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Re: oracle server for learning purposes?

From: Niall Litchfield <>
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 09:13:35 -0000
Message-ID: <>

On Jul 23, 6:53 am, wrote:
> If you exclude all use except A, there is no need to point out that B
> and C are not allowed. Once you state that B and C are not allowed, on
> the other hand, you are stating that A is not all-encompassing.

I think, and I'm only married to a lawyer and she doesn't practice in california which is the relevant jurisdiction, that that's an argument rather than a rule/custom in law.

> Put another way: you only clarify when clarification is needed. That
> the Corporation sought to clarify a 'thou shalt only use this product
> to do A' statement tells us (me, at least) that their first sentence
> is not proscriptive of all uses except A.

lawyers only clarify when clarification is needed? That must be the reason for all those email disclaimers then - clearly written because clarification is needed.

> Besides which, there's more to it than the reading of two sentences.
> You have to read the entire license, not two sentences. And the list
> of 'you may nots' included in part 3 of the license is further
> evidence that the license **as a whole** is not proscriptive of non-
> prototyping use, whatever one or two sentences may purport. And there
> remains the fact that I think we're agreed on: no definition of
> 'prototyping' is offered, so pretty much anything bar commercial use
> of the software could be construed as being allowed.

But the only part of the license that you seem to be offering is the one line about third party training. There doesn't appear to be any other segment of the license that mentions learning/home use at all.

> I have two barristers who'll back that three-part interpretation
> (because they gave it to me first!).
> But really, that's neither here nor there, since the only place such
> arguments carry real meaning is a courtroom. What I *don't* want left
> on the record is statements of 'but of course, you aren't licensed to
> learn with EE'. Or 'Clearly, using the software is not legal'. There's
> no 'of course' about it and 'clearly' there's room for considerable
> legal argument, at least.

My take is that there is usually room for legal argument about nearly everything, unfortunately. I am not as convinced as you - though I don't have the barrister's opinions on my side either - that basing a case that because a similar activity is specifically excluded and my activity isn't excluded I'm OK is the stringest one to be making against a license that mutliple times gives only one permitted usage and excludes all others.

> The only thing that is clear to me, therefore, is that no-one is
> breaching any term of the license in downloading the software and
> using it for non-commercial, solo home learning purposes... or that,
> if they are in breach of the license, it's not clear-cut and obvious
> that they are. In those circumstances, absent the Corporation proving
> the point with a test case, there's really nothing to get worried
> about. Suggestions to the contrary remind me a lot of Microsoft's
> claim that Linux infringes numerous unspecified patents: worrying,
> frightening, causing concern... but fundamentally, mere FUD until the
> company proves otherwise.

As I did say in my blog, such was also my understanding - I was prompted to go and re-read the license in another context - namely the development part of the discussion, but not withstanding this the noncommercial  part of the license that I thought was there just isn't. If suggesting that people read the license of software they download to make sure that they can use it as they assume they can is FUD then I'm probably guilty as charged.

I also note that the license was amended in Sept 2005 (some years after I last read it) just before the release of Oracle XE. That product is most definitely and without any FUD free for home (and indeed commercial use). I believe that you and I have similar views about it's suitability for learning the dba role, but it's definitely free to use without any restrictions on purpose (there are hardware restrictions for those unfamiliar with the product).

And yes if Oracle were to amend the license to specifically allow private study purposes I'd very much welcome it. Equally if they were to post here, or preferably on an Oracle owned site a similar clarification that showed I was wrong that would be fine. As I said in my blog though in the end you'll need to read the relevant licenses yourself and come to your own conclusions about what is permissible - it should go without saying that anything I (or Howard and his lawyers or anyone else on the thread) say here is opinion only.

Niall Received on Mon Jul 23 2007 - 04:13:35 CDT

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