back to article Oracle vs Google redux: Appeals court says APIs CAN TOO be copyrighted

In a major victory for Oracle, a US Appeals Court has overturned an earlier ruling in the database giant's multibillion-dollar intellectual property lawsuit against Google, finding that Oracle's Java APIs are in fact covered by copyright. In its original suit, filed waayyyy back in 2010, Oracle argued that Google had swiped …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Probably the death knell of the "industry"

    Well, frankly I have had it.

    The whole bunch of leeches and sucking cancers can't end soon enough. Everyone in his own proprietary little silo, throwing shit against the padded walls.

    1. PeterGriffin

      Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

      It probably is. If there is no minimum number of lines of code before it becomes copyright infringement may I be the first to wave goodbye to:

      printf("Hello World");

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        Dear PeterGriffin,

        On behalf of our client, Codemageddon, Inc., I hereby issue you with an order to cease and desist.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        printf("Goodbye World");

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

      > Well, frankly I have had it.

      The problem is that the legal and political systems have become so divorced from the real world and common sense that they are scarce relevant to you, I and everyone else.

      That tax dollars/pounds are being hoovered up to pay for this farce is the real crime here.

      I really don't know how we say enough is enough to these people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        Scarcely relevant, yet they regularly ruin lives and good work. Why do we as a society allow lawyers and judges to make decisions they're totally unqualified to make?

        I see an upside - maybe, just maybe, developers will stop using 3rd-party APIs willy-nilly.

      2. fritsd

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        "I really don't know how we say enough is enough to these people."

        How about: "Not for sale or use in the United States of America"

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

          >How about: "Not for sale or use in the United States of America"

          Swifttech (water cooling) already do that and that's fine by me. Let the US stew in its own overpriced monopoly markets.

          But I think this is different. APIs are a list of things which a language/library can do. Since software is infinitely malleable It seems reasonable that more than one language/library would be able to do those things and should be allowed to advertise as such. As has been subtly mentioned, printf is an API call. No, it shouldn't be copyrightable as a nod to common sense. Additionally, if fair-use is defined as a % of total code copied, the APIs will almost certainly fall in that scope.

          The desktop/mobile argument is also flawed. Sorry Oracle, but the original idea doesn't make sense, especially if you allow laptops to qualify as desktops.

          Personally, if I were the judge hearing Oracle's arguments, I'd throw them out as being deliberately nonsensical to the point of operating in bad faith. Let that be a lesson to those who say one thing for marketing/sales and then try to use small-print to implement the opposite.

          Even if this went against Google, all you'd get is a phone from Samsung which boots up the first time with a ROM clever enough to download an install image from elsewhere. Android would be spun off to another company. But that won't happen. Too popular to stop is probably a reality and we all know how adept multinationals are at not making taxable profit.

    3. Charles Manning

      POSIX/ECMA everywhere

      It is clearly time to dump proprietary protocols and APIs, go with Posix or ECMA where you can.

      The writing was on the wall when Sun withdrew their Java submission to ECMA in 1999. Oh well, there are other ways to write portable code....

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: POSIX/ECMA everywhere

        ISO standards can still be patented.

        Or now that APIs are valuable, the patent troll law firm that now owns the original company can claim all sorts of excuses why the ISO process was invalid

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

      "Popularity voids Copyright"

      Interesting idea... Did Google just try to sneak its implied right to steal the Linux kernel or any GPL work.

      Now _THAT_ would be the death knell of the industry as we presently know it.

      Do no evil my a**e. Cucking Funts...

      1. SuccessCase

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        Agreed, and some contributors to this thread appear to be of the view, if you have a dispute with someone but consensus on The Register is such that your position is the less supported, you should be denied access to the legal system. Never mind that common sense says if Sun retain copyright but such API's use is allowed under fair use, that would seem to be the right ruling. People forget rulings like this apply to cases far beyond the current case and where different matters might be under dispute.

        To me it seems entirely correct such API's are considered a part of Sun's work product but that they should be usable by another company under fair use. That may well be the ruling that results here. If in the future there is a case where a company has ripped off API's plus implementation code (which hasn't happened in this case), it is reasonable that because, through theft of the latter, they have shown a certain intent, they can then be said to have gone beyond fair use so have also thieved the former. Such a distinctions are important when e.g. calculating damages. If API's are divorced from copyright entirely, subtleties like this are lost.

        It seems to me the legal system is there to examine the law from all angles and refine it. Commentards alighting on a single issue with pitch forks and bales of burning hay, singularly fail to do so.

        1. Graham Dawson

          Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

          What subtleties? An API is a list of function names. It's a set of ingredients for making application soup.

          Lists aren't granted copyright protection.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

            Lists aren't granted copyright protection.

            Funny didn't the Ministry of Sound try to sue Spootify for stealing their lists?!

            1. Graham Dawson

              Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

              They did, and in the end the settled out of court, presumably because Spotify realised it couldn't afford to match MoS's legal budget.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

            Yeah, and books are just lists of lines so can't fall under copyright. Right.

            1. Someone Else Silver badge
              FAIL

              @ AC -- Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

              Yeah, and books are just lists of lines so can't fall under copyright. Right.

              That's the dumbest thing I've read this month. No, books are not lists. The table of contents is a list. IANAL (which is a good thing, because I like sleeping at night), but I don't think a table of contents is copyrightable.

          3. Julz

            Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

            API's are not just lists they also have defined behaviours some expected and some unexpected!

        2. RegMidnight

          Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

          I don't know if I agree with the opinion(s) or not (frankly not that interested to dive so deep), but you get an upvote for the thoughtful and well presented analysis.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

          > It seems to me the legal system is there to examine the law from all angles and refine it.

          If only that's what was going on here.

          Patents, copyrights and trademarks are supposed to promote the public good. Companies bashing each other over and over for years and years on the same friggin' issue is one thing but the uncertainty of the law caused by these long-lasting disputes affects us all. The public good is not served by this constant in-fighting.

          What people also seem to forget is that money spent on these disputes could be better spend on R&D, making better and cheaper products for us all. Unfortunately, the bean counters and in charge and they don't tend to have very long term views on these things.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

          APIs (e.g. the interface that describes the library, not the library itself) are

          purely functional.

          You don't write them for fun. You don't write them as an exercise in whimsy.

          You do them for purely functional reasons, so that his program X can talk to

          your library Y.

          They are not the equivalent of chapter titles in a Harry Potter book (as argued by

          Oracle). They are the PAGE NUMBERS in a Harry Potter book.

          Copyright is not supposed to protect functional creations, whether they be APIs,

          or the order of the pedals in a car, or whether pulling back the yoke in a plane makes

          it go up.

          If it's functional and it's innovative enough you use patents.

          The original judge was very clear on this matter. The appeals court have shoved

          their collective wise heads up their collective wise asses and if it sticks the industry

          will suffer.

          Especially the industries of any small companies that make "compatible" products

          for X, Y or Z. If Oracle pull this off then ouch.

      2. Adam Inistrator

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        actually google said something like "java api is industry standard therefore we can use it" ... it appears to be the judge who spun it into "popularity voids copyright". The judge here looks like they have "owner instinct" not "user instinct"

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

      Everyone's life is a proprietary little silo and so is every individual or corporation's work. If you bothered to look at the APIs in question you'd have noticed they were plainly copied. Sun put a lot of work into Java and Oracle threw a lot of money after it. Having Google simply take it, against their license, which only extended to desktop java, and then either claim fair use or that really a desktop's pretty much the same thing as a mobile device and therefore the license was valid and all that crap is simply stealing. I would love to see how most everyone here would react to someone "fairly using" a few years worth of their life's work, making a fortune off it and telling them to get lost in the process.

      Two different people or teams developing the same functionality independently would never end up with the same class hierarchy, the same method signatures, the same variables. Never. There's just too much room for creativity in software so that would just never happen, not even for the simplest piece of software let alone something of the complexity and breadth of coverage such as the Java APIs.

      If anything, this is probably one of the few high-profile sane decisions rendered recently. Imagine a full class hierarchy not being copyrightable but a slider button or rounded corners being totally innovative, revolutionary, copyrightable and patentable. Is the irony/absurdity obvious enough?

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        "If you bothered to look at the APIs in question you'd have noticed they were plainly copied."

        And if you bothered to read up on the case you'd have noticed that this wasn't in dispute. Google were quite clear that they'd implemented the Java APIs. It was their view that these APIs constituted a non-copyrightable specification and as long as they produced a clean-room implementation they were entitled to copy the spec.

        But 9 lines? Really? Out of however many thousand?Given that the function *has* to perform the same task and presumably *ought* to do so with the minimum of overhead? And given that Oracle's lawyers clearly had hundreds of such functions to *choose* from, hunting around until they found one that happened to alight on a particularly similar source form? Sorry, lawyers, but if 9 lines is all you can come up with then *that's* evidence of a deliberate and careful attempt to *avoid* copying. You've just proved the other guy's case.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

          The 'number of lines copied' is a spurious argument. There's not a single point of US law, nary a one, that is absolute and does not recognize a gray area. It's kind of neat, the whole fucking system is designed with that in mind. There are even processes for establishing how big that gray area is, on a case by case basis.

          The way the IP lawyers are positioning things in nearly every infringement case is a digital, yes/no equation that completely undermines one of the core building blocks of our entire legal system. It's unfortunate that judges don't have more latitude in controlling how cases are argued, but they don't.

          They've got to sit by and watch as stupid, middle manager logic, kicks holes in a system specifically designed to take common sense and situational variables into account. Fuck 'em. Burn the lawyers.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        If you bothered to look at the APIs in question you'd have noticed they were plainly copied.

        In this thread: Eejits who don't know about APIs and didn't bother to read the article.

        If anything, this is probably one of the few high-profile sane decisions rendered recently

        In this thread: Eejits who have no idea what they are talking about.

        Two different people or teams developing the same functionality independently would never end up with the same class hierarchy, the same method signatures, the same variables. Never.

        In this thread: Eejits who have no idea about coding.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

      Google clearly ripped off Java from Oracle, and the day of reckoning is coming. Google are already getting spanked by Nokia, Microsoft and Apple for exactly the same type of behaviour.

      1. Tyrion

        Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

        > Google clearly ripped off Java from Oracle, and the day of reckoning is coming

        Android was using Java before Oracle even acquired Sun Microsystems, the company that actually designed Java and also the company that gave its blessing for Google to use it.

        > Google are already getting spanked by Nokia, Microsoft and Apple for exactly the same type of behaviour.

        Take a look at OS marketshare and ask who's really getting spanked. From the look of things, Microsoft's in a death spiral, Nokia's already collapsed because of its decision to go Microsoft platform exclusive, and Apple's sales have been stagnating for some time. Why do you think the aforementioned companies have resorted to the legal system to fight their competitor? Because they're getting spanked.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

          "the company that actually designed Java and also the company that gave its blessing for Google to use it."

          Apparently not a legally binding blessing.

          "Take a look at OS marketshare and ask who's really getting spanked."

          Microsoft earn far more directly from Android licensing than Google do!

          "From the look of things, Microsoft's in a death spiral"

          Doesnt seem so from their results: http://www.forbes.com/sites/charleyblaine/2014/04/24/microsoft-results-beat-estimates-cheer-investors/

          Considering the PC industry is to some degree in decline, Microsoft seem to be doing very well.

          "Nokia's already collapsed because of its decision to go Microsoft platform exclusive"

          Nokia returned to profit before they sold their phone division to Microsoft from several years of losses, so clearly going Windows Phone actually turned them around - especially since Microsoft partially helped to fund the development of more modern hardware plaforms via support payments. The only OEM that makes any significant money out of Android is Samsung - so going to Android wouldnt have likely helped Nokia recover any faster - if at all.

          However - if the market changes and Android is for some reason the way forwards, then Microsoft now have their own Android platform - without any Google Spyware - thanks to the purchase of Nokia's devices arm.

          "Apple's sales have been stagnating for some time"

          Yep - at the last count I saw, Windows Phone now outsells Apple's iPhone in 25 countries.

          "Why do you think the aforementioned companies have resorted to the legal system to fight their competitor. Because they're getting spanked."

          Because what their 'competitor' is doing is currently illegal in the USA and was clearly ripping off Oracle's Java platform - regardless of if you think the law is right or not to allow such things as APIs to be protected. Google are not spanking Oracle in any market segments I am aware of - they hardly compete!

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

            > Nokia returned to profit before they sold their phone division to Microsoft from several years of losses, so clearly going Windows Phone actually turned them around

            Nokia, the whole company, did make a small profit. The phone division, the part sold to Microsoft, still made a loss in spite of being given a $billion a year. Yes, going WP did "turn them around", from being the largest phone company to nearly dropping off the top ten*.

            > Yep - at the last count I saw, Windows Phone now outsells Apple's iPhone in 25 countries.

            Yes, but that is because you only look at stats that support your spin. In that particular case it was for a very short time last year just before the new iPhone was released. Most of those countries are ones that Apple doesn't ship to.

            > Google are not spanking Oracle in any market segments I am aware of

            Given that you seem to only being aware of what comes over your direct feed from MS marketing then it is not surprising that you don't know about J2ME/Java ME.

            * Nokia are 9th in smartphones for 2013 - http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Probably the death knell of the "industry"

      At least the death knell of Java.

      What's next? Will Oracle go after IBM and OpenJRE?

  2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Appeal for an "en banc" ruling ?

    As this was not decided by the full bench of the appeal court - can Google ask for an "en banc" ruling - ie from the full court rather than from this three judge panel ?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Appeal for an "en banc" ruling ?

      They can, but it would probably make more sense to appeal to the Supreme Court so they can get the final say more quickly.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Appeal for an "en banc" ruling ?

        That assumes a final decision is the desired outcome. Rather, a final decision this quarter or fiscal year. The costs of ongoing litigation, for all parties involved, is not reflected in regulatory financials. The costs of the suit, as well as awards and/or penalties are effectively calculated in limbo until any and all appeals have been exhausted and there's no way possible to get a different verdict.

        Obviously, I'm not privy to the internal financial and legal plotting at either of the companies in this story, but the timing of legal motions with respect to regulatory filings is common business. On track to have a super year? Hustle everything up, finish the case and the costs get lost in the confusion. The reverse is too as well. If you'd rather not have all those costs crop up right now just keep filing motions. They could've settled this long, long ago, but the stars haven't been properly aligned for the financial voodoo of either party.

        It's really hard to say for certain, maybe they do want a decision soon. I just wanted to point out that court cases aren't always as straightforward as they appear.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        @DougS -- Re: Appeal for an "en banc" ruling ?

        They can, but it would probably make more sense to appeal to the Supreme Court so they can get the final say more quickly.

        Interesting concept. In general, this Supreme Court and common sense don't usually exist in the same space at the same time. However, we have the unusual scenario here where two $GIANT_CORPs would be squabbling in front of this Corporatist court, with any result having a large impact on all other $GIANT_CORPs. No politics involved. Hmmm....it is possible that we might actually get a reasoned decision from this court in such a case.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been infringed

    Oracle copied the O from my copy righted works, one of which is my name. Where do I sue?

    FN Tosser.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Mpeler
    Holmes

    I never thought I'd say this, but...

    I agree with 'orrible on this one..as referenced elsewhere, the Appeals courts (Fed circuit, used to be patent courts) almost always side with the patent holder (or in this case, purported copyright holder). So it looks like this will get bounced up to the supremes (hey ladi ladi lo...) (sorry) unless something happens en banc....

    Hmmm....wasn't Java supposed to be open source?

    And what's this with Amazon patenting photos against a white background...hmmm...could be eBay will have something to say about that (not to mention just about every profi photographer who ever lived.....)....

    I think Douglas Adams pegged it with the intro to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

    'This was the gist of the notice. It said "The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate."

    This has led to some interesting consequences. For instance, when the Editors of the Guide were sued by the families of those who had died as a result of taking the entry on the planet Tralal literally (it said "Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal for visiting tourists: instead of "Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal of visiting tourists"), they claimed that the first version of the sentence was the more aesthetically pleasing, summoned a qualified poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty and hoped thereby to prove that the guilty party in this case was Life itself for failing to be either beautiful or true.

    The judges concurred, and in a moving speech held that Life itself was in contempt of court, and duly confiscated it from all those there present before going off to enjoy a pleasant evening's ultragolf.” '

    Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction...

  6. ecofeco Silver badge

    Wasn't Java suppsoed to remain "open source"

    I may have not remembered this correctly, but wasn't part of the deal to buy Java that it remain "open source?"

    1. Charles Manning

      Re: Wasn't Java suppsoed to remain "open source"

      That was the original intention... Java everywhere, by everyone. In the late 1990s, Sun submitted Java to ECMA to become an open standard, but then withdrew that in 1999.

      That was at the height of the dot.bomb hype and perhaps Sun thought they had something that would make them very wealthy.

      Unfortunately for them , withdrawing Java really gave MS a leg up and allowed them to play their .NET card.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wasn't Java suppsoed to remain "open source"

        "withdrawing Java really gave MS a leg up and allowed them to play their .NET card"

        That Java has been a security nightmare, a multiple version compatibility nightmare and an inefficient and slow mess compared to .Net has far more to do with .Net's success in the market than Java's licensing arrangments.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Wasn't Java suppsoed to remain "open source"

      What happened when Oracle bought? I thought the deal required it to remain open source?

      1. stanimir

        Re: Wasn't Java suppsoed to remain "open source"

        OpenJDK is GPLv2 licensed[1]. But Andriod is not Java and won't pass the compatibility suit tests and it's not based on OpenJDK.

        btw the rangeCheck function is now reduced to just 2 lines of code - so this claim is really bogus b/c the implementation takes like 2-4min top.

        However Android initially being ripped off Java but incompatible was a very uncool move. Personally I believe software patents must be abolished even though IMO Google was in the wrong in this case.

        [1]:http://download.java.net/openjdk/jdk7/

    3. dbeberman

      Re: Wasn't Java suppsoed to remain "open source"

      The OpenJDK is published under the GPL with Classpath Exception. In reading through the appeal ruling, although I saw the GPL mentioned at the beginning, I did not see any place where Google asserted that they used the GPL source code. Perhaps this is because they originally did not want to publish their changes to the sources as is required by the GPL.

      The GPL enables derived works. It does not require compatibility of the derived works with the preceding works. The Classpath Exception enables independent libraries to be linked with the GPL code without interfering with licensing. This is identical in concept to the LGPL used by everyone running commercial applications written in C and C++ on Linux. It appears that Google did not use the OpenJDK and claim the GPL with Classpath Exception as part of its defense. My assumption is either that Google did not use the OpenJDK, or that it became available after Android was initially developed, and Google either did not switch to the OpenJDK, or did so, but was prevented from claiming the GPL during the original trial.

      The OpenJDK continues to be available for anyone that wants to use it, or fork it and modify it in anyway desired under the GPL.

  7. Oninoshiko
    WTF?

    W. T. F.

    "Google had also submitted expert testimony to the effect that copyright is the wrong legal standard by which to judge software code, and that software should be patentable but not copyrightable."

    Not only is Google completely wrong on this, I would say even presenting the argument is evil. Copyright is and always has been the proper method of protection for code, and patents are the wrong standard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: W. T. F.

      @Oninoshiko, I came here to say exactly what you have said. Good (wo)man.

    2. Blarkon

      Re: W. T. F.

      Glad someone else noticed this. Google is willing to chuck copyright over code and argue that instead we should use software patents?

    3. Raumkraut

      Re: W. T. F.

      > Not only is Google completely wrong on this, I would say even presenting the argument is evil. Copyright is and always has been the proper method of protection for code, and patents are the wrong standard.

      I was surprised at that comment in the article too, since I don't remember hearing that come up in previous coverage of this case (not that my memory of such matters is to be particularly relied upon). However, I can see an argument that the assertion in question could be appropriately applied to software APIs, which makes me wonder whether someone hasn't got their technical details in a twist.

      Then again, lawyers gonna lawyer.

    4. Christopher Key.

      Re: W. T. F.

      You patent a non-trivial concept. You copyright a non-trivial implementation. Both seem to apply.

      I suppose that means you could copyright portions of the patent applications, and then patent the idea of doing so.

    5. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: W. T. F.

      Copyright and Patents are BOTH the wrong standards for code. The only reason that code has been shoe-horned into patents or copyright is that both are covered by international treaties.

      If people had set out from the start to create a sensible set of logical and consistant laws for code IP protection, they would also have had to set out on a process that took more than a century the first time around: creation of an international IP regime like copyright or patents.

    6. tiger99

      Re: W. T. F.

      Just to add my support to what others here are saying, COPYRIGHT is very clearly the correct protection for software, and that means ALL software, from closed, proprietary stuff like Windoze, through to FOSS like the Linux kernel or GNU utilities. Even the GPL licenses, which give you, the end user, almost complete freedom to use the code in any way, except that you must not restrict anyone else's freedom, are founded on copyright law. But we don't want to get into a pointless flame war about licenses here, all I am saying is that every single line of code produced anywhere, unless it is expressly put into the public domain (not recommened, unnecessary, and not recognised by the legal systems in a number of countries), is covered by copyright law. It can be officially registered as such in some countries, relatively cheaply, to make enforcement in the courts simpler, but like any other piece of writing, the mere act of creating it confers protection automatically in many countries, although putting at least the (C) symbol, owners name and date in every file is advisable. This is simple, efficient and effective.

      Patents, on the other hand, are a legal minefield.Software is the ONLY fileld of endeavour which has, due to an incorrect court decision, become supposedly protectable by BOTH copyright and patents. Everything else is one, or the other. Why would software alone justify double protection? Patents cost money to obtain, in one country, and vast sums of money worldwide. The patent system is hopelessly broken in the US, where, as we know, Apple effectively obtained a patent on a rectangle with rounded corners, something that has been known and used for centuries, if not millenia. Very recently, Amazon has been awarded a patent for photographs taken against a white background. We could dredge up TENS OF THOUSANDS of imbecillically stupid patents on software or business processes, which should never have been granted. It is actually illegal of the USPTO, because a patent MUST contain something which is novel (rectangle with rounded corners?) and not obvious to someone who is skilled in the art (which rules out almost all minor incremental advances in software, leaving about 10 to 20 genuine advances, such as the assembler, then the high level language and compiler, then the multitasking OS, then virtual memory, possibly a hardware patent, then the GUI concept, and a few other odd things, all of which are now over 20 years old, so would have lapsed by now), so NONE should be granted patents. The USPTO needs to be brought into line with what US and international law requires. (Meanwhile certain despicable people in the EU are trying, yet again, to sneak software patents through, it is a world-wide problem, no disrespect to the US intended, the problem is political and beaurocratic in nature, not national, but the US, having more lawers per capita than anywhere else, succumbed to the problem first).

      The fundamental reason why software MUST be treated like any form of writing, such as a book, is its method of creation. Most software (over half) is created not by large corporations but by individuals, whether developing a small but necessary utility program for sale, or some FOSS tool, or an engineer at work just solving an immediate problem by making a quick and dirty tool, and lots of similar circumstances, i.e. negligible funding, or oversight by "management", just individuals doing what is expedient, or what they feel the urge to do. Exactly like writing a book, the creative spirit of the individual is at work.

      Then there is the barrier to entry to consider. To invent something like a new medicinal drug may take very little, or many millions or billions, but the testing to have it legalised for use will most likely run into billions. Prototyping a novel machine will take tens of thousands, up to millions, and will need expensive machine tools, or expenditure with sub-contractors who have such things. Making a new model of car costs maybe a billion. Patents, RIGHTLY, allow an inventor of something genuinely novel to claw back his costs and earn a living, if the invention is successful, so the reward has to be set high, and it is right to have patents, and license fees if others want to use the technology. But if an individual in any even moderately developed part of the world has the inspiration to write a book, he or she needs (leaving out the obsolete and inefficient methods such as typewriter or manuscript) a cheap PC, and as a baseline some free software. The rest is pure inspiration and hard work. Now what does a prospective software author need? Starting point, a cheap PC, some free software, lots of inspiration, and hard work. Exactly the same as writing a book.

      So, teh barrier to entry being similar, the means of protecting the work, and providing rewards, can reasonably be expected to be similar. I don't hear authors demanding patent protection for their works! Indeed, it would be a VERY BAD THING, because any slight resemblance of one plot in another would result in one publiching company suing the other. There could only really be one book of each generic type, fictional or even non-fiction. VERY BAD!

      Yet we have, for some years now, suffered the deranged rantings of various current, former (in one case a proven dangerous incompetent) and in some cases deceased, supposed leaders of the software industry, ranting and rambling about patents being necessary. Note that most of these individuals seem to have deep psychological problems. The only reason that they would want software patents is so that, every time they feel like it, they can sue a competitor for infringing some aspect of a patent that should never have been granted, on some feature of their buggy product that had been in common use for several decades, and whose method of implementation was common knowledge to many thousands of programmers or engineers (and even at least one judge). It is a business method, sue your competitor for patent infringement, when you can't beat him by fair competition. In the case of a small competitor, who can't afford 10 million in legal fees, sue him out of existence, then use the product of his hard work freely....

      The people who do that are not businessmen, but SCUMBAGS. Software patents should never have been allowed, and ought to be expunged from the legal system as soon as possible. They hinder innovation, the very thing that patents were supposed to (and do, in the right circumstances) encourage.

      Enough said, I think. Let us hope that software continues to enjoy proper copyright protection, but definitely not patent protection, which is just plain wrong.

      Oh, and the Google code copying was not as straightforward as it seemed, and the offending code was subsequently removed, so the whole thing was blown out of all proportion. In other parts of the world, where perhaps the lawyers are not paid as much, or not as greedy, the case would have been quietly settled in private, possibly with a small cash payment. Large businesses do themselves no good at all by creating a public spectacle in court over mere trivia, and compared to teh original fanciful allegations, the few lines of code were indeed mere trivia.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: W. T. F.

        "Apple effectively obtained a patent on a rectangle with rounded corners, something that has been known and used for centuries, if not millenia. Very recently, Amazon has been awarded a patent for photographs taken against a white background. "

        It has to be repeatedly pointed out that the USA has 2 different types of patents.

        One is for innovative ideas and the other is for "trade dress", which in the rest of the world would be a registered design. Apple might have got it for the phone (but other smart phones have had rounded corners in the past, so they wouldn't prevail except in cases of blatent copying) but there's no way Amazon should get it for doing what marketers have done for years, with millions of pieces of prior art on display everywhere.

        That said, the system is broken. The USA's laws have become based on who pays the most to have them written and passed, not on actual "justice". The word for this situation is "plutocracy"

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: W. T. F.

      Upholding that APIs are copyright enforceable goes against the last 50 years of decisions.

      I can't see this one lasting very long

  8. razorfishsl

    admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

    This does not bode well for the 'open source' Java.

    It basically means that all the different versions of DOS are also illegal, because they all implement a common access point which is the public API.

    It also means that no API's can be duplicated unless the copyright owner gives explicit permission, Also that all the software using existing API's of existing products must be totally written.

    Congratulations on stagnating the American software industry.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

      If it was just the _American_ software _industry_, most people would be fine with it. However unlike patents which expire and often are unenforcable, copyrights are easy to enforce and last near infinitely. This means that it'll not just stagnate the industry in the US, but everyone wanting to write something that uses an API.

      This decision will definitely be used by Microsoft once wine is better than their win32 implementation, or to stop any .net re-implementations. Even AT&T could sue for the use of the UNIX API. It's scary and it only got unleashed because Google thought it would be a great idea to write an operating system in some not quite compatible Java.

      1. Law

        Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

        "This decision will definitely be used by Microsoft once wine is better than their win32 implementation, or to stop any .net re-implementations. "

        Doubtful on the .NET front since they helped encourage and supported the Mono project for a while. Despite all they've done, Microsoft still have a few engineers who know their elbow from their arse, obviously Oracle has been lacking that for a while.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

      Correcting this for you:

      Congratulations on stagnating the American software industry.

      to:

      Congratulations America on stagnating the software industry.

      PS in Europe API's are not copyrightable.

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/05/eus-top-court-apis-cant-be-copyrighted-would-monopolise-ideas/

      Boy wouldn't they love copyright over patent, that's death+75 rather than a lousy 20 years.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

        "Congratulations America on stagnating the software industry.

        PS in Europe API's are not copyrightable."

        Simple - Google etal decamp from 'merica and setup over in Europe. At the very least, would a Silicon Roundabout accommodation address for the registered HQ in suffice? Best not move over any techie or creative types to SR for the risk of them losing their mojo.

      2. fritsd
        Flame

        Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

        copyright is death + 70 IIRC, but there are plans to change this: if everybody harmonizes with the *Mexican* law, then it becomes death + 100 (yup just checked indautor.gob.mx). I guess we'd have to call it the "Speedy Gonzales law" then...

        Guess what USA wants to put in the TPP trade agreement?

    3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

      > all the different versions of DOS are also illegal, because they all implement a common access point which is the public API.

      And that API was that of DRI's CP/M.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: admin@razorfishsolutions.com.hk

      "It also means that no API's can be duplicated unless the copyright owner gives explicit permission, Also that all the software using existing API's of existing products must be totally written."

      Yup.

      It will kick up a shitstorm that politicians can't ignore.

  9. JLV Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Unintentional humor

    >once wine is better than their win32 implementation

    He, he, Mr. CB, not that I am fond of MS in the least bit, and with all due respect to Linux.

    But... wine??? That's some powerful stuff you've been smoking there. Can I have some?

    Downvotes away, lads.

    p.s. This ruling is the pits. Guess judge couldn't be bothered to puzzle out what P stood for in API.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Unintentional humor

      I agree.

      I cannot be better in the first place because there isn't even a specification. Like trying to metricate Chtulhu, the closer you look, the madder you get.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unintentional humor

      > But... wine??? That's some powerful stuff you've been smoking there. Can I have some?

      In a sense, this is already coming to pass. Support in Wine is not as good as the vanilla win32 for cutting edge implementations (they will always be playing catchup), but for backwards compatibility, I see the future swinging to Wine. With Windows 8.1, MS are starting to lose the backwards compatibility plot: for a lot of people this compatibility is the only thing keeping them on Windows.

      What a strange world it would be if the only way to keep running your important legacy business software was Wine on Linux?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unintentional humor

        "but for backwards compatibility, I see the future swinging to Wine. With Windows 8.1, MS are starting to lose the backwards compatibility plot:"

        As far as I can see, that's not true - please give some examples of what will run on Wine and Windows 7 that won't run on Windows 8? Can't say I have seen any issues at all yet and we are actively deploying Windows 8 in a corporate environment.

        1. Rosie Davies

          Re: Unintentional humor

          *> "we are actively deploying Windows 8 in a corporate environment."

          I hope you don't mind me asking but who do you work for?

          Rosie

          1. Law
            Coat

            Re: Unintentional humor

            "*> "we are actively deploying Windows 8 in a corporate environment."

            I hope you don't mind me asking but who do you work for?"

            Nokia?

          2. Mpeler
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Unintentional humor

            *> "we are actively deploying Windows 8 in a corporate environment."

            Hmmm...read that as "we are actively destroying Windows 8 in a corporate environment" ....

            just about the same effect :)

            Paris...well, her glasses work better (maybe need a beer glass instead.....)

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Unintentional humor

            I'd like to know too, specifically in order to avoid any financial dealings with the company.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unintentional humor

          > As far as I can see, that's not true - please give some examples of what will run on Wine and Windows 7 that won't run on Windows 8?

          Notice I said 8.1. MS is changing the way existing APIs are implemented and it is causing a lot of headaches for applications unable to locate DLLs or functions.

          One of many examples:

          http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows8_1-performance/32-bit-application-fails-to-start-after-81-upgrade/b825723e-e2a2-4c8f-bd1f-10446a5d7059

          I can see why they are doing it. The problem is, like manifests they are causing a lot of grief through their inherent complexity.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Unintentional humor

      Once IBM declare that their original PC bios API was copyright and every non-IBM PC since is infringing then wine isn't going to matter because there will only be Macs, chromebooks and mainframes.

  10. James 100

    Protecting interface monopolies = bad

    The whole idea of granting monopolies over interfaces is alarming to me - not new, but still alarming, like one of the printer manufacturers trying to use the DMCA to stop rival ink vendors selling cartridges which would fit their printers.

    IMO, if you build sockets you should NOT have the right to stop or extort others making plugs that fit those sockets, or rival sockets that take the same plug. With actual physical plugs and sockets there are exceptions for "functional" designs - which seems to be why Apple go adding proprietary authentication chips to their cables to make them harder to copy, rather than just throw lawyers at anyone making Lightning-compatible plugs.

    High time the law was changed to fix that nonsense, the same way we have a protected right to use non-dealer mechanics to maintain or repair our cars. Require interface specifications to be published, for unrestricted use, in roughly the same way MS had to publish some of their protocol details (Activesync, SMB etc) after one of the court battles over their monopoly (though they did leave some strings attached, which shouldn't have been allowed IMO).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Protecting interface monopolies = bad

      I cannot upvote this enough. Open source and standards haven't stopped the bullshit. We need *constitutional rights* to interface with any API, file format, protocol, signal, plug, socket, pipe, or whatever - without anyone's permission.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Protecting interface monopolies = bad

        In europe we do - it is illegal to prevent reverse engineering hardware,apis, binaries or file formats for the purpose of interoperability.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jerks

    Check any software and you will find repeating lines of code.

    The most efficient path taken is pretty always the same so this essentially outlaws efficient programming !

    A bunch of protectionist jerks now rule with law.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Jerks

      Even if the source isn't a duplicate, the optimising compiler will often generate the same object code if it is any good. If you like, it is a search engine. You describe what you want the code to do and it goes away and finds the most efficient implementation, which may of course be the same as it found for someone else's source code. An optimising compiler's specific function is copyright infringement.

      Unless of course you can offer one of the following in defence:

      I don't write object code -- it was the machine wot did it.

      From the compiler's viewpoint, the duplication is a mathematical requirement.

      From the end-user's viewpoint, the duplication is an accident.

      From a statistical viewpoint, the duplication across the whole code base is insignificant.

      IANAL, so I've no idea whether any of the above would stand up. Actually, the evidence of these high-profile spats is that even if I *were* a lawyer, I still wouldn't have any idea. These massive companies with huge legal budgets still seem to blunder into court with no idea about who's going to win. A scientist might take that as experimental evidence that the legal system is unpredictable even to experts in cases where the evidence is not in dispute and therefore the system is not fit for purpose.

  12. Warm Braw Silver badge

    EU Directive on the legal protection of computer programs

    I can't access the text of this as the Europa server is down, but I wonder if we have a similar problem in Europe.

    The directive basically puts the copyright in "computer programs" on the same footing as other literary works. It excludes programming languages and instruction sets, but includes design material relating to computer programs. Are the header files for an API "design material" relating to the program whose functions they call or more akin to an instruction set for a high-level computer?

  13. Keep Refrigerated

    "And they all lived unhappily ever after..."

    Even if we accept the premise that functional mathematical code can be protected by copyright, there is a completely valid de minims argument in that many stories and novels take the same format and re-use certain phrases without reproducing the entire text.

    How much has modern media referenced lines like "I'll be back", "do not adjust your television", "it's alive!" and "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" without paying a single penny for copyrights. How many stories have included lines of exposition such "it was a dark and stormy night...", "it was love at first sight...", "you won't get away with this!" -- nobody gets sued over these lines - yet they are lines in a copyrighted work, that form the basis of connecting the reader to the story using a common linguistic protocol.

    9 lines of API code are like 9 lines of clichéd exposition in a trashy novel - call it lazy, or a hack, if you must - but they should be considered de minims under the law. I'm going to assume that these judges were just too confused or ignorant of the concept of programming to realise this.

    I think any judge preceding over a software case should have to pass some kind of "Mother-In-Law" test - e.g. describe and identify the difference between "The Google" "The Internet" and an "Internet Browser" - if they don't know the difference then they don't get to judge.

    Now how much must I pay for the use of <\i> and </\i> in my comment markup?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: "And they all lived unhappily ever after..."

      Currently written arts ie. books don't have the same protection as music and film. So I can write "I'll be back" and not breech copyright or pay royalties, however if I take a clip from a film containing this exact phrase, I have breeched copyright and hence pay royalties (this difference was an important part of the UK court decision in the Dan Brown "Da Vinci" novel copied "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" case). It would seem that this court (with Oracle's assistance) is trying to raise software copyright to the same levels as that enjoyed by music and films...

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: "And they all lived unhappily ever after..."

        " if I take a clip from a film"

        That's copying the performance. Something not possible in a book, or program.

        If you have a different actor say "I'll be back" in a different film, even if they say it in a fake Arnold voice? Don't think so.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Almost certainly reversed again

    now the implications of the new ruling are understood...

    Still it won't stop the usual plebs claiming it's the death of Android, long live iOS etc etc...

  15. Tim99 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Oracle and rentier capitalism - A perfect match

    As a developer using Oracle since V4 (until I retired), I know the old truth:

    Q: "What do you call Oracle customers?"

    A: "Hostages"

    Perhaps Larry has ambitions to take all business users and developers hostage? I would be looking to avoid Java (and Oracle) in new projects wherever practicable.

    1. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Oracle and rentier capitalism - A perfect match

      >I would be looking to avoid Java

      Oh avoiding Java like the plague has been my motto for years already. In Sunny times even.

  16. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    What Java APIs?

    Does this mean that IBM and others who have their own JVMs (presumably implementing the same APIs) are Oracle's next targets? I may misunderstand what APIs are the issue here. Enlightenment will be app...

    1. Nathan 6

      Re: What Java APIs?

      IBM had a licenses to do their own JVM from Sun. Also, you are fine doing your own JVM as long as it for desktop use, and you don't call it Java. Google should have just license Java since that would make the most business sense.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: What Java APIs?

        If I recall correctly Google and Oracle could not come to terms on the details, Google wanting more than the semi-crippled Java ME but less than the full Java system. Groklaw should still have the details although, sadly, it will no longer be available to report on the followup.

      2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: What Java APIs?

        > as long as it for desktop use,

        Many years ago there was a clear boundary between computers too heavy and too reliant on mains power to be carried around while being used, and almost useless battery powered devices.

        Now there is almost no distinction. Computers that I could put in my pocket may be more powerful than the one that I am writing this on, and could run the same software. My N800 from 2008 runs Linux and I can connect a keyboard - does this make it a 'desktop computer' because I put it on my desk ?

        What about laptops or tablets with bluetooth keyboards, or keyboard/covers? Do they count as 'desktops' because they are software compatible ?

    2. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: What Java APIs?

      No. It appears to mean Oracle gets to pick and choose who they will allow - or charge - to implement a proper subset of the APIs. The full API set is covered by the GPL, so IBM's implementation (and OpenJDK) probably are OK.

      Google might want to implement the remainder of the API for Android and get shut of Oracle. It might slightly burden Android phones, but to the extent the additional APIs are unused it would not be noticeable in operation. On the whole, though, I would much rather see them push further appeals to try to get a final and definitive ruling that APIs are not subject to copyright (or patent).

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: What Java APIs?

      >Does this mean that IBM and others who have their own JVMs (presumably implementing the same APIs) are Oracle's next targets?

      Not sure but what it does mean is that writers of Java reference books may have to obtain permission from Oracle...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What Java APIs?

        >Does this mean that IBM and others who have their own JVMs (presumably implementing the same APIs) are Oracle's next targets?

        Unlikely, once IBM has finished it's submission that it owns the copyright to the SQL language syntax

  17. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I've just copywritten the API for getting a drink

    fuck the lot of you.

  18. De Facto
    Thumb Up

    Copyrights protection for real code vs patents of trivial ideas - what is more evil?

    Focus on bashing the copyright protection ruling by the court is unprofessional and a communist ideology. Books, artworks and software code are best protected by copyrights to prevent stealing without compensating authors for months and years of their work. It's also unethical propoganda Russian style, kind of 'we would take what others own en masse'. In contrast, all those coments about software copyrights as evil principle are purely delusional about the true evil - software patents based only on trivial ideas and no copyrighted code substantiating those patent claims. The truly difficult part of the software invention is a working code vs paperwork ideas that multibillion companies lawyers can patent in droves. Google's position that software patents matter, not real code, is orders of magnitudes more evil that most of comentators realize. A time when Google will become a real patent troll and extorter of money for their thousands of patented 'ideas' will come sooner than most of us think. In fact, I believe they will try to kill both open source and copyrights with their patents, if their ads revenue one day will start diminishing. That's inevitable logic for a publicly traded giant company. I see no other reason to spend billions on buying patent-rich companies. It's insurance policy, their pension plan when their company starts getting into serious financial troubles.

    1. eulampios

      @De Facto

      A time when Google will become a real patent troll and extorter of money for their thousands of patented 'ideas' will come sooner than most of us think.

      A time when the planet Niburu will finally come back and collide with the planet Earth...For the being we got our dear perfect patent trolls: Microsoft and Apple. Oracle is just a plain money extortionist.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Copyrights protection for real code vs patents of trivial ideas - what is more evil?

      Sun published Java specs, they published Java manuals, they encouraged people to learn Java - now it turns out that all that was proprietry secret information. If that had been mentioned at the time do you think we would have learned Java?

      Nobody is saying Google have the right to copy Oracle's code - just to write their own implementation of a published language manual. If this isn't true then Intel or ARM could decide that their instruction set is copyright and tomorrow almost every computer in the world is illegal.

      1. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: Copyrights protection for real code vs patents of trivial ideas - what is more evil?

        >If that had been mentioned at the time do you think we would have learned Java?

        Where were you? MS pulled versions of Win2K -- an operating system just like Android is -- and MS Office, because they had written their own varient implementation of Java -- just like Google has --, and Sun cracked the mads at them.

        1. Graham Dawson

          Re: Copyrights protection for real code vs patents of trivial ideas - what is more evil?

          The difference there was that Microsoft licensed the java trademarks and IP to create their own VM with the Java name attached to it. They were contractually obliged to implement the full spec. When they didn't implement the spec properly and left it broken, they were in breach of that contract, and Sun sued over improper use of trademarks and copyrights for the actual substance of the machine.

          Not the API.

          Google didn't enter a license agreement with Sun/Oracle. Instead they created their own Virtual Machine called Dalvik, which implements a subset of the Java API. They don't use the Java trademarks.

          In Microsoft's case, they breached contract. In Google's case there was no contract to breach. The situation isn't even remotely comparable.

  19. eulampios

    RIP java?

    Did Oracle finally manage to kill java just like what they have done with MySQL and OpenOffice?

    Those two judges must have smoked some of the Larry's stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RIP java?

      OpenOffice is not killed, it was given to Apache Foundation, a commercial decision.

      MySQL is in no way killed, there are steady steam of release for the 5.5 and 5.6 GA series (12 releases in the last 12 months). And new 5.7 development releases, 5.7.4 was releases less than a month ago.

      Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are building webscalesql with MySQL 5.6, project started a month ago.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: RIP java?

        MySQL is in no way killed

        I guess it must be resting.

        Anyway ... PostgreSQL!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RIP java?

          "Anyway ... PostgreSQL!"

          Or MongoDB? Or MariaDB Or Perconia?

          The usual zoo problem of Open Source stuff - none of which is as powerful or as featured as major non OSS commercial offerings.

          1. bigtimehustler

            Re: RIP java?

            Haha, yea right! What exactly does Oracle offer in their non OSS solution that 99% of the people using it actually need that any of those you listed does not have? Indeed the more you look at what most organisations use Oracle's DB for you wonder why on earth they are using an overly complicated system to administer to carry out things that a much more simple solution would carry out perfectly fine. Ultimately nobody really needs one piece of software that does it all, because people do not do everything that a DB does in their applications, so they can just choose one of the OSS solutions that does what they do actually need.

      2. bigtimehustler

        Re: RIP java?

        You might want to check out MariaDB because a lot of those you listed are using it, rather than MySQL, precisely because Oracle now own MySQL. They are also taking it forward into areas that Oracle would not want it, to cope with enterprise scale better, Oracle would never want to make it too good at this, why want to keep pushing their expensive DB for that instead.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RIP java?

        "OpenOffice is not killed, it was given to Apache Foundation, a commercial decision."

        It's effectively dead - pretty much no one uses it even though it's 'free' and it shows no signs of getting closer to being an equivalent for MS Office except for the most basic of users.

  20. herman Silver badge

    Microsoft should re-open the SCO law suits against Novel and this time they should remember to drag Nokia into it too...

    Actually, anything that is written can be copyrighted. The issue is how far fair use and DMCA interoperability clauses extend.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      And SCO will rise from the dead ...

      again to attack Linux -- after all, Linux follows the Unix (well, POSIX) API and since APIs are now copyrightable - then Linux will be subject to SCO royalties -- so beware the lawsuits!

      Complete bollocks: but well worth Microsoft revitalising the umpteen times dead SCO corpse and create some more FUD to try to scare some of those contemplating a MS Windows -> Linux migration.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And SCO will rise from the dead ...

        Microsoft already have a high number of patents infringed by Linux (over 200 I think was claimed) so if they had wanted to go down that path they would have done so by now. Out of that many patent claims it is near certain that some of them would stick...

        1. eulampios

          @AC

          Despite those 200 patents that no one has ever named, seen or heard about, MS should be very alert, since they have adopted quite much from Java, and BTW, did they ever buy any licenses to use C, C++ from Dennis Ritchie and Bjarne Stroustrup?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC

            "MS should be very alert, since they have adopted quite much from Java"

            Really - like what? Certainly not APIs.

            "did they ever buy any licenses to use C, C++ from Dennis Ritchie and Bjarne Stroustrup?"

            C was first developed over 40 years ago, and C++ over 30 years ago - and were published without reserving rights, so no issue exists there.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: @AC

              According to the Berne Convention, no rights need to be reserved. Copyright exists the moment pen is put to paper.

              The USA has been a signatory to the convention long enough that C and C++ are covered.

      2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: And SCO will rise from the dead ...

        > then Linux will be subject to SCO royalties

        SCO never did buy the copyrights from Novell, that was determined by the courts. Whether there actually are _any_ protectable copyrights in Unix has not been tested. Some versions of Unix were made public domain, some did not qualify under the copyright law of the time, in many cases the copyrights of parts of Unix may be owned by third parties, such as BSD, or individuals who contributed.

  21. Christian Berger Silver badge

    What is depressing again...

    it seems like as with most of the patent cases, the product would be _way_ better without that feature. Seriously an Android without Java would be awesome, it would be considerably faster and take far less RAM. Just think about the typical hardware in a smartphone. 256 Megabytes is considered "to small to be useful"... while on a desktop computer that's still perfectly usable.

    So in a nutshell we now have a mess threatening the whole world, just because Google made the idiotic decision of buying a company making a Java-based mobile operating system. If Google would have just extended Debian, we would not be in that mess.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: What is depressing again...

      Not true. Because it *isn't* Java, it just looks like one.

      would have just extended Debian

      Bletch no. Also you have to get everyone writing in Go.

    2. eulampios

      Re: What is depressing again...

      Despite the fact that pure GNU Linux phone would be quite awesome, let's remember that even first semi-smart semi-dumb phones were also java-based without the Linux underneath though. So there was a big incentive for them to use JVM and Java as a foundation, Java has been a standard indeed and for a reason.

      BTW, their JVM is quite efficient, so not all java programs suck.

      One little detail though could have been different, namely, instead of Harmony they might have been better off using the GPL implementation of it, namely, IcedTea. I think they wanted an Apache license there, an in the end no one knows how those two idiot judges could have turned it anyways.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: What is depressing again...

        Well yes, but you cannot just run your J2ME, or whatever the version of Java on mobile phone was called, on Android. Even back then Java was more like a group of islands than a platform.

        I guess the idea was to be CPU independent. In theory this would be a noble goal, however in practice we now have a huge chunk of software which consists of a small Java wrapper loading the actual binary program.

        The even worse problem is that Android apparently was designed by people who follow the OOP school of software design. This is why you have designs like this here on page 4

        https://thenewcircle.com/s/post/1057/MarakanaAndroidServicesBlackMagic.pdf

  22. bigtimehustler

    Regardless of who did what here, which becomes irrelevant anyway if my point was carried forward. Surely the name of a method and the parameters that get passed into it should not be copyrightable, it is trivial and the real work is what goes on inside that method. If they have copied large chunks of non trivial method contents then yes there might be a case to answer, but Oracle here is claiming that even copying the API stubs but implementing the methods your own way may in fact be in violation. Thats entirely wrong because this:

    public Void myMethod (String x, String y, Boolean p)

    is completely trivial and can not be protected because it would be too common to come up with the same thing over and over without having ever seen the original. The same follows for any method stubs, only the implementation of the methods themselves should have any protection, anything else is insanity.

  23. Domino

    Hmmm.. No deminis, API copyrightable.. Well my name is one of the API calls to communicate with me.. I believe my parents own the copyright which they submitted on my birth certificate. I'm sure they will welcome the extra income from billing all unauthorised (junk mail) usage of my name!

    Roll on the supreme court appeal. This just got real interesting...

  24. BrentRBrian

    This was already decided in ATT vs BSD a long time ago. The Supremes will sort it out.

  25. Carl

    Hang about

    This is an opinion, not a ruling.

    Oracle will have applied for the opinion ahead of an appeal. The opinion just indicates a belief that the appeal has merit. When the appeal begins (as everyone knew it would) the bar will be much higher and Oracle will need to prove copyright all over again with Google ready to defend itself accordingly.

    Bah where's Groklaw when you need it.

    Basically Oracle haven't "won" shit.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019