Monday, 16 April 2012

Android copyright infringement case in California

Today, Oracle and Google face each other in court in San Francisco. Here is the story on the FT website. Oracle allege that Google needed a licence to use Java in its Android operating system, so it has infringed copyright. Java is even available as open-source software, so Google did not need even to pay a licence fee - except that the viral effect of open-source licensing would have infected (in the nicest possible way) Android.

Google prefers to keep the Android "ecosystem" (another of those ubiquitous metaphors!) closed, so developers can (as Lex puts it in the FT today) check in but they can't check out. It goes against the ethos of Java, which was designed to work across platforms - in many ways, a paragon of openness. Commentators (again, Lex) find it odd that Oracle of all people should be banging the openness drum - a view that needs to be updated, surely, now that Oracle is the provider of OpenOffice, a superb piece of software that should overturn the world order ... Even so (again, as Lex observes) Google have surely done the Java community a huge favour by providing such a popular platform for which they can develop apps that will be readily adapted to "proper" Java. A strange basis for a law suit.

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