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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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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.


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