Tag: java

Oracle official appeals the Java case

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884The Oracle versus Google litigation case, which could force most of the software industry to pay billions to Oracle, has gone into its appeal state.

For those who came in late, Oracle sued Google claiming that its developers used its copyrighted material in Android.  The material in question were Java APIs which are effectively notes that developers used in framing the code.

The case has been going on since 2010,  Oracle initially lost but had part of its case revived on appeal. The sole issue in the second trial was whether Google infringed the APIs in Java, which the appeals court held are copyrighted. In May, a jury found in Google’s favor after a second trial, stating that Google’s use of the APIs was protected by “fair use.”

Legal experts think that Oracle’s appeal is a long shot. The four-factor “fair use” test is a subjective one, and Oracle lawyers must argue that the jury’s unanimous finding must be overturned.

Oracle could focus on jury instructions that it viewed as improper, or argue that the evidence presented at trial was so overwhelming that no reasonable jury could have found in Google’s favour.

If Oracle wins it could create a mess for developers. The trillions of lines of code out there might contain APIs which developers could have used without thinking. Patent trolls could buy up old software, look for dodgy APIs in others code and sue for millions. That is even without factoring in the impact of Google having to sign off billions of dollars to Oracle.

Oracle lawyers demand funny money from Google

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884Oracle’s legal team does not appear to have learnt anything from its more or less failed attempt to get Google to pay up for their use of Java applets in Android and are demanding funny money from the search outfit.

Oracle said it wants $9.3 billion in damages in a long-running copyright lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in Android.

But Oracle sued Google six years ago, claiming the search giant needs a licence to use parts of the Java platform in Google’s market-leading mobile OS. The companies went to trial over the matter in 2012 but the jury was split on the crucial question of whether Google’s use of Java was protected by “fair use,” which permits copying under limited circumstances.

Now the federal district court in San Francisco for a new trial due to begin May 9. As last time, a parade of star witnesses is expected to take the stand, including Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

The $9.3 billion figure is 10 times the sum Oracle was seeking when the case went to trial last time and is because Android is so successful. The new trial will cover six additional versions of Android, up to and including Lollipop. Even to Google this is not chump change. Google thinks that even it lost it should not pay more than $100 million.

In the first trial, a jury found Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright by copying into Android the “structure, sequence and organization” of 37 Java application programming interfaces.

The trial judge, William Alsup, ruled later that APIs aren’t eligible for protection under US copyright law, dealing Oracle’s case a seemingly fatal blow. An appeals court overturned that ruling, however. Google appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to take the case. So it now heads back to Alsup’s court to retry the issue of fair use.

Google has already blasted Oracle’s costings and asked Alsup to exclude parts of it from trial, saying it “ignores the statutory standard for copyright damages and fails to offer anything resembling an expert analysis.”

Copyright law says damages can only be claimed for profits that are “attributable to” the infringing code. And the 37 APIs are “a fraction of a percent of the code in the complex Android smartphone platform,” Google’s lawyers argued.

Botched patch leaves Java holy

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884Oracle released a security patch for Java 30 months ago which gave users a false sense of security.

Polish security outfit Security Explorations claimed that millions of users vulnerable to attacks that Oracle had claimed were no longer possible.

Security Explorations has issued a bypass code to the original exploit which contains only minor changes to the original proof-of-concept. The bypass changes only four characters from the 2013 code and uses a custom server to work.

The proof of concept ahs been successfully tested on Java SE Update 97, Java SE 8 Update 74, and Java SE 9 Early Access Build 108. In all cases, a complete Java security sandbox escape could be achieved.

Oracle also failed to fully evaluate the breadth of the vulnerability. While the company said it could be exploited only through the sandboxed Java Web start applications and sandboxed Java applets, it can also be exploited in server environments such as the Google App engine for Java. There are no indications that the vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild. On Thursday, Adobe issued an update for its Flash media player that patched almost two dozen vulnerabilities, at least one of which was being maliciously exploited in real-world attacks.


Oracle kills Java plug-in

Ned's_executionOracle has finally announced that it is killing off its Java browser plugin.

The cunning plan is to scale  down the plugin technology in Java Developer Kit 9 and remove it completely from Oracle JDK and Java Runtime Environment in a future Java SE release.

Oracle admitted that plugins were outdated and modern Web browsers don’t need them.  Chrome disabled Java in April last year, while Firefox also announced plans to kill Oracle’s technology.

Oracle has warned developers to find an alternative.

“With modern browser vendors working to restrict and reduce plugin support in their products, developers of applications that rely on the Java browser plugin need to consider alternative options such as migrating from Java Applets (which rely on a browser plugin) to the plugin-free Java Web Start technology,” Oracle said in a blog post to users.

Oracle acquired the Java plugin, in 2010. It is a bit like Flash and  Silverlight in that it uses NPAPI, which is an ancient Netscape Plugin API. These plugins have caused more trouble than good and using one is like painting a large bullseye on your back and screaming “hack me”.

Some will be miffed at the plug-in’s exist. Some enterprises are likely still running older Web browsers that need Java, and created plenty of applets for it.

Google moves to open source Java

microsoft-open-sourceSearch engine Google has rewarded Oracle for its intense legal interest in Android by abandoning all elements of Larry Ellison’s Java operating system from the mobile operating system.

Ellison’s mighty briefs have been trying to squeeze cash out of Google by claiming elements of the Andriod operating system use its Java Operating System without permission. Now it seems that Google has decided it is not worth the fight and is going to use something different instead.

Instead it is going to use OpenJDK which is an open source version of Oracle’s Java Development Kit.  Android N will rely solely on OpenJDK, rather Android’s own implementation of the Java APIs.

The plan is to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. It will start making more contributions to the OpenJDK project.

So far 8902 files have been changed, and Google says that it will simplify the code on which they build apps — a common codebase for these Java API libraries, as opposed to multiple codebases.  But it is not just for developers, otherwise Google would have made the complete switch to OpenJDK ages ago.

Google said that the reason was  the release of  Java 8 last year and the introduction of new language features such as Iambdas.  But there is also the small matter of Ellison’s mighty briefs.

Google has decided to protect itself with regards to future Android versions in the event it loses the current legal battles between Oracle and Google.

After acquiring Sun in January 2010, Oracle sued Google for copyright and patent infringement in August 2010, arguing that Android cannot use Java’s APIs without permission. Google countered by declaring that APIs can’t be copyrighted as they are essential to software development, collaboration, and innovation.

In 2012 a jury agreed with Google and said that Java’s APIs can’t be copyrighted. In May 2014, the Federal Circuit partially reversed the district court decision, ruling in Oracle’s favour: Java’s APIs can be copyrighted, but Google could argue that it made fair use of Oracle’s copyrighted APIs.

It is also not clear what will happen to Java if it is not the prime focus of Android. While Google walking away is not exactly going to kill it off, it will weaken the widescale adoption of an OS which many developers are already considering abandoning since Oracle took it over.

Microsoft opens its Chakra


chakra lightsSoftware giant Microsoft has open sourced its Chakra JavaScript engine it’s been working on since 2008.

The release will cover the “self-contained” parts of the code, and will hit the Web as ChakraCore, with support from Intel, AMD and NodeSource.

As a self-contained project, the core will include everything needed to “parse, interpret, compile and execute JavaScript code without any dependencies on Microsoft Edge internals”, Microsoft says.

Redmond’s announcement, made by Gaurav Seth says a GitHub repository will be posted next month.

According to the Vole Blog, Chakra architecture’s multi-tiered pipeline that supports an interpreter, and a multi-tiered background JIT compiler. There is a  traditional mark and sweep garbage collector that can do concurrent and partial collections deliver performance and scalability from “cloud services to the Internet of Things”.

The ChakraCore VM can work with NoSQL databases, productivity software and game engines, they write, and supports Node.js to extend its reach.

Vole has abandoned Chakra’s private bindings to the browser and to the Universal Windows Platform. It also rewrote the old COM-based diagnostic APIs, providing diagnostics which are “platform agnostic and could be standardised or made interoperable across different implementations”.

The initial open source ChakraCore is Windows-only, Vole wants developers to help get ChakraCore on other platforms.


Oracle’s Android battle longer than Trojan war

TrojanwarOracle long-running legal battle with Google over Google’s Android looks like it will run for years, with a new trial not being heard until the middle of next year.

The case involves how much copyright protection should extend to the Java programming language, which Google used to design Android.

Oracle wants royalties for Google’s use of Java language, while Google argues those parts of Java should be free.

The US Supreme Court declined to end the case in Google’s favour and sent the case back to San Francisco federal court for further proceedings. In 2012, a jury found that Google infringed Oracle’s copyright but deadlocked on Google’s fair use defence.

US District Judge William Alsup reviewed a series of legal issues that must be resolved before a retrial on fair use and damages.

Google’s Android operating system is the world’s best-selling smartphone platform. Oracle sued Google five years ago and is seeking roughly $1 billion in copyright claims.

Alsup said his trial calendar likely precludes another trial until spring of next year. He also asked whether mediation would help the companies settle the case. Google attorney Robert Van Nest said he thought mediation would be “premature.”

Alsup ordered the companies into mediation “whether you like it or not.”

Oracle about to buy Micros Systems

Database maker Oracle is in talks to buy Micros Systems, the outfit which makes software and point-of-sale hardware for retailers and hotel chains.

The deal is expected to be worth around $5 billion and is still being negotiated.

Micros Systems makes point-of-sale hardware and software for restaurants and hotels. Neither side is confirming the deal is taking place.

Word on the strasse is that Oracle rivals will be rushing to stick their oar in and offer higher bids to drive up the price. They may not want to buy Micros Systems but they do like seeing Larry Ellison get very cross having to pay more for something than he expected.

Other possible buyers would be SAP and Big Blue which have their own enterprise class e-commerce platform.

Ellison will want the company to help it stave off threat from software-as-a-service e-commerce vendors such as Demandware and NetSuite.

Oracle has been rolling out its own cloud-based products and acquiring smaller cloud companies such as marketing software maker Responsys.

Ellison has reorganised his sales team to catch up with rivals such as Salesforce.com, SAP and Workday.

Smaller, aggressive companies like Salesforce.com and Workday have often undercut Oracle’s pricing.

Oracle reported quarterly revenue and profit that failed to satisfy investors looking for signs of a sustained turnaround and forecast in-line current-quarter results in March. The company is expected to report fourth quarter results on June 19.

The deal, if confirmed, would be Oracle’s largest acquisition since it bought Sun Microsystems for $5.6 billion in 2009. 

Oracle wins new method of trolling

Oracle’s obsession with suing first and thinking about the implications later might have opened a can of worms for the company.

On Friday Oracle had a big win, when a federal appeals overturned a ruling in their epic battle over the Java programming language.

The dispute comes down to code used in Google’s Android operating system which if it does go forward could create a new breed of software trollage on a scale never seen before. The issue is one of cloning. Most software developers will tell you that cloning software is OK provided you do not cut and paste the source code.

Oracle thinks it can claim copyright not just over the source code itself, but over the standard names and structures used to organise Java. Therefore, it owns the designs of Java’s application programming interfaces, or APIs.

The techy judge Judge William Alsup ruled that was silly, but the Appeals Court disagreed and overturned his ruling.

This means that many important pieces of open source software which are clones of something else will suddenly become open to be trolled into oblivion. This could kill the Linux operating system and various cloud services and no doubt other proprietary software too.

In a post to the online discussion site Hacker News, Bryan Cantrill, the CTO at cloud provider Joyent, called the idea that APIs could be copyrighted a “perverted and depraved principle”.

“An API is a description of what the software is going to do,” Cantrill tells us. “You can think of the API as the plot as opposed to the novel. If you’re saying that that abstract notion of the plot is copyrightable, then everything is derivative.”

But what is even more ironic is that Oracle itself could be a victim of its own court case. Apparently it is sitting on shedloads of software in which its programmers copied APIs.

Cantrill works on an open source version of the Solaris operating system, and he claims that Oracle copied some of his APIs into its Oracle Solaris product without permission.

He said that he will not become a software copyright troll because that is wrong in principle, however the patent trolls have shown that there is no level to which they will not stoop if they can threaten anyone and make a quick buck.

Our guess is that there will be many patent trolls looking to becomes software trolls who are frantically scanning the APIs of Windows, iOS and Oracle software now trying to find vague similarities between code they wrote a decade or two ago which has been copied into other software. 

Computers are a foreign language in Kentucky

The Kentucky Senate has decided that students in the state can use computer programming courses to satisfy foreign language requirements in public schools.

The idea behind Senate Bill 16, is to help prepare students for good-paying jobs in the computer industry. At the moment Kentucky students must earn 22 credits to graduate high school, but 15 of those credits represent requirements for maths, science, social studies and English and college prerequisites call on students to have two credits of foreign language.

Senator David Givens, a Republican from Greensburg who is sponsoring the bill wants colleges to count computer languages a “foreign language”.

He points at national statistics showing that less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science despite a high demand in the market and jobs that start with $60,000 salaries.

There is some opposition to the move, which will re-enforce the isolationist nature of US education. After all, if young Kentuckians cannot speak French or German they will probably forget where these countries are. They will probably also try speaking Java to Italians which would not go down well.