MySQL Campaigners Continue To Lobby Regulators

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Regulators from the European Commission, Russia, China and other countries have been bombarded with emails and a petition signed by 14,000 pro-MySQL users

MySQL community members, worried about the future direction of their prized Web database, have been petitioning antitrust regulators in several world jurisdictions through the holidays, using a widespread email campaign to urge international officials to stop the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle.

Developers from around the globe have been bombarding regulators from the European Commission, Russia, China and other countries with emails and phone calls, open source activist Florian Mueller told eWEEK on 4 Jan.

However, it may be too little, too late: The European Commission is expected to approve the deal within the next month, according to knowledgeable eWEEK sources.

The Brussels-based European Commission, which serves as the law enforcement body of the 27-nation European Union, is due to make a decision no later than 27 Jan, 2010 about whether to sanction the acquisition, so that Oracle can acquire Sun and continue to do business in Europe as a full-service systems vendor.

Oracle announced on April 20, 2009, that it intends to acquire Sun for about $7.4 billion (£4.6bn). The federal Department of Justice, charged with enforcing antitrust laws in the United States, took four months in due diligence before approving the transaction in August 2009.

The major sticking point is the European-developed open-source database that Sun bought for $1 billion two years ago: MySQL. The EC has been withholding its blessing on the deal since August 2009, ostensibly needing to be satisfied that MySQL will be allowed to innovate and compete fairly in the IT marketplace.

The assertion that Oracle’s own proprietary database often competes directly against MySQL is seen by many industry people as an obvious conflict of interest, causing most of the friction. Oracle CEO/founder Larry Ellison contends that MySQL has its own user base and does not compete directly with his company’s highly profitable databases, but a large number of people working in the field disagree.

And those people have been deluging the EC competition commissioner and field staff with emails and a petition in 20 languages opposing Oracle’s takeover of MySQL.

“In less than one week, during the Holiday Season, we gathered 50 times more customer support than Oracle claimed three weeks ago, when it presented a few hundred orchestrated letters from customers to the European Commission,” MySQL creator Michael [Monty] Widenius said in a statement. “The campaign has only started, and the number of signatures will double very quickly.”

Widenius, working with Mueller, launched the www.HelpMySQL.org campaign several weeks ago. On 4 Jan, Widenius presented the EC, Russian and Chinese officials more than 14,000 signatures on a worldwide petition against the deal as it exists “in its present form,” Mueller said.

More than 5,000 signatures are from self-employed developers, and more than 3,000 from employees of companies and organizations of all sizes using MySQL, Mueller said.

The first batch of signatures was delivered to the European Commission and other European institutions, including the European Parliament and the competition authorities of the 27 EU member states, as well as to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS).

The petition also has been sent to the Swiss Wettbewerbskommission (Weko). Subsequent deliveries of new signatures will now take place once or twice a week, and at a later point the petition will also be given to competition authorities in more countries — in particular Japan and Brazil, Mueller said.

The petition form is located here, and the number of signatures can be watched at this site. The statistics are being updated about every 10 minutes, Mueller said.

“It seems the customers supporting Oracle were only concerned about Sun’s other business while our supporters show they care about MySQL,” Widenius said. “Our signatories don’t have faith that Oracle could be a good steward of MySQL, and they don’t buy Oracle’s empty promises at all.”

Widenius said his campaign vows to keep gathering support until “the very end of the process.”