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Google Developer Testifies That Java Memo Was Misinterpreted 201

Posted by timothy
from the not-what-I-meant dept.
benfrog writes with a piece that appeared in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about the in-progress legal battle between Oracle and Google over Java: "Ex-Sun and current Google employee Tim Lindholm testified that it was "not what he meant" when asked about the smoking gun email (included here (PDF)) that essentially said that Google needed to get a license for Java because all the alternatives 'suck[ed].' He went on in 'brief but tense testimony' to claim that his day-to-day involvement with Android was limited."
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Google Developer Testifies That Java Memo Was Misinterpreted

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  • Oh come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Friday April 20, 2012 @09:14PM (#39752847) Homepage Journal

    If he didn't mean they should negotiate a Java license with Sun, why did he say:

    ...we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need.

    How you could possibly interpret that statement as meaning anything other than "we need to negotiate a license" is beyond me. I may not like Oracle's aggressiveness in pursuing the issue, but I can't read this email as being anything other than an acknowledgement that Google needs a license.

    Now don't get me wrong. Google could have later used the GPL version of Java safely, but they didn't have that option back then. Plus there's the question of whether you're allowed to use pieces of a GPL piece of software, such as the Dalvik compiler and core runtime with a Dalvik-compiled copy of the Java code for it's libraries and packages.

    I would contend that they're well within the GPL, provided that the Dalvik code was also released under the GPL. However, if the Dalvik core isn't under GPL, then they've got the issue of mixing GPL and non-GPL code to muddy the waters, and maybe that's the angle Oracle is playing.

  • Fairly plausible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Friday April 20, 2012 @09:25PM (#39752913) Journal
    Reading the email linked by the FP, I would call his claim fairly plausible - I wouldn't take him to have meant "gee, we've infringed the hell out of it, we need to get legal ASAP", but rather "Can you please just buy the best option for us so we can move on and stop the games?"

    Honestly, something like that exact discussion comes up on a monthly basis where I work, and some shyster could probably find examples of me saying substantially the same thing in my emails. And I don't give two shakes of a rat's ass about whether or not my employer wants to stay legal on the licensing side - If they don't mind me using a copy of Windows registered to Razor1911, no skin off my back (and hell, good ammo for me if things get ugly).
  • Re:Oh come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Friday April 20, 2012 @09:28PM (#39752921) Journal
    How you could possibly interpret that statement as meaning anything other than "we need to negotiate a license" is beyond me.

    "We need to buy shiny toy X" doesn't always, or (IMO) even usually, mean "we've already chewed the fingers off it, guess we need to pay for it now".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2012 @09:35PM (#39752961)

    If I am working for the human resource department of Google, I will fire that Mr. Lindholm long ago

    Where the hell have you been working that HR get to choose who to fire? That's really not how it works.

  • No matter what he meant, it shouldn't matter. Oracle is trying to use the e-mail to prove "Google knew ahead of time they were in the wrong!" when in fact this e-mail was written AFTER Oracle bought Sun and was murmuring about lawsuits. It's also an unsent draft of an e-mail written by a Google employee who wasn't working on Android! Wow!

    I guess if I want to screw over my company in the future, I know how to do it now... Incriminating e-mail drafts!

  • Erm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday April 20, 2012 @10:31PM (#39753261)

    NOTHING is free. Everything takes time and money to create. Now, for various reasons, people give software away...but this is a massive corporation producing software worth billions of dollars, and a key part of it depends on software that was developed at a cost of millions of dollars.

    So a reasonable few million bucks to Oracle for their trouble seems fair.

  • by pla (258480) on Friday April 20, 2012 @10:59PM (#39753407) Journal
    If there is any lesson to be learnt from this trial it gonna be this - Hire the right person [...snip...] I mean, what qualification that Mr. Lindholm has on legal stuffs ?

    Google did not hire Mr. Lindholm to work as a lawyer. Would you also expect your janitors to know how to code? Your delivery drivers to reconcile AP? Your controller to weld deck plates?


    How can an ex-Sun employee, currently employed by Google, write an email saying things like "Google need a license for Java" ?

    Because non-lawyers can still put two and two together to come up with four. Because the average employee frequently needs to make recommendations within their own domain of knowledge that have implications outside that domain. Because IT people in particular don't generally give a shit about what HR thinks, and HR would already fire us in a heartbeat if the company could live without us.

    Or more accurately - Because someone asked.
  • Actually I would say it should be looked upon as a more fundamental question which is this: Should email be treated as a letter, or as a text message?

    The problem with treating emails like a letter is simply people don't think about emails like they do about a letter, probably because it is so trivial to send. With a letter one has to take the time and consolidate their thoughts, write them down, fold it up, put in the envelope etc, whereas with emails they are treated with no more thought most of the time than a LOLCat.

    I just have to wonder how many times companies will be bitchslapped by emails like this before they either simply don't allow emails or have them disposed of quickly. because unless you can somehow get your employees to treat emails with the gravitas of a formal letter they will just keep biting you right in the ass.

  • Re:Liar liar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @12:35AM (#39753809) Journal

    Because Oracle is on the other side.

  • by julesh (229690) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @04:57AM (#39754521)

    No. But you would expect employees (well, maybe except for janitors) to understand the implications in the current legal climate, and refrain from putting things so bluntly as "we're clearly violating these patents and must get a license", even in internal email - unless they are explicitly asked to express their legal opinion. At least, that sort of thing has been part of on-boarding training in pretty much every place I've worked in the last eight years.

    Except that's not what he says. Patents are not, at any point, mentioned in the memo. The memo expresses a desire to use the Java trademark in marketing Android. It is well-known that Sun required licensing of the Java Technology Compatibility Kit and a successful pass of its tests before it would allow you to use the Java trademark in this way, so the license stated as required (a license for the TCK software, not a patent license) would most definitely have been required IF google had proceeded with the plan as it was described in that memo. They did not proceed with this plan, however, instead deciding to distance themselves from Java, make their virtual machine incompatible with the Java virtual machine (although providing tools supporting automated translation between the two formats), and not use the Java trademark in any of their marketing material. So it is unclear what relevance a (correct) statement about the licensing terms on the Java trademark has on a court case about a system that does not use that trademark. This so-called "smoking gun" is just misdirection on Oracle's part.

  • by Shoe Puppet (1557239) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @05:00AM (#39754529)

    Unlike Microsoft, Google doesn't claim that their platform is compatible with the JVM. Just as C can be compiled for x86 or ARM, Java can now be compiled for JVM and Dalvik and nobody claims they are bytecode-compatible.

  • Re:Oh come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @05:12AM (#39754563)

    How you could possibly interpret that statement as meaning anything other than "we need to negotiate a license" is beyond me. I may not like Oracle's aggressiveness in pursuing the issue, but I can't read this email as being anything other than an acknowledgement that Google needs a license.

    Read the context prior to that. At the point that email was sent, Google's plan was to use the name Java in their marketing. Java was Sun's trademark, so of course they would have needed to licence it.

    They decided not to, however, instead hiding the connections between Android and Java in developer-oriented documentation, and being careful never to claim that Android implements Java in any way (it implements a system that is compatible with programs for the Java programming language, or some other such nonsense, that is always careful not to suggest any Sun/Oracle endorsement of the system).

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