as a list of specifics -and if you don't specifically and explicitly prohibit something **in that context**, you do implicitly allow it.

It's not **necessarily** so, of course. But it is so in the specific context of the legal language that is used -and the language that is not used- in that specific license.

> At least here in Canada, in the strictest sense Niall is correct.
> However, again based on my discussions as well as precedence (Oracle
> has knowingly been letting the software be used for private
> education) - in a court of law, it would depend entirely on whether
> the judge was interested in "strict interpretation" or "intent
> interpretation" of contract.

I rather think the learned judge would regard parts 1 and 3 of the license as, on the face of it, contradictory. And then I think he would read Part 1 as being internally contradictory -with an apparently 'explicit' prohibition muddied by its second sentence. Add a Part 3 which he would read as permissive, and I think he would conclude that the license actually only does what we all seem agreed that Oracle intended to do in the first place: crack down on commercial exploitation of their giveaway.

At the very least, I think that possible line of argument means that neither in Canada or anywhere else is Niall necessarily "correct". He has offered one interpretation of a poorly-written license as though it were established legal fact (and scared the bejezus out of potentital newbies in the process, it seemed to me, which is why I felt compelled to disagree with his interpretation in the first place!)

> I really do wish that Oracle would adjust that license to make it
> explicit that the product can [also] be used for purposes of education
> about Oracle's features and capabilities, provided that such education
> if specifically for the individual who has downloaded the software.

I agree, 100% -because I would swear that the license we currently have is practically unenforceable, contradicting itself in the space of few sentences and being opaque when clarity is needed. There should indeed be a very clear, very permissive educational license that permits unlimited time for a single user to perform any investigation of the product's performance and behaviour necessary to better understand the product. Received on Sun Jul 22 2007 - 22:14:22 CDT

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