Thursday, April 19, 2012

EWEEK: Android Threatened By Oracle Lawsuit Requiring Java Licence

Google could be in a lot of trouble over Android's use of Java without going to get a licence for it from Oracle which own it now.

Google's Larry Page gave a pretty lame answer to the judge, taking "the better part of an hour to admit with a definitive no that his company didn't take out a license for using Java application programming interfaces". He said he thought they didn't need a licence for "public domain" elements, but Microsoft already had gotten burned enough that they now scan ALL of the software they sell to make sure there isn't any java in it.

Disclosure - I worked on one of the first API copyright cases, Mosaic Twin which copied the user interface and menu / macro "API" of Lotus 1-2-3 without using any of the code though I figured a lot of the algorithms and data structues that it took to make an effective program without having to decompile anything. Mosaic lost at first, but Borland later won the idea that the API itself can't be copyrighted - a program using the API can be copyrighted, but not the language itself. This case looks like it is about using the actual code as much as the API, where copyright is still a bit muddy since the open source projects also ape the API.

1: CEO Page Says He Didn't Believe Google Needed Java License

From yahoo search

  1. he added that Google ultimately felt it didn't need one, because, he said, Google only used elements of the Java programming language that are freely ... - Cached

  1. Home Enterprise Applications News & Reviews CEO Page Says He Didn't Believe Google Needed Java License
    "We only used elements of the Java programming language that are freely available in the public domain," Page told presiding Judge William Alsup and a 12-person jury in the copyright trial.

    It took Google CEO Larry Page the better part of an hour to admit with a definitive "no" that his company didn't take out a license for using Java application programming interfaces, but the company co-founder also contended in court April 18 that at the time his company didn't believe it needed one in its development plan for Android.
    Page testified on Day 3 of the Oracle v. Google copyright and patent trial in federal court in San Francisco. Oracle is charging Google with stealing parts of its Java software to help build its highly successful Android mobile device operating system and is seeking about $1 billion in damages.
    "I'm not sure whether or not we got a license to anything," Page told presiding Judge William Alsup and a 12-person jury. "We only used elements of the Java programming language that are freely available in the public domain.

  1. Licensing and Distribution FAQs This page provides answers to some frequently asked questions about Java software distribution and Java software license. - Cached

  1. Google: Don't need license to use Java in Android The writer has posted comments on this article Bloomberg | Apr 18, 2012, 10.17AM IST - Cached
Summary: Google CEO Larry Page evades questioning from Oracle’s legal team over how much knowledge he had in regards to discussions about Java licensing ... - Cached

CNET: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison: I don’t know if Java is free
Oracle attorney David Boies asked Page if he knew if some of Google’s developers did have access to some intellectual property related to Java. Page replied, “I don’t know anything about that.”
Boise then pointedly asked Page, “Is it your testimony that you are unaware that certain lines of code in Android were copied symbol-for-symbol from Sun’s intellectual property?”
Page replied that he knew there were “some disputes” about files, and that he once discussed this with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, asking for a copy of this information. Page asserted that he never received it because such evidence must not have been substantial enough.
This cat-and-mouse pattern continued as Boies questioned Page, “If you discovered that Android included some lines of code that had been literally copied from Sun’s intellectual property, do you think that would be a violation of Google policy?”
Boies similarly asked, “Is there any circumstance that you could think of that is consistent with a clean-room where you could have line-for-line copying and be consistent with Google standards?”
To both questions, Page responded that it’s hard to answer about hypothetical situations, but that such cases would be taken seriously, and he doesn’t see any reason as to why such a circumstance wouldn’t be possible.

shows Google's Android guy did propose taking a licence from Sun, who owned Java at the time :

Oracle attorney David Boies focused on a particular presentation on July 25, 2005, listing “Must take license from Sun” as one of the bullet points of the agenda.
The argument back and forth between Boies and Page was to determine whether or not this presentation was written and led by Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google (a.k.a. the father of Android), and his team.
To back up Oracle’s argument over whether or not Google executives discussed Java-related licenses, Boies presented this email sent from Rubin to Page shortly after the meeting:
My proposal is that we take a license that’s specifically grants the right for us to open source our product. We’ll pay Sun for the licensee and the TCK. Before we release our product to open source community we’ll make sure our JVM (Java Virtual Machine) passes all TCK certification tests so that we don’t create fragmentation. Before a product gets brought to market a manufacturer will have to be a Sun licensee, pay appropriate royalties, and pass the TCK again.
Sun has already permitted open source VM projects in non mobile areas — areas where they didn’t have a well defined revenue stream. Apache is an example.

This is what wikipedia says about licensing:

Looks like wasn't open source / free until fairly recently, and still not clear from this article if it ever made that transition. Safe thing to do would have been to get a licence.

The source code for Sun's implementations of Java (that is the de-facto reference implementation) has been available for some time, but until recently the license terms severely restricted what could be done with it without signing (and generally paying for) a contract with Sun. As such these terms did not satisfy the requirements of either the Open Source Initiative or the Free Software Foundation to be considered open source or free software, Sun Java was therefore a proprietary platform.[26]
While several third-party projects (e.g. GNU Classpath and Apache Harmony) created free software partial Java implementations, the large size of the Sun libraries combined with the use of clean room methods meant that their implementations of the Java libraries (the compiler and VM are comparatively small and well defined) were incomplete and not fully compatible. These implementations also tended to be far less optimized than Sun's.[citation needed]

[edit] Free software

Sun announced in JavaOne 2006 that Java would become free and open source software,[27] and on October 25, 2006, at the Oracle OpenWorld conference, Jonathan I. Schwartz said that the company was set to announce the release of the core Java Platform as free and open source software within 30 to 60 days.[28]
Sun released the Java HotSpot virtual machine and compiler as free software under the GNU General Public License on November 13, 2006, with a promise that the rest of the JDK (that includes the JRE) would be placed under the GPL by March 2007 ("except for a few components that Sun does not have the right to publish in source form under the GPL").[29] According to Richard Stallman, this would mean an end to the "Java trap".[30] Mark Shuttleworth called the initial press announcement, "A real milestone for the free software community".[31]
Sun released the source code of the Class library under GPL on May 8, 2007, except some limited parts that were licensed by Sun from 3rd parties who did not want their code to be released under a free software and open-source license.[32] Some of the encumbered parts turned out to be fairly key parts of the platform such as font rendering and 2D rasterising, but these were released as open-source later by Sun (see OpenJDK Class library).
Sun's goal is to replace the parts that remain proprietary and closed-source with alternative implementations and make the class library completely free and open source. A third party project called IcedTea has created a completely free and highly usable JDK by replacing encumbered code with either stubs or code from GNU Classpath. IcedTea is currently available on Fedora 7 and Ubuntu.
In June 2008, it was announced that IcedTea6 (as the packaged version of OpenJDK on Fedora 9) has passed the Technology Compatibility Kit tests and can claim to be a fully compatible Java 6 implementation.[33]

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