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Oracle scans BEA code for GPL and LGPL

'Business-friendly' OK

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Oracle is sifting through millions of lines of code in BEA Systems WebLogic and AquaLogic, to check that products are, as claimed free of unwanted open source licenses.

The database giant is making sure here's no code licensed under GPL and LGPL that can be downloaded with BEA's middleware. GPL and LGPL are viewed by the companies as “viral” - a contentious term that critics say is a misunderstanding of the licenses - and therefore potentially damaging to BEA's licensing-based revenue.

WebLogic Server comes with up to 60 open source packages for download, including Log4J and Xerces parser. These are licensed under a range of open-source licenses deemed "business friendly" including Apache.

A source familiar with the matter told Reg Dev there is a "big fear" that $300m in annual WebLogic revenue could be destroyed should the software become "infected" by GPL.

Oracle is paying $8.5bn for BEA and while not all product lines are expected to survive given there's duplication between the companies, Oracle is playing it safe.

The topic of whether GPL and LGPL are viral is a long runner - here and here. The cause of most debate is what a “derivative” work means precisely in relation to what happens when GPL and LGPL code ships with proprietary code; and whether these nullify a company’s ability to charge for more than the cost of distribution.

BEA, like Oracle, already has a policy of not allowing GPL or LGPL software to be downloaded with its products. But as part of the due diligence process in purchasing BEA, Oracle is checking that the claims stack up.

Oracle's checks come as the company today cleared the latest hurdle in its proposed acquisition process. BEA shareholders on Friday voted to approve the deal, leaving just European Commission regulators to give the go ahead. The deal is expected close on April 30.®

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