A portion of the code for Android is copied directly from Java, according to new research by an intellectual property lawyer activist.
The discovery lends strength to Oracle’s intellectual property suit against Google (Oracle got the IP rights to Java when it acquired Sun in 2009). It’s also an example of what software companies like Microsoft have been saying for years: open source software isn’t subject to the same kind of oversight as proprietary software, so there’s a higher risk that some coder will introduce copyrighted or patented code. This may not be intentional, but IP is IP, and ignorance is no excuse.
Florian Mueller took a close look at some of the public evidence in the case, and he claims to have found 43 Android files that were directly copied from Java. He notes that some of the files were changed slightly, but the differences were “minuscule” — basically, it looks like the coders took the files, added a few comments or moved a few lines around without changing the logic of the code, then put it into the Android source code.
Mueller concludes that if the case moves on, the discovery process could be “very fruitful for Oracle, and may become dreadful for Google.”
In other words, it’s time for Google to settle before this gets any more embarrassing.
Update: Florian Mueller is not a lawyer, as this article originally stated.