back to article $10bn Oracle v Google copyright jury verdict: Google wins, Java APIs in Android are Fair Use

Google has won the latest round in its long-running battle with Oracle over the use of Java class library APIs in Android. A San Francisco jury today found that Google's reuse of Java's core software interfaces in its own mobile operating system should be considered fair use – meaning Google can avoid paying royalties to …

  1. Planty Bronze badge
    Stop

    Oracle should be grateful

    Java would have died ages ago if it weren't for android.

    That is the reality. Perhaps oracle owe Google money for keeping Java language relevant...

    1. tekHedd

      I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

      For server side apps, Java is far from dead.

      I don't know if you've heard of "the cloud" but apparently it involves apps that, get this, don't run on cell phones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @tekHedd - Re: I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

        A few days ago I took a look at a Cisco ACS appliance that started to refuse any http connection to the web interface and I was disgusted to see several logs where the Java server vomited all kind of cryptic messages about stuff.stuff.stuff.stuff() in... with no meaning to a non-developer. Java deserves to die a quick death for its total disregard for what we sysadmins consider a minimal decency, meaningful error messages. I don't give a crap on the trace listing classes I'm not interested in, just tell me what didn't work. And this is no exception, Nagios Log Server did this to me too recently.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

          "cryptic messages about stuff.stuff.stuff.stuff() in... with no meaning to a non-developer."

          Those that can't sysadmin.

          1. WaveyDavey

            Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

            As a developer and sometime sysadmin, bullshit.

            Without the source, a cryptic class.class.class link to a function call ina language you have no need of knowing is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

            Be nice to the sysadmins, they keep your platforms running.

            1. CheesyTheClown

              Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

              Actually, unhandled exceptions seem to be the problem here. The stack trace in this case might be the only means of this user to get support from Cisco TAC in resolving the issue.

              This case in my opinion is that :

              1) The sysadmin has a point but doesn't know what his point is and therefore is not well suited for problem solving. He's the type that simply asks the wrong question due to lack of knowledge. Instead of learning more about what stack traces are and finding the right thing to complain about, he's simply picking the first thing he doesn't understand and focusing his hate at Java unfairly

              2) Cisco as always has done a shit job on writing code. I can see a mom and pop operation or open source project dumping a stack trace without an exception handler. But Cisco should have enough developer resources to not only implement program flow, but also implement error management even if it's just a top level exception handler for 'Unknown exception'.

              3) Cisco ACS is an old product that only receives update begrudgingly. It was written during the dark era of Cisco which means their products were meant to be used but never seen by anyone. Cisco has a long an glorious history of absolutely disgusting user interfaces. They're getting a little better.

              4) This won't be a big problem in the future. Cisco has more or less moved to Python. Cisco does programming languages like a flake does religions. Java used to be king... now Python. The marketing and management at Cisco know even less about what an API is than Oracle's lawyers. Believe it or not, all new Cisco courses this past year have at least one slide making a huge deal about what a northbound and a southbound API is. They also all seem to try and fit a plug on programming Python in. So... without exception, Cisco HAS NEVER made a single point as to why someone would need an API, but instead makes a huge point out of making incredibly bad scripts that do absolutely nothing in a programming language that is not particularly well suited for calling the APIs as opposed to implementing them. You should see the shitload of new information on "YANG" which must be the most insanely lazy and somewhat sloppy approach to API development in history.

              Java is a perfectly ok language... it's not particularly good as a runtime environment anymore. JVM could use a massive update and Google did a little with that in Dalvik. Sadly, there are no good and modern extensions to Java regarding things like assisted auto-vectorization... or things like OpenMP style multithreading assistance. Their libraries are impressively bad for things like threading in general. There are far too many conflicting models in Java for multitasking programming. Due to REALLY REALLY bad GUI support in Java, there's no decent runtime for handling calls to the UI thread. Microsoft "solved this" in C# by building a serialized delegate mechanism which doesn't suck... too badly. Even better was the Task<> structures attached to the language async mechanisms. Java has sort of died in this place. There are solutions, but you can't find which one to use or how to intermix them when needed.

              After this case, Google should probably make a replacement for Java which operates on the Java class libraries but fork them substantially enough that they can extend and improve the language as much as possible

          2. Steve Crook

            Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

            Software I wrote trapped the exceptions and logged a meaningful error message along with the stack trace. Shoot the developer not the language. Next to security, error handling is the most neglected part of software development. Not that they ever produced a stack trace of course :)

            I can remember working with versions of AIX that seemed to specialise in producing short, cryptic and undocumented messages like "Your dorkle has snarfed". At one point I began to wonder if it wasn't all part of some clever game, where if I collected the messages and re-arranged correctly them I'd win a huge prize.

            1. DropBear Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

              "Next to security, error handling is the most neglected part of software development. "

              The sentiment is admirable, but as stack trace avoidance advice it is thoroughly useless. Apparently one of the unwritten rules of the Universe is that if you take pains to trap and handle exceptions in all the ten places they can occur, they will only ever happen in the eleventh place that nobody even imagined could generate exceptions...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

              @Steve Crook - "At one point I began to wonder if it wasn't all part of some clever game, where if I collected the messages and re-arranged correctly them I'd win a huge prize."

              I did, and the acronym from all the messages was the location and license key to a shiny new AS/400 that didn't run AIX. :)

          3. BurnT'offering

            Re: Those that can't sysadmin.

            Surely those that can program can also use commas?

        2. Richard 1

          Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

          Meaningful error messages are the responsibility of the coder of the software, not the language used?! The developer should put something that makes sense in the 'Exception e' before passing it on. That way, something comes out that makes sense. The stack trace is actually really helpful as well, if you know what you're looking at. ;)

          1. kventin

            Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

            """The stack trace is actually really helpful as well, if you know what you're looking at. ;)"""

            an unholy mess of spaghetti code represented in a myriad helper classes incestuously calling one another?

          2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

            Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

            > Meaningful error messages are the responsibility of the coder of the software, not the language used?!

            But the default of dumping out all this programmer shit on poor unsuspecting customers web browsers screens is just plain dumb. Not only does it confuse the shit of them it probably gives hackers way too much information about how bad your programmers are and where holes they will be able to exploit are.

        3. Bob Vistakin
          Facepalm

          Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

          @Anonymous Coward

          "stuff.stuff.stuff.stuff()"

          I wish this server would give me a lot less information about what's going wrong. I love Googling "" to see if anyone else has had this error in this situation, Googling "stuff.stuff.stuff.stuff()" let's me find the answer right away, and I'm an Oracle consultant paid £250 an hour.

        4. wikkity

          Re: just tell me what didn't work

          just because the developers did not implement some code to give you a meaningful error message has nothing to do with the programming language it is implemented in,

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @tekHedd - I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

          Instead of blaming the tool (Java) I think you should try directing your rage at the developer - Cisco. They may be fine at producing routers, switches and the like, but the (non-embedded) software they write is almost universally crap!

      2. Maventi
        Thumb Up

        Re: I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

        Why the downvotes for @tekHedd? He/she is right - Java is very popular for server apps, and not a half bad choice for that matter.

        Unfortunately most folks who complain about Java are conflating it with the crappy desktop JRE from Oracle, which incidentally isn't even the reference implementation.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

          Java a "niche language"?

          That's like saying transport vans are "rather obscure".

          Also:

          Google wins Oracle v. Google. Big victory for fair use.

          Ummm ... no . This is not about "fair use" of someone's "intellectual property" (scare quotes intended), it's about someone inventing a whole new type of "intellectual property" so that he can homestead it for a quick buck, which is more like conquistador expedition.

          1. Mpeler
            Holmes

            he can homestead it for a quick buck

            Seems to be the going thing in Silly Valley anymore, IP trolls and locusts. It's just another case of 'orrible doing what they do best (M$ probably does this too), claim rights to others' innovations. Still true as I wrote when Larry bought Lanai, and when he tried to sue the socks off of SAP:

            Larry, Larry, quite contrary,

            How does your empire grow?

            With IP “rights” and patent fights,

            and lawyers all in a row.

      3. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Re: I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

        Java on the server is pretty good - CLI + socket - Great.

        Its the rest of the garbage that comes lumbered with Java and the problem that so many poeple and companies have been burned by Java incompatibilities and securities snafus in the past make Java a very hard sell these days.

        Java's problem has and always - wheres the revenue model to maintain it?

        1. Sssss

          Re: I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

          Second Java? Ohh, we already have it, that's Java script isn't it?

          I know it is an old article but seeing some of the stuff written here. Having eyed Java in past as a possible development platform for new devices, I must say, from what I have read, it does seem to be in need of a major overhaul to strip out grabage and redo things with old java programs put in a comparability mode. It comes a time in certain development, to absndone the old and make something new (running the old through a comparability mode). This means also redoing the language and API's into something better, which is not Java. Java scripting to webassembly with desktop API support, is something simpler to use, but I don't think it is anywhere near what needs to replace Java. But Java had a whole infrastructure around it, including a phone API set eventually, that didn't take off. A lot of stuff to chuck away, or a lot of stuff to pick from as API structures to rework for a new language.

          BTW, it's not Android, though android attempts to implement through it's linux core what should have always been in Java.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I haven't downvoted a post in a long time...

        don't run on cell phones.

        True. But what if it did? Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of phones?

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Oracle should be grateful

      Dead no. Become a niche language - yes, definitely.

    3. smackbean

      Re: Oracle should be grateful

      "Java would have died ages ago if it weren't for android."

      Err.. no it wouldn't. Java has always has been mostly used as a server side development language. Don't know where you are getting your information, but that side of Java use there is still healthy and shows no signs of diminishing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "More to follow"

    can i start collecting votes for "understatement of the year", or is May too early for that ...

  3. Joerg

    Google must have paid big bucks...

    Corrupted justice system that is all that is there.

    Google should be fined billions for what they do, they are a cancer in the industry just like Facebook and Microsoft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      Google have a lot to answer for, but not in this case where it's clear that Oracle is playing the bully (see case documents on Groklaw).

      1. P. Lee Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

        Obvious Troll is Obvious

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      "Google should be fined billions for what they do"

      You left out a bit

      Only for the proven bad things, of which there are many. But this isn't one of them!

    3. Dadmin

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      Is that you Larry? Go back to your Hawaiian island and leave the computer industry. You are no longer relevant. Be happy the justice department or SEC doesn't come sniffing around your hidey-hole wondering how you bully competition and thwart innovation by purchasing more relevant companies. You got to the top of the pile just like Nintendo once did; by playing every single dirty trick in the book that is still consider legal. The power of Big Red is slipping, and it slipped a bit more today. There are too many smaller, more nimble players, in your space and that is concerning. It is most concerning to those remaining.

      We use ORACLE here, but at the end of all things. The middle tier is laden with open sores DBs of the MySQL variety. Another red player, but still mostly useful and freely available.

      If you're not aware, the acronym ORACLE stands for; One Raging Asshole Called Larry Ellison.

      1. s2bu

        Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

        It's been a while since I've used MySQL, so I'm sad to hear that it has open sores these days. Is Oracle too poor to provide it with decent healthcare?

        1. energystar
          Boffin

          Have heard this lack of compassion for the field a lot, lately...

          Shouldn't engineering ventures be run by engineers?

      2. matchbx

        Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

        I see Larry down-voted you.

      3. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

        > Is that you Larry? Go back to your Hawaiian island and leave the computer industry. You are no longer relevant.

        But if Larry had won, he wouldn't own a "Hawaiian island" or even a pedallo for very long. If Oracle had proved that you can claim royalties on the usage of an API, Oracle would have to give every cent's they've ever acquired to IBM.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      Perhaps Oracle should be sued because Java uses C's printf() and similar and damages should be paid to Nokia, the current owner of Bell Labs?

      1. Jyve

        Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

        If they'd have won this, lawyers would have sensed a payday.

        "yes, this function, it takes a string, for example, "Hello World" and it prints it to the screen! We have the copyright on that!"

        There'd not be a single api/function/method of coding that wouldn't have been torn apart, only to have RMS in the corner probing orifices going "I told you!"

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      Joerg, you forgot the /sarcasm tag.

    6. Lamb0
      Holmes

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      IF Google, Facebook and Microsoft are a cancer in the industry; Oracle is a plague wannabe!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

        I disagree, Oracle is more like Typhoid Mary

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      Piss off Larry

    8. CheesyTheClown

      Re: Google must have paid big bucks...

      Google is a REALLY REALLY scary company these days. There are endless numbers of ethical issues with Google... far too many to count. This is a case where they actually are doing something good instead of unintentionally evil. Others have covered the API things... I'll dig into some others.

      1) Cartography.... we are so insanely dependent on Google maps these days that if Google shut them off, there would be airplanes completely lost.

      2) Search... they're the only company which understands that people want search results that actually give what they're looking for. As a result, they mine data no matter how unethical that data mining is in order to establish a search result listing that prioritizes what you mean instead of what you say. As such, Google watches absolutely everything you do and makes it a secret as long as it can because they don't even want you knowing.

      3) Broadband... Google already carries insane amounts of data worldwide. In addition to being what may be the biggest or second biggest tier-1 service provider at the moment, they're running fiber to data centers and to the home and supplying predatory pricing to get you to switch. Their prices are so low the packages so good that no business with responsibility to it's shareholders can justify not switching. If Google shut down their transport network, the Internet would actually break.

      4) DNS servers... by this time, changes are you or your ISP, your ISP's ISP, etc... are using Google's DNS servers. As such, Google is tracking absolutely everything everyone does whether they use Google or not.

      5) Google car... Google will probably give away 90% of all their self driving technology to as many vendors as possible to ensure as much guaranteed information tracking as possible in exchange.

      6) Google Docs... if you start using them and you really use them... you're locked in... you can't move them back home again. OpenOffice/LibreOffice etc... suck terribly and there's far more to Docs than just what's compatible and open. An open file format doesn't mean every program which implements it implements every feature. It's pretty much guaranteed lock in once you start.

      7) Google Mail... awesome service most of us couldn't live without. But Google doesn't give this service away for free out of the goodness of their hearts... tracking tracking tracking.

      I can keep going for a LONG WHILE!!!

      Google is basically big brother. For the moment, Google is run by a group of people who seem to be someone with good intentions. So long as the company grows and turns a profit, this will stay like this. Once the stock stagnates etc... the board will step in an replace CEOs with shareholder representatives with no interest in the customers themselves. Things like selling your tracking information to others will sound like a good and profitable idea.

      What's worse is, Google's too big to fail now. It makes absolutely no difference what Google does. We honestly can't manage in 2016/2017 without dependence on them. There's no alternatives and no replacements and if Google went bye bye and just shut off all their toys... there wouldn't be much left of the Internet. It would be far more devastating than when Infoseek changed their search engine back around 1995 and we couldn't find ANYTHING anymore. There are major systems around the world which simply will stop working of Google shuts down.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phew...

    That's good news. The original judge had it right, fair use should apply to published APIs.

    If there was a transfer of copyright material (copying of code behind the APIs) then Google should get skinned for that.

    But if re-implementing APIs was to be considered a copyright violation it would either be the death or the salvation of the software development game. I say salvation, because then the risk of lock-in would be a very compelling reason for the use of open standards and easy to argue for at a corporate level.

    What really grates is Oracle's attempts at retrospective lock-in. A real confidence-killer.

    1. RudeBuoy

      Re: Phew...

      Some copy of code was also involved so the complete finding in favor of Google makes the judgment suspect. Unless of course it can be argued that the copied code was not significant.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Phew...

        > Some copy of code was also involved

        My understanding is that the original author of the initial implementation wrote much the same code in a re-implementation. It was just a few lines of code. The judge stated that it was an obvious block of code and thus was not copyrightable.

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Phew...

        It was for rangeCheck. Out of the whole a Java, Oracle wanted billions just for rangeCheck. The judge reminded Oracle's lawyer that an expert witness had said a high school student could right it, and the judge is a programmer and had written similar code hundreds of times himself.

        Oracle's lawyer boasted that he would not be able to implement rangeCheck in 6 months. As the lawyer (Boies) couldn't win a legal argument with a gardener, his claimed ineptitude at programming is actually credible. Multiply that by the hourly rate he gets for cases not related to SCO, and you still do not get to 9 billion. (Yes, it is the same David Boies who committed BS&F into representing SCO against IBM for a share in the profits.)

      3. DaLo

        Re: Phew...

        Of course it can and was argued that the copied code was not significant. It was 9 lines of code that just checked whether either index was below zero or above the maximum size of an array.

        It wasn't special or elegant code, just functionary and exactly what would be written by any number of people

        Se here for the details: Google’s 9 lines

      4. CheesyTheClown

        Re: Phew...

        Agreed but... the code copied was a published API in the sense that it was open source at the time.

        What makes this a problem is that so far as I know, the Java APIs are not published as header and source but instead as a simple Java file. I don't recall universal interface definitions being kept intentionally separate from the code which implements the API. So, while a script could easily extract 99% of the API from a .JAR file with no assistance, to get the whole thing probably required extracting it from code.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Phew...

          > to get the whole thing probably required extracting it from code.

          Or reading a book.

    2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: Phew...

      APIs are a method. Methods are not copywriteable. Oracle are being greedy and selfish.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Phew...

        "APIs are a method. Methods are not copywriteable."

        Case revolves around method names, not their underlying code - which has been rewritten anyway.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Phew...

        ... again

      3. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Phew...

        "APIs are a method. Methods are not copywriteable. Oracle are being greedy and selfish."

        First, you are confusing copywrite and copyright. Very different.

        Second, the judge just told Oracle, Google and everyone else that the APIs _are_ under copyright. He just added that copying copyrighted APIs falls under "Fair Use", unlike copying copyrighted implementations of those APIs.

    3. naive

      Re: Phew...

      This word says it all, if Oracle would win this, it would be the end of the world as we know it. Opensource like MariaDB, Wine and Samba would be exposed to high risks of becoming illegal too after Oracle and MS would start filing the appropriate patents and start dragging people into courts.

      Maybe the lawyers of Oracle choose the wrong path in order to get compensation.

      It feels right that Oracle is entitled to a certain compensation, since Google made substantial money using Java, the way to settle this should not be to forbid the creation of compatible api's, which is something else than just saying.. "Hey listen up guys, you made so much using our stuff, give us some too, or at least buy something from us ?."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Phew...

        "It feels right that Oracle is entitled to a certain compensation"

        If you knew anything about the case from the beginning you would know that is would be absolutely wrong for Oracle to get even a sniff of money for this. They are as bad and as much of a victim as SCO were, just a shame this saga hadn't bankrupted Oracle too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Phew...

        Not Samba. MS tried that with the EC and was handed its backside on a plate. They were forced to write documentation defining the protocols they use for SMB and AD, and to hand said documentation to the Samba developers (their first attempt, throwing the source code over the fence and saying "work it out for yourself, morons" did not go down well).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Honest question

    Please excuse me if this is the wrong thread, but have I missed the year of Linux on the desktop, and if so, when did it happen? I've reserved a ringside seat, but seen nothing so far.

    I've also got a question about the Internet. Can anyone here help?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Its definitely the wrong thread

      But I'll answer in the spirit of being helpful and having nothing better to do while I wait for a meeting that has been postponed.

      The Year of Linux on the Desktop is whenever you want it. That's the beauty of meaningless marketing guff. For me it was about twenty years ago when I first installed Slackware. You may have missed it from your ringside seat because you were looking the wrong way and for the wrong thing.

      I'm sure there are any number of people here who can answer your question about the internet. Some may even give sensible and correct answers. I will take a punt and suggest the answer is no, or at least not really.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Honest question

      "Please excuse me if this is the wrong thread, but have I missed the year of Linux on the desktop, and if so, when did it happen? I've reserved a ringside seat, but seen nothing so far."

      It's currently on schedule for the same year as Windows on the phone. In fact it might even happen sooner if the latest stats are anything to go by.

      1. gv

        Re: Honest question

        I don't know about you, but my desktop is made of wood and is enormous.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Honest question

          @gv

          I think you've just given elReg's journos yet another euphemism.

          1. graeme leggett

            Re: Honest question

            As in " I was browsing the internet and saw some pictures of naked people. I averted my eyes and looked at my enormous wooden desktop while fiddling with my mouse trying to make it go away."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Honest question

      @"have I missed the year of Linux ON THE DESKTOP"

      Once upon a time you'd have said "have I missed the year of Linux", now its ubiquitous. We call that the "one true Scotsman" argument.

      How is your platform? Burning much?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Honest question

      I've also got a question about the Internet. Can anyone here help?

      Sure, have you tried turning it off an on again? The internet does have a tendency to play up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Honest question

        "The internet does have a tendency to play up."

        Just don't knock it off the desk. It's such a little box, you know.

  6. JLV Silver badge
    Happy

    Pumped!

    Hopefully this will set a precedent about APIs and their standing wrt to IP considerations.

    Having APIs copyrighted is both ignoring what the very notion of APIs are intended for and a disastrous invitation for all sorts of sueballs by companies frivolously protecting their products from better implementations or solutions. We have enough ridiculous and unproductive patenting going on in our profession without adding API copyrighting to the mix in the name of IP protection.

    To be fair to the original judge's ruling for Oracle against Google, there was a precedent from about 20 years ago. See http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20120531173633275

    Sanity prevails. Not that I am a huge fan of either Google or Oracle - I'd have backed whoever was fighting against API copyrights.

    p.s. screw East Texas. Just because.

  7. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    this is going to run and run. when does the copyright expire?

    1. raving angry loony

      cantankerous swineherd writes: when does the copyright expire

      In this world when the Statute of Anne is no more, copyright is now eternal, and the public domain is dead. It'll keep getting bumped by 10 years for the foreseeable future, at least until someone realises exactly why there's a ban on perpetual copyright.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        when does the copyright expire

        I thought it was when Mickey Mouse says so. His earliest cartoons (1928) were saved from the public domain by Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. (Mickey himself is a trade mark, which lasts as long as he is defended.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Pint

          Re: when does the copyright expire

          Whoever it was who said the 'merkins don't understand irony can't have known that Mickey Mouse is the mascot of their copyright system.

          Couldn't make it up.

  8. ATeal

    Is it actually over now?

    I'm really glad BTW, to any programmer, "we named a bunch of classes and methods the same thing as those guys" (an API) is such a trivial concept, but it is .... it's surprising how hard some people find the concept of a function.

    I was really afraid (why? I'm in the EU!) of what might have happened.

    But is it actually 100% over now? Because this was supposed to be over YEARS ago.

    1. s2bu

      Re: Is it actually over now?

      RTFA: they're appealing. So no, it's not over.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it actually over now?

      @"it's surprising how hard some people find the concept of a function"

      You own your house, but you don't own the name "Little Meadow Cottage", and you can't pretend to own someone elses house just because they called their house "Little Meadow Cottage" and you claim you own that name.

      I think its an easy concept to explain. If Oracle had won, then it would own Dalvik VM, despite not writing that code.

      @"But is it actually 100% over now?"

      Nuisance lawsuits never die until the company pushing them dies. So I won't be using Oracle DBs in anything until they stop this shit.

      1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        "Nuisance lawsuits never die until the company pushing them dies."

        Not even then! SCO vs IBM is STILL rumbling along. Lawyers will continue to abuse the system indefinitely unless something is done to stop it. With Congress run by lawyers for their own interests that is never going to happen. Get used to it.

        1. Vic

          Re: "Nuisance lawsuits never die until the company pushing them dies."

          SCO vs IBM is STILL rumbling along

          Not really. SCO vs. IBM is stayed pending the completion of SCO vs. Novell, but the latter has already proven that SCO never owned any of the rights over which it sued, so IBM cannot possibly have put SCO's property into Linux, because no such property ever existed.

          SCO vs. Novell has been adjudicated, and all that is left is for the damages against SCO to be applied. But that is stayed because of SCO filing for bankruptcy[1]. They're never coming out of that[2], so it really is game over.

          Vic.

          [1] SCO was not bankrupt when it filed - it merely expected to be bankrupted by the judgement against it. IMO, accepting this filing was the first of many mistakes the bankruptcy judge made.

          [2] SCO's only income was the 5% it got from sales of Novell's UNIX software. That wasn't enough to keep it afloat in 2003; the revenue has dropped off since then. Besides that, it is no longer entitled to the 5% it used to get, since it has been adjudged to have pinched the other 95% for quite some time. SCO owns nothing else - what little it had[3] is now gone, with the money from the sale of any assets gone into servicing the bankruptcy. Kevin Gross has a lot of questions to answer...

          [3] I tried to buy one of SCO's assets. The HipCheck product was valued at $5M when SCO entered bankruptcy. Darl ended up buying it for $35K - less than 1% of its previous value. I tried to outbid him - but was told that, as the receiver had spent more than that on filing for the product to be sold, I would have to outbid him by a significant margin. 'Cos that's fair, isn't it?

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Is it actually over now?

      "But is it actually 100% over now? Because this was supposed to be over YEARS ago."

      Of course not! The LYERS (aka lawyers) need to MAKE MORE MONEY!

      So this will go on for years and years and years and EVENTUALLY hit the U.S. Supreme Court, hopefully (by then) to be filled with a few extra Scalia types and not "the other type".

      Copyrights were never intended to STOP ENGINEERING WORK from happening (particularly without compensating the inventor for using his ideas). That's what patents were for, and their time limit is much shorter for a reason. Copyrights were intended for ART and LITERATURE and DOCUMENTS and things of THAT nature. Their application to software is INTERESTING for a number of reasons, but a COPYRIGHT is not a PATENT.

      Keep that "original intent" in mind, and it's a foregone conclusion that this will all hold up. HOWEVER, if you start getting into feelings and fear tactics, and re-interpreting law "for the times", then _ANYTHING_ can happen and it's a huge open forum for the LYERS to increase their income and power.

      In any case, this is FAR from over.

  9. Oengus Silver badge

    The saga goes on

    "Oracle plans to appeal the outcome and pursue another court showdown on the matter."

    The lawyers will continue to earn megabucks and Oracle will put up their prices to pay them.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: The saga goes on

      Of course Oracle will appeal but Google does not have to do anything while they appeal. And the case has been extensive and the verdict unanimous, highly unlikely that the appeals will be successful.

      In the meantime Google will continue to move away from Dalvik/Java towards native. Not sure whether the case played a role in that decision, but it is part of making Java less relevant to new developers. If Oracle had played this differently they could have made Java, or a particular flavour of it, a key component of Android.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: The saga goes on

        "If Oracle had played this differently they could have made Java, or a particular flavour of it, a key component of Android."

        This is perhaps the core point. Whatever the eventual outcome Oracle have shot themselves massively in both feet (or perhaps, given Ellison's hobby, they have holed themselves below the waterline, and instead of trying to limit the damage, they are paying lawyers to make the hole bigger.)

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: The saga goes on

        "And the case has been extensive and the verdict unanimous, highly unlikely that the appeals will be successful."

        In a SANE world, this is true. HOWEVER, never underestimate the ability of activist judges (appointed by activist members of gummint, no doubt) to TWIST the laws to their own agenda, and side favorably with someone that NEVER! DESERVES! THE! RULING! for whatever sick, twisted, and demented justification they rectally extrapolate. It's even happened in the U.S. Supreme Court, within the last few years, allowing "certain legislation" to move forward, even when it's *BLATANTLY* unconstitutional (and bad for the country).

        Yes, I'm very cynical about our legal system, when it comes to TORT law. It needs an *ENEMA*.

        1. Terry Cloth
          Thumb Up

          Legal system cynicism

          The one bright spot is the bright line the law draws between decisions of fact and decisions of law. The jury has judged that APIs are subject to fair use, and that's the law in this case. All the fighting henceforth will be about whether the trial was run properly. Only if Oracle's lawyers can persuade an appellate court that there was an error in applying the law could we see a retrial, and somehow I don't think that'll happen.

          That's one thing the bastards haven't managed to break (choose your favorite bastards). The jury has the last word, and what they say goes. That's why we have the jury system---if the law is wrong, the people get to say so. It's called ``jury nullification'', and it's what puts the people above the Congress. (You'll note that the judge, in his charge to the jury, in the second paragraph of page 1, says

          You must follow the law as I give it to you whether you agree with it or not.
          Judges hate it when juries realize they [the jury] are the supreme law of the land.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The saga goes on

      One thing I have learnt from SCO suing IBM. was to never, ever, ever underestimate the ability of lawyers to completely fuck their clients over in their desire to keep a case going long , long after it should have died. No matter how bad their case is, no matter how trivial their point is, no matter how insane their logic is lawyers will keep on going as they can keep the cash registers ticking over.

      Since the SCO case started, we've had two children who are now just starting secondary school in the UK, I had kind of perversely hoped the kids would have left home and had children themselves before SCO had finished. Echo's of Bleak House?

      I will wager a large Gin & Tonic (well it is Friday) against a bag of crisps, that Larry and the clowns at Oracle appeal this and take the case to the Supremes. Larry is a first class JeremeyHunt who would dig up and roger his dead grandparents if he could make 10 cents. He'd sell tickets for an extra 5 cents.

      I hope to God, that his lawyers have charged him an arm and a leg. This is one time, I want the lawyers to come off best against their client.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: The saga goes on

        "never, ever, ever underestimate the ability of lawyers to completely fuck their clients over in their desire to keep a case going long , long after it should have died."

        My (at the time very idealistic) lawyer kid got a vacation placement with a large London firm of solicitors. First Monday morning, group conference: how to get the maximum possible billing for a case.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The saga goes on

        "Larry is a first class JeremeyHunt who would dig up and roger his dead grandparents if he could make 10 cents."

        Don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

      3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: The saga goes on

        > One thing I have learnt from SCO suing IBM.

        One other thing that you should learn is that TSG (The SCO Group - not the original SCO) paid 34 million (IIRC) to their lawyers upfront to keep the case going forever. This was so that there was no money left in the kitty that Novell or IBM could win. The lawyers would be quite happy to dump the case because a) they will never get any more from TSG. b) they will never win (they would get a percentage of any win). But they can't because if the did give up TSG would sue them for breach of contract and ask for the 34 million back.

      4. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: The saga goes on

        "One thing I have learnt from SCO suing IBM. was to never, ever, ever underestimate the ability of lawyers to completely fuck their clients over in their desire to keep a case going long , long after it should have died. "

        You are wrong. SCO's lawyers were paid a fixed price for running the case from start to finish. A rather high fixed price. But they got paid once, they didn't get paid any more money for anything they did. What you see is the result of various people running SCO trying to keep the company alive for as long as possible, which involved keeping these court cases running as long as possible, so that they would receive their salaries for as long as possible.

  10. Aslan

    Congratulations Google

    Congratulations Google!

    1. Bob Vistakin
      Facepalm

      Re: Congratulations Google

      I think there were some smart moves from Google here. For example, how on earth do you get the idea of what this is about over to the common man? It's very difficult to explain without getting into coding details. So, they brought up the idea of a food menu. Say it has burgers, fries and drinks on it. That's a generic menu - the kind of thing you see outside burger joints. Then you consider actual food using this and you have McDonalds version of a burger called a "Big Mac", whereas Burger Kings are called "Whoppers" - and the same variation for the other foods, and other burger joints. Clearly the "Big Mac" is an actual specific burger that McDonalds has invested billions in the branding and development of, and they quite rightly own every detail of it, and so do Burger King for theirs. It is, however, merely a burger.

      So this is trying to claim you own this generic food menu, the result being every vendor from these global conglomerates to the hot dog cart outside your local football ground must then pay you to use. When put like that...

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Congratulations Google

        Not to question how much money was spent advertising a (rightfully trademark-able) name like "Big Mac", but I'm kinda rolling all over the floor laughing uncontrollably at the "huge" amount of creativity that can go into creating a "specific" burger, namely either one or two layers of cheese, beef and lettuce between two buns - that don't even turn out anything remotely recognizable when served compared to the depicted versions of the allegedly same thing. Mine is the one with the box of "royale with cheese" in the pocket...

  11. gnufrontier

    It's all just King Kong versus Godzilla

    One may prefer our primate cousin for totally irrational reasons but in the end they are both giant foot stomping creatures. All the hyperbole about protecting consumers, economic growth or America as a hotbed of innovation is all just public relations aka propaganda. In the end these are arguments based on metaphor and the winner happens to be whatever metaphor resonates with the brains sitting in judgment. Spin. Spin. Spin. Turning flax into gold.

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Nice to see Sun lose one last time.

    1. energystar
      Paris Hilton

      Personal reasons?

  13. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    The Jury

    What is overlooked is this should have a friendly jury for Leisure Suit Larry and his minions. The jury had no IT skills, just ordinary Joes and Jills. They should have been dazzled by his shyster BS merchants. However, Leisure Suit forgot one thing; many ordinary Joes and Jills are very intelligent and can smell a stinking pile miles away.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hoooray! The death of the GPL!!

    Now Stallman & C. will need to explain how you could barred to call APIs in a GPL code from non GPL one. You're not copying any of the GPL code - just the APIs in your code.

    ZFS in Ubuntu could be the starting case...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Hoooray! The death of the GPL!!

      Whilst I agree that Stallman is spouting utter tosh on the subject of ZFS, I don't see that this ruling threatens the GPL. To judge from the article and the reported comments from the EFF, that isn't just my opinion either.

    2. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: Hoooray! The death of the GPL!!

      No. ZFS on Linux is fine from a legal/un-sueable point.

      Its the GPLer getting uppity about CDL or whatever license open ZFS flies under.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Hoooray! The death of the GPL!!

        If you are calling a GPL bit of code you are using the CODE, not just the API, so you would need to conform top the PGL. If you reimplement the GPL code with the same API then you would not be infringing the GPL.

        It seems to be that simple, but IANAL.

  15. Schultz

    Oracle feels deeply that it ̶h̶a̶s̶ ̶b̶e̶e̶n̶ ̶w̶r̶o̶n̶g̶e̶d̶ should get all you monies

    greenbacks, cash, dough, bucks, cash, pesos, ...

    1. Herby Silver badge

      Re: Oracle feels deeply that it ̶h̶a̶s̶ ̶b̶e̶e̶n̶ ̶w̶r̶o̶n̶g̶e̶d̶ should get all you monies

      quid??

  16. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    Then again...

    This is why smart coders use C# and UWP framework

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Then again...

      Since you can't use two Icons at once, I'll provide the second one for you --->

  17. PassiveSmoking

    Oh thank fuck for that.

    Now about overturning that whole "APIs are copyright" nonsense that started this whole mess off in the first place...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    C'mon guys, we should cut Oracle some slack here.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: C'mon guys, we should cut Oracle some slack here.

      Why?

      1. Vic

        Re: C'mon guys, we should cut Oracle some slack here.

        Why?

        Because you want the body to drop a foot or so before the noose fully tightens...

        Vic.

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Devil

      > C'mon guys, we should cut Oracle some slack here.

      Nope.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only enough to hang themselves with...

  19. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Do a SCO Oracle.

    And someone put raspberryPi's in phones so we can fuck off both ot these lumbering giants.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Do a SCO Oracle.

      Last of the Symbian phones had pretty much the same internals as the Raspberry Pi. Well, sort of.

  20. Time-to-wake-up

    It's just business

    Larry and Steve Jobs were the best of friends. Steven want's Google out of the mobile market, but cannot do it himself because it anti-competitive. So with a nice little slush fund at hand, Larry buys Java (Sun) at Steve behest, and roles them in and out of court for years to come.

    It's just business guys. Remember Microsoft financing SCO to destroy Linux.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: It's just business

      It's just business guys. Remember Microsoft financing SCO to destroy Linux.

      Yeah, what ever happened to Linux?

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: It's just business

        "Yeah, what ever happened to Linux?"

        It didn't overtake Windows on the desktop PC.

        It just ran most of the WWW, and powered a lot of the devices that made the Windows PC much less relevant for an awful lot of people.

        But wasn't it Steve Jobs that was going to destroy Google? Presumably he had read Nietzsche, but didn't understand him.

      2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: It's just business

        > Yeah, what ever happened to Linux?

        It became the core of the most popular OS on the planet, outselling the next one by 400%.

        1. DainB Bronze badge

          Re: It's just business

          Not sure you completely understand concept of selling something.

          Hint: giving away stuff for free is not selling.

  21. Chuck Desmarais

    And lo

    the 7th seal remains intact.

  22. Mr.Mischief

    Help me understand?

    As a non techie, I am trying to understand this. On an article I read, it said that that the Judge explained it this:

    "Judge William Alsup, who presided over the case, once explained that the Java programming platform is a bit like a bookshelf. The API is essentially the way the shelf is organized, so that programmers can find the exact information they need. Google organized the Android platform in the same way to make it easier for Java programmers to write software for the operating system, the jury found, but, to extend Alsup’s metaphor, wrote all the books on the bookshelf from scratch."

    Is this valid? I realise I might be so far out of my depth that I have James Cameron in a submersible beside me, bit I'm trying to explain this to someone even less techie than me.

    1. DainB Bronze badge

      Re: Help me understand?

      More or less.

      Note that titles of all those rewritten books are copyrighted, so you can't just write another Harry Potter and get away with it.

      1. Terry Cloth
        Stop

        Titles are not copyrightable

        This is well-settled copyright law. So, you could write a book called Harry Potter and the Whosis, but I suspect `Harry Potter' is trademarked, which is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

  23. TVU Silver badge

    "Big Red tells us it immediately plans to appeal"

    In which case, I sincerely hope that the same Big Red goes on to lose and wastes $$$ on expensive lawyers' fees.

    Within the past decade, we've seen the growth of two types of unsavoury law suits. The first is companies vs. patent trolls and the second is companies vs. other companies over patent infringements.

    It's got to the stage where I think something ought to be done about these vexatious cases, for example, the holding of a preliminary hearing in any patent case to determine whether there is a valid claim where there's also a public interest case for proceeding otherwise the complaint gets firmly shut down at an early stage.

  24. Sssss

    When designing my own OS decades ago, I decided I was going to protect it by claiming copyright on its API, but that protection should only be used to limit people from making a fully compatible product. Using the API to communicate with my product was fair use of course. It was based on principles in my writing of identifying and protecting "where the value lays" in copyright law. The product is not it's API's, the value of the product lays in it's limited version of functionality, which it is sold on, and should be protected. This even goes into something that copies the unique, non trivial, no cosmetic, functionality of a complete product, but not necessarily with the same code (sort of like a rationalised computerised version of the squint test). Sort of between literary copyright and patents. It also does not cover the fair use of data organisation in user files (a provision for fair use and fair competition). If copyright had been implemented in this way, it would have resolved a lot of issues and litegation. It is basically, you can compete, but only on fair terms.

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