Oracle Asks For $9.3 Billion in Copyright Trial Against Google

Google is known for many things, from the search engine that started it all to the chrome web browser that so many uses these days. One of the things Google is known for is the Android mobile operating system, something that could Oracle want a piece of in a copyright trial against Google.

The copyright claim refers to several infringements that Google made as part of 37 java API’s that were used in the creation of the Android operating system. In total, the damages Oracle are seeking come to $9.3 billion, an absolutely staggering figure that seems to dwarf even what Google made in the last quarter ($4.9 billion).

Previously the largest copyright verdict stood at $1.3 billion in a case that Oracle won against SAP in 2010. The value of $9.3 billion was figured out by using “a weighted average analysis of what Google pays to others for the contribution of their non-Android mobile platforms in connection with generating search advertising revenue”.

When it comes to code and copyright the law is a little indecisive. Some say that code can be copyrighted and protected under law, some say it can’t be. This case should set an interesting precedent, with it being the largest intellectual property verdict in history.

Oracle is Killing Off Java

Outdated browser plugin Java is finally being pulled, Oracle has announced. Java will be slowly phased out, beginning with a deprecation of the plugin starting with JDK 9. The advent of HTML5 means that buggy and insecure browser plugins, such as Flash and Java, are no longer required, with Google Chrome already suspending use of Java last year. Adobe has made a similar move, rebranding Flash and shifting toward HTML5.

“By late 2015, many browser vendors have either removed or announced timelines for the removal of standards based plugin support, eliminating the ability to embed Flash, Silverlight, Java and other plugin based technologies,” Oracle’s announcement on its blog reads. “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 plans to deprecate the Java browser plugin in JDK 9. This technology will be removed from the Oracle JDK and JRE in a future Java SE release,” the post continues. “Early Access releases of JDK 9 are available for download and testing at http://jdk9.java.net. More background and information about different migration options can be found in this short whitepaper from Oracle.”

Oracle’s Java Code to Be Removed from Future Android Versions

Today Google confirmed that the next version of their Android Operating System, Android N, would not be making use of Oracle’s Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and instead they would be replaced by their OpenJDK equivalents in all future versions of Android. While Google states that this change will make the development of Android applications easier in future, it is also likely related to Google’s legal battle with Oracle relating to Google’s use of its Java APIs.

The switch from Oracle to OpenJDK was first spotted last month due to a commit made to the Android open source repository, clearly showing changes to a massive 8092 files and the commit message documenting the initial addition of OpenJDK code to the repository. Now Google has gone public with the change, making this statement to Venturebeat:

“As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community. In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future.”

So while Google’s official line on the matter is that it allows for easier development of applications by developers and allows the community to give more back to OpenJDK, which is impossible with a proprietary product such as Oracle Java, it is unlikely this is the only reason for the switch, else would Google not have done it sooner?

That leaves the matter of Google and Oracle’s ongoing legal battle over the Google’s use of Java APIs, with Oracle claiming that Google had misused their APIs, which are their property, and Google maintaining that the use of the APIs should be protected for software innovation purposes and could not be copyrighted. Since 2010, this legal battle has raged back and forth, with verdicts being handed down and overturned. This switch to OpenJDK could indicate an out-of-court settlement between the companies that has yet to come to light, or that Google are simply insuring themselves in case they lose the legal war and by then would have already instigated the change away from Oracle APIs.

Even if the result of the lawsuit could be made somewhat moot by Google no longer using Oracle’s APIs, the result could have wider ramifications on the software industry on the whole, should code vendors be allowed to consider parts of their code copyrighted, it could spark a whole new blaze of copyright wars over the use of programming languages and tools. At least for the everyday Android developer, the switch to OpenJDK may make future application development for Android a little simpler; how strongly this will affect the backwards compatibility of newer apps remains to be seen.

Oracle Wants You to Stop Reverse-Engineering its Software

Or, ‘Stop finding vulnerabilities in our software, because it makes us feel bad.’

Oracle’s Chief Security Officer Mary Ann Davidson launched an astonishing – and now-deleted – attack on customers who deign to reverse-engineer the company’s software to find security holes, warning them that it’s a breach of the licensing agreement.

Davidson ranted:

“Recently, I have seen a large-ish uptick in customers reverse engineering our code to attempt to find security vulnerabilities in it. < Insert big sigh here. > This is why I’ve been writing a lot of letters to customers that start with “hi, howzit, aloha” but end with “please comply with your license agreement and stop reverse engineering our code, already.”

You should let the professionals – y’know, the one’s responsible for the security holes in the first place – deal with it, you naughty children! She continued:

“I can understand that in a world where it seems almost every day someone else had a data breach and lost umpteen gazillion records to unnamed intruders who may have been working at the behest of a hostile nation-state, people want to go the extra mile to secure their systems.

That said, you would think that before gearing up to run that extra mile, customers would already have ensured they’ve identified their critical systems, encrypted sensitive data, applied all relevant patches, be on a supported product release, use tools to ensure configurations are locked down — in short, the usual security hygiene — before they attempt to find zero day vulnerabilities in the products they are using.”

Oracle’s software boasts Common Criteria certifications or FIPS-140 certifications, so it’s safe, Davidson claims. And, if that’s not enough to stop you tinkering, Oracle will censure “sinners” who breach its software’s terms and conditions:

“If we determine as part of our analysis that scan results could only have come from reverse engineering (in at least one case, because the report said, cleverly enough, “static analysis of Oracle XXXXXX”), we send a letter to the sinning customer, and a different letter to the sinning consultant-acting-on-customer’s behalf — reminding them of the terms of the Oracle license agreement that preclude reverse engineering, So Please Stop It Already.”

The meandering rant was later deleted, with Edward Screven, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Architect (which must be the best made-up title ever) saying:

“The security of our products and services has always been critically important to Oracle. Oracle has a robust program of product security assurance and works with third party researchers and customers to jointly ensure that applications built with Oracle technology are secure. We removed the post as it does not reflect our beliefs or our relationship with our customers.”

For those who would like to read Davidson diatribe in its full glory, one helpful “sinner” has posted it to Scribd.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information.

Yahoo Trying to Trick Java Users into Switching Search Engines

Do you use Yahoo Search? No? Me neither. But Yahoo is hoping to change that via trickery. The internet giant has teamed up with Oracle to backdoor Yahoo Search as your default search engine when installing Java. The deal was announced by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on Wednesday and will come into effect later this month.

According to Oracle, Java is installed on 89% of desktop computers in the US, and billions of devices around the world, including mobile phones and smart TVs, which by proxy could give Yahoo a huge market boost in its effort to expand the reach of its search engine.

Yahoo has been making steps to increase the userbase of its search engine which, while once popular over a decade ago, is now lagging behind Google, and even Microsoft’s Bing, as the internet’s search engine of choice. A deal with Mozilla, making Yahoo Search the default browser for the Firefox internet browser, was greeted by groans, and this new Java deal is set for an equally negative reaction, potentially rendering Yahoo’s efforts counterproductive.

In truth, the stealth defaulting to Yahoo Search is rather transparent: a checked tickbox that can be opted out of. So, if you tend to click ‘next’ without reviewing what you are agreeing with, you deserve to be a Yahoo user. It’s an unethical tactic, using bundling in order to proliferate your product, but one that responsible computer users can easily sidestep.

Thank you Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information.

Latest Java Update Trolls Mac Users with Annoying Adware

Java is one of the most used platforms on all major operating system nowadays. It is even required by some websites to be able to load and display their applets, giving you a rich browsing experience. However, its latest update seems to want to dictate which search engine we are using when browsing the Internet.

The latest update for Java is said to ‘automatically’ install a web browser add-on for Ask.com, an alternative search engine such as Bing, Google, Duck Duck Go, etc., as well as defaulting your browser’s home page to the Ask.com webpage. Windows users have been plagued by something similar in the past, but now it looks like the adware is targeting Mac users.

Ask.com features can be skipped during the installation, but knowing how companies tend to put such software ticking options enabled and ‘well hidden’, most users don’t even realise they are being installed until they are on the system or notices the computer running slow. Oracle, the distributor of Java, is said to have not responded to requests for comment so far.

Thank you CNN Money for providing us with this information

Oracle Co-Founder Larry Ellison Steps Down as CEO

Oracle’s co-founder Larry Ellison announced in a company press release today that he would be stepping down from his position as CEO. Two replacements will fill the position, with long-standing co-presidents Mark Hurd and Safra Catz taking the top spot. Hurd will be heading primarily sales, marking and strategy, and Catz will be working on finance and manufacturing as well as legal departments.

The co-founder informed the company that he didn’t plan to retire or step away from his work at Oracle – instead Ellison has been elected to the position of chairman of Oracle’s board. What does this all mean? Ellison will be returning to a more ‘roots based position’ of work and influence within the company – and will be heading development, product engineering and strategy. Ellison’s shift sees him replacing Jeff Henley, who had been serving as chairman for the past decade – Ellison will still be working full time at the company.

Oracle’s board is said to be excited about the reshuffle – and is thrilled that their outstanding executive team will continue to thrive and move the company forward for the future to come. Ellis has not only been an exceptional businessman – seeing Oracle grow into a market capitalisation of $185 billion – but is considered a legendary figure within Silicon Valley for his innovative and progressive work.

Image courtesy of Oracle.

U.S. State Accuses Oracle of Lying, Fraud and Racketeering

The state of Oregon, U.S, has sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives on Friday. Reason for the lawsuit is their failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program, also known as Obamacare. Oregon had paid Oracle around $240 million dollars for a system that never worked.

A 126 page long lawsuit was filed in Marion Country Circuit Court claiming that fraud, lying and “a pattern of racketeering” by Oracle cost the state and its Cover Oregon program hundreds of millions of dollars. “Not only were Oracle’s claims lies, Oracle’s work was abysmal,” the lawsuit said. 

In a statement issued from Oracle, it reads “the lawsuit is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project.” Oracle plans to fight the lawsuit and is confident that they will win both in this lawsuit and the one filed 2 weeks ago in the federal court.

Oregon was initially enthusiastic about the federal healthcare plan and their own Cover Oregon and quickly engaged in television commercials and print ads in advance of the rollout. But the Oracle-built site never worked and Oregonians were forced to submit paper applications in a hastily-organized process. In April Oregon moved to an exchange run by the federal government.

The original whistle-blower on this told the state that Oracle “planned … a behind the scenes effort” to keep the state from hiring an outside systems integrator who would oversee the project. The suit asks Oracle to pay for Cover Oregon’s financial losses, plus penalties for damages.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image and video courtesy of Oracle.