“The DeWitt Clause” – #Oracle, really? Is this latter bit true?

Several commercial database vendor’s end-user license agreement includes a provision, known as the DeWitt Clause that prohibts researchers and scientists from explictly using their systems’ names in academic papers. In essence, DeWitt Clauses forbid the publication of database benchmarks that the database vendor has not sanctioned. The original DeWitt clause was established by Oracle at the behest of Larry Ellison. Ellison was displeased with a benchmark study done by David DeWitt in 1982, then just an assistant professor, using his new Wisconsin Benchmark that showed that Oracle’s system had poor performance. Ellison called Wisconsin’s department chair and demanded by that DeWitt be fired. After the department refused, Ellison personally banned Oracle from hiring any students from the University of Wisconsin and changed their license to prevent anyone else from mentioning Oracle by name in a benchmark study.

via David DeWitt – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

My emphasis.

4 Replies to ““The DeWitt Clause” – #Oracle, really? Is this latter bit true?”

  1. I can’t vouch for the history, but certainly it is now a standard part of the EULA’s of a lot of vendors. Sometimes it is innocuous and is used as a means of allowing a vendor to point out flaws in the methodology before publication, or to at least formulate a response. But I am sure it is also used for more nefarious purposes.

  2. Would’ve been funnier if Winsconsin uni had pulled strings to get all members of Ellison’s family barred from Harvard, Yale, etc.

  3. I took the graduate database class at UW-Madison in I think Fall 1997. DeWitt was teaching it that semester. He repeated this anecdote then. I have no reason to think he was making it up.

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