SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google’s Android software just dodged a $9 billion bullet.
A federal jury found Thursday that Google didn’t need permission to use a rival’s programming tools as it built Android — now the world’s leading smartphone operating software and a key part of Google’s multi-billion dollar Internet business.
Software competitor Oracle claimed Google had stolen its intellectual property and reaped huge profits by copying pieces of an Oracle programming language called Java. But the jury in U.S. District Court found that Google made “fair use,” under copyright law, of Java elements that help different software programs work together.
Oracle, which had sought $9 billion in damages, immediately said it would appeal.
The verdict was closely watched in Silicon Valley, in part because many popular features of today’s smartphones only work because apps can “talk” to one another or the phone’s underlying software. Google’s supporters — a group that included other tech firms, trade associations and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet rights group — warned that an Oracle victory would hamper future innovation by making that software cooperation more difficult and expensive.
Google argued that because it used only a small part of Java to create Android, a much larger system of software built for a new purpose, it qualified for a “fair use” exemption from copyright. Similar exemptions allow artists and critics to quote or reuse small portions of someone else’s work in a larger essay or creation.
Oracle and its allies simply argued that the company should be paid for the use of its code. While Google lets smartphone manufacturers use Android software without charge, it makes billions of dollars by showing advertising to people who use Google services, including its popular search engine and maps, on Android phones and tablets.
The high-profile dispute was a clash of Silicon Valley titans. While much of the trial focused on arcane aspects of computer programming, jurors heard testimony from prominent tech executives and a pair of multi-billionaire moguls. Google co-founder Larry Page testified in person, while Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison appeared on video.
Jurors also got a glimpse of Silicon Valley’s small world when they heard from Eric Schmidt, now chairman of Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. Schmidt was an executive of Sun Microsystems when that company created Java. Oracle acquired the rights to Java when it bought Sun in 2010.
The jury’s verdict marks Google’s second victory in the case. U.S. Judge William Alsup sided with Google in 2012, ruling that the APIs weren’t protected by copyright. An appellate court overturned Alsup’s ruling and sent the case back for a second trial.
Oracle said it will appeal the latest verdict on “numerous grounds.” In a statement, Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley added, “We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market.”
Google welcomed the jury’s finding in its own statement.
“Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products,” the company said.
You can follow Brandon Bailey at https://Twitter.com/BrandonBailey or find his reporting at http://www.bigstory.ap.org/journalist/brandon-bailey
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the face of imminent military assaults on key cities in Iraq and Syria, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in the Middle East said Thursday he’s concerned about running low on precision-guided weapons needed for the war against the Islamic State group in both countries.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, said the U.S. has been going through more weapons than officials forecast in the run-up to the wars. And he told Pentagon reporters that the Pentagon is looking at weapons stocks around the world.
“We have to do some analysis of where we take risk,” Brown told Pentagon reporters in a videoconference from the Middle East. “And what I mean by that is, where do we pull some weapons from that we were saving for other contingencies. And do we use them now or do we save them for later?”
Brown, who oversees U.S. air operations in the Middle East, also said the Air Force is taking steps to buy more weapons but that will take time.
According to the latest Pentagon report, the U.S. has spent more than $1.7 billion on munitions in the fight against the Islamic State group since August 2014. That amounts to about $2.7 million a day.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted the munitions problem in February, saying there were no immediate battlefield shortages. But he noted that the Pentagon requested a significant increase in spending on munitions in the budget “partly to offset the depletion” associated with the anti-Islamic State campaign.
The U.S.-backed coalition has been conducting persistent airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria, and those could intensify as Iraqi forces move to retake Fallujah and as the Syrian Democratic Forces continue their march to defeat Islamic State fighters controlling the city of Raqqa. Both fights are in the early stages, but are expected to escalate in the coming weeks and months
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A national pork supplier promised Thursday to investigate abuse allegations at one of its Nebraska facilities after an animal rights group released an undercover video showing pigs with open wounds and other health problems.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund released the footage Wednesday and sent letters to the Nebraska and Illinois attorney general’s offices requesting a criminal investigation. The facility is owned by The Maschhoffs, the largest family-owned pork production business in North America, which is based in Carlyle, Illinois.
The video allegedly shows pigs with maladies such as intestinal ruptures, large open wounds and baseball-sized cysts. At one point, a person is shown slamming a piglet’s head into the floor to try to kill it. The group said its undercover investigator documented long stretches of time — up to three days — where pigs received no food, leading them to become agitated and hurting each other and themselves.
“Conscious consumers who are looking to support more responsible businesses are deceived by companies, such as The Maschhoffs, that misrepresent themselves with false idyllic words and images rather than developing a better business model,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells.
The Maschhoffs said in a statement Thursday it will act immediately to address the allegations and will cooperate with any criminal investigation. Hormel Foods, one of its largest customers, said it has suspended all sow operations at the plant and is sending auditors to see whether animal care requirements are being followed.
“As a family-owned, long-standing hog production company, we recognize our ethical obligation to provide for the wellbeing and human care of our animals as do our customers,” said Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs.
The Maschhoffs and the Animal Legal Defense Fund both declined to reveal the facility’s exact location. A spokesman for The Maschhoffs said the company didn’t want to endanger employees at the plant, and an attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund said his group was concerned that its undercover investigator might be identified.
A spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson declined to comment and wouldn’t confirm whether that office has opened an investigation.
Video by The Animal Legal Defense Fund: http://bit.ly/22qBV4c
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. envoy for Syria plans a resumption of peace talks “as soon as feasible” between the government and opposition, but he set no new date and expects that it will “certainly not” come within the next two to three weeks, his office said Thursday.
The lack of a solid date from Staffan de Mistura for the resumption testifies to continued violence in Syria and difficulties for U.N. efforts to ship humanitarian aid to beleaguered Syrians amid fighting between President Bashar Assad’s troops and their allies and rebel fighters. The talks were suspended last month with little to no progress.
De Mistura, in a closed-door videoconference briefing to the U.N. Security Council, “reiterated the need to see progress on the ground — particularly in reference to the cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access,” his office said in a statement.
“He briefed on his intention to start the next round of talks as soon as feasible but certainly not within the next two/three weeks,” it said.
In New York, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Washington shared the “frustrations and concerns” of de Mistura, and pointed a finger at Russia — which has backed Assad’s forces.
“It is clear that violence has increased in the past month and is nearing pre-cessation of hostilities levels. It is also clear that the dangers to the cessation are largely being driven by the Syrian regime and its allies and attacks on civilians,” she said.
“Russia has special responsibility to press the Assad regime to abide by the cessation of hostility and end its bombardment and siege of innocent civilians,” Power added.
Speaking to reporters earlier Thursday, de Mistura noted a “sense of urgency” for resuming the talks before Aug. 1 — a previously announced deadline for an agreement.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in the first week of June, “will not be a factor” in determining the talks’ timetable, de Mistura added.
Also Thursday, the U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator for Syria, Jan Egeland, sounded alarm bells, saying the threat of children dying from malnutrition hangs over at least three communities besieged by government troops.
Access to besieged areas in Syria has fallen short of what was planned for May, he said. Of 1 million people, only 160,000 have been reached with aid so far, Egeland said, citing problems including government restrictions.
Two Damascus suburbs — Daraya and Moadamiyeh — and the al-Waer district of the central Syrian city of Homs, which are all besieged by government forces, are locations where the situation “is still horrendously critical,” Egeland said.
“Children are so malnourished in these places that they will be dying if we are not able to reach them,” he added.
Additionally, activists in Daraya said government forces shelled several areas in the town Thursday, attempting to advance from the south in violation of a cease-fire. There were no reports of casualties.
The International Support Group of Syria, which includes the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, had set a June 1 deadline for the resumption of humanitarian aid to areas cut off from the outside world, saying if land routes remain blocked, food aid will be air dropped.
At least 700 tons of aid has been air dropped on at least 110,000 people in areas besieged by Islamic State fighters in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.
De Mistura said the World Food Program is preparing new aid drops but the government of Syria needs to cooperate more to make them happen.
Activists in besieged areas of Damascus and Homs appealed in a Facebook statement to the Syrian opposition to boycott any future talks until aid is allowed in.
Considering air drops “is a shy step by an international community promising to impose a political solution on the regime, yet incapable thus far of compelling it to allow humanitarian aid,” the statement said.
Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, and Michael Astor at the United Nations, contributed to this report.
The Memphis Grizzlies have their new coach: David Fizdale.
The Miami Heat assistant has accepted the Grizzlies’ offer to be their next coach, a person familiar with the negotiations said. Fizdale as accepted the offer after he met with Memphis controlling owner Robert Pera on Wednesday in California, the person said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Grizzlies have not commented on the negotiations.
Yahoo! Sports first reported Fizdale has agreed to a four-year deal.
Fizdale replaces Dave Joerger, who was fired May 7 after three seasons and three playoff appearances. This will be Fizdale’s first head coaching job. He has been with the Heat since the 2008-09 season and has been assistant head coach the past two seasons.
The Grizzlies are giving a longtime NBA assistant his first head coaching opportunity during an offseason when many other teams have hired NBA head coaching veterans such as Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, Nate McMillan in Indiana and Frank Vogel in Orlando.
They wrapped up their selection process less than three weeks after dismissing Joerger, who has since been hired as Sacramento’s head coach. Memphis also considered former Grizzlies and Nets coach Lionel Hollins, Charlotte assistant Patrick Ewing, Portland assistant Nate Tibbets, Spurs assistants James Borrego and Ettore Messina as well as Vogel.
In Miami, Fizdale helped with player development and game preparation. He also coached the Heat’s summer league teams in 2010 and 2012.
Fizdale also was an assistant coach with Golden State in 2003-04 and the Atlanta Hawks between 2004 and 2008. He started coaching as an assistant at his alma mater, the University of San Diego, in 1998 through 2002 where he was a three-year starter at point guard. Fizdale spent a season as Miami’s video intern in 1997-98.
Memphis also considered former Grizzlies and Nets coach Lionel Hollins, Charlotte assistant Patrick Ewing, Portland assistant Nate Tibbets, Spurs assistants James Borrego and Ettore Messina and Frank Vogel, who took the Orlando job last week.
The Grizzlies have the NBA’s third-longest postseason streak currently at six straight seasons behind only San Antonio (19) and Atlanta (9).
Now that they’ve found their coach, the Grizzlies can concentrate on personnel matters.
The Grizzlies are waiting for center Marc Gasol’s broken right foot to heal after his season ended in February. Point guard Mike Conley is due to become a free agent after left Achilles tendinitis ended his season in early March, and Memphis also has to decide whether to exercise the option on Lance Stephenson and if they should keep Vince Carter, JaMychal Green and Xavier Munford.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
HONOLULU (AP) — When you come upon an ocean bay that has features known as “Toilet Bowl” and “Witch’s Brew,” you may not envision a welcoming tropical oasis. But Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay, nestled inside a breeched volcanic cone on the southeastern shore of Oahu, has some of the state’s calmest waters, most pristine beaches and world-renowned snorkeling over coral reefs that teem with colorful fish.
For the second year in a row, a beach in Hawaii has been selected as the best beach in America by a Florida professor who’s made a career ranking and studying beaches around the country. This year’s top spot goes to Hanauma Bay, a picturesque nature reserve with gin-clear, turquoise water and abundant sea life.
Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, uses about 50 criteria to assess and rank beaches across the country. In recent years, he has given extra points to beaches that prohibit smoking, saying cigarette butts are not only environmentally damaging, but can ruin the experience for beach-goers. Safety and environmental management are other major factors, he said.
“It’s so safe and easy. A lot of times if you want to see those kinds of fish you’ve got to go offshore, you’ve got to go take a boat ride somewhere,” Leatherman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview last week. “I’ve never seen so many fish swimming around your feet.”
Other beaches that made the list this year, in order of ranking, are: Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida; Kapalua Bay Beach in Maui, Hawaii; Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Grayton Beach State Park in Florida; Coronado Beach in San Diego; Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York; Caladesi Island State Park in Clearwater, Florida; and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Hanauma Bay became a marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. In 1990, local officials formulated a plan to better protect the area. All first-time visitors who come to the popular snorkeling spot are required to watch an informational video that teaches them about preservation and conservation, as well as the safety rules for the bay. It’s against the law to mistreat any marine life in the bay, and visitors are not allowed to touch or walk on the coral reefs.
Leatherman says Hanauma Bay was the first beach in the state to ban smoking because they found that fish were eating cigarette butts.
“We don’t really want these cigarette butts on the beaches anyway, because kids eat them, too,” Leatherman said. “They’re disgusting.”
Now all public beaches in Hawaii prohibit smoking, which helped give the edge to last year’s winner, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Oahu.
Now in his 25th year of ranking beaches, Leatherman has reset the list and allowed all beaches to be eligible for the top spot in 2016. Until now, any beach that won previously had been disqualified for another win, and Hanauma Bay won the honor about a decade ago, Leatherman said.
“It’s one of the most unique beaches in the world, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Safety is an important factor in Leatherman’s decision, noting that the water in Hanauma Bay is relatively shallow and calm and that you don’t have to go very far offshore to see the marine life. The park also has lifeguards posted across the beach and many signs warning visitors of the dangers that do exist.
The area is not without hazards, however. There have been 51 drowning deaths at Hanauma Bay since 1995.
Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Shayne Enright told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday that inexperienced snorkelers often underestimate the dangers of swimming in the bay.
“It’s the lifeguard’s job to survey all these people who are face-down in the water and figure out who is in trouble and who is OK,” Enright said.
She said that there are some misconceptions that visitors have about snorkeling, especially that the activity is easy.
“If you don’t practice snorkeling, you will swallow water,” she said. “If you swallow a lot of water, you can actually paralyze your vocal cords and you’re unable to make any noise and panic sets in.”
Enright noted that while the waves rarely get very big in the bay, certain areas have very strong currents that can suck you out to sea. Areas known as “Witch’s Brew” and “Toilet Bowl” are both off limits because of the strong currents, she said. There were about 650 rescues in 2015, ranging from people who were unresponsive in the water to those who simply needed some help getting back to shore.
Only four of the 51 drowning victims at Hanauma Bay since 1995 were Hawaii residents, 28 were from other countries and the remaining 19 were from out of state, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.
Yichuan Chiang, who has lived in Honolulu for about 45 years and comes to the park three times a week to swim laps in the “Keyhole” section of the bay, says the fish, scenery and warm water are the reasons he loves the beach so much.
“I don’t think there’s any other place like this in the state,” he said as the sun rose above the horizon on an early May morning. “There are probably 200 varieties of fish in the bay, so you’re bound to run into some of them every time you’re out there.”
Hanauma Bay is closed to visitors on Tuesdays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day to allow the fish to feed without the stress of swimmers nearby. President Barack Obama spent New Year’s Day in 2015 snorkeling with his wife and daughters in the bay. They spent more than four hours at the site, which was closed to the public during their visit. The Obamas visit nearly every year.
There are only about 300 parking spaces available so guests should plan to arrive early if they want to drive to the bay. There are also tourist shuttle busses from Waikiki that operate daily.
Follow Caleb Jones on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CalebAP Find more of his work here: http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/caleb-jones