Google's Android mobile operating system has been accused of lifting significant amounts of free Linux code and presenting it as its own proprietary software.
According to an article written by Edward J. Naughton, an IP attorney and partner at the international law firm Brown Rudnick, a key component of Android, the Bionic Library, was created using Linux software code that was never meant to be used by application developers and manufacturers in the first place.
Google lifted hundreds of files of the Linux code, which is available for free under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), cleaned the code using a 'questionable technical process' and declared that the code was no longer protected by the GPLv2 license so that developers won't be affected by the copyleft criteria.
“At a minimum, Google has taken a significant gamble. While that may be fine for Google, because it knows about and understands the risks, many Android developers and device manufacturers are taking that same risk unknowingly,” Naughton said.
If Google is found guilty of lifting the free code and presenting it as its own proprietary code, then the Android ecosystem could be seriously affected, Naughton warned, as then developers and device manufacturers will be forced to offer their Android applications for free under the GPLv2.