Today’s news comes as a part of the ongoing battle between Oracle and Google to decide whether Google has infringed the former by copying sections of the Java code(developed by Sun) in the development of the widely used Android platform. Alphabet CEO, Larry Page today stood in court to defend the development of Android under the open source guidelines.
Alphabet’s largest subsidiary Google, responded to claims of copyright infringement in court stating that the code in question was developed to be open-source at that time and free for all to use. Thus, Google should be able to freely use the Java code in their scripts without having to pay for fair use under the copyright infringement law.
Page, whose vocal cords have been affected due to a previous medical condition, spoke softly and denied any knowledge of the engineering details of the Android code in question. The judge again tried to dishevel Page by showing documents that shows the huge amounts of revenue Android operating system was bringing in for Google. But Page outright answered that ‘I think Android is significant to Google‘. He also added that the revenue that was shown in the documents wasn’t going in the already deep pockets of Google, but being going to OEM’s and network carriers.
He then defended the use of the Java code in Android without any licensing permission from Sun Microsystems(now acquired by Oracle) because the copying and re-implementation of APIs was a standard practice in old times. Page then also added that Google’s use of the code in building Android was a one of a kind, innovative and transformative, which depicts that the code in questions actually falls under the judicial law of fair use.
The judge questioned Page whether Google has ever paid Sun or Oracle for using the Java code in question, developed by Sun. Page replied by saying that ‘I think when Sun established Java, it was established as an open source thing‘ and also added ‘No we didn’t pay for the free and open things’ to be more discrete and forthcoming.
Page also reminisced his days when he setup Google and became one of the biggest search engines in the world. His fascination with a mobile hand-held device where Google could expand the search to, drove him to buy Android back in 2005. He explained his frustration about the unavailability of good phones on the market saying that,
I was super frustrated with the state of phones at the time, many of which were running Java. They didn’t really work very well. You couldn’t even take a picture and share it with someone. We had a closet full of a hundred phones so we could test them. They all worked differently and we couldn’t get our software to work on them. It was incredibly frustrating.
The Oracle-Google copyright infringement case has already dragged for five years, even after reaching an intermediate conclusion in 2012. Google also reported a couple months ago that it will now be using open-source JDK libraries instead of the proprietary version to avoid any future roadblocks in the platform’s development.
The outcome of the battle is still undecided, but if Oracle wins the case in court – Software developers feel that it would lead to a lot more copyright cases. The loss in court wouldn’t affect Google’s deep pockets who might get away by paying a one-time fee. Each side will be presenting the final witness today and the final decision on the matter will be reported on Monday.