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Google Didn't Ship Relicensed Java Code After All 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the deeper-looks dept.
RedK writes "In a follow up to yesterday's news about Google apparently relicensing confidential Oracle code found in Java under the ASL, it seems that the blogger who initially reported the issue was plain wrong, as the files he indicated were in breach of Oracle's copyright do not actually ship with Android. Google has also deleted many of these files, which were mostly used as unit tests."
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Google Didn't Ship Relicensed Java Code After All

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  • Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the linux geek (799780) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:04PM (#34966554)
    If Google distributed the source at any point, it's a copyright violation, whether or not it shipped in a handset.
    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:4, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:20PM (#34966688)
      If you read the summary and not just the article, you'd see that Google did not ship them with Android. They were located in the source files if someone bothered to go to the source files that Google had on their site and look for them. They were also copies of files that Sun released but instead of merely using them someone had decompiled and deconstructed them. Somewhere along the way a different copyright got pasted on them. Google also removed them from the tree with the comment "remove pointless test files".
      • Re:Irrelevant (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:55PM (#34966928)

        If you read what you're replying to, you'll see that he wrote "whether or not it shipped in a handset", not "since it shipped in a handset". You said that the files were available on a public web server, so to disprove the parent you have to show that they were never downloaded.

        • Perhaps they were.

          Some of those files are covered by Sun's public license.

          No one's found them YET on android phones. I suppose it's possible. Remember: there's a lot of contention about how Sun licensed these files, and whether or not they were used in Android to begin with, and if they were, if they were distributed as payloads.

          These files were found by Mueller, if you RTFAs, on the Dev tree. Has anyone from Oracle/Sun decompiled phone payloads yet? Seems as though there are lots of details to decide befor

          • Oracle's trying to lever a fat royalty check out of Google's BigBank. There'll be a lot of posturing, then a deal will be struck, and we'll move on.

            I very much want to see Larry take his Java patents to court and get smacked down on abundant prior art. I'm really looking forward to the spectacle of increasingly erratic/comic behavior from Larry Ellison as the case moves through discovery, meaning closer to patent invalidation. Of course, there is the remote possibility he might win in court, which would be the end of Java in open source, including Android. Which would also be a big win. So either way, we the people win. I don't see much incentive

            • I very much want to see Larry take his Java patents to court and get smacked down on abundant prior art.

              I hope you meant Larry Ellison and not Larry Page.

              Falcon

              • I very much want to see Larry take his Java patents to court and get smacked down on abundant prior art.

                I hope you meant Larry Ellison and not Larry Page.

                Falcon

                Good point, in future I should specify "Larry Troll" to avoid confusion with "Larry Geek".

        • If you've been following the whole thing, this started out with Oracle accusing Google of shenanigans with Android. When someone actually looked at Android, they did find non-compliant files, however, they would not have been files that Google shipped with Android. They were available if someone wanted to download them, just like the source files of Linux are available with every flavor of Linux. However if you get dev and source files, there are some files that you get that will never make it to a binar

    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:21PM (#34966698) Homepage
      They might have a case for copyright violation against Google, but it might hamper their dreams of extracting licensing fees from all the handset makers shipping with Android. Could be significant.
      • They might have a case for copyright violation against Google

        You mean GPL violation? The usual remedy is for the offending party to correct the fault, which in this case would appear to involve (re)attaching the correct copyleft license to some files distributed to developers. An alternative remedy would be to stop distributing the files in question. A combination of correcting the license for files that actually matter and dropping those files that aren't needed anyway is the likely outcome.

    • Relevant (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fines/Damages/Fees/"Whatever your legal system calls it" usually depend on how often you copied it and what money you made from it.

      So if there are only those files, all they did was making them available in the source code repository, so that might be some large one-time sum.

      If that code was in every single android device or only many android devices had code somehow based on this one or derived from it or otherwise extending the copyright of those file to what is shipped with those devices, then Oracle cou

      • Re:Relevant (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @05:16PM (#34967462)

        Fines/Damages/Fees/"Whatever your legal system calls it" usually depend on how often you copied it and what money you made from it.

        Weather you intended to violate copyright or not factors in as well (though it has no bearing on guilt or innocence).

        The range of damages for copyright violation is anywhere from 1$ to $150,000 per work infringed.

        It also matters if they were registered with the US Copyright Office. Copyright is automatic, but you cannot claim statutory damages without registration. All that is left available to you are punative damages, and since Google clearly did not intend any harm, and since any distribution of the files was likely accidental, Oracle isn't likely to see very much money for their trouble.

        It's also worth noting that damages are awarded per work, not per instance of infringement (i.e. if someone shares a song a million times it's only one case of infringement). Since any distribution by hardware manufacturers is only due to Google's initial distribution, the very worst Oracle could do is make them share the maximum $150k per work with Google. They can't get extra damages for each manufacturer.

        This [ipinbrief.com] is an informative article about the current state of copyright statutory damages. The same author has a more in-depth "primer for non-lawyers" here. [ipinbrief.com]

        This is really pretty pathetic. Even if 1,000 files were infringed on, the absolute maximum Oracle can get for all cases involving Android is $150 million. That's combined, not individually. Even the most egregious cases rarely elicit the maximum, so they're really probably looking about $50-60 million, tops.

        • by Grond (15515)

          There is a lot wrong here.

          Weather you intended to violate copyright or not factors in as well (though it has no bearing on guilt or innocence).

          Since you're talking about civil copyright infringement, "guilt or innocence" doesn't enter into it. The question is whether the defendant is liable. The "intent" you speak of is relevant when considering a claim of willful copyright infringement, but the infringement need not actually be intentional. Recklessness is sufficient in most jurisdictions, though a mino

  • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:09PM (#34966606) Homepage

    I'll do a couple of follow-up posts on my blog these days to respond to some of the misconceptions and misinformation out there.

    My blog never made a specific claim about Android devices containing certain code. From a copyright law point of view, however, putting software online for everyone to download means "to distribute", or "to ship", such code, and distributing, or shipping, infringing code makes someone liable.

    Ed Burnette, whose post is referenced here, does not seem to understand even basic copyright-related terminology and concepts. He's wrong on almost everything he wrote and I'll debunk itI already left some comments below his article.

    It's also wrong, as stated above, that Google "deleted" those files. They are still in the Froyo (Android 2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3) trees. At least they were when I last checked, which was yesterday. They are just not in the tree for future versions.

    There is so much out there that's wrong, and I'll deal with it step by step.

    • by randall77 (1069956) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:17PM (#34966670) Homepage
      Yes, they are liable, but liable for what? What damages case can you make for files that aren't actually used?
      • by Homburg (213427) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:30PM (#34966766) Homepage

        Statutory damages [wikipedia.org], probably. "The basic level of damages is between $750 and $30,000 per work," but "statutory damages are only available in the United States for works that were registered with the Copyright Office prior to infringement." If they can't claim statutory damages, they would probably only be able to claim either lost earnings, or whatever profit Google made from the infringing distribution, neither of which are likely to add up to very much.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          I'd be surprised if these files were individually registered with the US Copyright Office, but I could be wrong. If they were registered as a group, distributing a portion of the files for testing purposes likely doesn't even qualify as copyright infringement.

          Statutory damages can also go as high as $150,000 per infringement under the right circumstances, but the number of infringements don't matter. Only the number works infringed.

          I'm not really sure what Oracle is going for here, are they really that ha

        • Courts will also have determined harm before deciding on any awards. Putting files that did nothing but test certain parts and didn't affect functionality and putting out files that infringed on whole functionality will most likely have differing amounts attached.
          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by tomhudson (43916)
            The worst part is that the files in question were totally useless - they were part of a unit test that simply doesn't apply to Android.

            Flagrant Muttonhead was just trolling, like he's been doing for years. This is someone whose anti-open-source agenda is coming apart, and he's getting desperate to try to re-establish any credibility.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:26PM (#34966738)

      My blog never made a specific claim about Android devices containing certain code.

      That's not what your blog post reads like. If they're not part of the codebase used on an Android device, you should have explicitly stated so, seeing as quite obviously "The Android versions of those files" by default suggests that those files are a part of the Android OS.

      Maybe you can admit you were wrong or at the very least unclear in certain places, rather than quite childishly trying to bullshit your way out of this?

      It's also wrong, as stated above, that Google "deleted" those files. They are still in the Froyo (Android 2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3) trees. At least they were when I last checked, which was yesterday. They are just not in the tree for future versions.

      That's kind of how source repositories work when you delete things.

      • by Tim C (15259)

        That's kind of how source repositories work when you delete things.

        That depends entirely on how the repository is structured. I'm assuming though that 2.2 and 2.3 are separate trees/branches/repositories/whatever, in which case it's perfectly possible to delete the files from the current revision on those branches too. Given that the legal status of these files is in question, it would be wisest to completely remove the files - even if that means having to remove access to previous revisions of the source t

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          even if that means having to remove access to previous revisions of the source tree.

          That's not really an option, given the fact that most Android devices still use pre-2.3 versions of the OS.

          I think the wisest option is exactly what they are doing: leave the old stuff alone, remove them from the new stuff, and wait for the injunction that may or may not ever come. Here's a hint - since the source is so "out there" already, it will probably never come.

      • by node 3 (115640) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @06:02PM (#34967786)

        My blog never made a specific claim about Android devices containing certain code.

        That's not what your blog post reads like. If they're not part of the codebase used on an Android device, you should have explicitly stated so,

        Being in the repository is being part of the codebase.

        seeing as quite obviously "The Android versions of those files" by default suggests that those files are a part of the Android OS.

        The repository is the OS. It's just not the binary that the end-user receives. It is the OS the developer receives when they modify Android, or develop apps for it, or downloads it for whatever reason they choose to. That's how Open Source works.

        It's also wrong, as stated above, that Google "deleted" those files. They are still in the Froyo (Android 2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3) trees. At least they were when I last checked, which was yesterday. They are just not in the tree for future versions.

        That's kind of how source repositories work when you delete things.

        Which is another way of saying, he's absolutely correct. The files are still there and still violating copyright. I'm not sure exactly how that's supposed to be a rebuttal.

    • by zzatz (965857) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @04:08PM (#34966984)

      Please name one Android device that ships with this code.

      I'm looking for clarity regarding the impact of any possible infringement. Willful infringement of code central to Android devices could stop shipments. Incidental infringement of peripheral code is another matter. It should be resolved, of course, but would have little impact on the market.

      Do Android devices contain infringing code? Do they contain infringing code that could be easily replaced? Or do they contain infringing code that is central to their operation?

    • by folderol (1965326)
      Nono. Please don't. I don't think I can cope with any more of your 'creative' view of the IT world :(
    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @04:54PM (#34967320) Journal

      What you said was:

      Android contains, under the Apache license, code that is essentially just decompiled code of Oracle/Sun software that was never licensed to Apache.

      Now, with some creative interpretation, you can likely indeed weasel out of it and say that this doesn't really mean that files were shipped to end users as part of Android. But it certainly wasn't the impression from your original post, and nowhere did you highlight that very important detail. What more, you contrasted your newly discovered files with PolicyNodeImpl.java, from which the "decompiled unlicensed copy" story started - and why it wasn't big deal back in the day was that it didn't ship on devices.

      A lot of readers interpreted your words in the same way as TFA, which leaves one to wonder if that was an honest mistake (but then why not just admit that and correct the story?), an attempt to sound more sensationalist than it really is by omitting details that make it mundane, or deliberate FUD. I was one of those readers [slashdot.org], and I now have to apologize to fellow Slashdot readers for spreading this misinformation. Are you going to apologize for starting it?

    • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @05:30PM (#34967564)

      It's also wrong, as stated above, that Google "deleted" those files. They are still in the Froyo (Android 2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3) trees. At least they were when I last checked, which was yesterday. They are just not in the tree for future versions.

      Wow Florian, that's a creative interpretation of "not deleted". I presume that you mean, a user can still check out an older repository version and that version would contain the files in question. Let me make an equally creative counter-proposition. If the files were deleted from the tip of the repository but not from the history, that simply provides a historical record of exactly what was deleted. You can't make the information vanish from the past you know, unless you are also proposing some kind of time travel. You can only make information vanish from the present, that is, tip of tree.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        I'd say that checking deleted files out from a previous revision is rather akin to snooping for garbage in deleted areas of a disk

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is why I decided not to be a lawyer. You made up some bullshit blog post that definately gave people the impression that Android was using stolen code. You know.. in the phone...

      Then when someone calls you on your bullshit you use a bunch of legalese to try to weasel your way out of any responsibility for what you said.

      "I never said it was on a phone"

      Well you never said it wasn't and your blog post gave the impression that it was.

      This type of shit may fly on Engadget, but slashdot users aren't retarde

  • by whiteboy86 (1930018) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:12PM (#34966642)
    this is pure speculation but...
    one wonders whether Eric Schmidt's (former Sun executive) and his very probable push for Java on Android was not behind his resignation. From any angle Android's Java reliance seams like a bad move.
    • by BearRanger (945122) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @04:02PM (#34966956)
      Wasn't Android the result of Google's purchase of a smaller company? Given that it's unlikely Eric Schmidt had any say in the initial technology choices behind Android.
      • Wasn't Android the result of Google's purchase of a smaller company?

        That is correct, a company called "Android".

        Given that it's unlikely Eric Schmidt had any say in the initial technology choices behind Android.

        Clearly not the original design, but very probably in the continued reliance on it. By now, a C++ application platform with no ties whatsoever to Java should have been added to the Android SDK and the fact that it is not suggests some kind of "go slow" order from the top. In the most charitable view, it would constitute extreme lack of attention.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        They could have bought another company whose mobile OS wasn't built on Java.

        It's possible the decision to purchase Android instead of a different phone software company was somehow influenced by its use of Java.

        I still don't think Eric Schmidt's resignation from his CEO position is a result of this, but it's possible the it does have something to do with the lawsuit, perhaps how he wants to handle it. After all, the timing is pretty supicious.

    • by bigtallmofo (695287) * on Saturday January 22, 2011 @06:27PM (#34967964)
      From any angle Android's Java reliance seams like a bad move.

      Any sensible move would have had them developing to a more open platform like .NET.
  • natural outcome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:13PM (#34966648)

    it seems that the blogger who initially reported the issue was plain wrong

    Florian Mueller produced two blatantly erroneous stories in about as many days. I hope this high error rate keeps Slashdot from promiscuously posting his stuff for a while. I'm not counting on miracles, but this guy was given two chances on Slashdot and he blew it badly each time. Even if Slashdot's goal is to troll for eyeballs, they can find someone more competent to do the trolling.

    • Re:natural outcome (Score:4, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:23PM (#34966716) Homepage Journal

      Except that Google *DID* distribute the copyrighted code in question, even if they didn't put it into the handsets. So it's actually this story that's wrong-- Google did, in fact, violate the copyright. Does that mean Slashdot should stop posting pro-Google stories for a couple days? Your point doesn't make much sense to me.

      • Google did, in fact, violate the copyright.

        One does not violate a copyright, one violates a copyright distribution license. In this case, the GPL. Usually, when the GPL is violated the copyright holder goes out of their way to make it easy for the violator to come into compliance. If the copyright holder in this case demands some extreme remedy, than that would be a story[1]. If not, it's a tempest in a teapot, good mainly for lots of Slashdot hits which is not necessarily a bad thing.

        [1] The story would be about the deranged copyright holder mo

  • Go Google go (Score:5, Interesting)

    by javilon (99157) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:16PM (#34966664) Homepage

    I hope Google gets its way on court, scales up the Dalvik VM and we stop using anything coming from Oracle. Tomcat would run happily on it and we would use a completely Free/Free/No patents virtual machine. Kind of like they are doing with WebM. That would result in companies becoming really careful when trying to take open source code and screw up with it.

    • by pjt33 (739471)

      What do you mean by "scales up"? And is performance of Dalvik really comparable to the Snoracle VM? I've read that it can't compete with Hotspot - is this false or outdated?

      • Pre-2.2, Dalvik is purely a bytecode interpreter. After 2.2, performance is still pretty crappy, since its designed for a tiny memory footprint and to work effectively on processors with very little cache. I find the idea of running Dalvik as the main JVM to be frightening.
        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          To be fair, most JVM's had similar issues with their default settings until recently.

          Running Java apps used to be the bane of my existence. Now they just suck - a huge improvement. ;)

          (In case you didn't notice, I'm not a fan of Java. It is ever so slowly improving, however, so maybe someday I'll like it. One can dream, right?)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:22PM (#34966712)

    found in the unit test area? Does that mean EMI (who owns the copyrights for the Beatles songs) could sue Google for copyright violation and get a percentage for each android handset even though the song "All You Need is Love" is not used in Android in any way whatsoever?

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      Of course not. Google has good lawyers. Now if it was your personal repository on the other hand...

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Actually what would happen is EMI would get a one-time award of $10k (maybe $25k if it was clearly deliberate) for all instances of infringement for the work.

      That wouldn't even pay the lawyers' salaries. Oracle is in the same situation, so they'd better hope Google willfully infringed on a whole lot of files (all of which need to be registered with the USCO to get any statutory damages at all) in order to break even.

  • wait a second.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by milkmage (795746) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @03:23PM (#34966718)

    this seems like a perfectly valid counter to the zdnet piece:

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/21/android-source-code-java-and-copyright-infringement-whats-go/ [engadget.com]

    From a legal perspective, it seems very likely that these files create increased copyright liability for Google, because the state of our current copyright law doesn't make exceptions for how source code trees work, or whether or not a script pasted in a different license, or whether these files made it into handsets. The single most relevant legal question is whether or not copying and distributing these files was authorized by Oracle, and the answer clearly appears to be "nope" -- even if Oracle licensed the code under the GPL. Why? Because somewhere along the line, Google took Oracle's code, replaced the GPL language with the incompatible Apache Open Source License, and distributed the code under that license publicly. That's all it takes -- if Google violated the GPL by changing the license, it also infringed Oracle's underlying copyright. It doesn't matter if a Google employee, a script, a robot, or Eric Schmidt's cat made the change -- once you've created or distributed an unauthorized copy, you're liable for infringement.*

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @05:49PM (#34967710)

      On the other hand, Google is only liable for infringement ONCE. The number of times you infringe doesn't matter, it's a per-work thing, not a per-infringement thing. Also, was each file individually registered with the Copyright Office? Copyright is automatic, and you can license without registering, but you cannot collect statutory damages without registering. In fact, registering the works doesn't even make continued infringement after registration liable to statutory damages.

      In other words, about $30k per file is what Oracle can expect out of Google. If Oracle manages to get the handset manufacturers in on it (I can't see how they could, but lawyers are pretty creative) all it means is Google gets to split the cost of that $30k with the handset manufacturers - Oracle won't see an extra dime.

      This is really pretty pathetic, and typical of Oracle. Instead of calling up Google and saying "WTF bro? You re-licensed my code without my permission! That's not cool!" and allowing Google to say "Oh snap! My bad! I'll fix it!", they decided to try to sucker-punch Google after walking out of a club late Saturday night.

      Childish is what it is.

    • if Google violated the GPL by changing the license, it also infringed Oracle's underlying copyright.

      Non sequitur alert.

  • I really don't understand this bias against Oracle.

    If any other company was the victim of a GPL violation, for whatever reason and whereever the code was distributed, Slashdot would cry foul. I guess as long as it's done to Oracle, it's OK.

    It doesn't matter if you distribute the code as part of a product that makes money or if you use it internally. If you slap an Apache license header on GPL code, you're violating the GPL. Copyright law doesn't require you to make money in order to infringe. Why do

    • by Atti K. (1169503)

      I really don't understand this bias against Oracle.

      Looks like Oracle is the new Microsoft.

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @04:33PM (#34967174) Homepage

      ...and a GPL infraction is generally handled by allowing the offending party to make right rather than continuing to drag their names through the mud or sue them for some obscene damages.

      GPL violators generally get treated much nicer than anyone else that violates some license.

    • by LodCrappo (705968)

      Perhaps the bias against Oracle has more to do with how they've handled the situation. If this is indeed something that can be reasonably explained as a mistake and something that happened in code which is trivial/not part of the actual shipping Android product, then Oracle's behavior seems completely out of line. Google did not benefit from use of this code, and Oracle did not lose anything from it being in Google's sources, license changed or not.

      This type of thing can be corrected easily and without th

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @05:55PM (#34967752)

      Usually the infringed party contacts the infringing party and allows them to correct the error, since mistakes happen. It's the polite, non-douchebag way to behave, particularly since the goal of the GPL is spreading code. In legal terms, it's called "good-faith".

      Oracle, of course, is a douchebag, and as such does things the douchebag way.

      Thus, Oracle gets slammed for being a douchebag.

      It's like seeing a guy hit on your girlfriend, and instead of telling the guy she's spoken for, you sucker-punch him. You're a douchebag if you behave that way, plain and simple. That's how Oracle operates.

    • by IBitOBear (410965) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @09:31PM (#34969232) Homepage Journal

      Most GPL violations are solved with a quick appology and direct remediation of the violation. Typically the violation is the failure to disclose source and such disclosure then happens. Damaged or headers are not uncommon, and in case of individual stupidity (not every guy checking stuff into version control is a jet-fuel genius) or honest mistake (not every guy checking stuff into version control is fully versed in copyright law), then reasonable people just go "eh, dude, that needs to be fixed" and then someone else replies "ok, cool, I'll fix that".

      So the change of license was wrong, and needs to be fixed. Neither license is particularly incompatible with the other. Reasonable people, finding an issue _this_ minor are expected to act reasonably.

      Of course Orace is involved so that's expecting rather a lot.

      For the most part, if the actual complaint was this mis-licensing, between typical and reasonable GPL entities, then there would have been a check-in with the corrected headers.

      So no matter what the other facts may be, the damage threshold is nascent to non-existent, and the "reasonable behavior" test has not been met by Oracle.

      This whole thing is Oracle FUD to damage Android for no apparent reason than the fact that Oracle doest that kind of thing.

    • by Draek (916851)

      If any other company was the victim of a GPL violation, for whatever reason and whereever the code was distributed, Slashdot would cry foul.

      Not really. Look for any of the stories detailing the FSF's approach to accidental infringement, other than the odd "the GPL is a virus!" moron, it's all pretty civil and usually in favor of the "guilty party". Even from the FSF itself.

      Hell, if anything if you compare it's Google who's being conspicuously mistreated here, most likely because they're a large corporation and as we all know, everything large corporations do is due to their innate capacity for evil. Or something like that.

      It doesn't matter if you distribute the code as part of a product that makes money or if you use it internally. If you slap an Apache license header on GPL code, you're violating the GPL.

      Legally, sure. From an

  • by arcsimm (1084173) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @05:05PM (#34967402)
    The files discovered in the Android code repository are unequivocally Oracle's IP, with an inappropriately modified license. This means, that for these at least, Google is almost certainly liable for infringement. However, since none of those files ever went into an Android handset, their presence, in a legal sense, is most likely completely irrelevant with regards to Oracle's main aim, which is to extract court-mandated royalties from Google and/or handset manufacturers for each Android device they produce. It would be like the RIAA trying to collect royalties on music that I wrote and produced on my own, because they found pirated music on one of my computers.

    Does that sound about right, or am I way off-base here?
  • But I've already based an entire wikipedia article on that info!

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @10:43PM (#34969706) Homepage

    As some have noted, having the files in the source they distributed is a possible copyright violation, even if the files aren't actually put on Android devices. And as others have noted, the liability would just fall on Google, not on the vendors of Android devices, and the damages would likely be small, so these copyright claims won't be a noticeable money maker for Oracle even if true.

    I believe that Oracle doesn't really care much about the alleged copyright violations. They are just in there as a trial tactic. What Oracle is banking on are the patents. Throwing in the copyright claims does two things that are good for Oracle and bad for Google.

    First, there is much that is subjective when it comes to patent infringement. Both sides will present as part of their cases an argument for what damages should be. Oracle will have an expert showing how Google should have to pay an astronomical amount. Google will have an expert arguing that if Google is found to have infringed, the damages should be very small. Determining which damage number to believe is rather subjective (and the jury will be able to go for something in between, too).

    The jury will take into account, at least subconsciously, what they think of Google and Oracle. They can't avoid doing this--they are human beings, and that's how humans work. If Oracle can show that Google violated copyrights and patents, that will tend to make the jury see Google in a more negative light than if they just violated patents. Google will want to be seen, if found to infringe the patents, as a company that takes IP seriously and tried hard to not step on Oracle's rights, and the patent infringement was accidental. Oracle wants Google to be seen as a company with wanton disregard for other's IP.

    Second, each side has limited time for its case. Some courts even go so far as to use chess clocks to track each side. Oracle can present a prima facie case for copyright infringement pretty quickly. Name some files. Show that they are the copyright owners. Show that they have registered the copyrights. Put up on the projector some diffs showing their files and Google's alleged copies. Point out the massive similarities. Sit down. Now Google gets to stand up, explain the concept of Java boilerplate code to the jury. Take them through the files showing that the commonalities are in boilerplate. For those things not in boilerplate, explain what they are doing and how there are just a few well-known good ways to do them and so it is quite likely different programmers would come up with the same structure. Explain naming conventions and show that they might reasonably even pick the same names.

    Note that Google's defense of the copyright issues is likely to take longer to present than Oracle's accusation. If Oracle can spend 10 minutes on it, and Google needs 90 to respond, that's a damn good investment by Oracle. It's 90 minutes less time for Google to spend attacking the validity of Oracle's patents, or trying to show Google doesn't infringe, or to spend on a good closing argument to cement their case.

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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