Readers did point out some issues in our article that we would like to correct. First, we made some statements regarding copyright that are not completely accurate. A work can be jointly owned by two or more copyright holders who then have the right to individually assign nonexclusive rights without the permission of the other copyright holders. This is not typically done by companies developing code, because it effectively gives away the copyrights. It is more typically done when a company accepts code developed by an outside entity. In fact, as was pointed out by one reader, Sun has an agreement called the Sun Contributor Agreement (SCA) that specifies that any person who contributes code to a Sun-managed project gives Sun joint copyright in the code. This is an interesting way for Sun to ensure that code contributed to any of its projects can be used without restriction by Sun without copyright issues.
We decided to pursue these questions using the advanced tools for detecting copyright infringement created by our sister company, Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering (SAFE Corporation) and the thorough processes that we have developed. What started off as simple curiosity turned into an interesting research and analysis project to determine if we could uncover evidence of copyright infringement that Oracle’s experts had missed. Our two-week effort turned up some very surprising results–significant amounts of apparently copied code that was not brought up at the trial.