Judge Droid: Android In Hot Water Over “Hot” Java Code

This image described by Oracle Google lawsuit, Android lawsuit, Google Android lawsuit, Judge-droid Oops, maybe this WAS the droid they were looking for…

Oracle is currently in the middle of a multi-megaton copyright-infringement suit against Google over the Android OS — and the latter's defense took a major hit when tech blogger Florian Mueller's FOSSpatents unearthed damning evidence that Android is actually chock-full of source code either with Oracle/Sun copyright notices on it, or merely decompiled from Java 2 Standard Edition and redistributed under the Apache open source license without permission.

As a followup, Engadget weighed in on the imbroglio — specifically the issue raised by other blogs that the files and code in question are test/unimportant files that probably don't actually ship with Android.  Engadget's take?  Technically, they may in fact NOT be important — but legally, oh HELLS yeah:

From a legal perspective, it seems very likely that these files create increased copyright liability for Google, because the state of our current copyright law doesn't make exceptions for how source code trees work, or whether or not a script pasted in a different license, or whether these files made it into handsets. The single most relevant legal question is whether or not copying and distributing these files was authorized by Oracle, and the answer clearly appears to be "nope" — even if Oracle licensed the code under the GPL. Why? Because somewhere along the line, Google took Oracle's code, replaced the GPL language with the incompatible Apache Open Source License, and distributed the code under that license publicly. That's all it takes — if Google violated the GPL by changing the license, it also infringed Oracle's underlying copyright. It doesn't matter if a Google employee, a script, a robot, or Eric Schmidt's cat made the change — once you've created or distributed an unauthorized copy, you're liable for infringement.

It's still too early to call the full ramifications of the suit, but if Oracle wins — and it looks like they may have a .45 caliber smoking gun here — they could demand, and get, a per-handset royalty on every Android handset sold


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