One might have thought European Commission antitrust regulators had their hands full with harassing Microsoft about the “Browser Ballot” (our comments) and fining Intel, but apparently they’re already looking for new targets so they can “stay busy”: Sun disclosed on Monday that the EC had objected to the “combination of Sun’s open source MySQL database product with Oracle’s enterprise database products and its potential negative effects on competition in the market for database products.”
It’s difficult to see how Oracle’s takeover of Sun would reduce competition in the intensely competitive database market. Since Sun’s MySQL software is open source and uses the strongly “copyleft” GNU General Public License (GPL) v2, Oracle will have little control over its future evolution. If Oracle decided to stop updating MySQL tomorrow, anyone in the MySQL development community could simply “fork” the project. Oracle knows this. (Do the European regulators?) If anything, Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun indicates that they are embracing the business model of commercial open source. In Sun’s case, that has meant striving to lead the best collaborative project possible and making money on providing the best product support.
European antitrust regulators should be celebrating this deal, rather than obstructing it.