Perhaps you didn’t spot it, but last month in their new Berkeley DB release Oracle changed the license associated with the software. Many will see this as a betrayal of trust, despite the fact that the new license (the AGPL) is also strongly copyleft, published by the FSF and approved by the Open Source Initiative. Of course, Oracle are completely within their rights to change the license as they see fit, but for Web developers using Berkeley DB for local storage, the seemingly small change from one strong copyleft license to another may well be seen as cynical and manipulative.
Why would that be? One key difference between the two licenses is that the AGPL requires “your modified version must prominently offer all users interacting with it remotely through a computer network … an opportunity to receive the Corresponding Source of your version.” It’s a clause which forces developers already familiar with the software to change their way of working with it, adding significantly to their workload, as previously they will not have had to worry much about compliance with the terms of the license because they never “redistributed” the source of their Web apps.
No reason for the change was given, but to avoid the hassle of compliance, developers can simply purchase a proprietary license to Berkeley DB from Oracle, so the new licensing may well be intended to drive developers in that direction. No one likes to have their hand forced though, so this is a move which may well see previously loyal developers move towards alternatives. Read more in this week’s InfoWorld article.