Jury Finds Google’s Android Copied Java [UPDATE]

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A jury found Google guilty of copyright infringement in its Android operating system on Monday, though the same jury deadlocked on whether Google has fair use right to the code in question. The verdict is just the first phase of three verdicts the jury is expected to hand down in the case, which was brought against Google by Oracle.

 

Oracle vs. Google

The Case

The case in front of the jury was brought against Google by Oracle, which sued Google for copyright and patent infringement in Android OS. Oracle believes that Google knowingly copied parts of Java in Android, in particular in Android’s application programming interfaces, or APIs.

Java was developed by Sun Microsystems, a company that Oracle purchased in 2009 for US$7.4 billion. Oracle then sued Google in 2010, accusing the company of copyright and patent infringement, as mentioned above.

That case has revealed many things, including such tidbits as CEO Larry Page not being able to remember key details of Android development and the revelation that he doesn’t consider Android critical to his company’s success.

The Verdict

The case has reached the verdict phase, however, and the jury found that Google is guilty of copyright infringement in its Android code, meaning that parts of Android were merely copied from Java, according to The San Jose Mercury News.

At the same time, however, the jury was hung on whether or not Google had fair use right to use the code in question. This means that the verdict wasn’t unanimous one way or the other, and the reality is that this is the more important of the two verdicts. Google can copy all day long if it has a fair use right to do so.

Fair Use

Typically, use of copyrighted material for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research are protected, and are not considered copyright infringement.

An attorney who is not involved in this case spoke to The Mac Observer on background, and told us that under 17 U.S.C. § 107, the factors a jury may consider when deciding upon the applicability of fair use are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The jury was apparently unable to come to an agreement on these issues as they relate to this case. A quick perusal of that list of noninfringing uses might lead one to wonder why, but that’s what the court system is for.

Next

There are two kinds of “next” in this case. Firstly, there are still two more verdicts to be handed down, including a patent infringement verdict and a damages verdict.

As far as the copyright case, however, things are messy. As noted above, Google has been found guilty of infringing but the hung jury on fair use leaves the whole thing up in the air. Google can request that a mistrial be declared based on the hung jury, which would mean the whole trial would have to be begun again with a new jury.

Alternately, Oracle can ask that the judge issue a ruling on the fair use issue based on law—juries decide issues of fact, judges decide issues of law. The judge can also ask the jury to go back to deliberating, perhaps with additional or narrowed instructions.

Once all that is over, the appeals can begin.

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Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Where, or where, is Nemo when we need him?!? Nemo… Nemo… Nemo can you hear me? Nemo… Nemo… Nemo… can you feel me?

The jury decided that Google violated Oracle’s copyright on 2 things: The first was the SSO (Structure, Somethingorother, and Organization) AKA the APIs. Problem here is that the judge has reserved for himself the determination of whether they are actually copyrightable. The second was a couple of minor files, where there is an extenuating explanation in evidence and where statutory damages range from $200 to $150K, i.e. within a small multiple of David Boies weekly tab for scotch and hookers.

While the jury deadlocked on fair use—and that would seem to give some favor to Google—they did find for Google on the question of whether Sun gave Google signals that it didn’t need a license. Astute observers can appreciate why Oracle now wants to keep the Schwartz out of the remaining phases of the trial.

P.S. I wrote in too soon… “[Update 6: The judge has stated, pending judgment as a matter of law, that there is “zero finding of copyright liability” other than the 9 lines of code to which Oracle’s damages report attributes no value. A good day for Google overall.]” Read it here.

Nemo… Nemo… Nemo can you hear me?!?

RonMacGuy

Calling out Nemo when he himself won’t face his past predictions.  Bosco at his finest.

Publish market share data on iPhone and iPad, and I call out to Bosco: Where, oh where, is Bosco when we need him?  Bosco, can you hear me? And he cowers and hides.

Pathetic, oh great Bosco. Pathetic.

Where’s your 10% iPhone market share, oh wise one? Where’s your “declining and mostly irrelevant iPad.” So wrong on so many levels, and he has the gall to call out Nemo.  You truly are pathetic.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Pardon Ron. He has his panties in a bunch this morning over two recent developments in the smartphone wars. One is an NPD report which shows that the sales share bump from iPhone 4S is over, now at 29% and falling, while Android is 61% and climbing. This is very close to a number I recently divined from comScore 3 month floating market share data.

The other is that Verizon is treating its pretty unicorn as a boat anchor, and recommending LTE Android phones instead. Why? Because its 3G network speeds have slowed considerably over the past year, while its LTE system still has plenty of room and capacity for more users. Unfortunately, the Verizon Unicorn, like all other Unicorns right now, is stuck on 3G. Should Apple wait until September or October to unleash an LTE unicorn, expect further sales and market share losses to be reported by NPD and comScore.

And to think a year ago, all the little fanboys were saying definitively that this Oracle case would end Android. LMFAO at all of you. But mostly at that tool Florian for playing y’all like fiddles.

RonMacGuy

Who are you talking to Bosco? Bryan and I are about the only ones who read your stuff anymore around here. So let me get this straight - you no longer think iPhone is going down to 10%, right? You now claim that you have “recently divined” a number very close to 29%?  Your pathetic need to “be right” and have people actually believe that you know what you are talking about is truly mind boggling.

Apple will release an LTE iPhone in 2012, and it will be a hit, and it will sell like crazy and remain the top selling smart phone for any provider that sells it.  And Apple will make hordes of money and my stock will flourish.  Not sure of your infatuation with my underwear, but my so-called panties are not in a bunch at all.  Your continued focus on market share is pure stupidity, and the fact that you don’t see that at all is hilarious to me, which is why I continue to read and respond to you.  Apple continues to bring in the lion’s share of the market’s profits.  And that’s all that matters to a business guy and investor like me.

One thing you STILL can’t explain to me is how Apple with its old technology and tiny screen and non-replaceable battery and lack of memory card slots and walled garden approach and inability to side load and (now a new one on the list) lack of LTE support continues to be the top selling smart phone in the world and harnesses 30% of the US market share?  By all rights, it should be in the 10% range as you predicted 1.5 years ago.  But it isn’t, and that drives you crazy.  And that cracks me up.

Oh, and don’t forget to get your discounted Xoom.  Doesn’t help to support your “declining and mostly irrelevant” iPad comment, which by all accounts and purposes was one of the dumbest things you have ever said!!

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