Feeds

back to article Oracle case crippled after judge rules APIs can’t be copyrighted

Google has won a major victory in its legal fight with Oracle over the use of Java in Android after the presiding judge ruled that the APIs under dispute can't be copyrighted. "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 …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge
Thumb Up

A very welcome outbreak of common sense

Could this be the start of something big?

47
1
Silver badge
Devil

Re: A very welcome outbreak of common sense

No, the BIG started long ago - the so called LEGO precedent where LEGO tried to sue other brickmongers. This is just an application of the same rules to the computer domain. Expecting anything different was frankly beyond optimistic.

It has some interesting side effects.

The long standing practice by the Open Source community to "protect" against interfacing to GPL2 components through the gratuitous application of GPL headers to include files which define API has just been ruled to have no protection. GPL, MPL, etc work will still be protected against theft, however the so called element of "virality" has been removed for a lot of the possible use cases.

2
6

Re: A very welcome outbreak of common sense

You are a little confused, gpl is about linking binary, not api interface.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: A very welcome outbreak of common sense

I'd like to join you in your optimism, unfortunately I know our legal system and the players too well.

I expect Larry "I have more money than God" Ellison will charge his lawyers with finding a way to appeal the decision and have the judge's ruling overturned. I don't expect it to end until SCOTUS has ruled. I'd quote a famous Brit about what this is, but I won't offend you by getting it wrong.

0
0
Silver badge
Megaphone

Re: A very welcome outbreak of common sense

"I'd quote a famous Brit about what this is, but I won't offend you by getting it wrong."

Take your pick:

"You have my Cast Iron guarantee"

"I promise an end to boom and bust"

"I pledge no tuition fees" (oops, you said famous, scratch that one).

2
1
Bronze badge
Linux

The judge has developed software

Thus he understood what he was judging.

this are good news indeed.

21
0
Silver badge
Joke

Re: The judge has developed software

no, no, no. Surely google paid him more money (or so the tin foil hat brigade would have you believe).

2
2

This post has been deleted by its author

Linux

Incredible

For once, a rulling that applies common sence. Oracle must be really starting to regret letting the lawers loose.

I wonder if we're seeing the start of another sco story?

17
0

Re: Incredible

don't you means "scents"...er..."sents"...i mean..."snets"...ah fuck it, I just can't bring myself to be a grammar nazi.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Incredible

Mmmhh.. technically that would be a spelling error, not a grammatical error. Just saying.

3
0
NB
Happy

Re: Incredible

I think it's a tad disingenuous to try to liken this case to the SCO debacle. Oracle isn't going to destroy itself by persuing a fruitless lawsuit to the detriment of their entire business like SCO did. They'll just appeal and drag the case out until they can't any more and *when* they lose they'll be really butthurt about it and the entire tech community will take great satisfaction in watching them moan and bitch.

We all know that Oracle are conscienceless dicks. It's kinda heartwarming to see them getting fucked for once.

11
0

Re: Incredible

For once the usual spelling mistake also makes perfect sense. loose>lose.

Tee Hee.

0
0
Bronze badge
Headmaster

Speeling errors

are dealt with by the Spelling Stasi; grammar is the domain of the Grammar Gestapo.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Incredible

I agree with your first paragraph, but "getting fucked", Oracle is not... as your first paragraph clearly states. It's one court case - a big one, yes, but one court case nonetheless.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: ....hey'll be really butthurt ....

You would be too if Google used one of these on you:

http://www.jotocorp.com/images/tbm.jpg

Larry, just don't bend over anytime soon.

0
0
Bronze badge
Facepalm

Re: Incredible

Uh, defer to the OP here but I'm pretty sure he meant it how he spelt it...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Champagne corks not just popping at Google tonight.

Seriously, this is brilliant news for all of us. I don't give a stuff which of two large corporations wins a court case, but if independent re-creation was ever ruled to be breach of copyright, it would devastate our entire industry.

24
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: If only they'd apply this ruling to other areas

Like software patents, like the stupid "slide to unlock" anybody could have thought of that idea, and anyone (within the field) could have reproduced it via any API using any number of different methods.

I'm actually hoping somebody does try to use that as a defense at some point, if ti works it could destroy software patents... probably not.

--rant incoming--

All I'm trying to get at on the software patent is that well, If I were to create a piece of software using the above example of slide to unlock and patent it, nobody would be able to slide to unlock using any form of software. That is how software parents are defined these days.

If I were to go back in time and create a car engine and patent it, anyone else could still go out there and create their own version of the car engine, so long as the underlying construction is sufficiently different from my patent.

This is why I dislike the software patent rules, and I'm glad that this ruling has been made. It actually gives a foot in from the bottom level if an API cannot be patented for the aforementioned reasons, IE method names the same (outer appearance) but the underliying construction is different, then why can features within software (slide to unlock best example I can think of) be patented based on their external functionality when the underlying construction is vastly different.

I can agree 100% on software patents which pioneer new software technology like a new encryption algorythm, a new way of identifying images of people etc, but I cannot agree on the stupid patents like using a touch screen interface to predictively dial a number. Its making use of common technology which has existed in different fields since computers with GUIs arrived. But just because they add the fact its on a mobile technology its suddenly a whole new patent.

Gah, sorry I just hate software patents, I REALLY hope that eventually somebody with half a brain makes it so they're more clearly defined and protect innovation (new alogrythms and programming paradigms etc ) rather than stifling others.

Patents were meant to protect you, not to punish your competition.

I'd also love it if companies who take somebody to court for patent infringement when no such infringement occured, they had to pay the legal costs for both sides. Might make them think twice before trolling since most of the cases seem to lose.

1
0
Silver badge

Juidical activism

And maybe common sense will return to the legislative and executive branches eventually?

0
10
Thumb Down

Re: Juidical activism

Florian Mueller, is that you?

13
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Juidical activism

That would be the yoghurty one who has absolutely no legal background, but apparently the judge (Harvard graduate etc, etc) is wrong and the yoghurty one has no problems with correcting the judge's apparent mis-understanding of the law.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

woot

Wonder what that idiot hack Florian Mueller will say the good news about this ruling is for Oracle. I guess there always appeals but for now f__k yeah!

18
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: woot

I made the mistake of trying to read his response. He implies Google have pulled an OJ Simpson:

Google's decision to defend its position at a trial has paid off: it gets away unscathed, at least for another couple of years, with what it's done.

Damn you Google! Damn you for being innocent of the bogus allegations!

He goes on to criticise how the judge ran his court room and then quacks about how he wasn't wrong anyway. I gave up at this point, I have better things to do. Like driving nails into my head.

16
0
Bronze badge
Pint

Re: woot

Well, apparently iron is good for you... which can't really be said for those Muller quotes...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Proved some wrong

So I wonder if Andrew Orlowski will run a write-up on this result and maybe eat some humble pie? After all the register did post the ORACLE V GOOGLE ROUND-UP: THE SHOW SO FAR but then didn't post any more of the "show" after just pointing out the Oracle case - despite the Reg's DrewC saying "Note: "show so far" Google's turn will come next week." and Diodesign stating "Re: Re: article fail

But my point is that there should be no suggestion that we're omitting or censoring Google's defence.

C." apart from the fact that Goggle's opening statement or it's patent win was never reported on.

Of course it couldn't be the Florian effect that creeps into The Register's Articles from some of the lesser author's? As DrewC stated "Florian Mueller has become a bit of a player. You know what his POV is and you know who is paying him - because he tells you what is point of view is and he tells you who is paying him. This does not make him wrong or corrupt."

Well Saying that this case is worth Billions, That Oracle would win, that there was hang out's for the Jury in the minority on Google's side, that the API copyrights would be deemed copyrightable and telling his NYSE clients that Oracle was a good bet (Last one speculation" does make him wrong, the same as his SCO predictions and most other's. You don't know who is paying FM, the Oracle deal was month's old and he provides no disclosure on his post or his Bio.

27
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Proved some wrong

Just to clarify, I meant the "show" as in the show shown by the Lawyers - Andrew Orlowski did pipe up with the little gem of Java jury finds Google guilty of infringement: where he stated "The jury found Google to be unequivocally guilty of copyright infringement on the major charge" without realising that the judge had told them to assume it was copyrighted and as the fair use was hung in Googles favour they were Not Guilty at all (you aren't guilty if there is fair use).

Also stating "For its part, Oracle has presented damning and unequivocal evidence that Google knew it needed a licence if it was to build Android on Java"

Damning? Not; Unequivocal? Really, why do they need a licence again when they haven't done anything wrong?; knew? They never did and they are right

Then mentioned " embodied in the catastrophic appearance of former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz at the trial" - well he was one person who spoke the truth in raw terms, some good for Google, some for Oracle. Why was his appearence "catastrophic", ah because it ruined the Oracle argument - only works if the piece was written in a pro Oracle slant though.

But of course the heading "Google Guilty of Infringement" Not "Oracle loses all but a tiny fraction of their Copyright claim"

As the trial went on and Oracle looked to lose everything the reporting stopped....

23
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Proved some wrong

Come on, you don't expect unbiased reporting here do you?

Everything about el-reg these days is once sided or cherrpicked on some way or another, depending on what stock the writer holds.

3
3
Happy

Re: Proved some wrong

+1

Loved coming back here to see the rather crestfallen strapline "Champagne corks popping at Google tonight".

Better than "The Chocolate Factory are doomed!! Wait.... Oh noes!! "

Hahaha. What's Florian's take ?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Proved some wrong

Had to dig to find this story - was it ever on the front page like the other ones? or was it tucked away out of the way because some of the "big" name journo here were a bit embarrassed that they'd made a bit of a fool of themselves?

0
0
Bronze badge

Floored, I tell you

A Judge who understands the difference between the *name* of the thing, *what* the thing does and *how* that thing is made/implemented?

Priceless.

Copyright should only ever apply to the "how". Achieving the same result via a different method (the "what") is not in the purview of copyright, neither is the name given to the thing... although that last one may be Trademarked, which is a different kettle of fish.

13
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Floored, I tell you

> A Judge who understands the difference between the *name* of the thing, > *what* the thing does and *how* that thing is made/implemented?

During the trial it transpired that Judge Alsup was himself a bit of a hacker. Apparently he used to write software, in FORTRAN. There's a reference to this in one of the articles at Groklaw.

19
0

Re: Floored, I tell you

Judge Alsup actually includes a little Java tutorial in his judgement for future judges. Quite surreal.

13
0
Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: Floored, I tell you

The thing is, that since this is only the _first_ judgement, we all know that it will be overturned on appeal.

Which it certainly should be - this was shameless copying by Google - because they needed something that was identical, the argument that it is only a name is not valid.

0
11
Silver badge

Re: Floored, I tell you

No, we know the decision will be appealed, we DON'T know that it will be overturned. It SHOULD be upheld, but there is always doubt when lawyers are involved.

4
0
Paris Hilton

Re: Floored, I tell you

" the argument that it is only a name is not valid."

Let's imagine I come round your house for dinner and you serve, say, Goulash.

I enjoy the dinner and when I get home I try to remember the flavours, knock a few ingredients together and then gradually fine tune ingredients and method until I have a dish that tastes identical to yours.

Have I stolen your recipe?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: shameless copying by Google

Where is Oracel's major business - Databases right?

What language/standard do they use, SQL right?

Should Oracle give 50% of all profits ever made to IBM for shameless copying of the SQL spec? No of course not, no one should including Google, but if they wish to persue the matter that APIs and interfaces can be copyrighted then maybe they should just pay up to show how strongly they believe in their own case.

Oracle were lucky they didn't win, it could've ruined them. There's no guarantee this will be appealed, will be accepted for appeal and almost no chance if it is that it will succeed.

0
0
Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: Floored, I tell you

If you take home a sample, analyse it scientifically, then write a recipe from scratch that "just happens" to be identical to mine, then yes you have copied my recipe.

If you do it for commercial reasons, because your studies show that "Goulash" sells ten times better than "Hungarian-style meat stew", then your hands are decidedly unclean.

0
1
Bronze badge

Re: Floored, I tell you

If you take home a sample, analyse it scientifically, then write a recipe from scratch that "just happens" to be identical to mine, then yes you have copied my recipe.

Remarkably wrong. I'm impressed; it takes a lot of effort to achieve that degree of error.

Under the (implausible[1]) scenario you describe, I'd've duplicated your recipe. I would not have copied it, if I didn't have the original to hand. That's what "copying" entails.

Furthermore, under the applicable law here there is no simple prohibition against "copying". There are copyrights and patents (and other forms of IP protection that don't apply here). Creating a duplicate from an analysis of function (which is the process you're describing here), without reference to the original, is very much not a violation of copyright. It's what patent, not copyright, protects; and this decision is about copyright.

If you do it for commercial reasons, because your studies show that "Goulash" sells ten times better than "Hungarian-style meat stew", then your hands are decidedly unclean.

Utter rot, and I'd like to see you defend that position with any reasonable ethical argument. What happens here is simple competition. Your protection here would fall under patent law, which does not prohibit duplication for profit.

[1] I'm well aware that food chemists have done just this sort of analysis, and indeed that there are commercial outfits that will do it on arbitrary samples for a reasonable fee. The implausible bit is the "identical" recipe. A recipe is more than a list of ingredients and their proportions.

1
0
Bronze badge

a non-trivial result

So, 2x2=4, indeed.

QED

3
0
g e
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: a non-trivial result

Just so long as you don't implement my 2+2 methodology to achieve the same result...

-- Love, The Ghost Of Steve Jobs.

:oD

1
1
Pint

Oracle Eyes are still sparkling...

.. with tears!

8
0
Thumb Up

Finally, some good news

This judgement, unless Oracle do the whole appeal charade and somehow lobby (read "bribe") there way to a different judgement, can only be good news and reinforces the boundaries for IP protection.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Sanity prevails

Shame there aren't a few more judges who can code.

4
0
Silver badge
Joke

Oh bugger

Now we can't have Oracle shutdown for ripping off IBM APIs all those years.

It would have been such a shame to have to watch poor old Larry having to take his yacht round to Big Blue's pond and wave it good bye.

4
0
Gold badge
Thumb Up

ISTR that there was a similar "APIs" cannot be copyrighted judgement in Europe recently too? (there is no way I can find it right now but I'm sure it was this year)

I know laws and opinions are different everywhere, but hopefully this will set the trend

0
0
Bronze badge

You can find it at groklaw:

http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20120502083035371

0
0

As a Judge who's a developer - isn't he biased towards his job (old job) being easier?

Don't get me wrong - I'm enjoying this kharma for Oracle borging Sun.

0
8
Anonymous Coward

@his old job being easier

understanding the situation isn't bias.

Easier in the sense of not becoming illegal?

What is the point of disclosing APIs?

Ya wanna go back to Microsoft's secret APIs that killed off all their software rivals letting MS Word inherit the earth?

This is about more than Oracle v Google

8
0
Happy

@As a Judge who's a developer.....

So only Judges who have no driving licences or experience can preside over motoring offences :p

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.