Mr Carlo Piana, Europe's Free Software legal hero, joins as Oracle co-counsel

hingo's picture

On Thursday it became public that Carlo Piana has joined the Oracle team as co-counsel in the EU investigation on Oracle acquiring Sun. The short introduction of Mr Piana is that he has been (still is?) legal counsel for the Free Software Foundation Europe, in particular representing the Samba project in the Microsoft anti-trust case (which we/he won!).

Carlo has blogged at length about his involvement and motives. Readers of my blog will know that I have been involved on behalf of Monty Program, and I think technically we are classified as a competitor to both Oracle and MySQL when we answer the EU questionnaires. Unlike Carlo, we have been keeping a low-key public profile, and until the case is over we will continue to do so. Except:

Carlo, I would like to warmly welcome you to the case, an experienced Free Software lawyer is a good addition to Oracle's team. You say that your motive is to help get clearance of the Sun acquisition as fast as possible. I know that during the past week you've been reading through my correspondance with
the Commission, so you should by now be aware that this is also something we are trying to achieve. If there is anything we can do to help you, you know how to contact us.

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Mark Callaghan's picture



Not that it matters much, but I don't think you have been keeping a low profile on this issue. You have written much more about this topic than Mr. Piana. But his post has a few interesting things:

1) Ingres competes with Oracle, not MySQL. And he knows this because the folks at Ingres told him. Meanwhile, this is on -- "An Alternative to MySQL and why you should make the move now!". I don't recall MySQL ever pitching to Ingres customers.

2) Dual-licensing is moot (according to Mr. Piana). Does this mean we shouldn't sign the SCA and only worry about pushing our code to MariaDB?

hingo's picture

Low profile...

Yes, you're right. "Keeping a low profile" is debatable.

We feel that educating the press is something that needs to be done, and in one case a journalist decided to quote me by name... so much for the low profile. Even so, getting facts right was more important in that incident.

Since I have many former collagues who's careers are influenced by this case, I do make short blogs or tweets on issues like when there is new questions from the EU, and when the deadline is. However, note that we have not in public discussed the actual arguments we submit to Brussels. (The kind of open communicaiton that would be normal in the open source ecosystem.) We feel that we need to answer honestly when the EU asks, but there is no reason to make a public mess about it.


Felix Schupp's picture

quite interesting

Henrik, Mark,

I have been reading a lot on the Sun/ORACLE deal, and it has taken quite a few interesting turns. As an old SUN and MySQL user I would hate to see Sun and the related stuff disappear. It is quite obvious that Sun will not survive if broken up or if left alone. There could have been better options than ORACLE, but none of the publicized alternatives really were appealing. HP/EDS? Yikes. IBM? Very little incentive there besides converting a few Sun boxes to Big Blue. Microsoft? Well go figure.

From my perspective, a quick closing of the deal is essential. So Carlo, go make it happen.

However, the dual licensing issue raised by Carlo and cited by Mark is interesting. We have been tinkering with the idea of a dual licensing scheme for our BlackRay project. After reading a lot and learning about the subtle differences in European and American copyright and IP laws, the requirement for copyright assignments and other issues, I believe we will simply stick to a GPL only license.

In fact, there are many reasons to follow Carlos reasoning on dual licensing. Is the overall hassle worth the license revenue? Won't professional services and other revenue schemes provide a much better way of enabling a sustainable business model? Scalability of course is limited. Service contracts? Better choice probably.

Thoughts and comments greatly appreciated.

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