I wish the Google people would stop saying that. Oracle didn't sue open source. That doesn't even make sense, you can't sue open source any more than you can sue Santa. Beside the fact that the open-sourced Java implementations are explicitly unaffected by this lawsuit.
Also, I wouldn't be too sanguine: what do you think Oracle would have done had Google used the Harmony VM to produce a system like Android?
I think probably the exact same thing, if the resulting VM was not a spec-compliant VM or otherwise did not fall under the various IP exemptions. Dalvik itself is a much bigger opening for someone to use software patents in a predatory way - if what Gosling's been saying lately is true, Oracle had that as a goal all along. But much of that has to do with the unique peculiarities of Dalvik - a VM that runs something that's like, but isn't quite Java-as-specified.
Oracle is suing based upon relatively general patents that it would be difficult to implement a modern VM without running afoul of. The Apache Harmony DRLVM absolutely and positively runs afoul of exactly the same patents. In fact I would wager that Ruby, python, and several other runtimes are subject to exactly the same patent liability.
Saying "They didn't sue them" is preposterous. Patents don't require that you sue every subjective infringer. Instead, if you're a company like Oracle, you go after people with deep pockets.
ASF would be loudly crusading if they themselves thought they were actually directly affected by this lawsuit and the patents.
Dalvik is a cleanroom VM. I'm not quite sure what you're saying with this?
The OpenJDK comes with a patent grant. Cleanroom VMs have no such grant and it's impossible to make one without infringing on the patents.
Anyway, Dalvik does not even claim to execute Java bytecode, but its own language. Does that not mean that it is in pretty much the same legal footing as, say, the Python bytecode interpreter?
And there exists plenty of prior art on the VM, all the way back to 1966 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-code_machine ), so I am not so easily convinced that the patent is going to survive the trial.
To my knowledge Harmony has never been given a patent grant. When they tried to obtain the blessing, Sun responded by releasing the OpenJDK, which they bound (with conditions) their patent grants to.
If something else happened that I am ignorant of, please tell me, but to my knowledge Harmony has zero patent protection.
As an aside, the reason Sun refused to grant Harmony a patent grant was that there was the open possibility that it could cannibalize J2ME (at the time Sun was fairly successful in that space, so they were deeply protective, whereas they were failing on the desktop)
Dalvik, otoh, makes no claim or effort to be spec compliant, and there's no reason to expect they should get the grant.
I'm not defending Oracle here, btw. I think the suit is ridiculous, but on the more general grounds that software patents are inherently a bad idea that stifle innovation. I just don't think it helps anything to distract from the core issue by spreading FUD about Apache's exposure.
The Sun patent license grant is completely incompatible with the Apache License. As is it is impossible to combine the two. Apache isn't just grandstanding -- the conditions made it impossible for the patent grant to apply.
There is no FUD about Harmony. Harmony has zero patent protection. Any other cleanroom implementation has zero protection, exactly as I said, until you essentially bow to Sun cum Oracle. My original statement is factually correct.
Harmony doesn't have a patent grant now, that's true. But the reason it doesn't is because it refuses to accept the current license terms. I don't think this is "grandstanding" - it's absolutely critical, and I completely side with Apache. But the simple reality is that Harmony is in a much more secure position than Dalvik, and Apache has a much more defensible position than Google. To claim otherwise is pure FUD.
Why does it matter? Because people should care about the Google suit independent of the idea that Apache might be next. When you try to sell that idea, you make it sound like this lawsuit isn't actually all that bad compared to what it could be, but that's wrong. This is the case that matters, not some hypothetical against Apache. Get pissed now.
The Sun spec-compliant patent grant is impossible to bind to an open source license, outside of the targeted grant they provided OpenJDK (with its own conditions). Feel free to parade your ignorance though insults, but it doesn't prove your (completely wrong) claims.
Android, more than 'circumventing' Java ME, is its own system. You can't run Java ME code with it. Android has its own API.
Oracle is suing a downstream user of Apache Harmony. Even if they are not attacking the Apache Software Foundation directly, it is a dangerous situation when downstream users are sued for Patents.
If someone was suing users or re-distributors of the Apache Web Server, HTTPD, it would be the same situation.
It is important to understand that so far, and until I see more information, most and possibly all of the patents used in litigation are related to Dalvik, and not the class libraries. Apache Harmony has its own VM, DRLVM, which is not used in Android.
I believe it is still disturbing that Oracle is aggressively using Software Patents in the open source Java Realm. It creates a chilling effect on the future of the JVM as a platform in my opinion.
Oracle has not approached the ASF -- as others have mentioned, the ASF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, and a legal battle with Oracle would decimate any money we have, and that means Oracle couldn't extract any money from us anyways.
Internally the ASF is struggling with how to respond.
There is a general consensus within the members about the dislike of Software Patents, as you find within most groups of Software Developers.
However, there is not a general consensus about what the ASF could do, if anything. The ASF could write blog posts about the general issue, we could be more aggressive on the publicity side, but all of those are like poking a Grizzly Bear with a needle and hoping it doesn't rip your arm off.
In addition, because many members of the Apache Software Foundation have been or are currently employed by both Oracle/Sun, and Google, and/or have internal knowledge of things like the JCP, it is not a 'good' thing for the ASF to speak too early in this issue and become a victim smashed between two billion dollar legal teams. It is also likely in the event of a longer legal battle, many ASF members might be called in testify, further complicating what role the ASF as a foundation should have.
Everyone believes that many large companies have dozens or even hundreds of Software Patents that could apply to the various ASF projects, and we mostly exist in a peaceful state. Oracle has certainly changed that perspective. I don't know what the foundation will do going forward.
The Oracle suit has validated the strict rules that the ASF imposes by use of Contributor License agreements, and tracking of where all our source code has come from. Some open source developers choose to ignore these problems, but good governance is an important attribute if you want to defend against things like Oracle or SCO.
That, my friend, is the most chilling statement I've heard all year. We all go about our daily lives thinking we're safe in our cozy open source worlds and believing the leaders of our projects will protect us, but when folks like the ASF are left quaking in fear, it really shakes your foundations.
How can we even begin to contribute? I can code all day, but IANAL. How can I help buy one?
3. Grant of Patent License. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, each Contributor hereby grants to You a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable (except as stated in this section) patent license to make, have made, use, offer to sell, sell, import, and otherwise transfer the Work, where such license applies only to those patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed by their Contribution(s) alone or by combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such Contribution(s) was submitted. If You institute patent litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that the Work or a Contribution incorporated within the Work constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.
I always wanted to see what would happen if this was ever invoked.
Previously, it was any new implementation of the VM...
Until the current crop of JVM based languages showed up my interest in the Java the language waned. But now that you can use your language of choice and still tap into JVM libraries, perf and the high quality profiling tools, the JVM is compelling again.
Also experience stories like this, http://blog.urbanairship.com/blog/tag/java/, show that as great as Python and Ruby are for building websites, surprise, surprise, they don't have the performance for the real-time web.
A while ago I rewrote a system from Java (that used JBoss Netty) to node.js. The node.js solution used about 10x less memory. And memory is a crucial element of scaling real-time web applications.
Building your own competing JVM can, as this suit demonstrated, get you sued too.
Microsoft has intentionally worded their licenses to allow them to sue anyone who isn't paying for their software in the future.
In a certain sense, this is the intent of the GPL rearing its ugly head. When Oracle says Android violates their copyright, it seems like what they mean is they've taken GPL code (the Java standard) and re-implemented it under a different license. Though I'm in no way deep in enough to say that authoritatively, and like the entire suit the rationale seems questionable to say the least.
A potential Microsoft suit looks to be allowed by the Mono licensing.
> since you essentially have to be using a version of Mono that is paid for
What do you mean? The MS-Novel patent deal was done long time ago. Now, there is a better document in place: http://www.microsoft.com/interop/cp/default.mspx - both C# and CLI are covered and no implementation is pointed at. It stops them from suing for "making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation" - as long as it's compliant with specs. Stress is on "any implementation" here. That document doesn't mention any specific party and doesn't limit the promise to any specific group as far as I can see.
> Microsoft has intentionally worded their licenses to allow them to sue anyone who isn't paying for their software in the future.
Also, given Microsoft's business model and track record, it seems unlikely that .NET is going to hit a steady stable state any time soon, unlike Java which may be stuck at 6 indefinitely. The consequence of this is that Microsoft can break everything, including their promises, anytime they want by bumping the version number and removing the license for the new version. Would it be a good business decision for them? Probably not. But I think this move from Oracle shows that it is a very real possibility, if Microsoft decides they should be taking cues from Oracle (which given Oracle's track record makes a lot of sense, even if this move seems bonkers.)
replaces it for new development, perhaps. java itself will probably never go away now, though, lawsuit or not. its footprint is just too huge now. at worst, it'll just stagnate.
The lawsuit is against Google, not the OpenJDK. It seems disingenuous to keep linking Google's situation with Open Source in general. Google isn't using the OpenJDK. Google didn't want to spend the money and now has to deal with that decision. A simple "We are not going to a conference sponsored by someone suing us" would be good enough. Adobe and Google must have sent their people to the same blog training program.
It's not that they didn't want to pay, they wanted to make a fully open source mobile OS. Going with OpenJDK would have forced them to make Android GPL which would have been a no-no for carriers and going with Sun's licensed JVM would have made Android not open source. So Google had to go with their own VM if they wanted to have an open source mobile OS based on Java.
/edit/ I should point out I am worried about what other VMs this has implications for and not really liking software patents in the first place (if it can be copyrighted, I don't think it should be patentable).
I can't think of a single Android device that doesn't let you install your own build on it. (After some coercing, of course.)
Because carriers are staggeringly stupid, I think.
> I can't think of a single Android device that doesn't let you install your own build on it.
I wish that were true: "Unlike the DROID, the Milestone has a bootloader that only allows signed Firmware to load. This prevents users from booting Custom ROM images not signed by Motorola that have become popular in the Droid modding community."
Many Motorola phones are similarly restricted. Did I mention carriers are phenomenally stupid?
If carriers really wanted to lock down devices, they would use techniques like the crypto cards ATMs have do. Instead, they do the equivalent of asking you really nicely not to root the device.
Motorola tries harder than most, though, I will agree.
Not unless it was done quite recently. The Droid X and Droid 2 are still locked down.
> If carriers really wanted to lock down devices, they would use techniques like the crypto cards ATMs have do.
From what I've read the Droid X's bootloader is quite a bit like that.
Ie. apps that only use the Java system libraries don't have to be GPL'ed, only modifications of the VM itself. Google didn't want to place this restriction on Android vendors.
also, from: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html
> The GNU General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with the library. If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Lesser General Public License instead of this License. But first, please read <http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-not-lgpl.html>.
Note that Oracle's general patents on rudimentary VM and runtime characteristics could be applied against any number of non-Java targets. There just aren't many with the pockets as deep as Google.
SCO asserted ownership of code they didn't own and licenses they didn't have. How is that even remotely similar?
I think the similarity is overwhelmingly obvious, so demanding that I prove that it is "remotely" similar is pretty aggressive and uncalled for.
FSF has been urging people to use GPLv3 because it has an explicit patent grant (amongst other reasons).
The protections in the GPL are unconditional. The software doesn't have to comply with any specifications in order to benefit from these protections."
I would say it does to the same extent all the other GPL constraints stay in force. I think that the GPL stays in force down to the smallest unit of copyrightable code - it has to, or you would be legally unable to distribute 1% of the project on its own which makes no sense.
However this would be a big leap: Android is Apache Licensed. Bringing GPL code in to Dalvik will make it (and any other components that are linked to it) GPL licensed, which in turn force all the carriers and handset makers to distribute their own customizations. I'm not sure how far that would extend through Android's code base but it could remove one of the most attractive features of Android for vendors - the fact they can put their own proprietary technology into it and customize it how they like.
Oracle/Google is a patent lawsuit.