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Does Google’s Android violate Linux’s Copyright?


Does Google’s Android smartphone and tablet operating system violate Oracle’s patents? Who knows. I’m no software patent lawyer, but I cover intellectual property (IP) lawsuits far too often and I expect it will be years before the courts decide, or, as is more likely Google and Oracle will come to a licensing agreement. But, now one attorney is claiming a much more clear-cut IP law violation: Android violates Linux’s copyrights.

Edward J. Naughton, an IP attorney and partner at the international law firm Brown Rudnick, building on the work of Ray Nimmer, a copyright law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, claimed that when Google built Android around Linux and its GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), that “a key component of Android–the Bionic Library [which] is used by all application developers who need to access the core functions of the Linux operating system. Google essentially copied hundreds of files of Linux code that were never meant to be used as is by application developers, ‘cleaned’ those files using a non-standard and questionable technical process, and then declared that the code was no longer subject to the GPLv2, so that developers could use it without becoming subject to copyleft effect that would normally apply to GPLv2-licensed code taken from the Linux kernel.”

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