Friday, 20 May 2016 09:48

Google's Larry Page claims Java APIs were free for use


Jurors in the Google-Oracle trial in California were sent home on Thursday, with the two combatants having completed the presentation of evidence.

They will return to the courthouse on Monday to hear closing arguments from both sides and will then begin deliberations.

They can either find that Google is liable for copyright violation or that the company's use of 37 APIs from Java is covered under the fair use provisions of US copyright law. If they come to the former conclusion, then only will a new phase of the trial commence, to determine damages to be paid to Oracle.

Oracle took Google to court in 2010, seeking damages for what it said was copyright and patent violation. The trial ended overwhelmingly in favour of Google in 2012, with the presiding judge, Justice William Alsup, ruling that APIs were not copyrightable. This was overturned in a subsequent appeal by Oracle and the ongoing trial is solely to determine whether Oracle is entitled to damages or not.

The final day of the evidentiary part of the trial on Thursday saw Google co-founder Larry Page among others on the stand. Page testified that he did not think that Google had to pay anything for using code that he characterised as being open and free.

Oracle lawyer Peter Bicks asked Page whether Google had paid for the use of Java, to which Page responded: "I think when Sun established Java it was established as an open source thing."

When Bicks repeated the question, Page's response was, "No we didn't pay for the free and open things."

Some of the evidence presented was noteworthy, as when Dr Greg Leonard, an economist put up by Google, claimed that Android had no impact on the licensing market for Java. The same witness testified that Google could well have developed Android without copying any code from Java at all.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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