Oracle Wants to Charge $9,000 for "Free" Download

Latest concern for open-source advocates is license fee for Microsoft Office plug in

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    New license fee for a Microsoft Office plugin confirms some techie fears about what the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle might mean for open source software.

    Oracle's acquisition of Sun Micrososystems has been controversial among a certain set of techies that worried some of Sun's projects that rely on open source code might suffer at the hands of billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

    The latest indignation is the discovery that Oracle has changed the terms of the license to use a plug in that converts Open Document Format files so that users can work with them in Microsoft Office.

    Now, users in the United States will have to pay a fee of $90 to use the software, which is still labeled on the site as a "free" download.

    The license will presumably only affect organizations large enough for Oracle to sue into compliance with the fee, including businesses and government agencies.

    The Open Document Format is meant as a new, more open standard than the proprietary formats that are the default with the widely used Office suite of applications from Microsoft.

    Users can still download the free, open-source OpenOffice, which uses the ODF by default, to edit the documents without having to use Microsoft Office or Oracle's newly pricey plug in.

    Jackson West imagines that Ellison has a hard time imagining anything that couldn't be bought or sold.