Feeds

Oracle wants another go at Google over Android Java copyrights

'You wouldn't steal a Harry Potter book...'

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Oracle in the right? Not likely

Needless to say, there is more than one side to Oracle's argument. For starters, the notion that copyright protects "even a Chinese menu or jingle" is questionable. The US Copyright Office clearly states that copyright law does not protect "names, titles, short phrases or expressions," including "catchwords, catchphrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions."

Also not protected are "listings of ingredients, as in recipes, labels, or formulas." Along those lines, Judge Alsup's original ruling found that because there was really only one way to write the declarative code of the Java APIs, the fact that Google's declarative code was identical to Oracle's was not evidence of copyright infringement.

"When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression," Judge Alsup wrote.

What's more, although software code is protected under copyright, copyright law does not grant any exclusive right to how the software operates. In the landmark Atari Games Corp. v. Nintendo of America Inc. case of 1992, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals explicitly ruled that "the expression adopted by the programmer is the copyrightable element in a computer program, and ... the actual processes or methods embodied in the program are not within the scope of the copyright law."

To protect those processes and methods, Oracle would need to turn to patent law. But the jury in the original trial found that Google had not infringed either of the patents Oracle had asserted in the suit, leaving the question of copyright the only arrow left in Oracle's quiver.

Little wonder, then, that Oracle isn't letting go of the copyright issue without a fight, given that it had originally asked for as much as $6bn in damages for Google's alleged copyright infringement.

Oracle: 'Desperate' Google knew it had to steal or die

In the brief filed on Monday, Oracle further argues that Google's use of the Java code violates the terms of the various licenses under which Oracle offers the code – of which there are three. But all three licenses depend on copyright to give them weight. If the specific material that Google used was not protected by copyright, as Judge Alsup ruled, then the licenses carry no validity.

Nonetheless, Oracle's brief paints Google as a "desperate" company that "was fully aware" that it needed to obtain a Java license from Sun Microsystems – and later Oracle, after Oracle bought Sun – but rejected that option when it could not get approval to use a nonstandard Java implementation in Android.

Oracle claims Google faced a "grave threat" from the burgeoning mobile web, adding that "just about every smartphone carrier" at the time used Sun's Java Mobile Edition (ME) – a description of the market that conveniently ignores Apple and the iPhone.

Because it risked losing its market dominance to mobile search, Oracle contends, Google needed a mobile platform of its own, and building one "had to be done yesterday." As a result, Oracle says, Google "cherry-picked the good stuff from Java" and worked with "super shady" foreign contractors to "paraphrase" Oracle's code. The result, it says, was Android.

Mind you, Oracle gave versions of all of these arguments in the original trial, and neither the jury nor Judge Alsup bought them then. The database giant spends much of the rest of its brief arguing that this was a gross miscarriage of justice and that its own view is the correct one. We'll see whether the Appeals Court agrees.

When El Reg contacted Google for its take on the matter, the online ad-slinger declined to comment, but it is expected to file its own brief in reply to Oracle's arguments by March 28. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?
Wait 'til this one hits your pension fund where it hurts
Systems meltdown plunges US immigration courts into pen-and-paper stone age
Massive outage could last four weeks, sources claim
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
UK.gov chucks £28m at F1 tech for buses and diggers plan
Well, not really F1 but who's heard of LMP and VLN*?
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.