Linus Torvalds Dismisses Charges That Android Commits Linux-related Violations

by Sam Dean - Mar. 23, 2011Comments (4)

Even as Google's open source Android mobile OS has marched to success in a very short period of time, it has also come under legal fire from both Oracle and Microsoft. In another recent salvo fired at Android, intellectual property pundit Edward J. Naughton and Raymond Nimmer, a copyright law professor, have raised concerns over how Android handles certain parts of Linux code. Now, Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds has weighed in the latest charges, and Torvalds calls the charges "bogus."

In an interview with IT World,Torvalds addressed charges that Google manipulated aspects of Linux code, then licensed them under the Apache license, violating the Linux kernel's GPL. Torvalds told IT World:

"It seems totally bogus. We've always made it very clear that the kernel system call interfaces do not in any way result in a derived work as per the GPL, and the kernel details are exported through the kernel headers to all the normal glibc interfaces too. The kernel headers contain various definitions for the interfaces to user space, and we even actively try to make sure that the headers can be used by user space (and try to mark which of the headers are expected to be usable in such a way). Exactly because we know user space needs those details in order to interact with the kernel. So I haven't looked at exactly what Google does with the kernel headers, but I can't see that they'd want to do anything fundamentally different from glibc in this respect."

Torvalds convincingly argues against the Linux-related charges, but these latest charges are more evidence of how Android is perceived as a threat to the hegemony of numerous players in the software and mobile arenas. Oracle has argued that, with Android, Google directly copied its Java code. But Naughton raised one of the biggest concerns of all, which is that device manufacturers and others building on Android may face repercussions based on copyrights:

"[Google] knows about and understands the risks, [but] many Android developers and device manufacturers are taking that same risk unknowingly. If Google is wrong, the repercussions are significant for the Android ecosystem."

This is the real concern for those who believe in Android. If device manufacturers and other players in the Android ecosystem come to believe that Android violates copyrights and commits other violations, then that could harm the ecosystem. With Microsoft's and Oracle's charges still standing, it's likely that legal wrangling over Android will not end any time soon.


Shailesh Patel uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


37 Android IP lawsuits:

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So, how much to bet all 37 IP lawsuits are from Apple supporters/employees hrmm?

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This is Mr Edward J. Naughton CV:

And this is the cached version from google:

Search both for microsoft ..

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Didn't we see this movie with the scum at SCO? See how well that ended for SCO!

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