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Sun modifies JDK licence to ban benchmarks

'Don't publish comparison tests -- or else,' says licence

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Sun's licence agreement for the recently released Java Development Kit 1.2 contains a curious amendment from previous licences -- anyone who uses the kit is effectively forbidden from saying publicly how good it is. The licence agreement contains a clause which says: "You may not publish or provide the results of any benchmark or comparison tests run on Software to any third party without the prior written consent of Sun." In short, anyone -- say, a journalist reviewing the JDK -- isn't allowed to say that it runs applets more quickly or more slowly than previous releases, or how well it performs in comparison with other Java development tools, such as Symantec's VisualCafe, Inprise's Jbuilder or even Microsoft's Visual J++ (assuming it is made to be fully Java-compliant as per the ruling in the recent case brought by Sun), without the Great Satan of Workstations' say-so. Of course, whether it actually would sue is another matter. Microsoft also includes such a clause in its software, but that didn't stop users pointing out how slow some of its Office apps are. Microsoft, as far as we know, didn't sue anyone that did publish benchmarks for breach of licence, and it seems unlikely that Sun would. So why include the clause at all? "It's a lawyer's cut and paste job, taking the lines from other licence agreements," suggested one Java user. Or could it be that Sun is so worried Microsoft will now do a better job of Java than it can, in order to make a point over the 'Microsoft Java not up to scratch' case that it doesn't want to allow Microsoft (or anyone else) to point that out? ®

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