what copied code?

You might have stumbled across a story or two on the web today about Florian Mueller from FOSSpatents finding 43 more files in the Android source that look to be copied from Sun.  I know I did, and had a heart wrenching editorial all ready to go, all about Google's open source strategy in their fight against Oracle, how it might fail, and how I was going to shave my beard and cry.

Then I stumbled across Ed Burnette's story on ZDNet.

All the fuss, all the hysteria, and most importantly all the cries against Google proclaiming them as thieves aren't what they seem.  There are two sets of files in question -- a series of seven (PolicyNodeImpl.java, AclEntryImpl.java, AclImpl.java, GroupImpl.java, OwnerImpl.java, PermissionImpl.java, and PrincipalImpl.java) that contain proprietary code from Sun, and do exist, but they are in the unit test area of the AOSP source tree.  This means they are only used to test software after it's built, and before it's shipped.  To be clear -- these files are not used to build Android, nor are the shipped with Android.  To take things a step further, these files were published by Sun on their own website to assist developers to test and debug -- exactly what Google is using them for.

The other 37 files exist as well, but are inside a zip file in an area of the source tree used for one particular audio chipset.  These files look like they were uploaded by mistake, and also aren't used to build Android or ship with any Android devices.  These will probably just be deleted from the tree, as they don't do anything.

One more anti-Android story proven false and put out to pasture.  Let's get ready for the next one, because everyone wants to see some of those beautiful, green Android dollars. [ZDNet]

ref. links -- FOSS patents; Engadget

Update: Before anybody starts nailing anybody to anything, please read Engadget's excellent update on whole situation.


Reader comments

Copied code not in Android source after all (updated)


Someone at Engadget ought to review their editorial policies... they caused a mild mass hysteria today. Seems Phil's comments, during last night's podcast, regarding selectivity in running stories here at AC based on the credibility of the source, was timely. You go AndroidCentral!


Engadget is nothing but a cesspool of foaming at the mouth Apple fanboys.

No one at Engadget gives a damn that the story is nothing but a lie.

It's sad. I used to really love Engadget. Recently they've turned into a troll site with little integrity in the news they report. Over half their articles are trollbait, the community is overrun with iOS/Android/WP7 trolls. Funny how they still have yet to update the article. Not even their usual "we're looking into it" kind of updates.

Thanks for staying classy and keeping us updated AndroidCentral!

How can engadget still, if they even really were, be considered a viable news source if they distort news like this. Apparantly they didn't do their research first.

I wouldn't say that they are distorting facts, they post the first thing that makes a head line with out double checking there souses or do any investigating. They are really not there to get it 100% right just be there first. If you read there story its justs a repost of the original blog. My problem is they don't fix there mistake... They have yet to change the post or post a retraction.

I was just back looking at that other blog's post about this and there are 18 pages of comments. It's a fun read with the filter of knowing a lot more about what's going on.

I certainly hope that Google has sufficient checks and balances to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen.

UPDATE: was reading the subject ZDNet post, and the original "sleuth" has added some fun comments.

Whoa hold up there Jerry. By your own admission these files were includes, mistakenly or not, as a part of the source. The law doesn't care if it was a mistake, because Google still included code that they did not own. Further, Google DID alter the code to give attribution to itself, despite the fact that it was oracles work. That violates the law. It doesn't matter what googles intent was; the moment they changed those headers they opened themselves up to legal trouble.

Feel free to contact Oracle's legal team and offer to help prove intent. It's an uploading script that adds the Apache license to all files uploaded, and a mistake was made. Oracle won't try to use this in court, it's petty and opens their entire codebase to scrutiny.

If anyone had to USE those files, we would have heard about this long ago.

Intent doesn't matter. If google used the code, and the headers were changed to an incompatible license (as Engadget has pointed out Google did), then they're liable. Ignorance of the code being there, or not recognizing a mistake, is not a valid excuse for violating copyright or patent law.

And I do agree that Oracle won't use this as a case of Google infringing; they'll use it as a case of Google not actually caring enough about the code that they're putting in to double check that they're not infringing. What its going to show to the court is a disregard for following patent and copyright law, and a sloppiness when it comes to what they're doing with their code. THAT is far more damning than anything this discovery could do.

Guys, don't downrank him -- he's right. Google should (and better) do something to make sure this stops happening, because one day someone will pursue it in court.

Have 3 stars from me.

Utterly poor "journalism" and "research".

Good to see some real research was done to prove this story wrong.

The Engadget update is far from excellent. The whole notion that intent doesn't matter, which they seem to suggest is important, completely and utterly overlooks the realities of the situation. Assuming that Google did accidentally copy the code and even distribute it; intent becomes the crucial issue. Why? because the code itself seemed to confer no economic advantage to Google and that by being an accident it wasn't willful. if the violation is not willful, the statutory damages of $150,000 can not be awarded. Statutory damages are awarded only for willful violations of the copyright laws.

Watching Engadget try to walk itself back from this is actually kind of funny. They blew it big time, and then tried to obscure their own mistakes about the practical implications of the story.

No, Engadget walked into that mine field without knowing what they were talking about. Florian Mueller is nowhere near anything close to being a Google nor a Free/Open Source Software supporter (some say he's being paid by Microsoft - but I digress). He is no lawyer, and neither are the writers of Engadget, as my respect for them took a sharp downward turn after reading their so-called "excellent analysis".

The Oracle/Google lawsuit is in the early stages of discovery, and something coming out like this is very amateurish, to say the least. Both companies have top notch lawyers, and it's unlikely that this would pass their muster.

The following Ars Technica article has a better technical writeup of what Mr. Mueller believes he's found, but it's still no legal analysis:


Read Groklaw (http://groklaw.net/) if you want a better handle on whats going on in the case.

Enapplet and Mueller did exaclty what they set out to do.spread FUD. And believe it or not this stuff makes its way to the consumer. I've caught iPhone users spreading.gincoreect stuff to people asking about Android that they read on sites like MacDailyrumors or Appleinsider discouraging potential Android buyers.

Enapplet and Mueller did exaclty what they set out to do.spread FUD. And believe it or not this stuff makes its way to the consumer. I've caught iPhone users spreading.gincoreect stuff to people asking about Android that they read on sites like MacDailyrumors or Appleinsider discouraging potential Android buyers.

I agree 100%. Sites like those exist mainly to stroke the egos of Apple product owners. Sure they do report Apple related news, but they also report on any and all issues related to their competitors.

Even if it's news in favor of their competitors, they'll use the same old, tired lines to spin it in a negative light. It's just a breeding group for hatred against anything not Apple.

As opposed a site like this that just focuses only on Android news and help and does very little to no reporting on Apple news for the sake of putting it down.