Oracle wins Appeal against Google in Copyright showdown

Posted by  $  blarman 1 year, 8 months ago to Technology
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This is a big deal because it gets at the heart of whether or not someone may profit from another's copyrighted code - even if they sell it for free and derive their revenue from other sources (avertising).

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  • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 8 months ago
    This is incredibly complicated. Java was originally developed by Sun Microsystems in the hopes of providing a universal platform that lots of systems would use. It was freely available although they did get into some scraps with Microsoft when Microsoft made non-standard extensions to it in the hopes of breaking the "one platform" paradigm designed to break Microsoft's hold on operating systems.

    Sun's position was clear: everyone was free to use the Jave software for free -- so long as they didn't change it. They needed to maintain compatibility to maintain their market strategy.

    Encouraged by this "everyone use it, but don't change it" strategy, Android inc began developing the Android OS in 2003, undoubtedly using Java because of Sun's philosophy of making it freely available.

    In 2005 Google bought android inc and begin enhancing the android product with many of the founders continuing to work on it. Google invested heavily and made it a freely available platform which is why so many devices picked it as their OS. So, Sun succeeded in making the Microsoft killer they planned -- sort of.

    In 2009 Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and became the owner of Java.

    Did Android inc. improperly profit from Sun's copyrighted code or were they doing exactly what Sun wanted -- everyone should use Java -- as long as they maintain compatibility.

    Having lived through all this I can't really say. I'm also uncertain as to the degree to which Oracle the purchasor Sun Microsystems can retroactively change the nature of how use is encouraged.

    Android did follow the original dictum that Sun fought Microsoft over. Java remains compatibile -- in fact you can download it from Oracle for free for your Android.

    So did they pervert the license or has the new purchaser with a different corporate philosophy decided to renege on promises at least implied by the predecessor.?

    I can't say, but I bet the story isn't over yet.
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    • Posted by  $  1 year, 8 months ago
      All you say is true, but the heart of the matter is simply: did one company financially benefit from the products of another's labor without their permission? The first court said no, the second court said yes (but this is also California). My bet is that it will be appealed to the Supreme Court.
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      • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 8 months ago
        Yes that's certainly true but the "permission" becomes vague when neither of the companies involved actually were the ones making the initial decisions on design platform.

        Can Oracle change it's mind about how software is allowed to be used and make another company abandon years worth of development that were done in good faith?

        If I say, "go ahead and use this software" and you do, and years later become very succesful can I say, "well, I ddn't mean you could use it that extensively?"
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        • Posted by  $  1 year, 8 months ago
          Upon further review, it appears that the primary argument lies in copyright usage and "acceptable use". If you look at the lawsuit, Google didn't assert that it had complete permission to use Java. It asserted that its use qualified as "acceptable use" because they weren't getting directly paid for it. In legal parlance, this is a big deal because it removes permission - either inferred from Sun's use or explicit from Oracle - from the equation entirely. Oracle's assertion was that while they had the permission to use the platform, Google's use included the intentional direct copying of basic code - not their own developments. This was probably key to the court's decision, because it would display not acceptable use, but outright copying. I don't have the details on what exactly was alleged to have been copied, so I can't evaluate the argument itself.
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