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How to Understand The False Basis of the Oracle Versus Google Lawsuit

Executive Summary

  • The Oracle versus Google lawsuit on Java contains a false logic.
  • We analyze this logic.

Introduction

American Oracle Corporation has spent the past ten years in and out of court with Google. This is because Oracle has claimed they are entitled to some of Google’s advertising revenue they are earning by using Oracle’s open-source Java libraries for their java language android mobile phone operating system. 

Background on the Origin of Google’s use of the Java Code

This is explained well in the following quotation. 

For its part, Google negotiated with Sun in 2005 for a license to use Java for mobile devices, but both parties were unable to reach a deal. That’s when the search giant decided to develop its own implementations of the 37 Java API packages’ methods, which accounts for 97 percent of the lines of code in those packages.

The remaining 3 percent at the heart of Oracle’s copyright claim refers to the method declarations—lines of code specifying package, class, and method names; definitions; and parameters—which Google retained in its implementation so that applications written in Java can call those methods and run on Android, thus achieving interoperability. – IEEE Spectrum

What is Java? 

Java is an object-oriented programming language that first appeared in 1995.  

Despite losing their argument in court, Oracle has persisted with appeals. They believe the following code is an expression of creativity worthy of copyright protection and compensation to the value of $9 billion US dollars.

Let us review the code that Oracle has spent so much time trying to monetize. 

The Code

private static void rangeCheck(int arrayLen, int fromIndex, int toIndex) {

     if (fromIndex > toIndex)

          throw new IllegalArgumentException(“fromIndex(” + fromIndex +

               “) > toIndex(” + toIndex+”)”);

     if (fromIndex < 0) 

          throw new ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException(fromIndex);

     if (toIndex > arrayLen) 

          throw new ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException(toIndex);

}

Source: https://gist.github.com/napolux/5f87d8172b28d0c889b592a3c8b44120

Unbelievably, these are the lines of code that are the core of Oracle’s lawsuit versus Google. 

In a 2012 ruling by Judge Alsup, it states the following.

“So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical.” – Wikipedia

Oracle’s Claim

Let’s be clear on what Oracle is saying. 

Oracle Corporation believes the nine lines of code above are more valuable in artwork creativity than any artworks by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, or Andy Warhol. Even the Mona Lisa painting in The Louvre museum in Paris is estimated to be the world’s most expensive artwork at an insurance value of $850 million US Dollars.

Google’s Position

Let’s also be clear on Google’s position. Google reused open-source code on the premise of a license agreement that stipulates that usage of open-source software requires that the new open-source code, in turn, also be open-source. For that, Google is compliant. The Android operating system is open-source, and Oracle Corporation (and anyone else for that matter) is entirely able to reuse Google’s Android operating system.

Who Created Java?

That Java programming language was created by a Canadian computer scientist, James Gosling Ph.D., who worked for Sun Microsystems before its acquisition by Oracle. Before the Java language being owned by Oracle Corporation, James Gosling promoted his language as a way forward for corporations to evolve as a community, sharing code definitions and reusing standards to make progress together. The following extract is from an interview with James Gosling in 1999:

How Software Development Will Change if Oracle Were to Win Their Lawsuit.

This is explained in the following quotation. 

Bill Venners: How will the emerging hardware environment of network-connected embedded devices change how software and APIs are developed?

James Gosling: I think the biggest difference is that you can’t just sit alone in a room and build stuff, because the things you’re building interact with everything out there. You can’t just sit alone and do whatever you want.

Bill Venners: And why is that?

James Gosling: Because you’re trying to interact with other things, you have to know what the other things do. If there are multiple people doing similar kinds of things, they have to have some kind of an agreement on how these things should work. If you’re designing an electrical power delivery mechanism, for example, you have to design a wall socket. And everybody has to use the same wall socket; otherwise, those toasters won’t be able to plug in to you.

It becomes an environment where people have to be much more socially involved. It really is a community thing. – Javaworld

An explanation of what would ensue if Oracle were to prevail is explained in the following quotation. 

“I think if Oracle wins, there will be a period of massive disruption, as companies will use copyright to prevent people from re-implementing or interoperating with the APIs they built,” Grimmelmann says. “You’ll see a lot of confusion as companies struggle to understand what’s safe, and they’ll be much more reluctant to take on innovative projects.” – IEEE Spectrum

Understanding The Basis for the Java Programming Language

The Java programming language was created on the premise that corporations and individual programs would no longer work in isolation. Instead, the concept put forward by Java was that these entities could and would share code, libraries, classes, definitions in order to save time and make progress as a community.  

How Oracle Saw Things Differently

However, after Oracle acquired Sun, which gave Oracle the rights to Java, Oracle changed this community-driven initiative. Oracle’s vision is to force corporations and individual programmers to go back start sitting alone in a room to building their code in isolation. This has been part of a long term behavioral pattern with mega-vendors like Microsoft, to undermine open source. Vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have a business model based upon acquisition (as they are poor at developing new products and have just a few internally developed successful products where they reap monopoly profits). This model is based upon perpetually charging their customers excessive prices for the same IP. This is a topic we covered in the article How Commercial Software Became About Charging Multiple Times for the Same IP. 

In the early days of personal computer software, people like Bill Gates argued that software could not be free and accused those that were using shared software of theft. Bill Gates, ever the hypocrite, built Microsoft on the back of an acquisition of the DOS operating system for which it paid $75,000 to a company called Computer Products. Therefore, what made Microsoft was a product that it had nothing to do with developing. 

The Reality of how Mega Vendor Charge for IP

Now mega-vendors engage in their own form of theft, which controls accounts and drives little innovation in each mega vendor. The largest software vendors, which are Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, IBM, and now Salesforce, also happen to be the least innovative. Their business model, as we cover in the article How Commercial Software Became About Charging Multiple Times for the Same IP, is to keep charging for the same thing, but with a few tweaks. One might ask, how many times has Microsoft charged users for what is basically the same IP in Microsoft Office? SAP introduced a database, that was touted as innovative, but was, as we cover in the article Did SAP Just Reinvent the Wheel with HANA?, simply backward engineered from other databases. They also, as we cover in the article Why S/4HANA Should be Free, introduced an ERP system in S/4HANA that was an upgrade to ECC, but was declared by SAP as the logical but not “legal successor” to ECC — meaning it would not be covered as an upgrade by support. 

Cloud providers, which are not technically categorized as software vendors, are quite innovative — but they embrace open source. However, cloud providers often want to receive most of the financial benefit of open source products they had little to do with developing, although they have popularized.  

How Does Oracle Rank in Innovation?

Oracle is an innovation pretender.

Similar to other mega-vendors low in innovation, something we cover in our Honest Vendor Ratings.

This is a typical share by an Oracle resource on LinkedIn claiming innovation. These shares are tedious. A person from a company shares a false claim. Then a bunch of financially biased individuals like that claim. These types of shares are why LinkedIn engagement (except by clapping seals) is low.

How Paid Off Media Covers Up for Oracle’s Lack of Innovation

The article is published in a magazine called “Business Transformation” which very obviously takes money to publish whatever the PR department at Oracle or any other company wants to be published. The article itself is like some Cheeze Wiz extruded from a food processing nozzle designed to be consumed by managers and executives who don’t have any first-hand exposure to technology. Oracle continually refers to the corrupt Gartner, without declaring to readers that they pay off Gartner for coverage. This leads the uninitiated to think that Gartner assigned accolades to Oracle on the basis of actual merit.

Oracle spends more time talking about innovation than actually being innovative. Some of Oracle’s claims around innovation are entirely fake, as we covered in the article How Real is The Oracle Automated Database?, and are designed to either stimulate Wall Street or for marketing positioning against truly innovative offerings like AWS RDS or relational database service.

The one innovative area at Oracle has been its database. However, Oracle’s innovation has greatly declined in the past ten years with more recent releases of Oracle’s database have primarily contained bloat and functionality that is better served to be in the virtualization layer. Rather Oracle’s enhancements to their database have been about increasing the lock-in to the database. This makes the overall database more troublesome and expensive to maintain and tricks customers into using functionality that they should not use — and hence we count as negative rather than positive innovation. 

As for the application side, Oracle has done little to improve upon the many applications they have acquired. And the fact that Oracle has to perform chain acquisitions, of vendors that have existing customer bases, illustrates that Oracle lacks the ability to create its own internal applications. That is, it can only buy, not build applications. This of course extends to Java, which Oracle had no part in building. 

How Oracle Talks Out of Both Sides of Their Mouth on Cloud and Open Source

Ironically, while suing Google to undermine open source, Oracle makes this bold prediction about cloud computing in the next five years;

“By 2025, Oracle expects to see more and more enterprises embrace a next-generation cloud model to achieve unprecedented degrees of automation.”

Well, maybe not.  

Why?  

If Oracle Corporation is successful in undermining open-source initiatives and using lawyers to blur the lines of open-source licensing into arguments of copyright rules originally applied to closed-source software, then other large corporations will follow suit.

The Example of HTML

Every webpage on the internet uses HTML tag definitions to describe basic objects such as the page title, search keywords, font sizes, images, and embedded forms and coded components written in other programming languages.

The HTML language is protected by copyright law and owned by three corporations Apple, Mozilla, and Opera.  

If one of these corporations is about to have revenue issues, they have the ability to call in the lawyers and demand ransom money from any business currently maintaining an internet webpage, including Oracle Corporation.

Oracle Corporation’s aggressive legal attack is such a threat to the technology world that even fellow tech giants Microsoft and IBM have publicly supported Google’s position;

“interoperability is the very foundation of the internet and of countless devices and services that depend upon it.” -IBM.

Conclusion

The case filed by Oracle versus Google is a scam by the part of Oracle with no validity. 

The case is yet another in a long line of fake arguments proposed by Oracle in court and used against their customers.

The scary thing is that this case has been allowed to persist for ten years at US taxpayer expense. Oracle has appealed this case to the US Supreme Court. The Oracle versus Google case should have been immediately dismissed at its first hearing. This case is not only an indictment of Oracle but of the US legal system that such a frivolous case would be allowed to continue for ten years.

Inept and Corrupt Coverage of the Topic by (Financially Biased) Parties?

This case is a further indictment of many attorneys who have written articles in favor of Oracle’s position that is available with Google searchers. This brings up the question of how many of these attorneys have been paid by Oracle. Most of these articles are suspicious in that they conceal more than they reveal. Naturally, if there is no case, then it is necessary to write the article in a manner that makes it impenetrable. 

Authorship

This article is a collaboration between Markian Jaworsky and Shaun Snapp.

References

James Gosling on Java, May 1999 – “A Conversation with Java’s Creator, James Gosling,” by Bill Venners, First Published in JavaWorld, June 1999 – https://www.artima.com/intv/gosling1.html 

https://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/did-bill-gates-steal-the-heart-of-dos

https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/software/google-v-oracle-explained-supreme-court-news-apis-software

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_v._Oracle_America

More background on the history of Java and its licensing. 

The Java language was released to the public in 1995, under the Sun Community Source License, making the source code freely available but requiring that products using the code were maintained to the Java standard, and that any commercial derivative works were licensed by Sun.[3][4] While anyone could program in the language itself, Sun maintained the Java Platform, Standard Edition and Mobile Edition libraries, provided to users as pre-compiled Java bytecode, and their respective APIs, as well as the Technology Compatibility Kits (TCKs) that tested an implementation against the Java standard.[5] Over 2006 and 2007, due to pressure from developers, Sun changed the license of the various Java packages to use the GNU General Public License with a “classpath exception”, allowing developers the needed access to make derivative works and with the ability to release applications with a different license. This led to the OpenJDK (Open Java Development Kit), first released in 2007. Sun retained strong control over the language and standards itself, licensing the necessary elements like TCKs for commercial users.[4] At this time, Sun’s business model changed to focusing on licensing of the Java platform to embedded devices, particularly mobile phones, and had already made licensing deals with NokiaMotorola, and Research In Motion.[6]

Oracle announced it would purchase Sun in April 2009 for US$7.4 billion, and completed the acquisition in January 2010.[20] Besides allowing them to enter the hardware business, Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison called the acquisition of the Java language “the single most important software asset we have ever acquired”.[21] Oracle continued to develop Java and pursue licensing opportunities following its acquisition of Sun.