37-43 Android Source Files Copied Line for Line From Java; Oracle Licks Their Lips


Just when you thought Oracle didn’t have a case to sue Google for patent infringement, software patent blog FOSSPatents dug up a shocking-yet-not-so-shocking revelation: 43 source files that were written specifically for Java turn up in Android’s source code. The issue here isn’t that Google “borrowed” that source code. Nor does the new heft of it give that much more weight to the case in question.

No, the real cause of concern is that Google apparently took files marked as proprietary and redistributed and relicensed them under Apache – something that Google and their partners could get into tons of trouble for. I’m not going to pretend that the 47 pages of evidence interest me – nor will I pretend I completely understand what rights and laws have been violated exactly – but those juicy details can be had by clicking this link. What I’m waiting for is a response from either Oracle or Google. This could get ugly. [via Engadget]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Oracle probably isn’t going to back done from this one. Google may have a little reckoning to do…

  2. But since Google doesn’t SELL Android, you’d think that would reduce the dollar amount, compared to if they sold Android.

  3. Wow, I’m quite speechless. Google just took a bunch of proprietary source codes wholesales and threw it under a new license? Of Course, unless Oracle wants to force ‘shut down’ Android, they’ll be getting a bucketload of cash.

    But seriously. Google. Why stoop so low? It’s not even funny when your code’s header once had

    * @(#)PolicyNodeImpl.java 1.10 03/12/19
    * Copyright 2004 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All rights reserved.
    * SUN PROPRIETARY/CONFIDENTIAL. Use is subject to license terms.

    I’m sorry, I really cannot defend Google this time around… :\

  4. From what I understood, Google used Harmony as the base for Dalvik VM.
    Apache made harmony so therefore it was under the APACHE license. I’d say this article is pretty inaccurate.
    Way to spread the FUD.

  5. Open Source? More like Open Sores! ;)

  6. @Austin

    They do Licensing Deals for ‘official ROMs’ which allows them to use Google Services which was the case-in-point with Cynogen. So they do profit from it directly rather than indirectly such as search (Which will be harder to claim).

    In addition, I would believe that the ‘big money’ from this case is the infringement of proprietary source codes multiplied by how many is out there… That is probably what Oracle is looking for. Ouch!

  7. Do no evil? muahahahaha

  8. Doesnt matter if they sell it or not. Im not allowed to copy and distribute code. Its still a no-no

  9. Good artists copy, great artists steal.

    Sound familiar?

  10. “nor will I pretend I completely understand what rights and laws have been violated exactly”… And neither does the writer of the previous article.. let the courts decide.. Sun did NOT own every file written in JAVA, nor does Oracle own every file written in JAVA.. as SUN had made JAVA open source, I think we have to hold off judgment on these particular “line for line” files until we know their origin.. which for all we know is legitimate.

  11. Only thing is an wondering if this was the doing of some people who didn’t think that they would get caught by just copying the code instead of rewriting it and modifying slightly.

  12. Java is the worst language ever, I mean the fact that android game developers want to write in native, speaks a lot to this. I’m glad the makers of Java are b!tch slapping Google for trying to base an operating system on it. :)

  13. The example is a common Java function part of the core Java API… Android is built using Java and Android (and the apps that are build for Android) have default access to “toString” and other Java functions. Why would Android copy that code if it has access to use “toString” directly???

    If Java is open and Android runs on top of it, then Android DOESNT need to “steal code” especially that basic function.

    This is fishy.

  14. This stuff isn’t as shocking as you guys may think. We’re talking about a set of literally millions of lines of code strewn across thousands of files and within that code, some things are pretty vanilla. For instance, using java (which is what android is mostly written in) there are going to be several operations that are going to be the same or at least VERY similar no matter who writes them. Point being, you could take most proprietary software, compare it to some other software, and find nearly identical code.

  15. LOL
    I think someone at google pretended to work for a month or so.

  16. Java is ‘open’ in the same sense that H.264 is ‘open.’ There are open source implementations of the code, and the specifications are freely available. However, there are still rights attached to particular implementations (and probably patents associated with the technology). And it looks like Google did not use the open-source implementations of the Java class library, but took Sun’s proprietary commercial code without licensing it. That could hurt…

  17. Maybe someone figured “hey, this snippet of code does what I want, I’ll just drop it in and remove it later” and then forgot the last four words. Either way, it’s embarrasing for Google but I suspect they will settle out of court. After all, Oracle doesn’t gain anything from forcing Google to shut down, as opposed to a nice wad of wonga if they settle.

  18. It’s a good thing Apple’s iOS source code is “restricted”… who knows how much code is copy/pasted from other copyrighted material. Every programmer copies work found on the internet for personal and business programming projects. Tell me some young programmer working for company isn’t going to find a precoded vector algorithm if he/she needs to create 3D graphics application (=

  19. Keep in mind Google had hired ex-Sun employees who worked on Java, chances are these are the guys who copied the code, and ther is probably a chance they worked on that code while working for Sun. It doesn’t give them a right to use the code, but it may not be as bad as wholesale theft.

    Also this whole thing isn’t about lines of code it is about legal leverage in a court battle about the control of Java.

    I think google should just drop support of Java entirely from their future SDKs. Its a crap language for terrible engineers who can’t properly manage resources, that’s why java vms are such fat hogs.

  20. LOL…SCO’s case against Novell which many of you may not be familiar with looked JUST like this. Code looked to be line for line copies. Guess what. SCO lost. I haven’t looked at the files yet but any dev can tell you theres alot of trivial code thats going to look the same.

    Regardless if this is the end for Android its the end for Oracle Java as well. Either Java is open source or it isn’t. If it is then theres no case here to begin with. If it isn’t you are going to have a crap load of people stop using it.

  21. Enough with the software patents!The most irrational form of patents (alongside with gene patents…)
    We need a movement that demands the abolition of this greedy and restrictive practice.
    1+1=2 cannot be patented…

    More than half of the planet does not recognize the software patents and Sun used to be so open source friendly…

  22. I dunno…I’m getting ready to call FUD on this one. Its looking just like the last ditch SCO efforts. For one the first two files I went through implement interfaces. They are going to have the EXACT same methods and argument types or else they won’t implement the same interface. The interface IS in the Harmony project…haven’t looked for the implementation yet. Then on top of that much of the code in the methods is simple. Its going to look the same. And programmers tend to user standards on platforms so they will use similar if not the same variable names all the time. Thats the whole point of namespacing, to avoid collisions. And the code formatters used to clean up your code are going to line up two pieces of code the exact same way so you can’t go by formatting either. Until theres some non obvious algorithms being copied here (and I don’t see any off the bat) this may stand no better than the SCO case against Novell. It sounds like some anti-Android FUD to me at the moment and not surprising to see Engadget as the first to pick it up. And if Oracle didn’t put this out there with all the lawyers they had crawling all over it there must have been a reason they didn’t.

  23. Wow all this fuss for a toString() method! Get a life!

    Might as well sue anyone who ever made code to open a WAVE file or an AVI, etc, when there is already a standard then there’s only certain ways to do it, period.


  24. im all prepared to be an iFan this summer.

  25. Java isnt complete shit but because oracle owns it theyll abuse it, Gosling even hates them.

  26. Here is the outcome. Google writes a check for untold millions and the issue goes away. Have a nice day. :)

  27. Google will just buy Oracle..

  28. Given that Sun worked closely with Google on this the “truth” may never be known. The courts will decide on what is “right” and we will move on from there. I still consider it bad form on Oracle’s part. Sun was in the habit of patenting as a form of defense against the type of behavior Oracle is now displaying.

  29. <>

    At least, Microsoft and Apple aren’t hiding behind the “Open Source” bullshit. If authors/organization find Apple or Microsoft’s willful infringement they can legally sue and get compensated for the loss. There is no accountability here in Google’s case. However, now I think Oracle has strong case – Google will be forced to license and pay for all the damage incurred. Payback time.. so much for “Don’t be Evil”

  30. Followed the link to original post. Saw the first file example. Saw “package org.apache.harmony”. Stopped reading.

    The OP should document about Apache Harmony…

    And btw, maybe Harmony was a bad choice, but this is similar to Oracle suing HTC (rightfully, but wrong target).

  31. 37 – 43 source files is not a lot for a product of Android’s size. The real question is whether Oracle (we are truly evil) really owns that code. I work in software development. We run our code through a program that checks for copyright infringement and have seen companies copyright code they took from examples shown in a text book or from a web site (including the comments).

    I am also sure that this is more of a vendetta of Larry Ellison. It seems like Google and Sun had a tight working relationship. Eric Schmidt led Sun’s Java development efforts. It looks like Oracle wants to undo that cooperation.

  32. lol well lets see java is open source, all of that is from the java library, there is only so many ways to write a particular line of code, in programing class we were given a problem and had to write the program from scratch, guess what, i would say 75% of all of our programs had the same code….

  33. that doesn’t mean we all cheated though ;)

  34. So other than pulling the OS off the market, what can Sun get out of it? android is free…..unless you go after the advertising revenue indirectly linked to android.

  35. Google, I’m speechless. You need to fix this… Can you guys imagine if a company like Oracle owned Android?

  36. @Covert.. Yes, Java is open source.. Not all of it. Apparently, Google took code from the Java Compiler which is NOT open source.

  37. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve ever written anything in code but I do seem to remember a few basic things. First, coding is pretty much just logical “arguments”. Second, any good coder will boil their arguments down as simple as they can get them. This means you will see a lot of similarities such as Covert’s class found out. Soooo, how many lines out of how many?!? Yeah.

  38. “But since Google doesn’t SELL Android, you’d think that would reduce the dollar amount, compared to if they sold Android.”

    right. Android is a loss leader, so they can make money in advertising. Their advertising profits from android devices will be a target.

  39. The deeper point, as some have mentioned here, is that these sorts of process patents are ridiculous from the very start. There are a lot of geeks waiting for someone to take process patents to the Supreme Court so they can once and for all be disposed of.

    But I suspect this will not be the case that kills process patents. More than likely, Google will throw some money at Oracle–who as others here have pointed out *is* an evil company. Oracle = U.S. government; Google = U.S. corporations. Oracle is so tight with the spooks in Washington that I’m sure there could be a vendetta component…Google’s getting too big, the government needs a way to slap them a little bit…try to humble them…so they have Oracle take a shot…

  40. WHY OH WHY DIDN’T GOOGLE JUST BUY SUN!!!!!! Really – all of this crap is going to cost a lot more than the 1 billion that Oracle picked up Sun for.

  41. zdnet has already debunked this rumor. The “infringing software” was never shipped with Android as was publicly posted by Sun Microsystems to TEST software prior to distribution.

  42. One thing I’ve learned is usually nothing is as it seems especially when reading press stories. I will wait this one out and let the fog clear before passing judgement.

  43. Yeah. Read the ZDNet article. This is not the infringement you’re looking for. Move along.

  44. They’re being sued for copying a toString() method !!! we’re living in a crazy and stupid world

  45. This is typical sensationalist garbage from engarbage. I dont know why every other blog laps up their rubbish.

    Rob, Quentin, please update this article. Oracle got NOTHING on Andy.


  46. “I’m not going to pretend that the 47 pages of evidence interest me – nor will I pretend I completely understand what rights and laws have been violated exactly –” Then try not to post alleged garbage from unreliable sources that is completely unwarranted or wrong. Too many sensational articles wasting our time…

  47. I read another article which CNET claims this source this article is based on is bunk!!!

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