Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

Summary: If open source is not to become just another scam, Google needs to hang tough here. If you're to not be evil, you have to be willing to confront evil.

SHARE:
21

The idea of a patent commons is members don't sue one another over technology covered by the common pool.

The idea of open source is we drop our legal swords and don't go to war with one another after exchanging precious bodily fluids.

What made Java a universal technology was the assumption it was covered by a patent non-aggression pact, starting with the Java Community Process, launched in 2002. It has been covered by the GPL since 2006.

Oracle has just blown all that up, suing Google for its use of Java in Android, a Linux distro. (One of the Oracle lawyers is our old friend David Boies, so I guess Oracle and Google can't be gay-married anymore.)

Florian Mueller, who inveighed against the Oracle acquisition of Sun (based on mySQL), is in full I-told-you-so mode. This is a direct attack on open source, he writes. Oracle seems to have made no effort to come to an agreement before dropping its legal bomb. It's a direct blow against the very idea of open standards.

It's also an attack on two specific institutions, the Open Invention Network and OpenForum Europe. (Simon Phipps agrees about OIN.) On OIN, Mueller writes:

Both Oracle and Google are OIN licensees, so in theory there is a non-aggression pact in place between them, but everyone can see that Oracle sues Google anyway because the OIN's scope of protection is too narrow.

There's more. Open source luminaries Carlo Piana and Eben Moglen both supported Oracle's takeover of Sun, saying it would be good for open source.

So where are those pro-Oracle FOSS advocates now? Will they come out unequivocally in support of Google and condemn Oracle's action? Will they admit that it was a bad idea to let Oracle acquire Sun in the first place? Will they concede that they were wrong when they said Oracle would be a good owner of those patents? Will the SFLC and the Public Patent Foundation now lend pro-bono legal support to Google in order to get those Java patents invalidated before they do more damage?

Or will they keep quiet due to a conflict of interests and only talk about a bogeyman and propose fake solutions such as the OIN in order to distract the community from the real problems?

Personally I don't think this is a suit meant for trial. I suspect Oracle wants what Microsoft got through its Novell deal, a cross-license with an unspecified amount of cash behind it so can assert its authority. (Ironically, Miguel de Icaza now says Google might be in better legal shape with Microsoft technology.)

In a rational world, Oracle might get just that. What open source has proven, conclusively, is that agreements and cooperation can be more profitable than legal war.

This is not always a rational world.

A Google-Oracle compromise might be good business, but it would damage Google's credibility, which remains a prime asset. It would make Google look dirty, which may be Ellison's point. It would make open source look like just an armistice between big legal teams, another happy thought for someone with billions in the bank.

But if open source is not to become just another scam, Google needs to hang tough here. If you're to not be evil, you have to be willing to confront evil.

Topics: Oracle, Google, Networking

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

21 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • You got it wrong - Oracle is suing Google for *not* using Java

    Please do some homework. Android does not claim to be based on Java. Instead, Google went ahead and created its own "java-like" virtual machine, Dalvik, that runs code that follows most (not all) Java SE syntax and APIs. Oracle is claiming that Dalvik infringes on their patents.

    I don't have an opinion as to who is correct in this dispute, but this is certainly not the case that Oracle wants to now place every Java developer hostage in some kind of bait and switch.
    slater99
    • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

      @slater99 Java is used inside the Android design. Android is a Linux distro. The points that are at issue in this suit are generic and not limited to the Google Android implementation of Java in Dalvik.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

        @DanaBlankenhorn Your point in the article (the analog of the patent commons) is that since Java is in GPL, we should all be free to use it without concerns, and thus worried about Oracle breaking that balance. But what you are missing is that Google made a run around the "commons" by not accepting the terms of the GPL and instead creating its own separate VM (Dalvik), and releasing that under its own Apache license.

        It might well be Google's right to do that (if they really created this without infringing) but what is clear is that Google was the first to go around the "non aggression pact" as you call it not Oracle.

        The issue is not generic to people who simply use the Java according to the GPL terms.
        slater99
      • Dane, you really have thing backwards.

        @DanaBlankenhorn

        Google tried to do an end around Java and $crew the entire Java/Open Source community. The amazing part is how well Google plays the FOSS community to their own ends. Like a fiddle and you are the bow.

        It amazes me how the media are not covering this as Google trying to mess with the FOSS crowd.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

        Will the SFLC and the Public Patent Foundation now lend pro-bono legal support to Google in order to get those Java patents<a <div href="http://www.fromgaza.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> home</font></a> of google update <a <div href="http://www.billdavisphotography.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">site</font></a> compare with linux <a <div href="http://www.logmyblog.net/"><font color="light&amp;height">contact site</font></a> from another big company <a <div href="http://www.sponsoredfan.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">website</font></a> which upgrade always <a <div href="http://www.yadiario.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">home page</font></a> is the best invalidated
        zdnet lover
      • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

        Java is used<a href="http://www.darky-pro-muze.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> about it</font></a> is bank that <a href="http://www.ruralni-zadra.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">website</font></a> attacked from the <a href="http://www.funnyendofthetail.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">site support</font></a> from any soldier <a href="http://webloggy.net/"><font color="light&amp;height">site</font></a> to the light <a href="http://www.talkaboutgayracism.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">home page</font></a> is great
        zdnet lover
    • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

      Oracle-Google suit<a href="http://www.darky-pro-muze.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> about it</font></a> is bank that <a href="http://www.ruralni-zadra.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">website</font></a> attacked from the <a href="http://www.funnyendofthetail.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">site support</font></a> from any soldier <a href="http://webloggy.net/"><font color="light&amp;height">site</font></a> to the light <a href="http://www.talkaboutgayracism.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">home page</font></a> is great challenges
      musdahi
  • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

    Friday, August 13th 2010...a day that will live in infamy!<br>They should have settled in private to keep the FOSS and GPL image clean. Also some grants and donations for FOSS developers will be good to improve the OSS stature.
    Linux Geek
    • the suit wasnt filed or announced today. less toke, more read

      this was all over the news yesterday
      Johnny Vegas
      • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

        @Johnny Vegas Actually, here in Australia, I first read about the suit on Friday, August 13th. It's a big world out there.
        Martin Paulo
  • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

    I don't wish this on Google, but I've viewed them as "untrustworthy" for some time, even if not explicitly "evil".
    dougsyo@...
  • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

    Just what I thought, the debate becomes sentimental and the FUD has started.
    And when it comes to sentimental issues: do not split your infinitives! We should open-source english grammar soon, especially for those claiming to be journalists. :-)
    mreys
    • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

      @mreys
      Well said!
      Ram U
  • Um, who says Java is GPL? Oracle seems to emphatically DISAGREE

    See this link:

    http://www.java.com/en/download/license.jsp

    That doesn't look like GPL to *me*...
    wolf_z
    • You are a little off base

      @wolf_z The link you provided points to the license for the Java Run-Time; not Java itself. To my understanding they are two different issues. For example it is the run-time that Microsoft was sued over. In that suit Sun didn't say you couldn't use Java on Windows - they said that Microsoft's run-time infringed on the Sun Java run-time.

      This is similar to the argument @slater99 was making in the first post regarding Davlik Vs Sun/Oracle JVM's.
      cornpie
  • Davlik is basically based on JVM using the JIT compiler

    Davlik is basically based on JVM using the JIT compiler which could be a problem for Google.
    hims2smart
  • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

    "Google needs to hang tough here. If you?re to not be evil, you have to be willing to confront evil."

    Kind of like they do with Verizon, right?
    markdevisser
  • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

    I'm off to my C++ foundations. QT, where are you??
    solawd
  • Did Google/have others mod, distribute and charge for thier own Java OS?

    Doesn't Google $license it's Android OS to device makers?<br><br>If Oracle is wrong, legally, then-- why is it that Google can and does require device makers to $license their device using Android in order to access Google Market? <br><br>Isn't the issue whether you can compile your own version of Java and a Java RE, distribute it and charge $ money for it?<br><br>Android does not just add code to Java and a Java RE but took Java code base and changed it, add then branded it and sold it and decided not credit or pay SUN/ORACLE.<br><br>Maybe I have this wrong. Are there others who have modified the core Java code base, modified the JRE, distributed it, charge money for it and have Oracle's (we won't burry you with law-suits) blessing?
    daniel.pereznet
  • RE: Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment

    Not sure what this is all about in corporate but it would seem the thing to do is ban licensing to the kernel for those who sue in the community.
    hybridjeffbarnes@...