I want to post a JDK method's source code as part of my answer to a question on Stack Overflow. It looks like I can do this under the terms of the JRL (Java Research License), specifically:

A. License and Copyright Notices. You must include a copy of this Java Research License in a Readme file for any Technology or Modifications you distribute. You must also include the following statement, "Use and distribution of this technology is subject to the Java Research License included herein", (a) once prominently in the source code tree and/or specifications for Your source code distributions, and (b) once in the same file as Your copyright or proprietary notices for Your binary code distributions. You must cause any files containing Your Modification to carry prominent notice stating that You changed the files. You must not remove or alter any copyright or other proprietary notices in the Technology.

Based on this, it sounds like my Stack Overflow answer must include the "Use and distribution of this technology is subject to the Java Research License included herein" statement and the full text of the JRL. Is that correct, or is there a more concise way to post JRE/JDK source without violating the license agreement?

  • 4
    It might help to link to their terms so others don't have to go searching for them.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Dec 12, 2012 at 22:34
  • Good suggestion; I actually started editing to include that right after I posted.
    – rob
    Dec 12, 2012 at 22:38
  • 1
    Is this one of those rare cases where it'd be totally appropriate to have a "link only" answer? I don't see how that license and cc-wiki are going to interact...
    – Charles
    Dec 12, 2012 at 22:42
  • 2
    How much code are you planning on posting? A snippet or an entire method? As it's up to the copyright holder to enforce their license, you'll probably need to ask them for an authoritative answer.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 13, 2012 at 1:10
  • I was planning to post a complete method.
    – rob
    Dec 13, 2012 at 3:25
  • Doesn't it fall under the education clause when asking something an a Q&A site?
    – paul23
    Jan 16, 2013 at 12:32
  • @TimPost I e-mailed [email protected] on Dec 12, 2012, but haven't yet received a response.
    – rob
    Jan 21, 2013 at 22:09
  • @paul23 Years ago, I might have come to the same conclusion of fair use according to copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html; but after recent experience in IP disputes, I realize it's not that simple. That page strongly recommends contacting the owner (which I tried without any response to-date) or consulting an attorney (which I'm not going to do because it would cost thousands of dollars to get an IP attorney's written opinion). So, unfortunately, I think I either need to find a way to comply with the JRL, or I'm potentially at Oracle's mercy concerning their interpretation of fair use.
    – rob
    Jan 21, 2013 at 22:34
  • @rob uh fair use is not a legal term? Education is special clause all apart in the laws; had to do quite a bit of research for that during my studies. But in the end you can for purely educational purposes I could just copy anything I read in books.
    – paul23
    Jan 21, 2013 at 22:48
  • @paul23 in the US, "fair use" is a legal concept. I think the clause you're describing falls under fair use doctrine. Is there a reference from a definitive source that you can share regarding the education clause as you've described it?
    – rob
    Jan 21, 2013 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


I found myself with a little time and did some digging. I don't think you have anything to worry about.

From the JRL FAQ:

  1. Can I publish my source code at a conference, and in white papers?

    Yes, you may publish your work in the usually accepted academic manner as long as you reference the Java Research License and include the correct copyright information.

It looks as if this case, and cases like it were specifically considered. While the code you're posting isn't your own, your answer to the question, or question itself is your work offered in an academic setting. You also need not include the entire license, you simply need to reference it along with the copyright information.

It's no different from presenting your own code in a scholarly manner that requires some of the JDK source for context.

Something like this at the bottom of your answer should be sufficient:

The source code used in this answer is copyright © [copyright date], [copyright holder], used by provisions of the Java Research License.

Just remember, the emphasis has to be on your work, the code should just support it. This is definitely one of those times where one should strongly consider avoiding answering a question with only a block of code.

Signing off with the usual disclaimer that I am not a lawyer, vampire, zombie or teapot.

  • 6
    I'll need more evidence that you're not a teapot. Jan 22, 2013 at 1:08
  • Is he a little teapot?
    – Rosinante
    Feb 6, 2013 at 12:27

The JDK is open-source, as available from the OpenJDK project.

You don't need to comply with the Java Resource License as long as the code you post is obtained from OpenJDK (rather than Oracle's distribution).

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