It has recently been brought to our attention that the MySQL man pages have been relicensed. The change was made rather silently going from MySQL 5.5.30 to MySQL 5.5.31. This affects all pages in the man/ directory of the source code.

You can tell the changes have come during this short timeframe (5.5.30->5.5.31). The old manual pages were released under the following license:

This documentation is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it only under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; version 2 of the License.

The new man pages (following 5.5.31 and greater – still valid for 5.5.32) are released under the following license:

This software and related documentation are provided under a license agreement containing restrictions on use and disclosure and are protected by intellectual property laws. Except as expressly permitted in your license agreement or allowed by law, you may not use, copy, reproduce, translate, broadcast, modify, license, transmit, distribute, exhibit, perform, publish, or display any part, in any form, or by any means. Reverse engineering, disassembly, or decompilation of this software, unless required by law for interoperability, is prohibited.

This is clearly not very friendly of MySQL at Oracle. The new license has become a lot longer as well (to make it clear it is not released under the GPL). While the following was taken from the resolveip tool, the copyright notice is the same for all the man pages. You can compare the man page in 5.5.30 vs the man page in 5.5.31.comparison

Update: Oracle is saying that this is a bug and will be fixed: http://bugs.mysql.com/bug.php?id=69512

  • Robert Goley

    I don’t care for the change in wording but correct me if I am wrong on this. Is the new wording not pointing back to the original license of the mysql package you are using? If the whole package is received under the GPL, does that mean that nothing has truly changed other than some placement of more ugly legal text? The usual disclaimers apply because I am not a lawyer etc. Anyone who is care to chime in?

    • http://daniel-bartholomew.com/ Daniel Bartholomew

      I’m not a lawyer either, but the sentence: “This documentation is NOT distributed under a GPL license.” seems pretty clear to me.

      • Robert Goley

        You are quite right. I was mislead by the little snippet above. In addition to saying it is not under the GPL it specifically excludes doing anything with it besides printing a paper copy of it…

  • Laughing Skeptic

    By asserting a license on written material that was predominantly GPL licensed in the past, isn’t Oracle simultaneously stealing GPL material and violating the GPL itself? I wonder what the FSF thinks of this?

    • lkcl

      not if they are the sole copyright holders. anyone may license any
      copyright material under any license they choose. they CANNOT however
      “retrospectively” change existing-issued licenses. so, 5.5.30 will, now
      and forever, be under the GPL. 5.5.31 will now, and forever, be under
      this new non-free license.

      the only pertinent question is,
      therefore: do they *actually* have the full copyright (and there full
      rights to re-license) the documentation? if anyone else has contributed
      to that documentation – no matter how small – their permission needs to
      be sought. it is not permissible to license or re-license someone *else’s* copyright material without their permission, simple as that.

      • FENG DONG

        The questions is whether Oralce is the sole copyright owner. The fact Oracle releasing MySQL does not necessarily prove they are the sole owner.

        It is almost impossible that the copyright of any software with a long history under GPL is held by a single owner. The claimed owner must have accepted contribution from others in the past, not by transferring the copyright, but by licensing the code from others under GPL. If Linus want to change Linux kernel to a non-GPL license, he must strip off all code contributed by other maintainers, all have all maintainers agree with the change.

        • lkcl

          “The fact Oracle releasing MySQL does not necessarily prove they are the sole owner.”

          that’s correct. it is almost trivially easy to analyse the code by checking the commit history.

          “It is almost impossible that the copyright of any software with a long history under GPL is held by a single owner.”

          that’s flat-out incorrect. trolltech, cygwin and many other companies have set mandatory commit policies that *require* that you assign *all* copyright rights to them before they will accept patches (as well as rather cheekily requiring that you accept full and total liability, so you not only lose the benefits but you get screwed as well).

          “The claimed owner must have accepted contribution from others in the past, not by transferring the copyright, but by licensing the code from others under GPL.”

          this is a very confusing and unclear sentence.

          “If Linus want to change Linux kernel to a non-GPL license, he must strip off all code contributed by other maintainers, all have all maintainers agree with the change.”

          i believe you meant the 2nd-from-last use of the word “all” to be “or”, which then makes this sentence grammatically correct and understandable.

          yes: you’ve given a specific example of the generalisation that i gave, which is always helpful. however i feel compelled to point out that the way you’ve expressed it seems to imply that linus is somehow the “owner” of the linux kernel (“if *linus* wants to change linux kernel…”) – when he most emphatically is NOT. anyone may AT ANY TIME choose to license their copyright under ANY LICENSE THEY WISH, regardless and absolutely independently of its current license and current usage. i.e. the parts are UTTERLY independent of the whole; the contributors are UTTERLY independent from all others. to whit: any one of the linux kernel contributors may choose to issue *their* code under an alternative license. that the only way for others to *use* that code in any useful way, due to sheer overwhelming numbers of maintainers that would otherwise need to simultaneously agree to alternative licenses, is for all contributions to be under the GPLv2 license, is something that is outside the scope of the current discussion.

          so in some ways the situation where there are vast numbers of contributors makes it somewhat pointless to individually change a license, and almost flat-out impossible to consider global changes, is a good one, because it means that situations like this f***-up by oracle can’t happen.

          the problem with the linux kernel licensing issue however is that times change: the GPLv2 is both draconian and out-of-date as it was never designed to deal with the situations it now finds itself in (1000s of contributors, regular gpl violations, tivoisation and DRM).

        • lsanoj

          That’s not entirely true. Commercial OSS often uses dual licensing. To ensure that this goes without problems, its mostly required to waive your copyrights entirely, if you want to commit upstream.

          This was common and Sun, so it was and it is most likely at MySQL AB and Oracle.

    • Eric Hawicz

      No, not if they actually own the copyright on that material. They’re free to change the license any time they want to.

  • skeptical

    What I find curious is that the license page link for all the documentation back to 5.0 now includes the ‘non-GPL’ license text. An example URL is: http://dev.mysql.com/doc/relnotes/mysql/5.0/en/preface.html#legalnotice

    IANAL, but this sure looks like a GPL no-no to me; placing a restrictive license on something that has already been released as GPL.

    Oh wait, this is the company that Larry Ellison runs, I would not put anything past it attempting.

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  • xupoyctb

    this is an alpha test to get rid of GPL and open source. divide et impera.

  • https://lanbing.org/ 蓝冰

    directadmin how to replace mysql as mariadb?(centos)

  • Ryan Hellyer

    This seems like a really stupid move by Oracle. They go buy the worlds most dominant database platform, then kill it off. They’ll never recover from this.

  • Norvald H. Ryeng

    The license was changed by mistake. We’re working to fix it. http://bugs.mysql.com/bug.php?id=69512

  • Fred .

    So since the manual packages are part of the software package, it effectively means MySQL is no longer fits the definition of free open source software, and hence must be removed from the repositories.

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  • Eric

    Yeah, they did it with all MySQL editions…

  • Patryk Pomykalski
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  • leeyc0

    Oracle says that it is a bug…

    http://bugs.mysql.com/bug.php?id=69512

  • Robie Basak

    I believed that it would be in violation of Debian policy to continue shipping these manpages under the new licence, so I filed a bug with Debian to flag the issue (http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=712730). It turns out that the “relicensing” was a mistake by Oracle, and they are changing it back: http://bugs.mysql.com/bug.php?id=69512

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  • anon
  • MontgoDB

    http://insidemysql.com/the-mysql-man-pages-are-available-under-the-gpl/ Nice… start flinging FUD right away instead of engaging in a conversation.

  • stoker

    Please see http://insidemysql.com/the-mysql-man-pages-are-available-under-the-gpl/

    “Due to a bug in our release packaging scripts, the wrong version of the man pages, with the wrong license text, were copied into the MySQL Server GPL packages. The MySQL Man Pages continue to be available under GPL.”

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  • http://sysdroid.com/ gtirloni

    Have you tried to confirm with anyone at Oracle before posting this?

    • Federico Razzoli

      I suppose they didn’t, and they are totally right. Now it turns out that the license was a bug. But, even so, it is legally valid: that specific version has non-GPL man pages, and redistributing those pages is illegal. I hope it is really a bug and I hope that they will really solve it.

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  • Roberto Spadim

    well, we will need a manual website for mariadb?!