Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Google Oracle The Courts

The Case For Oracle 341

An anonymous reader writes "In a lucid writeup, InfoWorld's Neil McAllister takes a different angle on the Oracle-Google lawsuit, giving an explanation why Oracle was right to sue Google. McAllister argues that Google is splintering the Java platform, just like Microsoft was doing back in the 90s, and should be held up to the same standards. He further cites Google's Josh Bloch calling for Oracle to take a lead role in steering Java, concluding that Bloch maybe 'should have been more careful what he wished for.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Case For Oracle

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:26PM (#33332310)

    By this logic SCO was also right to sue IBM or whoever. Those bastards splintered SCO's "property" after all!

    Whether or not SCO had a case for copyright infringement or not was never tested in court because it turned out that they did not in fact own the copyrights in question. It may well be that IBM had been putting Unix code into Linux, but we'll never know because SCO had no grounds to sue over it.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:33PM (#33332348) Homepage

    I have to disagree.

    The people who learn and write Java are humans. Writing Java is part of their life and they have a right to continue doing it.

    Much like culture. I think copyright should be limited to 10 years because it's not only *their* music, it's also *my* music. It's my childhood, and it's my culture. I want to re-live it whenever I choose, and I want to pass it on to friends and family if and when I choose.

    Java would have no value if people didn't use it. When people use it, they're investing themselves in it. Java's value thus comes from the users, not only from Sun/Oracle, so the users should have rights to use that thing they contributed to.

  • by liloldme ( 593606 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:43PM (#33332404)

    I stopped reading right where it said Dalvik is Java based. It doesn't even run Java byte codes...

    Is it a requirement for a tech reporter to be completely clueless? Is not doing basic research part of the job requirement?

    Following this logic Google Web Toolkit is "Java-based" too. Nevermind that the whole thing compiles to HTML and JavaScript.

    Just because Google provides language bindings in Java (and is able to cross-compile the Java class libraries to another runtime), does not make Dalvik runtime "Java-based". It does mean Google is able to leverage existing developer base on their new platform though. Smart move.

    What's next, Oracle going to sue GCJ for compiling Java to native?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:52PM (#33332464)

    I don't know why anyone ever suggests this. It would be suicide for Google. The moment they revealed they would even consider blocking search terms in retaliation for anything they're no longer trustworthy as a search engine.

    No, but up until a while ago, they did it when China asked politely.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:06PM (#33332574) Homepage

    This is why this is a patent suit and not a license violation suit.

    The situation is more like Oracle trying to sue Microsoft over dot.net.

  • by boxwood ( 1742976 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:11PM (#33332604)

    They don't offer the embedded version of java for free. And there are a lot of requirements to to get the patent exemptions, ie. cannot implement a subset or a superset of the features in Sun's VM.

    Google basically just wanted to implement a language that a lot of developers were familiar with. Pretty much all the developers of phone apps were familiar with Java, so they implemented a VM similar to Java.

    Java has some similarities to the C++ syntax. They made the Java syntax similar to the C++ syntax because developers were familiar with it. Same goes for C#. If someone owned some patents on C++, should they be allowed to sue Oracle and MS?

    This does not bode well for makers of software development tools. By saying Oracle is allowed to sue anyone for making anything similar to Java means that no one can make a language with similar syntax to Java, and they can't implement libraries similar to Java's. So everyone has to check with a lawyer before they make software tools now. And that may not be enough since I'm sure Google did check with there lawyers while developing Dalvik, and made their best effort to build it so as not to infringe on patents. And they're still getting sued. What hope does anyone else have?

    I know I'm going to steer clear of Java from now on. .Net and Mono seem much safer than Java at this point. At least MS hasn't sued anyone for implementing libraries too similar to what they've implemented.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:16PM (#33332650)

    "write once, run anywhere"

    Want to know how J2ME games deal with fragmentation? There's a different build for each phone. Why? One of the reasons is that the fucking platform pretends that all devices are equal. I can't dynamically check for a detail whose existence the platform doesn't acknowledge.

  • by beakerMeep ( 716990 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:20PM (#33332676)

    Additionally, if you can do it the other way around, then it's really not Java language programming.

    Enter Dalvik, stage left.

    The VM in Android (Dalvik) is said to be a 'clean room' reverse engineering of a JVM and is not an actual JVM. In fact it does not run .class or .jar files but runs .apk and .dex files which are a format compiled from code written in Java (or C, C++, etc). How big of a difference this makes legally is debatable, but there has been precedent and it's in Google's favor.

    See Case law under: Clean room design [wikipedia.org]

    So are you bound by Java licensing if you used it to cross compile into C? What about software that converted all your Java to Ruby? I'm not sure, but food for thought. Could they not just make the case that they are having developers code dex files, but are letting them write those dex files in Java and converting it for them? Sounds very semantic I know but this seems to be what the lawsuit comes down to. If I made a platform with custom apis and functions, could I not tell people that they can code in C# and I will convert their code to my format if they want? To me, neither side has a open and shut case here. The trademark question may only come into play if they wre claiming it as a Java Platform (and using the little coffee cup logo, etc). Simply metioning the name Java isn't infringing a trademark as far as I know.

    The real question are the patents, which look, at a cursory glance, to be ridiculous:

    * Protection Domains to Provide Security in a Computer System (2000)
    * Controlling Access to a Resource (2000)
    * Method and Apparatus for Preprocessing and Packaging Class Files (1999)
    * System and Method for Dynamic Preloading of Classes through Memory Space Cloning of a Master Runtime System Process (2008)
    * Method and Apparatus for Resolving Data References in Generate Code (2003)
    * Interpreting Functions Utilizing a Hybrid of Virtual and Native Machine Instructions (2005)
    * Method and System for Performing Static Initialization (2000)

    I did find it funny though, that Google had criticized Sun in the past for letting Java fall apart amidst (paraphrasing here) a sea of lawsuits and trademark infringement claims.

  • by boxwood ( 1742976 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:23PM (#33332716)

    or Dalvik?

    Actually you never see Google say "Java" without it being immediately followed by either "Programming Language" or "Language Compiler". Anytime there's mention of "virtual machine" its always immediately preceded by "Dalvik".

    I'm not an expert on trademark law, but I'm sure Google has checked with people who are, so it seems that saying "Android has Java" would be a violation, but saying "Android has Dalvik which uses the Java programming language" is not.

    But I guess thats for the courts to decide.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:34PM (#33332798)

    Java isn't some religious manuscript that needs to be kept "pure" so the true believers won't rise up and slay those who would adulterate it. It's a goddamn PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE.

    No, it's a programming language + API. They come as a pair, with optional APIs that can also be added. Nobody who writes in Java thinks of it solely in terms of it being a programming language, in isolation from the large standard APIs. Nobody who writes in Java doesn't know about the foundation classes and packages, like java.lang, and java.io. That was one of the big advantages Java had over C++. Now, Sun did make different versions for particular platforms, but they're the ones who own Java and they can do that -- they probably had their joke of a standards committee vote on and approve them -- where as other companies can't do that.

    For instance, the Java standards body refused a formal request ("JSR", I believe) by an IBM engineer that would have made it possible to use high performance features like SIMD processing on platforms that had such capabilities. When refused, IBM didn't go write a new version of Java that had such capability built-in -- despite the fact they surely have the money and the brainpower to do so -- they instead lived with Java's a gaping hole in performance, despite it being utterly idiotic for Sun to ignore vector processing.

    Google decided for some godawful reason to take Java, a mediocre pseudo-OO language, and write an illegitimate and non-standard version. In every way, this was a stupid decision. They should have seen a lawsuit coming. They should have also been bright enough to know they could have picked another language, or made their own doppleganger-with-a-moustache (e.g., C#) version of it and avoided these problems. And maybe they'd have made something better than Java, to boot.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:54PM (#33332964) Homepage

    Might get even more unpleasant if Oracle will be able to demonstrate (hey, don't dismiss anything in regards to legal system) that the purpose of Dalvik was to appear different enough while doing essentially identical thing, too. You know, law & its intent, letter, etc....

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:08PM (#33333090) Journal

    To be safe, you have to either follow the Java Language Specification exactly (no subsets or supersets),

    Not quite. Supersets are allowed, but only if they do not add anything in the java namespace. For example, you can add a new google.Array class, but you can't add methods to the Array class in the java namespace. The point of this is so that people developing Java applications can assume that anything in the java.* classes on their platform will work on any other platform.

    The problem with Android is that it does implement a load of the java.* namespace, but it is not a complete implementation. This means that code written using portable Java will not always work on Android. I don't think they add anything in the java.* namespace, so you can port apps from android unless they use the android.* stuff.

    This is actually the opposite of what Microsoft did. They added stuff in the java.* namespace, so developers would write apps with J++ that they expected to be portable, but which weren't.

  • What a bunch of morons.

    Dalvik (what android runs) is not Java

    From Ellison's personal journal:

    [X] Screw over Google
    [X] Screw over the Java brand (oops, didn't see that one. Oh well, it was Sun shit anyway).
    [X] Screw over the MySQL brand (it's just a flesh wound, and hey, they can always use Oracle)
    [X] Screw over sparc brand (hardware's a PITA anyway, the real loot is in software)
    [X] Screw over openSolaris (that one felt GOOD!!! Eat your heart out, Balmer. Bet ye killing the KIN wasn't half the fun)
    [_] Screw over OpenOffice.
    [_] Find something else to buy and break. Hmmm, Novell's for sale ...

  • Re:Hey Google (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:39PM (#33333338) Journal

    Pick one ... heck, pick all of them ...

    [1] Java is a bloated piece of crap.
    [2] The runtime takes a lot more memory than dalvik
    [3] Java performance sux
    [4] Java is so 1995

    Seriously, it's about time someone killed it off - who better than Oracle. Thank you Mr. Ellison!

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:49PM (#33333396) Journal

    First, Android runs dalvik, not java. The dalvik runtime will eventually support transcoded javascript, php, python, etc.,

    Second, Oracle is pissed off because google doesn't have to buy a java license - and neither does any other cell phone manufacturer who runs the dalvik vm.

    Third, java is a piece of bloated shit. Just switching to dalvik enabled them to save both memory and cpu cycles.

    Java is dying. This is just another nail in an already-bloated smelly corpse. Get over it.

  • by KonoWatakushi ( 910213 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:14PM (#33333578)

    The purpose of a language is communication, and what Oracle is doing here is no different than censorship. The Java language by itself is completely worthless--its value is entirely derived from the people who express their ideas through it. Why should Oracle have free rein to control their work?

    Targeting Dalvik (which is not a JVM) on an Anrdoid phone is no different than compiling Java with GCJ [wikipedia.org]. If people want to run their code on a different platform, why should Oracle have any right to stop them?

    The reality is that they don't. In the end, this is about the abuse of software patents, and you can't support Oracle here without supporting software patents. However you feel about Google, it isn't right to be cheering for a patent troll.

  • by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:16PM (#33334148) Homepage

    However, using another language will present all kinds of issues - which language do they use?

    Why not JavaScript? It's extremely well-known, Google already has an excellent implementation (V8), and it is free of licensing worries.

    WebOS went that route, I'm surprised Google didn't, especially given that Google's livelihood is the Web.

  • by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:20PM (#33334198) Homepage
    I agree. I guess Google went with Java because mobile phone devs were already familiar with Java (ME), but by not partnering with Sun on that, they took a big risk. Exactly the risk Novell would be taking with Mono had they not made the Novell-Microsoft pact. (Of course, we in the FOSS community didn't like that pact for other reasons. But it made sense for Novell, as far as Mono goes at least.)

    If Google wasn't willing to partner with Sun on Java (maybe because Google wanted a pure FOSS implementation, without Sun having a privileged position?) then Google should have ditched Java and gone with JavaScript or Python. But again, I guess they didn't because Java was the easy route. Since then though we've seen WebOS with JavaScript.
  • by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @08:17PM (#33335892)

    Oh, I have countless examples too. I do also know that there is a very large Java eco-system still very much alive. The reason why Java 7 is taking so long is because it is not only fully GPL'ed (replacing some libs) but also because of the long discussions on what should be in there.

    I do fully agree that the JSR method of doing things can be overly frustrating. But all in all, it still does not mean in any way that Java is dead. Just take a look at the Eclipse & Glassfish communities, for instance. There is a lot of stuff happening there.

    Generics are IMHO far from perfect, but they did have to be bolted on an existing language - and they are still very very usable. Personally, I do think it is time for a new language too, but I haven't seen one that has been written to replace Java as such. A strong focus on maintainability & security is what makes Java so suitable for EE and even things like Android (class loaders and such). That's something I am missing in many (all?) new languages. Most new languages still focus on sparseness and so called "strong language features" which just make them easier to write and harder to understand.

  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:53PM (#33336708) Homepage

    Oracle appears to want to just destroy Android. If their motive was to not fork/split Java, they would try to work with Google to resolve the situation, not try to force all use of Android to cease and completely annihilate the platform.

    What Oracle is doing seems to be the doings of a madman, not someone who wants to make a genuine positive difference. There is nothing good that can come out of destroying Android.

    I wonder if Apple is secretly behind this?

  • I wonder if Apple is secretly behind this?

    Where have you been the last week? Of course Apple has a hand in it - Ellison and Jobs are buddy-buddy.

    However, that's not the point. Destroying Java is a good thing. Google would certainly benefit, since Android isn't Java, so Ellison may have inadvertently stepped into the biggest pile of dogsh*t in tech history.

    Look through the threads - until last week, anyone trash-talking java was mod-bombed. Now? Even long-time java users are admitting that java is bloated, slow, stupid, causes bad breath and carbuncles and can make you go blind ....

    Google didn't set out to destroy Java, but Ellison has pretty much trashed everything else he got from Sun (OpenSolaris is dead, Solaris is dying, Sparc is dying, MySQL is under a cloud, virtualbox licensing has changed for the worse) so why not also fatally wound java at the same time and be done with it. Then he can go an look for something else to destroy.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak