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Google used source files from Apache's Java project, despite appearing to have known that those files were illegally lifted without license from Sun's Java source.  (Source: Oracle via Engadget)
A total of 37 Android source files are exact or near-exact copies; Oracle (owner of Java) is suing

Google smartphones are the hottest things since sliced bread, but that may not do much to save Google from getting battered by rival software developer Oracle in the courts.  Oracle has sued Google, accusing it of including open source projects in Android that illegally copy proprietary source code from Sun Microsystems, Inc., a subsidiary of Oracle Corp. and makers of Java.

Strangely Google seemed to almost admit this when responding to the lawsuit, indicating that it knew the Apache version of Java it used was untested with Sun's Technology Compatibility Kit and thus did not have the rights to the decompiled Sun Java source code it used.  Google admitted to use the Apache code in Android anyways, complaining in the response that Sun and Oracle are trying to destroy openness by preventing licensing of open implementations Java source.  In an 

Now Florian Mueller, who runs the FOSSpatents blog, has offered up a whopping 43 more files that appear to be directly taken from Sun/Oracle without permission.  Six of the files belong in the adjacent directory to the copied files Sun/Oracle identified and displayed in court documents.  Another 37 files elsewhere in the Android source were directly copied from the Mobile Media API, which Google may not have had the rights to use.

While past copyright litigation against the firm and its partners (for example Apple's lawsuit against HTC) seemed unreasonable and tenuous, here Google appears to have knowingly used code that was owned by someone else, then justified that action by saying it didn't like the current licensing situation.

Google will likely play innocent and argue that Android is free and open, so it can't pay exorbitant court fines for infringing on Sun's property.  But, in reality Google is leveraging its dominant position in the mobile phone industry to raking in hundreds of millions in mobile advertising dollars.  After all -- Google Search is free, Gmail is free, Google Docs is free, and Android is free, but the company still seems to be making a whole lot of money.

Updated 1/21/2011

ZDNET’s Ed Burnett has posted an article in response to Florian Mueller’s analysis and has concluded that Google is in the clear in this case.

The second set of 37 files is actually zipped up into one file called MMAPI.zip and tucked away in a directory used for native code audio drivers for one particular type of chip set. Florian really had to go digging for this one. I double-checked the make files and it’s clear this file is not shipped with Android either. Somebody uploaded it by mistake and it should simply be deleted.



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Lame
By joex444 on 1/21/2011 4:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
... Lame. Why should source code be protected like art? If anything, source code is most similar to an algorithm which is in essence a series of mathematical steps.

As a physicist, I can't copyright an equation. I hope for it to reach textbooks and be standard knowledge!




RE: Lame
By amanojaku on 1/21/2011 4:38:09 PM , Rating: 5
You can't copyright equations because they are not human constructs. You get awards for discovering the fundamental workings of existence, and that's it.

Source code is a human construct. Multiple versions of code can accomplish the same thing, but with varying levels of efficiency. It takes a lot of work to write code that does what you want, exactly how you want it. The specific implementation is what gets copyrighted.


RE: Lame
By Ammohunt on 1/21/2011 4:58:19 PM , Rating: 1
I agree; while i am all for FOSS i still believe that people should have the option to protect their IP. Everyone can dig a ditch with their hands but but I am sure glad someone took the time and resources to invent the back hoe; money well spent for ditch diggers to increase your efficiency 100 fold.


RE: Lame
By Da W on 1/22/2011 11:22:12 AM , Rating: 3
Knowledge is cumulative and builds upon the knowledge of others. While it makes sence to protect a finished product, like copywriting Windows, protecting bits and bolts of source code can hinder innovation, the very mechanisim IP laws are supposed to promote.


RE: Lame
By vol7ron on 1/23/2011 5:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if Oracle contacted Google before making accusations and doing the whole court route.


RE: Lame
By Ammohunt on 1/24/2011 3:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
Thats very different than saying all software copyrights are bad e.g. RMS and Gnu.


RE: Lame
By nafhan on 1/21/2011 5:05:58 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, "code" and "equations" are both algorithms outlining steps to accomplish a specific process, and both are bound by the rules of math and logic. The amount of work that goes into something is irrelevant to the discussion. Typing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" thousands of times is a lot of work, but all it does is make your wife question your sanity.
I could come up with a lot more similarities, but I'd say the biggest difference is that courts have decided that code is copyrightable while "math" is not.


RE: Lame
By amanojaku on 1/21/2011 5:32:20 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with your other comment about IP wholeheartedly.

However, the amount of work that goes into something is not completely irrelevant. It's true that one can waste time, but it is also true that complex things take a lot of time to do. The is part of the reason service providers charge you for time and materials (T&M). Or why some employers pay by the hour/day/week/etc...


RE: Lame
By nafhan on 1/21/2011 5:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
Don't take my other statement to mean that I think IP should not be protected in any way. My feeling is that IP protection is important to encourage development of new technology, but the current implementation (and especially methods of enforcement) has serious problems.
Unfortunately, it's also a complex problem, and I don't think anyone really has a "proper" solution to it :(


RE: Lame
By rs2 on 1/24/2011 6:23:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can't copyright equations because they are not human constructs. You get awards for discovering the fundamental workings of existence, and that's it.


Your point starts to fall apart when you consider the fact that patents (which are not very different from copyrights) can be awarded for gene sequences. Just because something comprises "the fundamental workings of existence" doesn't mean it can't be hidden away from others at will under our current legal paradigm.

Thus the poster's point is still valid. If he can't copyright a basic physics equation, maybe others shouldn't be able to copyright trivial bits and pieces of code. Hell, judging from the image included with the article, some of this copyrighted code is doing nothing more complex than concatenating strings of text together. Does something so mundane really need a copyright? Has anyone's livelihood been threatened by Google using their string concatenation code instead of spending the 5 minutes it would take to write something comparable from scratch?


RE: Lame
By HrilL on 1/24/2011 11:35:09 AM , Rating: 3
A lot of those Gene patents were thrown out because they are in fact naturally occurring. Courts have ruled that you can not in fact patent a Gene. Or even a modified one. You could potentially patent only the modification though.


RE: Lame
By DEVGRU on 1/21/2011 4:38:40 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
... Lame. Why should source code be protected like art? If anything, source code is most similar to an algorithm which is in essence a series of mathematical steps. As a physicist, I can't copyright an equation. I hope for it to reach textbooks and be standard knowledge!


Yes, but you're a sane individual with common sense - pretty much the polar opposite of a corporate lawyer and current patent laws.


RE: Lame
By Motoman on 1/21/2011 5:09:06 PM , Rating: 4
No, you both appear to be people who think the labors of other people should be make public domain and that said laborers deserve no compensation for their work.


RE: Lame
By rs2 on 1/24/2011 6:33:46 AM , Rating: 2
You're halfway there. The labors of other people should be made public domain (particularly in cases where they open up the inner workings of their labors by doing things like open-sourcing them), that part is a given. Too much value is lost if people are allowed to squat on their good ideas for the 80 years or whatever needlessly long span of time it is that copyright allows for.

But said laborers absolutely do deserve compensation for their work, and said compensation should come from the public, in an amount that is directly proportional to the popularity of the work. If you come up with something that millions of people copy and use, then you deserve to get rich off of it. But you don't deserve the authority to say how those people are allowed to use that thing you made that they all copied. Particularly in cases where the author deliberately exposes the internals of their work to the entire world, as with open-source software.

You wan't to keep control of your work? Then don't make its inner workings a matter of public knowledge. Want to have the inner workings be a matter of public knowledge anyways? Then accept that by doing so you forfeit your right to exert control over how people make use of your work. A little common sense could go a long way here.


RE: Lame
By wallijonn on 1/24/2011 10:18:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you come up with something that millions of people copy and use, then you deserve to get rich off of it.


The "You" in this case is a corporation, not an individual. At the very least it is a team of programmers, none of which have the right of ownership of the finished product. As such what is being quibbled about are licensing fees. Google may not have liked the rate, and now it may have to pay even more than if they had paid the royalties.


RE: Lame
By HrilL on 1/24/2011 11:42:41 AM , Rating: 1
Sun was supposed to and promised to open source this code before Oracle bought them. Oracle changed what Sun was going to do. Also Oracle claimed they wouldn't attack the open source community before they got EU Commission and DOJ/FTC approval. They didn't keep their word. I say screw them and their lies.


RE: Lame
By semiconshawn on 1/21/2011 4:53:58 PM , Rating: 2
Right why should a company spend billions on writing software and then just not give it away? Better yet everyone else can just take it they dont even have to give it away. Its not protected like art its protected like IP because it is. 1 billion lines of code in an OS is not exactly the same as an equation in a text book.


RE: Lame
By joedon3 on 1/21/2011 5:01:50 PM , Rating: 3
True... but 37 lines of code in 1 billion is hardly stealing their work... It'd be like using the same color as Picaso and getting sued for it.


RE: Lame
By Hyperion1400 on 1/21/2011 9:28:57 PM , Rating: 3
37 files, not 37 lines. With that many files we may be looking at anywhere from a few hundred to 10,000+ lines of code.

But, Steve Jobs should take note! THIS is what a REAL copyright lawsuit should look like!


RE: Lame
By Flunk on 1/21/2011 4:53:58 PM , Rating: 3
Computer algorithms are also considered art. Computers are not like Physics because there are many different ways to get to s specific end, it's not a science of discover but of creation. That makes it art.

But don't get me started on software patents, those just don't make any sense.


RE: Lame
By erple2 on 1/21/2011 6:38:26 PM , Rating: 1
Clearly, you've never seen good source code.


"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007














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