updated 09:50 pm EST, Fri January 21, 2011
Android Java file study hurts Google's chances
A dispute erupting over the legitimacy of claims that Google more directly copied Oracle code in Android may have been settled on Friday with a study. Following assertions that the files were just for testing and in some cases had already been deleted, Engadget's Nilay Patel argued that the technical issues were irrelevant and the files' very existence could make Google liable. Even if removed from the current code tree, inserted automatically or absent from current phones, the attempts to change the licenses may have violated Oracle's copyrights.
"Somewhere along the line, Google took Oracle's code, replaced the GPL [licensing] language with the incompatible Apache Open Source License, and distributed the code under that license publicly," Patel said. "That's all it takes -- if Google violated the GPL by changing the license, it also infringed Oracle's underlying copyright."
Even outside of the contested code, Oracle has already pointed to more direct examples that it contended were direct copies of the Java technology it owns following the Sun buyout. Google has accused Oracle of misrepresenting code to artificially strengthen its lawsuit, but the discoveries on Friday of raw details could leave it with few defenses.
Oracle in its lawsuit against Google has been pushing for royalties from every Android phone shipped and could significantly hike the prices of each unit sold. The findings could also damage Google's reputation if it's thought to have created its open-source code by using material without permission.