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Judge Rules API's Can Not Be Copyrighted

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the listen-to-the-law dept.

Google 365

Asmodae writes "Judge Alsup in the Oracle vs Google case has finally issued his ruling on the issue of whether or not APIs can be copyrighted. That ruling is resounding no. In some fairly clear language the judge says: 'So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API.'"

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Good to Know (5, Informative)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174133)

Wine's safe. And everything else associated with it.

Re:Good to Know (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174215)

Just about everything is safe. Ruling APIs copyrightable would have been a catastrophe of earth-shattering proportions. It is very much a good day for software. And, of course, Oracle has been handed their balls on a platter, though I'm assuming they will appeal this.

Re:Good to Know (1)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174287)

Of course. This seemed like the logical thing to do, though. Copyrighting APIs? Crazy, IMO!

Re:Good to Know (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174307)

This!

How could you possibly call an API if the argument structure was copyrightable? Buy a license for every single API set that was delivered with your machine, associated with every software product, or hosted somewhere on the web?

In a world of stupid IP laws, at least this judge gets it. (Which surprises the hell out of me).

Re:Good to Know (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174349)

It would have been a disaster. Just about every operating system vendor, programming toolkit, developer of document formats and protocols would have to amend licenses to grant developers the rights to access the outward facing layers. Big guys like Microsoft could just crush projects like Wine. It would have been absolute chaos and would have created years of uncertainty, not to mention the fact that as the EU has already ruled APIs cannot be copyrighted, it would have created a monstrous rift in IP rules between Europe and the United States.

Re:Good to Know (5, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174775)

I agree, but what makes me ponder is that the European court said to allow copyright on an API would allow monopolizing ideas. Isn't that what allowing business rules patents does? Ie patent ideas? Hopefully, somehow, Alsup's logic pervades into the business rule / software patent realm and blots out this travesty of justice too.

Re:Good to Know (1, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174373)

Someone did not pay him enough!

Hence, we will see an appeal to a Judge that gets paid the right amount of money by the right people.

The more likely answer is: This judge is not corrupted like so many others. It's a refreshing sight!

Re:Good to Know (5, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174485)

That this judge knew what the two sides were talking about is one big factor.

Basically, average judge (well, average person in general) would look at rangeCheck() and go "VOODOO!!!"
He looks at it and goes, "Day 1 of a coding class. Where's the originality?"

Re:Good to Know (0)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174575)

Only if it was written in BrainFuck

Re:Good to Know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174533)

Or perhaps someone else paid him the correct amount.

Re:Good to Know (5, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174551)

In a world of stupid IP laws, at least this judge gets it. (Which surprises the hell out of me).

That's what happens when you have a judge who programs as a hobby. It would be great if all lawsuits that affect an entire industry like this had to be decided by a judge familiar with the industry. Not going to happen of course, but it would be awesome if judges deciding software patent cases had to have some sort of programming background.

Re:Good to Know (2)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174667)

Not only awesome, but I think a requirement. How can you judge about what you know nothing about in a timespan not appropriate for you to learn about it, or without the ability to learn it?

Re:Good to Know (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174675)

Sometimes we have a fairly small window for effective actions in favor of freedom, before vested powers realize they have a vulnerability that needs to be shut down. For example: Last year's Arab Spring using social-networking tools. In the future, this particular court case may go in the other direction -- wouldn't be surprised if it were prohibited that a judge know anything about a given industry (as currently happens in practice with jury selection).

Re:Good to Know (5, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174737)

It would be great if all lawsuits that affect an entire industry like this had to be decided by a judge familiar with the industry.

y
Be careful what you wish for. If you have any experience in, say, hydraulic fracking for natural gas expansion, it's because you worked for a company that did it. Assuming you left on somewhat-amiable terms, you'll harbor generally-kind feelings to the company in particular and the industry in general, if only to justify to yourself why you did it. In this case, it turned out great - but mostly because you can program as a hobby, which isn't possible for banking, fracking, telco, etc...

Imagine the worst of regulatory capture (when the only people with sufficient experience to regulate an industry are the ones being regulated), but with much broader consequences. Not pretty. There's a reason our judges are supposed to be experts in law, and the lawyers are supposed to bring in expert witnesses to explain the relevant details of the subject to him.

Re:Good to Know (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174313)

The judge strongly suggested that Oracle take the paltry-ish sum when that came up in court.

I'm also sure that they'll appeal, but they'll probably lose.

"I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing ... Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill?"

Re:Good to Know (5, Interesting)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174361)

Even if they appeal, the appellate judges will get a good education from reading the current decision, so they might do the right thing. I have to say, I doubt this would have happened if Google did not exist.

Re:Good to Know (5, Informative)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174395)

And, of course, Oracle has been handed their balls on a platter, though I'm assuming they will appeal this.

The judge has clearly anticipated the appeal, even devoting an entire section to explaining how utterly trivial the 9 lines of actually copied code are, and to describing, for the benefit of an appeals court, how ridiculously Oracle has exaggerated the claims around them--remember Oracle tried to claim that by copying the 9-line (including closing braces) implementation of rangeCheck, Google was able to bring Android to market sooner. Goddamned fools.

Re:Good to Know (5, Insightful)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174653)

The judge has clearly anticipated the appeal, even devoting an entire section to explaining how utterly trivial the 9 lines of actually copied code are...

It is amusing. The judge probably spent several orders of magnitude longer explaining why the lines were trivial than the time it would take to the write the function in the first place.

Re:Good to Know (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174611)

This ruling and opinion looks very water tight. If it goes up through the appeals process, I think it is likely to be affirmed the whole way up the food chain.

The ruling goes way beyond even settling the issue of copyright over APIs, but even goes so far as to say that EULAs that restrict the use of APIs are dead in the water and are void in terms of enforceability. This ruling does strengthen the copyright claims of people who write up API libraries as the original implementation of a particular API function is expressly covered under copyright law, but the way data is passed between two different software packages simply can't be copyrighted at all.

The only way this is going to be overturned is to place a stamp of copyright protection on API interfaces directly and hand this whole case to Oracle, giving them everything they ever wanted and more. I just don't see any higher court will do something like that.

Re:Good to Know (2)

Tynin (634655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174357)

Wine's safe. And everything else associated with it.

Wine is just a single piece of software that is safe. This would have been huge if it had gone the other way. It could have been using all the way up to the point of processor instruction sets being illegal to use unless you paid a license fee.

Re:Good to Know (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174401)

Hell, it would have meant Open/LibreOffice and just about anyone with software or libraries that can read or write the old Word 97-2003 formats would be insanely vulnerable. The distance between an API, a document format or a protocol is no distance at all, and anyone who didn't have a license to write Word-compatible files could be nailed to the wall.

Re:Good to Know (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174581)

This wouldn't be limited to F/OSS, either. Imagine what happens if someone dug out the old "copyrights" on, say, the signature of printf.

Re:Good to Know (1)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174643)

Of course, and I didn't say that what you're saying wasn't true! This would, of course, have been massive, you are absolutely (and knowingly) right.

Re:Good to Know (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174745)

We agree to agree :-) I'm just still in shock that the judicial system worked in our favor... on a case pertaining to technology even. Shocked. And immensely happy.

Wonder what Florian has to say about all of this. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174149)

PJ from Groklaw:

Oracle has nothing to show for all of its efforts> For those who have depended on the self-described patent expert for your understanding of this case . . . well, maybe now you will know better than to trust a paid spokesman.

Re:Wonder what Florian has to say about all of thi (3, Interesting)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174335)

He hasn't yet, and those of us who have been following the case are eagerly awaiting his spin.

Re:Wonder what Florian has to say about all of thi (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174407)

He hasn't yet, and those of us who have been following the case are eagerly awaiting his spin.

Well, I imagine his own head has to stop spinning before he can resume spinning the FUD.

Re:Wonder what Florian has to say about all of thi (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174337)

Where are those Doom of Android purveyors today?

Are there really enough towels to get that much egg off of their collective blog faces?

Re:Wonder what Florian has to say about all of thi (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174433)

The shills sure didn't the get the first posts this time. I guess they don't like the taste of their own frosty piss.

Re:Wonder what Florian has to say about all of thi (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174527)

Yeah, they've got a bunch of Guinness towels.

Re:Wonder what Florian has to say about all of thi (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174353)

Burn.

Apostrophe abuse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174159)

APIs please, not API's. Apostrophes are used for the possessive form, not for plurals.

Re:Apostrophe abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174319)

Who is this API fellow, and what of his can't be copyrighted?

Re:Apostrophe abuse (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174735)

Nonono, it is API himself that cannot be copyrighted.

Re:Apostrophe abuse (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174515)

Is "anal-retentive" supposed to have a dash?

<sarcasm mode="Académie_française"> (2)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174835)

Your right, thank's. I gift you that this helps alot of softwares and firmwares.

(If elected, I will support spelling reform and verb control!)

Congratulations to Judge Alsup (5, Insightful)

gus goose (306978) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174183)

Having read the entire order (and having followed this case from near the beginning), all I can say is that I *wish* that all orders were so well prepared and presented. It appears to close all avenues for appeals, and I think the best 'showing' of any parties to this case has been Judge Alsup. He kept control of a tough case, and in my opinion, all his rulings have been well thought out, and his 'go-the-extra-mile' attitude has made this process a clear win for all (except Oracle).

gus

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174223)

Long term speaking, its a win for Oracle. It's really only a matter of time before it would have bit them in the butt. There developers use APIs as well.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174269)

How exactly is it a win for Oracle? They now have a competing VM that can run Java code. Considering Android's position in the mobile market, I'd say for Oracle this means Java goes into a slow eclipse.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (2)

zbobet2012 (1025836) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174289)

Java going into eclipse? That had to be intentional.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174315)

this means Java goes into a slow eclipse.

Considering that Eclipse is the most widely used IDE for Android programming and Dalvik is a Java derivative, I think this happened long ago.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174317)

All my java already went into a slow eclipse.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (2)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174375)

It's a partial win for Oracle because now they too can use APIs without fear of lawsuits. Also, it helps the Java language because if this ruling went the other way then other companies would be motivated to move away from Java for fear of lawsuits from Oracle.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174523)

This has nothing to do with using APIs though. This has to do with creating a product using the same APIs for compatibility. Or, for example, creating WINE using the same API declarations that Microsoft publishes on MSDN. Does Oracle actually do that? Everyone can USE APIs. That is the reason that APIs are published. So you can use them. But this validates what everyone (except Oracle apparently) has thought for years. You can't copyright an API because it is just a definition of the input / output of a software function.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174589)

Does Oracle actually do that?

Don't they ship their own standard C library in Solaris? It would be immensely ironic for them to be sued over violating someone's (Novell, these days?) copyright to, say, printf.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174399)

Meet Alice. Alice thinks she has the right to shoot anyone she wants in the head. In particular, Alice wants to shoot Bob. Bob objects, and Alice and Bob take their dispute to court. After a long and vexatious trial, Alice loses.

Charlie, Alice's estranged ex-boyfriend, is standing outside the courtroom, menacingly brandishing a gun. "Alice", Charlie says. "You lucked out!" "What do you mean," Alice exclaims. "I just lost my case!" "All is lost, for now I can't shoot Bob in the head, or anyone else I don't like."

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174413)

But Java isn't really a money maker for oracle, it never was going to be. They sell databases, big fancy expensive databases. If they suddenly find out that APIs are copyrightable all their database management software, that uses linux/windows copyrights for all of the UI elements to manage the databases, all of the library api calls they use for the graphics system to visualize the database etc. All of their networking hooks, probably someone elses APIs...

They'd have been in deep shit. Fast. If their sole business was Java, or if this was Sun (after abandoning solaris) I could buy your argument. But Oracle is a database solutions company. Copyrighting APIs would be monumentally bad for anything their database's talk to as part of a solution.

And yes, Java going into a slow eclipse was funny.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (2)

suutar (1860506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174481)

Sounds like he's figuring "Oracle has been prevented from shooting themselves in the foot with what they thought was a pistol but is actually just an aimer for an orbital laser cannon. In the long run they're better off, so really it's a win for them. Along with everyone else, of course."

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174521)

I said long term.
Oracle has developers the develop in a lot of things besides Java.
How many of them used API's from outside Oracle?
How many of them reused trivial code?

And Java will be fine

"Java goes into a slow eclipse."--I see what you did there.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174379)

Having read the entire order (and having followed this case from near the beginning), all I can say is that I *wish* that all orders were so well prepared and presented. It appears to close all avenues for appeals, and I think the best 'showing' of any parties to this case has been Judge Alsup. He kept control of a tough case, and in my opinion, all his rulings have been well thought out, and his 'go-the-extra-mile' attitude has made this process a clear win for all (except Oracle).

gus

Do you have to congratulate everyone for not being an idiot? From only reading about this in headlines of /. posts it was obvious which way he would rule because he telegraphed the fuck out of it.

Why would you go down the "what if APIs were copyrightable" line of thought unless one were pandering to the sky-falling-down-on-us crowd?

Yah whatever, could have gone either way /eyeroll Uhh.. congrats.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (3, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174603)

I'm sorry, but what planet have you been living on for the last 20 years. Our supreme court (with special kudos for justices Kennedy and Scalia), just defined corporations as people with the first amendment rights to buy elections. Judges across the land have been giving large corporations anything they damn well want without the slightest concern to the damage done to society, and I for one am thrilled that this judge actually had;

1. A positive measurable IQ.
2. A sense of the urgency of this decision.
3. A grasp of the implications facing society and business if the wrong decision were made
4. And a basic idea just how bogus Oracle's claims were.

It almost gives me faith in the system when someone does something so right, and for the right reasons. Now someone needs to buy Oracle a speedo with an ice bag in the front... take down some of that pain and swelling...

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174763)

Scotus ruled that corporations have first amendment rights back in 1888...

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174863)

Right, but the case he was so OBVIOUSLY talking about was Citizens United, which was in 2010, the case which interpreted the first amendment's freedom of speech in a new way.

Grow up.

Besides, that doesn't contradict his argument that judges in this country are fallible. He didn't say it was a recent trend, only that modern events were rife with examples of poor judgement.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (4, Insightful)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174427)

Having read the entire order (and having followed this case from near the beginning), all I can say is that I *wish* that all orders were so well prepared and presented. It appears to close all avenues for appeals, and I think the best 'showing' of any parties to this case has been Judge Alsup.

This this this. Most of those old fart judges would have thrown their hands up in exasperation at trying to understand all this computery gobbledygook, not written an order that explains the difference between public and private or instance vs. static methods. Couldn't have gotten a better judge for this case.

Re:Congratulations to Judge Alsup (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174827)

Absolutely. I want to buy him a beer. When he made it clear that he knew how to program, and was studying java, I knew the case was over. That was what we needed.

Excellent... judge..manship ?

Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174185)

Then how else am I supposed to get rich. I wrote an amazing math library in 8th grade to do some crazy tricks and was planning on taking everyone to court. My code is pretty ingenious if you ask me:

<myMath.h>

int max(int a, int b);
int min(int a, int b);

<myMath.c>

int max(int a, int b)
{
        if (a > b) { return a; }
        return b;
}

int min(int a, int b)
{
        if (a < b) { return a; }
        return b;
}

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174265)

Then how else am I supposed to get rich. I wrote an amazing math library in 8th grade to do some crazy tricks and was planning on taking everyone to court. My code is pretty ingenious if you ask me:

<myMath.h>

int max(int a, int b);
int min(int a, int b);

<myMath.c>

int max(int a, int b)
{

        if (a > b) { return a; }

        return b;
}

int min(int a, int b)
{

        if (a < b) { return a; }

        return b;
}

My simpler algorithm, however, can be copyrighted and patented. See you in court. Your API is safe though. ;)

int max(int a, int b) {
        (a > b) ? return a : return b;
}

int min(int a, int b) {
        (a b) ? return a : return b;
}

Re:Seriously? (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174295)

And let's remember how much more quickly your competitor could go to market. He surely owes you billions for this.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174549)

Why even bother to have two returns?

int max(int a, int b) {
        return (a > b ? a : b);
}

Re:Seriously? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174803)

Yeah, but you want code clarity.

#define min -1
#define equ 0
#define max 1

int comp(int a, int comp, int b) {
    int ret;
    switch(comp) {
        case min: { ret = (a b ? a : b); break; }
        default: { ret = (a == b); break; }
    }
    return(ret);
}

Re:Seriously? (1)

swilver (617741) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174497)

int max(int c, int d);
int min(int c, int d);

int max(int c, int d) {
                return c > d ? c : d;
}

int min(int c, int d) {
                return c d ? c : d;
}

Decimated (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174199)

Someone doesn't understand the meaning of the word "decimated".

Re:Decimated (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174297)

decimate (v):
1) To kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage of.
2) Drastically reduce the strength or effectiveness of (something):

Seems pretty spot on to me.

Re:Decimated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174365)

It means to "kill one in every ten". The judge killed all 10 of 10. This is an annihilation or obliteration, not a decimation.

Re:Decimated (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174449)

In Soviet Russia Googles You!

Re:Decimated (2, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174509)

Thank you for your pedantry. While decimate did originally refer to the removal of every tenth part of something, today the meaning is extended to include the destruction of any large proportion of a group, and this definition has been accepted for quite a few decades... going back to at least WWII.

Look the word up in practically any modern dictionary ... while your 1/10th definition will probably be there, it will probably have an (archaic) or (obsolete) qualifier on it. At the very least, the newer definition will also be listed. More likely ahead of the one you've given, illustrating the most common usage of the word.

Yes... languages evolve. Words change meaning. Live with it.

Re:Decimated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174301)

Someone doesn't understand the meaning of the word "decimated".

"To cause great destruction or harm to."

Re:Decimated (4, Insightful)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174369)

The original 'reduce by one tenth' decimate is archaic. Modern usage means kill/weaken a significant portion of the group/thing being decimated.

And you know this, too.

Re:Decimated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174477)

The original 'reduce by one tenth' decimate is archaic. Modern usage means kill/weaken a significant portion of the group/thing being decimated.

So.. How do you feel about the term "hacker" when applied to black hats?

Re:Decimated (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174577)

I take my Prozium, and don't feel anything.

Re:Decimated (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174421)

The problem is that modern use has deviated from the original meaning of the word (which meant to reduce by 1/10th ... not *to* one tenth, but *by* 1/10th ... it was a punishment in to the Roman Army in which one of every 10 soldiers was killed)

Modern usage would have you think that it means to reduce to near nothing, rather than simply losing 10%.

Re:Decimated (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174429)

Someone doesn't understand the meaning of the word "decimated".

What you say is true, though I expect you weren't intending to refer to the people who confuse the etymology of the word with its current meaning when you said "someone".

Re:Decimated (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174483)

Or, to put it simply, the parent is committing the etymological fallacy. The meaning of the word has changed, as happens on occasion, language and usage not being fixed forever.

Re:Decimated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174463)

Nor, likely, terrific. (hint, what is the root word of "terrific"? terror. Yet terrific has a positive connotation these days, and "decimate" means these days "total, crushing defeat").

Nice try, pedant.

Re:Decimated (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174479)

Let me kill 1/10th of your body's cells, and tell me you are not "decimated". (Well, I suppose liposuction is an exception.)

Coming soon to an appeal court near you (1, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174207)

That's ok, they have plenty of money to appeal where it will probably get overturned by some moron.

Re:Coming soon to an appeal court near you (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174385)

That's ok, they have plenty of money to appeal where it will definitely get overturned by some judge they bought.

FTFY.

Re:Coming soon to an appeal court near you (1, Offtopic)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174535)

That's ok, they have plenty of money to appeal where it will probably get overturned by some moron.

This is impossible. Reversing a trial court decision is not in the legal power of any single moron.

So what does this mean, now? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174219)

Really... what are some long term consequences of this decision? Could Oracle decide that if it can't have its way with Java, then nobody should have their version of Java, and simply stop making new versions? What would such a decision mean for Java?

Re:So what does this mean, now? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174255)

Could Oracle decide that if it can't have its way with Java, then nobody should have their version of Java, and simply stop making new versions?

Wanna see OpenJDK get a lot of investment?

Re:So what does this mean, now? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174321)

I wouldn't mind it at all... but do you seriously think that wouldn't cause a whole lot of people to lose a certain level of confidence in Java's future?

Re:So what does this mean, now? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174367)

It might, if no one steps up to manage it.

Someone could do that, though. After all, the APIs aren't copyrightable so pull a LibreOffice: establish a foundation, swap out the trademarks, and move on.

Re:So what does this mean, now? (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174857)

I know how much IBM is invested in Java as a technology, so no, I wouldn't lose any confidence at all. Indeed, my confidence might well go up.

Re:So what does this mean, now? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174345)

It would probably free up Java. Open source versions would continue to evolve and users would migrate to those.

Re:So what does this mean, now? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174397)

I think, perhaps, you may be overly optimistic in how many people would actually be willing to step up to the plate for Java if Oracle stopped development.

Re:So what does this mean, now? (2)

swilver (617741) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174531)

Yeah, it's just a small niche language that barely is used at all by businesses with investments to protect...

Re:So what does this mean, now? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174663)

Really... what are some long term consequences of this decision? Could Oracle decide that if it can't have its way with Java, then nobody should have their version of Java, and simply stop making new versions?

We can ONLY HOPE. Sadly, Oracle are consistently dickish enough to continue to push that shit language for at least another decade or two.

Finally! (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174225)

It is about time.

SCOracle (0)

ilikejam (762039) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174245)

Don't pay your Java licensing fees, you cock-smoking teabaggers!

The Judge gets it (5, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174329)

"In order to declare a particular functionality, the language demands that the method declaration take a particular form," notes Alsup (emphasis in original).

Indeed, this is just so. And you can't copyright "functionality"; that's akin to copyrighting a concept, which is not what copyright is about. Copyright is about protecting implementations of concepts, and those are still protected. But a programming language requires a rigid codification of the concept itself.

Oracle's response made me chuckle a little...

"The court's reliance on "interoperability" ignores the undisputed fact that Google deliberately eliminated interoperability between Android and all other Java platforms," the company said in a statement issued this afternoon. "Google's implementation intentionally fragmented Java and broke the "write once, run anywhere" promise."

That's really immaterial to the reasoning for why an APIs aren't protected under the Copyright Act in the first place. It would be relevant if "interoperability" were a defense against copyright infringement, but it's not, since the item in question wasn't protected in the first place.

Just because my implementation of fopen() breaks programs that depended on your implementation of fopen() that doesn't suddenly mean that your declaration of a function called fopen() is protected and my identical declaration is infringing. This would imply that copyright infringement claims based on APIs would suddenly be dependent on some kind of compatibility test.

And on that note, it was that last line that made me chuckle. Brings to mind something about ships and sailing, or barn doors and horses.

Re:The Judge gets it (0)

swilver (617741) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174565)

Totally agree... if they want to sue Google for fragmenting Java, perhaps they should drag them to court for that... and not for patent and copyright infringement.

If Oracle had any sense at all, they'd strike a deal with Google to unfragment Java, it would get them more money in the long run then trying to sue everyone instead, creating uncertainty in Java's future.

Re:The Judge gets it (5, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174629)

The entire summary of ruling is worth reading - it lays it out concisely yet clearly.

SUMMARY OF RULING

So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical. Under the rules of Java, they must be identical to declare a method specifying the same functionality — even when the implementation is different. When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression. And, while the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked, copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law.

It is true that the very same functionality could have been offered in Android without duplicating the exact command structure used in Java. This could have been done by re-arranging the various methods under different groupings among the various classes and packages (even if the same names had been used). In this sense, there were many ways to group the methods yet still duplicate the same range of functionality.

But the names are more than just names — they are symbols in a command structure wherein the commands take the form

java.package.Class.method()

Each command calls into action a pre-assigned function. The overall name tree, of course, has creative elements but it is also a precise command structure — a utilitarian and functional set of symbols, each to carry out a pre-assigned function. This command structure is a system or method of operation under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted. Duplication of the command structure is necessary for interoperability.

So; API is a "system of method of operation", and hence non-copyrightable.

APIs vs API's (2)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174331)

One of them reads "API is". Just saying.

Re:APIs vs API's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174779)

One of them reads "API is". Just saying.

Apostrophe errors are becoming a serious problem lately. What is wrong with people?

Smart judge? WTF (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174443)

A smart judge? Well pinch me and wake me up! I'm going to patent him before somebody else does!

Let's just not forget the downside (0, Flamebait)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174505)

Yes, the case went as it should have, once it was boiled down to the fundamentals there was only one way it could go.

But let's not forget that Google did do something inherently prick-ish, they took a language and a concept that was open for everyone and popular specifically because of it's interoperability and broke the interoperability of it in their own clone.

What I'm getting at is: when a multi-billion dollar company can take something you made available with the best of intentions (don't care if Sun's intentions were good or not, the open-sourcing of Java was) and shit all over you and the ecosystem that it aids, everyone loses.

It's possible that the next time something like Java is being considered as an open-source target that the owners will carefully plan and consider how they can make it available without the same thing happening. But it's far, far more likely that they just won't bother at all.

Google's win here is a hollow one; Oracle's win would have been outright horrible, but this is only the lesser of two evils.

Re:Let's just not forget the downside (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174613)

You must have spitting fire when GCJ created the ability to compile Java to native machine code.

Java is a language, just like C, C#, PHP, Cobol, and all the rest. If someone wants to write something that compiles to native machine code, to some other language or to some other VM, then so what? This all happened because Sun, and later Oracle, thought they had a level of control it now is shown they do not. This whole "purity of Java" line is bunk. It's like saying "the only true C is C compiled to a PDP-7".

Besides, your Java code is, for the most part, just a cross-compile away from Dalvik. The situation is hardly that dire.

Re:Let's just not forget the downside (2)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174743)

It's possible that the next time something like Java is being considered as an open-source target that the owners will carefully plan and consider how they can make it available without the same thing happening. But it's far, far more likely that they just won't bother at all.

Java failed in it's promise of Write Once, Run Anywhere a long time before Dalvik came to the scene. It's more like Google saw how fucked up Java was (with SE, ME and EE), and decided to do their own version , you know, like how Microsoft has .Net.

It's Oracle v. Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40174573)

The summary says Google v. Oracle. There's a difference, Google didn't sue Oracle

Does this mean Google is off-the-hook? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#40174713)

Or will Google have to make changes to Android in order to satisfy the end result of all these court rulings?

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