back to article Google, Oracle's endless Java copyright battle extended to ... 2016

The long-running copyright dispute between Oracle and Google over the latter's use of the Java language APIs in its Android operating system will likely drag on for another year or more, based on the latest developments in the case in a US federal court. Reuters reports that US District Judge William Alsup, who has been …

  1. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The problem with this case

    If Google looses there would be a precedence for copyrightable APIs which means that making things compatible would be a copyright violation.

    The other thing is that it was totally avoidable. If Google wouldn't have used something Java-ish for Android the whole problem wouldn't exist.

    1. Small Furry Animal
      Headmaster

      Re: The problem with this case

      'If Google loses there would be a precedent for copyrightable APIs which would mean that making things compatible would be a copyright violation.

      The other thing is that it was totally avoidable. If Google hadn't used something Java-ish for Android the whole problem wouldn't exist.'

      FTFY

    2. thames

      Re: The problem with this case

      @Christian Berger - "If Google wouldn't have used something Java-ish for Android the whole problem wouldn't exist."

      This particular court case might not exist, but the potential for another one involving different parties would. The fundamental issue is the way this particular American court is choosing to interpret American copyright law.

      Of course the whole thing will be moot if the court decides that it comes under "fair use" (as the Americans call it) provisions. Oracle will still own the copyrights to the APIs, but everyone else can use them without buying a license from Oracle.

      Failing that though, this will have opened up a real can of worms, as lawyers for all sorts of companies start trawling through their own APIs and seeing who they can squeeze money out of.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: The problem with this case

        Fair use is a nebulous concept but the basic effect is that under certain situations one can technically infringe without being legally infringing. It is mostly defined by case law. So this is a very important case. If using the APIs is ruled fair use then it nothing really changes. However, if the courts do not accept fair use then the use of APIs becomes murkier, depending on the license they are released under.

    3. aberglas

      Re: The problem with this case

      What is crazy about using the courts to make law is that they are not interested in the bigger picture. It is just 12 mums and dads that have been forced to listen to some abstract bickering about something called intellectual property.

      The issue is not Android, but *nix, both BSD and Linux. It will be back to System V.

    4. John Sanders
      Thumb Up

      Re: The problem with this case

      Google did not use, initially developed by Android, Inc., which Google bought in 2005.

      The reason for using Java is that at the time Java was the standard for mobile applications (Anyone remember J2ME?)

      However I agree with you, they should remove Java out of the equation ASAP.

  2. thames

    Listen up, Google

    Come on Google, dump the Java APIs and just use the native Linux ones directly. It's the APIs for the libraries and OS interfaces, not the language itself which are at issue here. Android apps aren't meant to be portable anyway. You've got at least a year to do it in before the trial can come to any sort of conclusion. You can probably even provide a utility which will automatically translate app source code API calls to the native Linux ones, and probably even do the same for the binaries, so the "legacy apps" transition problem doesn't have to be a big issue.

    That won't keep Oracle from demanding a big cheque for past API infringement if they win, but it will stop them from demanding royalties on new systems in future. It will also give them a big kick in the goolies, as Android has brought a lot of new developers into the Java language and increased the value of the overall Java ecosystem. Remember the baboon who danced about screaming "developers, developers, developers"? He wasn't entirely wrong about that. Anything which diminishes Java as a language for mobile apps would be a massive loss of prestige for Oracle, and might even make their shareholders pay attention to what is being done in their name.

    Sun was fine to deal with, but the only thing that will make Oracle smarten up is a slap across the face with a wet kipper. A big win for Oracle in this case will just whet their appetite for finding ways of screwing over Java developers everywhere else. Make them think they have to work to keep customer loyalty, and they just might change their attitude a bit.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Listen up, Google

      "You can probably even provide a utility which will automatically translate app source code API calls to the native Linux ones, and probably even do the same for the binaries, so the "legacy apps" transition problem doesn't have to be a big issue."

      You could even write a little "layer" that did this at run-time, so that existing apps didn't have to be modified. You could call it an "implementation".

  3. John Sager

    Needs to be litigated anyway

    This needs to be resolved for everyone, not just an agreement between Oracle & Google. There are lots of legacy APIs out there that everyone has implicitly assumed are free to use. Going forward, new APIs could have an explicit licence (free to use for any purpose, or with specific restrictions), and the restrictive ones would find their niche or just die. However developers need some certainty about the legal landscape to continue using all the old ones with no explicit licence.

    Another point - this is all kerfuffle in the US, but I wonder how this affects the use of these APIs in Europe & elsewhere?

    1. John Sanders
      Linux

      Re: Needs to be litigated anyway

      If this comes to pass it will have a terrible effect across the industry for a few years.

      Then suddenly there will be a massive embrace of technologies whose APIs are open (FOSsaehem!)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Not surprised

    Pretty much everything related to Java is slow and verbose.

    Why should court proceedings be any different?

  5. Speltier

    Google should have bought Sun

    When it had the chance to do for less than the potential downside, using just petty cash from the Google wallet.

    On another note, the lawyers are gleeful at the delay, since they can continue to charge by the hour for yet another ENTIRE YEAR.

  6. IGnatius T Foobar

    API's

    You can bet that if some stupid judge declares that API's are copyrightable, SCO will jump back out of its grave and start suing everyone who uses POSIX.

  7. Rolf Howarth

    First, Google did a lot more than copy the APIs (ie. reimplement the class libraries from scratch against the published interfaces). In many cases they directly included decompiled versions of the original class files.

    Secondly, as to whether APIs are or should be copyrightable, consider an analogy in literature. If the source code is the novel itself then the APIs are the character names, chapter titles, and plot synopsis. Clearly a lot of creative and original thought processes go into designing a good API and so ought to be protected by copyright. The real question, to which there's no simple answer, is whether writing something compliant with those APIs ought to be exempt as "fair use".

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