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Court: Oracle Entitled To Copyright Protection Over Some Parts of Java

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the cue-the-wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth dept.

Oracle 303

An anonymous reader writes "Remember the court battle between Google and Oracle? It's the one where Oracle claimed Android violated Oracle's patents and copyright related to Java. Oracle thought they deserved $6 billion in compensation, but ended up getting nothing. Well, it's still going, and the tide is turning somewhat in Oracle's favor. An appeals court decided that Oracle can claim copyright over some parts of Java. It's a complicated ruling (PDF) — parts of it went Google's way and parts of it went Oracle's way — but here's the most important line: '[T]he declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 Java API packages at issue are entitled to copyright protection.' A jury's earlier finding of infringement has been reinstated, and now it's up to Google to justify its actions under fair use."

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Bye-Bye Java (-1, Flamebait)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 5 months ago | (#46960639)

... and good riddance to bad rubbish, say I.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (-1, Flamebait)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46960675)

Yep, I can safely say that there is now literally no reason to use Java over, say, Microsoft's offerings. The pretense of openness is long-gone.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (3, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 months ago | (#46960695)

Sure, if your entire userbase is on Windows.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46960699)

Mono is a thing you know. A thing not being sued by Microsoft.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (4, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 months ago | (#46960783)

And the implementation is 100%? Nope. [mono-project.com] With Java, though, I get everything Java has to offer, anywhere Java is available. Maybe platform consistency isn't important to you, but it matters to some people.

From a purely logical standpoint, Java wins if you don't want to have to double-check whether each of the APIs you're about to use is actually implemented on all of your target platforms. From an idealistic standpoint, yes, I can see why someone would avoid Java (and, in fact, I have managed to do so for the entirety of my career, thus far), which is why the Mono projects exists, and why it is important. However, it's just not there yet, from a logical perspective.

Re: Bye-Bye Java (4, Informative)

VTBlue (600055) | about 5 months ago | (#46960859)

Umm if you actually check mono's compatibility notes, it has ridiculous good compatibility distinguished between the various versions of .NET. While there will always be a lag, if you develop with Mono, you know what works and what doesn't. .Net 3.0 and 3.5 are pretty mainstream and 4.0 is pretty much good to go for a broad set of use cases.

Re: Bye-Bye Java (2)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 months ago | (#46960933)

There's a gap between "ridiculous good" and "perfect" that's simply too big, just by the way of its existence. Add to that, most consumer users will have Java installed already; how many will have Mono? Not such an issue if you're talking about Windows users, as they'll likely have the .Net libs installed already, and the smallest subset of desktop users, desktop Linux users, will be able to fetch Mono from their distro's repository (and hopefully it's a recent version), so the #1 and #3 groups are covered. The #2 group, however... You don't expect the average Mac user to track down the Mac port of Mono, do you? And I'm asking this as a Mac user.

Until it's there by default, It's simply unacceptable for consumer software.

Re: Bye-Bye Java (1)

VTBlue (600055) | about 5 months ago | (#46961061)

There are three issues I can see that would be helpful to distinguish:

1. This ruling has impact on Android, how severe is TBD.
2. This ruling has a broader impact on the Java community outside of mobility.
3. This ruling has some impact, but not clearly, on the server-side front.

For issues 1 and 3, your points don't really hold IMO because the devs will almost always have perfect knowledge of the target device or platform. You issue seems to be (I could be wrong) more relevant to the desktop or client-side where I would argue Java is at a distinct disadvantage compared to .Net/Mono. You just have to look at the windows install base. As for other platforms I don't really see the issue especially of apps can bundle the Mono framework with application installations.

If one examines the community response using consistency and trust as values, the ultimate question in my mind is, "who does the community trust more, Oracle or Microsoft?"

I'm biased but but I think Microsoft / Mono is a no-brainer.

Re: Bye-Bye Java (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46961099)

Perhaps the issue is how much power Microsoft will have to shut down Mono.

Re: Bye-Bye Java (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 months ago | (#46961343)

You just have to look at the windows install base.

As cross-platform development was the crux of my argument, no, I don't have to look at the windows install base; I'm considering Linux and OSX users, here.

As for other platforms I don't really see the issue especially of apps can bundle the Mono framework with application installations.

That's par for the course in Window-land, but nowhere else.

No argument re: trust and values, but that's the idealistic viewpoint I already said I agreed with, not the logical viewpoint nobody seems to be able to poke any holes in.

Re: Bye-Bye Java (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961427)

If you're going to go on about 3 numbered groups of users. You should be a little clearer about what those 3 groups are. The way you wrote your comment you should have just avoided the numbered groups and just explicitly named them as that's what you did anyway.

Finally, who gives a shit about Mac users?

Re:Bye-Bye Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960865)

No, instead you get to find out that that *some* of the APIs you used behave *slightly* differently on *some* of your target platforms.
At runtime.
"Write once, debug everywhere" didn't pop out of thin air.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (1)

afidel (530433) | about 5 months ago | (#46961127)

JAVA isn't consistent from one EJB server to another, let alone from one version to another. Anyone who has ever dealt with non-trivial sized java projects knows this and isn't going to complain about the slight implementation variances in any other language runtime.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961221)

People are still doing EJB?

Ditch the EJBs and use Spring.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (4, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 months ago | (#46961373)

.Net isn't consistent from one version to another, either, so I might be missing your point. You target a version of the Java API just like you target a version of the .Net API; the difference being that you can trust the implementation of a given version of the Java API to remain consistent across platforms, whereas on non-Windows platforms, how consistently a given version of the .Net API will be implemented depends on which version of Mono the user has installed.

I'm sorry, but I prefer to be able to debug my application against a known system, rather than an array of unknowns.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 5 months ago | (#46961333)

And the implementation is 100%? Nope. With Java, though, I get everything Java has to offer, anywhere Java is available. Maybe platform consistency isn't important to you, but it matters to some people.

Google's implementation of Java is not 100% java either.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 months ago | (#46961383)

We're not talking about Dalvik, we're talking about Java. If I code against JDK 1.7, I know that anyone with Java 7 installed will have the same experience. I also know it won't run on Android, and I don't care; and if I so, I'll port to Dalvik.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 5 months ago | (#46961461)

Oh my gosh, mono doesn't support Windows only features that have no equivalent on Linux?! Say it isn't so!

Re:Bye-Bye Java (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960793)

Mono is a thing you know. A thing not being sued by Microsoft.

Ha ha ha ha, if this ruling goes through you can bet your stinkin' ass that Microsoft will join the party.
Want to develop for the .Net framework ? Pay the toll guys (even if you're using an open source reimplementation of some .net libraries). Shit just got real.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (3, Insightful)

OhPlz (168413) | about 5 months ago | (#46961023)

"This new Microsoft has not only removed the problematic restrictions on its licenses, but also worked with Xamarin to solicit design feedback, and published documentation under a Creative Commons license so that it can be redistributed."
http://arstechnica.com/informa... [arstechnica.com]

Re:Bye-Bye Java (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961319)

Shhh... don't shatter his opinion with pesky things call facts and truth.

Just let him believe the Big Bad Micro$oft is bringing a dingo to eat his babies.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960799)

Yet.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46961101)

A thing not being sued by Microsoft.

Not yet.

If you want to be safe, you have to avoid proprietary vendor-owned platforms and languages altogether.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961395)

Name a platform that is end-to-end not proprietary in any way shape or form?

Re:Bye-Bye Java (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46961287)

Mono is a thing you know. A thing not being sued by Microsoft.

When there is money to be had, you can be sure Microsoft will sue.

Re:Bye-Bye Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960773)

The sooner the better IMHO.

lesson to be learnt (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960641)

There is a lesson to be learnt here: Never depend on programming language, which is not under appropriate free license.

Apache Foundation, do you hear me?

Re:lesson to be learnt (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46960647)

I can't wait for phone books to be copyrighted.

Re:lesson to be learnt (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 5 months ago | (#46960735)

See: Feist v. Rural. [wikipedia.org]

Re:lesson to be learnt (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46960759)

This has nothing to do with using Java. It has to do with implementing your own incompatible version of the language. If all you want to do is use Java, or implement a compatible version, the license is good and you will have no problem.

Re:lesson to be learnt (3, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#46960831)

This has nothing to do with using Java. It has to do with implementing your own incompatible version of the language. If all you want to do is use Java, or implement a compatible version, the license is good and you will have no problem.

The problem with this is that you now are subject to somebody else's sole determination that you are/aren't "compatible" or else you get stuck in endless litigation.

If you build entirely on free-licensed components, then nobody has any control over what you do.

Re:lesson to be learnt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960877)

I think they actually have a test suite that determines "compatible" or not

A work in progress would infringe (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46960999)

So how do you avoid infringement between the moment when your implementation is a blank slate and the moment it first passes all tests?

Re:lesson to be learnt (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 months ago | (#46961341)

The test suite is under a different and nonfree license.

Re:lesson to be learnt (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#46960949)

That's incorrect. With Java, you have a few options: 1) Fork the GPL version of Java. In such a case, you can have absolutely no compatibility and still be in the clear. 2) Write your own Java implementation, but have it meet the standard. I'm pretty sure what is and isn't compatible is laid out pretty clearly. 3) Pay Oracle enough for a license to do what you want.

Re:lesson to be learnt (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46960977)

The problem with this is that you now are subject to somebody else's sole determination that you are/aren't "compatible" or else you get stuck in endless litigation.

The test suite that tests for compatibility is now open source (although the licensing is messy, it is ultimately usable), so that isn't a problem anymore. It was a problem before, you are right.

Re:lesson to be learnt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960991)

To further add, why would google need a non-compatible version of java, and how would this be any different than Microsoft's general attempt to do similar things with their famous 3 E's method.

If Google didn't want to use real java, they should have chose something else or made something from scratch.

Re:lesson to be learnt (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 5 months ago | (#46960785)

There is a lesson to be learnt here: Never depend on programming language, which is not under appropriate free license.

Apache Foundation, do you hear me?

Once the ballyhoo and excitement at the birth of a new language have subsided it is quickly supplanted by the motherly urge to control and protect.

Oh PJ, where art thou? (4, Insightful)

pegr (46683) | about 5 months ago | (#46960651)

If ever there was a time we needed you... :(

Re:Oh PJ, where art thou? (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46960985)

Check out the ruling yourself [uscourts.gov] , it's surprisingly readable and will make you smarter.

You can't copyright facts (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960667)

Wow. If Java's API is copyrighted we've gone so far around the bend with copyright protection we've enterted the Twilight Zone. Is there an end to this insanity?

Re:You can't copyright facts (0)

Shimbo (100005) | about 5 months ago | (#46960819)

I think the appeal court got it largely right: API design is a creative process. Anyone with any experience in programming knows that some APIs are well designed, others are bad ones. I think it's a nonsense to claim the API is a fact.

I don't like Oracle, and I don't really like the consequences of this ruling. However, Google really pushed the boundaries of copyright law to the limit here. And if people choose languages that are explicitly free to reimplement in future, that's a good thing.

GPL release that Sun did might seem to apply... (1)

Jadecristal (135389) | about 5 months ago | (#46960957)

http://www.javaworld.com/artic... [javaworld.com]

I really wish someone would bring this up with more serious force behind it. Sun released Java SE under GPLv2.

Also, going out on a limb, I'd guess that the "37 APIs" aren't part of something outside the core stuff - I'm guessing Sun left out J2EE when open sourcing since I see no note about it.

Re:GPL release that Sun did might seem to apply... (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46961009)

Should Google decide to comply with the GPL, the requirement of non-free drivers to get common Android hardware booting will become a problem.

Re:GPL release that Sun did might seem to apply... (1)

Max Threshold (540114) | about 5 months ago | (#46961019)

Exactly. Of course APIs are copyrightable. But this one was perpetually and irrevocably licensed. The only question is whether Google is complying with the terms of the license.

So google will appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960669)

and it will go to the supreme court, who will also get it wrong.

Re:So google will appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961015)

Well, the supreme's won't touch it so it will stand. However, if they did take it, the only way to get it right at this point would be to revert to the original court's stand that APIs as such are not something you can copyright. Also, Oracle owes Google umpteen bazzillion quatloos for being asshats.

Hurrah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960677)

Extortion fees for everyone!

Coder Boycott (4, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | about 5 months ago | (#46960679)

Ok this ruling would seem to invalidate any ability to reproduce any interface.

This needs a coder boycott of anything Oracle until Oracle stands up and pubclically disavows this ruling and claims the court was wrong.

Re:Coder Boycott (1)

mapkon (2792089) | about 5 months ago | (#46960691)

Come-on, get on with your life - there are proper languages you could use.

Re:Coder Boycott (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 5 months ago | (#46960715)

The ruling means that any library in any language can be shut down. It means that public interface declarations can be copyright. It means it could be impossible for anyone to reproduce a public interface.

AkA it makes all public interfaces private. It is not just a Java specific ruling, it has implications across all coding environments.

Re:Coder Boycott (1)

mapkon (2792089) | about 5 months ago | (#46960739)

That I know, but did you expect anything better from Oracle! It's copy-right history is well documented. Honestly, the entire world has gone to shit

Re:Coder Boycott (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960973)

That I know, but did you expect anything better from Oracle! It's copy-right history is well documented. Honestly, the entire world has gone to shit

When something goes to shit, then it is probably best to try and fix it than just ignore it by using something else that can go to shit too. Fix the world, rest easier.

Re:Coder Boycott (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46961045)

The ruling means that any library in any language can be shut down.

No.

It means that public interface declarations can be copyright.

Yes.

It means it could be impossible for anyone to reproduce a public interface.

No, because if you are reproducing a public interface for compatibility purposes, it is fair use. There are lots of ways something could be fair use. Even if Google fails to show that this particular case was fair use, that won't prevent the fair use argument in other cases.

In reality, purpose matters for fair use. If your goal is to reproduce the public interface for compatibility purposes, that is fair use, because that is the only way compatibility can be reached. However, the goal of Google here was different, it was to make the life of programmers easier on Android by presenting them with a familiar environment. It will be interesting to see if they can defend that as fair use.

Please don't make the mistake of thinking this will kill Wine or all programming languages or something. There's already enough irrational hysteria on the internet.

Re:Coder Boycott (5, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 5 months ago | (#46961125)

It WILL have a huge 'Chilling Effect' though, even if you are in the right, and it is fair use, can you afford to defend against a huge corporation suing you?

Re:Coder Boycott (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46961231)

If a large corporation wants to sue you, they will, no matter how this case is decided. That is irrelevant.

Re:Coder Boycott (5, Insightful)

reg (5428) | about 5 months ago | (#46961225)

Don't be naive. This will be used to shut down APIs. Increasingly the software world is a set of web based and hosted APIs, with big money but little business behind them. Imagine, for example, someone like Snapchat copying Twitter's API to enable their service to grow faster. This ruling, it is stands, will be used by incumbents to shut down start-ups or open-source/non-spyware clones.

Probably Google's biggest mistake at the get go was to not do a /Java/Davlik/g. Since all code needs to be recompiled, this can be done easily by the build system while maintaining a single source file...

Regards,
-Jeremy

Re:Coder Boycott (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46961345)

This ruling, it is stands, will be used by incumbents to shut down start-ups or open-source/non-spyware clones.

How can you even say that if the ruling on fair use hasn't been given yet? You don't even know if it is fair use. You don't know if the result on fair use will be so narrow it doesn't apply to other cases.

IF you have a legal argument about why you say is true, then I am interested in hearing it. Otherwise your opinion is meaningless. Read the ruling [uscourts.gov] .

Re:Coder Boycott (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46961151)

The ruling means that any library in any language can be shut down. It means that public interface declarations can be copyright. It means it could be impossible for anyone to reproduce a public interface.

No it doesn't. Any interface declarations published under an open-source license will be completely safe (provided you meet the terms of that license of course). It's only proprietary licenses that will be a problem.

Re:Coder Boycott (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46961073)

This needs a coder boycott of anything Oracle until Oracle stands up and pubclically disavows this ruling and claims the court was wrong.

Hey, I've been boycotting Oracle for the last decade on grounds that their software is garbage! Count me in!

They will keep trying until they get a judge that (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960697)

They will keep trying until they get a judge that is politically motivated to rule in their favor.

Do you have any questions which political party is more motivated towards this type of 'patent-prohibitive-rulings'?

Thank you SoulSkill for bringing this to our attention, Oracle's stock has risen on the news as you would expect.

When I read the ruling before, I agreed that Oracle did not have a leg to stand on. Did not see anything wrong with the other court's ruling. Its disappointing to see this type of patent-FUD working.

People this is why politics matter, the wrong party, motivated by their own greed to re-distribute wealth to corporations and put laws on the books promoting oligopolies while limiting competition are not good for citizens, ever. It depresses wages, reduces the number of jobs, prevent small businesses from creating jobs, redistributes wealth to a very small number of individuals vs the majority of Americans. It prevents the free market from working correctly.

Some patents are too vague and should never be granted.

There was a time when to patent something, hardware needed to be involved, in the last decade they gave software patents, which is not the way the system was designed. Software was never meant to rise above the level of copyright for legal protections.

To add insult to injury, the businesses that exist only to push patent lawsuits, that don't create anything (esp not jobs) are pushing laws to lengthen the period with which patents can be legally enforced.

Nothing good ever comes of this. Just sad all the way around.

Re:They will keep trying until they get a judge th (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46960911)

This is about copyright, not patents

It's bipartisan (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46961025)

Do you have any questions which political party

Both major U.S. political parties have shown themselves to favor expansion of the exclusive rights of copyright owners. See the No Electronic Theft Act, the Copyright Term Extension Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 5 months ago | (#46960705)

API calls.... their "structure, sequence, and organization" are copyrightable? API calls... really?

So I have a door, it has a door bell. It follows a nice standard that if someone wants to get my attention at my door, they ring the doorbell. If they want to leave a message, they put a note in my mailbox. That's a rough equivalent for my house's API. I can copyright that (baring prior art and fair use)?
The contents of my house are my own of course, but the procedure I ask everyone to follow when coming into my house? I also own that?

Really guys?

Re:That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960765)

No. You can only structure the *sequence and organization*.
So you can copyright doorbell right of mailbox, doorbell left of mailbox, doorbell over mailbox, doorbell under mailbox, doorbell in front of mailbox, doorbell behind mailbox, doorbell in mailbox and mailbox in doorbell.
If any competitor complains, just tell them they're free to create 4-dimensional space and arrange their doorbells and mailboxes there.

Re:That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 5 months ago | (#46960893)

No no no, SEQUENCE.
Ring, then knock, then just leave it on the curb.
That sequence of events as the proper interface to my house is now copyrighted.

Re:That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about 5 months ago | (#46960795)

IIRC, one of the permitted exceptions to copyright is interfaces. You need to be able to copy interfaces to produce code that's compatible with existing code, and that's why interfaces can't be copyrighted.

This is what happens when you have non-technical lawyers and judges trying to rule on technical matters.

Re:That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46961079)

As of the present appellate ruling, it appears you now recall incorrectly. Google has to make a case that interoperability is a strong enough "purpose and character" without a deleterious "effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work" under the fair use statute.

Re:That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961183)

Far from having a deleterious effect, the hordes of Android programmers make a likely market for official Java.

Re:That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46961175)

If you write down that sequence, then yes, it's copyrightable. Heck, even a scribble on a piece of paper is copyrightable.

CAVEAT: Other people may be able to use it under fair use, and in fact, they probably can.

Re:That's some crazy shenanigians right there. (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 5 months ago | (#46961283)

So I have a door, it has a door bell. It follows a nice standard that if someone wants to get my attention at my door, they ring the doorbell. If they want to leave a message, they put a note in my mailbox. That's a rough equivalent for my house's API. I can copyright that (baring prior art and fair use)?

You seem to be describing a patent. To do copyright infringement of somebody else's door, you would have to use the same material of wood, the same color, the same design, and an exact duplicate of the knob. But copyright applies only to text and similar content. To protect the door's design, you have get a design patent.

In the programming world an API like this:
int foo(int a, int b)

can be changed to:
int foobar(int num1, int num2)

to avoid copyright infringement. In other words, don't copy letter-for-letter and you can avoid copyright infringement. Although I don't understand why programming APIs weren't protected by APIs before.

Copyrighted buy who cares? (3, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46960719)

Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O'Malley wrote. "On this record, however, we find that the district court failed to distinguish between the threshold question of what is copyrightable — which presents a low bar — and the scope of conduct that constitutes infringing activity."

Does this mean that even though Oracle can copyright something (not sure what), Google might still be able to use it without infringing? That's what it sounds like to me. And it took a whole lot of wasted money for Oracle to barely make it over the "low bar".

Re:Copyrighted buy who cares? (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46961163)

Yes, it must now be decided if Google's actions fall under fair use.

Results (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46960749)

In the original trial, the jury found that Google had infringed on the Java API (37 API packages including the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization). Shortly thereafter, the judge ruled that those things were not copyrightable, thus Google didn't need to pay.

Now, the appeals court has reversed that, and said that those things are copyrightable.

Because the original jury was deadlocked on the question of whether Google's copying was fair use, it needs to go back to trial. But only the fair use will be considered in that trial, not copyrightability.

Re:Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960869)

I really don't see why a jury is deciding this. Imagine trying to explain to a bunch of random shmucks about programming languages, interfaces, etc.. They're simply not going to understand it. But I suspect that's exactly what Oracle is counting on

Re:Results (1)

naasking (94116) | about 5 months ago | (#46960969)

I really don't see why a jury is deciding this. Imagine trying to explain to a bunch of random shmucks about programming languages, interfaces, etc.

It's not that hard with some accessible analogies. An interface is like the table of contents for a book. Is a table of contents alone copyrightable?

Re:Results (2)

zarr (724629) | about 5 months ago | (#46961065)

...which nicely demonstrates how hard it is to come up with good analogies. If I wrote a book, and you copied all my chapter titles for your book, be certain that I (or rather my publisher) would come after you. I put a lot of work into those titles after all.

APIs are different though. They are meant to be copied. You can't use them without copying them.

Re:Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961321)

You can't implement them without copying them.

FTFY.

Analogies are Killing Us (4, Funny)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about 5 months ago | (#46961207)

You wouldn't steal a car, snatch a purse, etc. So why would you reproduce the sequence and structure of an API !? !

Far reaching repercussions (1)

Elgonn (921934) | about 5 months ago | (#46960757)

So at this rate I assume we'll get an appeal to the technologically illiterate supreme court and virtually all code written will violate someone else's copyright.

Re:Far reaching repercussions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960811)

Pretty much all code is copyrightable. The question is whether someone else can use it or make a tiny change without violating that copyright. But I don't think that applies in this case anyway since they're arguing over the API, not the actual code.

Qt anyone? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960781)

I vote for Google to replace Java with Qt

Re:Qt anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961041)

Good idea.

Now come up with a language and not a toolkit, then maybe someone will listen.

Re:Qt anyone? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46961187)

Qt has a languange: C++ (or at least a certain subset of it). The OP is obviously implying that Google should switch to C++/Qt. He could also mean Python since there's Qt bindings for that, but generally "Qt" implies C++.

Oracle customer lock-in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960837)

I don't know anybody who voluntarily uses Oracle products. The company is hated, and many of their products are mediocre. Oracle has done an amazing job of locking in their customers. Microsoft could only dream of having as much power. Part of the problem is that Oracle was allowed to buy up most of their rivals. Many customers who tried to escape ended up back in Oracle's clutches. How do you think those negotiations went when it came time to renew support contracts?

Hang them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46960875)

Yaaay down with the steeling Google!!!! Hang them!!!

Not Getting the Strategy Here (4, Insightful)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 5 months ago | (#46960963)

I don't get why Oracle bothered to buy Sun since they seem to be systematically destroying the value of everything they got from the purchase.

Re:Not Getting the Strategy Here (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 5 months ago | (#46961145)

The trouble is when you're left without viable alternatives they can pretty much crap on whatever they choose and you have to eat it. Even if you were so fortunate to get the opportunity for "green field" implementations your choices are next to non-existent if your requirements made Java the primary choice in the first place. You cannot simply say "screw Oracle, I'll use C++", or "screw Oracle, I'll use C#", "... Ruby", "... Python", "...".

Re:Not Getting the Strategy Here (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 months ago | (#46961369)

Yes, that was why Oracle bought Sun.

Re:Not Getting the Strategy Here (1)

jafac (1449) | about 5 months ago | (#46961457)

Most of these acquisitions are really about marketshare, and killing-off competition. When there is market-overlap, the purchasing company is buying that marketshare - and a certain percentage of those customers will abandon it; but some will stay. The abandoners will not likely go to a single (biggest) competitor, but often be scattered, which makes the purchasing player stronger as top-dog. When there is no overlap, it's usually for the purpose of keeping other companies who are nearby in the marketplace, from getting too big and bridging over. They'll talk the talk about "synergy" (which usually means, trying to bundle semi-related products as a suite, to vertically integrate) - but this is usually bullshit.

Source: been through three of these "mergers". Symantec is the devil.

Fork! Fork! Fork! (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 5 months ago | (#46961051)

How 'bout a completely open-source fork?

Driver license incompatibility (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46961149)

Oracle publishes a copylefted version of Java, but copyleft licenses aren't necessarily compatible with the non-free drivers needed to get a mass-market mobile computer booting.

Re:Driver license incompatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961301)

"Breaking news, Android switched to a BSD kernel while no one was looking!"

Wrong, wrong, wrong (5, Insightful)

reg (5428) | about 5 months ago | (#46961107)

This is a very bad decision and is only going to harm the software industry. This is Google's fault for using the wrong arguments. APIs are digital forms. You fill one in and give it to a worker, it does what you asked (possibly with side effects) and returns results. This is not an analogy, it is a fact. Forms are not copyrightable, for good reason. Imagine if every bank had to make up a new name for a 'deposit slip', and someone could copyright "First Name, Last Name" on a form! Google copied Java's API, the same as businesses have been copying each others forms since the dawn of time, and for the same reason: its easier to present a known interface to customers.

Regards,
-Jeremy

#boycottOracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961263)

Share on all media sources.

Hit em where they live, move to MariaDB (1)

cboslin (1532787) | about 5 months ago | (#46961273)

Of course stop using any part of Java that Oracle is claiming a copyright on. Heck I thought it was 9 lines of code [dice.com] , now it might be 37 APIs, come on now...enough already.

If this really pisses you off, especially if you are in a decision making position for IT in your company, seriously look at mariaDB and if possible switch out Oracle's SQL database for mariaDB. If you are considering Atlassian (JIRA, Confluence, Fisheye, Crucible, Bamboo) than use MariaDB [mariadb.org] instead. The first thing they did when they wrote MariaDB is get rid of all the things wrong with MySQL.

Many Linux distros have finally begun moving away from MySQL and to MariaDB for LAMP. Redhat recently started shipping their Enterprise version with MariaDB [zdnet.com] over MySQL

If you are the CEO of a company, did your VP of IT even consider the savings to the company that maridb would mean vs Oracle's SQL database solution? If not, perhaps its time to find a VP of IT that will put your company first.

Do you buy stock in companies? Do they use SQL databases? Do they use Oracle? Perhaps its not the best solution. Any company that does not control its cost effectively will take a hit one day, not a matter of if, only when.

Java is a PITA for overhead anyway, ask yourself, can I accomplish my goal without Java when developing applications...you might be surprised at how much faster and customer responsive your app is if you can 86 Java.

If its the entire API and not just 9 lines of code, everyone needs to re-evaluate their use of Java in development and especially in Cloud applications. No more Service As A Dis-service (SAAD vs SAAS)!

If you are reading this, you are a developer, time to think outside the Java / Oracle box!

Copyrightable APIs? How Far? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 5 months ago | (#46961425)

How far does this copyrightability of APIs go? If I write a program in Java, am I infringing?

Collections.unmodifiableList( Collections.sort( new ArrayList(){{add(String.valueOf(Math.pow(3,9)));add(String.valueOf(Math.pow(3,6)));}}));

Is that enough copying of their API to trigger copyright? If it is, then this ruling means we have to stop all software development, sort this out, then start again once we understand the license terms of every language. If this duplication of their API is not potentially infringing, then how can a copy of the API in a slightly different form (as the signatures of an implementation) be infringing?

The only rational conclusion is that the API are uncopyrightable facts, not copyrightable artistic expression. Anything else makes programming itself infringement.

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