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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 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.


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