back to article Java API judge tells Oracle to suck it up, quit whining about the jury

An early attempt by Oracle to reverse Google's victory in the Java API copyright saga has been shot down. This week, Judge William Alsup promptly snubbed [PDF] Big Red's plea to dismiss Google's fair use defense in the long-running court battle. Google was found to have infringed Oracle's copyright by using 37 Oracle-owned …

  1. MrMur

    Dear Oracle

    Dear Oracle,

    The jurors patiently sat through your legal mudslinging. They put their lives on-hold so you could whine on about 37 lines of code. They took their time to try to return the best decision they could. Now you dare to call them "unreasonable" because they didn't agree with you. A trick tried my SCO, if my memory services.

    What little credibility you had left in this case is gone. It is you who are being unreasonable. And disrespectful to the men and women of the jury that will never get those two weeks of their lives back.

    Yours,

    Pretty much everyone in IT except Oracle.

    1. matt g

      Re: Dear Oracle

      Whilst I may not disagree with your gist, it wasn't 37 lines of code.

      (1) it was 37 packages running to 11,500 or so lines of text (the declarations of every method in the packages java.* I think); and

      (2) whether or not it was 'code' wasn't clearly settled in the case.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Dear Oracle

        The case wasn't about whether it was code or not.

        It was whether about it was copyrighted (which did involve whether it had any creative expression, but they were overruled at one point so they carried on in that regard anyway), and whether - it being the ONLY way to describe that interface for compatibility reasons - using it even if it was copyrighted would be fair use.

        Honestly, Oracle are trying to make it impossible to ever use another companies public API ever again, or make anything even vaguely compatible. You can see why it might benefit a place that charges thousands of dollars per core to use a database. The rest of the industry all know that it would just destroy programming overnight.

        1. zvonr

          Re: Dear Oracle

          Re: "Honestly, Oracle are trying to make it impossible to ever use another companies public API ever again, or make anything even vaguely compatible. You can see why it might benefit a place that charges thousands of dollars per core to use a database. The rest of the industry all know that it would just destroy programming overnight."

          This is complete Nonsense!

          I don't remember having issues using the Java API and keeping my code private (classpath exemption).... ever... I can even implement the java API without being sued by Oracle if I RESPECT the GPL license!

          Anyone should be able to create APIs and license them as they wish!

          I hear all this nonsense about interoperability and how innovation will stop... Complete NONSENSE... News flash! Apis can be licensed! (AMD licenses x86 and Intel is licensing AMD64 and the world is not going under...) Theft was NEVER good for innovation...

          Creating the Java API was a herculean effort, a lot of investment to develop, support, market... Why should Google be allowed to violate the Java license?

        2. whiz

          Re: Dear Oracle

          So basically if I used Google API (wait a portion of a set of APIs) to create a product.

          Now suppose this new product competes with Google products namely Google search.

          And removes all ADS (the lifeline of google search) and ensures every user of the product has to abide with my terms and conditions.

          Then I would ensure this newly created innovative ecosystem delivers me billions of dollars indirectly.

          (so that I can say I dont make cash directly from this theft of non-creative API code)

          And preferably destroys Google revenue generation in the meanwhile.

          Would that not be a dream come true.

          And I would only be repeating history and the law and Jury bloody has to say "fair use"

      2. MrMur

        Re: Dear Oracle

        Point taken regarding (1) and regarding (2), I was speaking colloquially when I referred to it as code.

    2. tfewster Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Dear Oracle

      Oracle [said] that no reasonable jury could find against it

      Oracle [asked] that the judge invalidate Google's fair use defense as inadmissible under law

      Oracle has vowed to appeal the verdict to a higher court

      Oh, if only Alsup could fine them for contempt of court :-)

      1. John Sager

        Re: Dear Oracle

        Having read the judgement, it looks very much like Judge Alsup has given Oracle very little wiggle room to argue on when/if they appeal this. They can only now appeal on the issue of judgement as to law versus a jury verdict on the facts, and Alsup has taken great pains to explain why it's all down to issues of fact that a jury has to decide rather than a plain direction by the law.

        I'm still surprised that the appeals court threw out the verdict that the API was not copyrightable. We've all assumed that APIs were free to use and this was a bit of a shock. Perhaps now APIs should come with a 'free to use' licence and those that don't (unless in very specialised areas), fall by the wayside.

  2. Bob Vistakin
    Pint

    The entire mobile market has slipped through their fingers in front of their eyes.

    It was within their power to do exactly what Google did - revamp a java UI layer on top of a Linux kernel. They didn't even need any hardware. The difference was, they had a massive head start with JavaME - all it needed was a modern makeover and they are done. Had the done this, ownership of java as well would have killed Android, in the form it took, stone dead. Boy, they must be pissed at this. Even the iPhone is basically just a custom UI layer on Linux, although there's no java involved. Trying to salvage something after the horse has bolted via the courts is just pathetic, and the whole industry can see this.

    The fact the judge is having none of their whining is just causing them more pain. See icon.

    1. s2bu

      Linux?

      There's no "Linux" in iOS. It's all XNU (Mach + BSD) in the kernel, and the userland is a mix of BSD and Apple/NeXT. OS X has a smattering of GNU in the userland, but I don't believe iOS itself does.

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Headmaster

      Alright, for the nit pickers, s/Linux/Obvious Unix derivative Apple gave their usual rounded corners treatment to

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "the nit pickers"

        Nit picking? Different code bases to implement the same set of APIs! Does this remind anyone of anything?

      2. Tim99 Silver badge
        Gimp

        @Bob Vistaken

        "Alright, for the nit pickers, s/Linux/Obvious Unix derivative Apple gave their usual rounded corners treatment to"

        OK, you are a Linux fan. I am too; although less of one since Pottering's fun and games; and have been around this stuff before BSD. The timelines are roughly Linux: 1991-1992; vs NeXTSTEP 1989-1995 -> OpenStep 1994 (NeXT/Sun Solaris/Rhapsody/OS X Server 1999) -> OSX Desktop (first 'decent desktop version Panther, 2003?)

        NeXT was a lot more than "rounded corners". I still use OS X, but have now moved most of my Linux stuff to other BSDs.

        1. Bob Vistakin
          Joke

          Re: @Bob Vistaken

          @Tin99 Yeah! I'm quite proud of the fall '93 Yggdrasil CD I can see on a shelf as I write this. Last time I popped it in for a shufties it had the pre 1.0 Linux alpha binaries on.

          I remember when I got it at the time thinking '94 will be the year of Linux on the desktop.

    3. dajames Silver badge

      The difference was, they had a massive head start with JavaME...

      JavaME demonstrated quite clearly just how little clue Sun/Oracle had about mobile systems.

      "Oh, this JVM thing is a bit big to run on a phone ... Whaddaya say we slim it down a little? Let's take out ... floating point ... and ... oh, yeah, javax.crypto. No way anyone's going to want crypto on a mobile internet-connected device!"

      Idiots.

      1. oldcoder

        Specially when you consider Java was used on smart cards...

      2. wikkity

        RE: how little clue Sun/-Oracle-

        JavaME was right for the time, there was no other way to write portable apps for phones (and smart cards etc, but this in context of Android). Sun got stuck in a rut with JavaME it stagnated and became obsolete for the next generation devices and beyond, Google invitied them back to the party but they stuck by JavaME and failed to see JavaME was a non-goer for trhe emerging smart phone market.

  3. x 7

    "Even the iPhone is basically just a custom UI layer on Linux,"

    really? That goes contra to perceived wisdom. Cam you prove that or are you an Apple shill?

    1. Shades

      So what is KDE, Gnome or Unity then?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "So what is KDE, Gnome or Unity then?"

        KDE, Gnome and Unity are GUIs. KDE is relatively OS agnostic given a suitable underlying windowing system. Gnome these days seems to be increasingly tied in to systemd plumbing (I hope KDE manages to avoid this). Not sure about Unity.

        1. dajames Silver badge

          KDE, Gnome and Unity are GUIs.

          No, technically they're desktop environments. The actual GUIs -- the user interfaces they employ -- are defined by the behaviour of the sets of graphical widgets used by the DEs and other applications: Qt in the case of KDE and GTK in the case of Gnome and Unity.

        2. Law
          Coat

          "Not sure about Unity"

          Most people aren't!

  4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Real Reason?

    Leisure Suit Larry's minions must be hurting financially. They seem to pinning their hopes on a financial windfall from Google. The irony is that the jury was largely non-technical and one would have thought they would lean towards Leisure Suit Larry. But they ruled the other way which is really hurting.

    1. oneeye

      Re: Real Reason?

      Hey! I remember that funny game "Leisure Suit Larry". We used to make him sit at the bar and drink till he fell off the stool,laugh like hell and do it all over again! Wow, that was some years ago.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I see!

    Is that Mr. Orlowski's "red faced" judge? He seems to cruise cooly through this particular Obnoxious Catfight of the 300 Pound Gorillas.

    Now, about that stock photo, which seems to have been created by the coffee-brings-you-cancer scare team....

  6. x 7

    question:

    where the Java APIs open sourced? If not, what was Google's rationale for using them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The java APIs are a ratified standard. The documents for that standard are copyrightable, but the ideas within are not. The issue here is about code, which is also about copyright. The judgement was that because the similarity between Google's and Oracle's versions of the Java APIs existed only to the extent required to maintain compatibility with the standard, it was fair use.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Nope.

          Counterfeit means you were passing it off as the original manufacturer's when it wasn't. "Imitated against". You're literally selling a "Sony" battery that's not been made by Sony, or whatever.

          But after-market third-party compatible products (e.g. cheap batteries, chargers that don't try to pass themselves off as genuine Nokia or whatever) are a multi-billion dollar legal business worldwide.

          They can't say their USB leads are "Lightning (R) cables" because that's trademark and counterfeit if they aren't, but they can say it's a cable compatible with an iPhone or whatever.

          That's the reason that the whole "they can make a compatible product" thing is legal - it's a huge portion of worldwide trade to make cases, batteries accessories, replacements, etc. that AREN'T from the original manufacturer. Otherwise you could kiss goodbye to everything like universal remote controls, and say hello to 50cm cables that cost the earth.

        2. Adam Azarchs

          Copies aren't illegal unless you claim they are the trademarked brand, which makes them counterfeits. That's a violation of trademark, which google hasn't been accused of.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > Copies aren't illegal unless you claim they are the trademarked brand, which makes them counterfeits

            Or unless they violate patents in the original item. Or copyright in its expression (say, PCB layouts). Or design rights.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The java APIs are a ratified standard

        Sorry, but you are sadly mistaken here. Sun Microsystems (in the days before Oracle) did submit the APIs for standardisation, but subsequently withdraw them. The only de facto "standard" is the API specification by Sun (and now by Oracle of course).

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      It's not illegal to implement a compatible piece of software. In fact, it's positively protected in law. The EU **ORDERED** Microsoft to allow compatible office suites and compatible file-sharing protocols. Enshrined in such law is that anyone can make a compatible product.

      Google, et al, have not taken ANYTHING from Oracle that they weren't advertising publicly. In fact, they've implemented the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY to provide a Java substitute that could ever work. To reimplement millions of lines of code that interface with a handful of structure and function definitions that Java programs expect to exist. Those functions/structure HAVE to be named identically, HAVE to be in the correct order, HAVE to take the same datatypes. That's what Google "copied". But every single line of code that those functions have to actually DO their stated job is not Oracles. That would be prima facie copyright infringement.

      It's like saying (but not exactly like this, because software patents are VERY different to hardware ones and don't even officially exist in the EU, for example) that you've built a computer that controls a piece of machinery. It issues up, down, left, right commands. Oracle are trying to claim that it's actually ILLEGAL to replace their control box with another control box that you've made yourself that issues those same up, down, left, right commands down the same cable. Not just that it would void your warranty, or they won't support it, but that you even trying is actually ILLEGAL.

      Oracle are stupid. And "using" an API in this fashion isn't illegal at all. In fact, technically "using" an API is the absolute utter intent of creating one in the first place. This isn't "using" an API at all. It's creating a compatible API. Like making a computer than can run ARM binaries, for instance. Or, in this case, closer to making your own BASIC interpreter.

      However, Oracle are not only trying to claim that me making a piece of software compatible with theirs is illegal, but that the API cannot even be used without their permission (copyrighted), and nobody can implement any program that replaces Java NOR interfaces with Java in any way without their permission.

      They are so stupid, they are trying to argue that they should be allowed to destroy not just competitors but their own users. And the courts disagree.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        It's not illegal to implement a compatible piece of software. In fact, it's positively protected in law. The EU **ORDERED** Microsoft to allow compatible office suites and compatible file-sharing protocols.

        They won't be able to do that sort of thing once the TTIP is in place ... not without Microsoft making them spend the rest of eternity in a commercial court, anyway.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Like making a computer than can run ARM binaries, for instance. "

        You had me up to there.

        Short version: No, you can't legally make a machine that runs the latest versions of the ARM instruction set.

        Longer version: No you can't legally make an machine that runs the latest versions of the ARM instruction set unless you think you can prove the patents ARM hold on features of that instruction set to be without merit, invalid due to prior art etc and have enough money to put your case through the courts or prove that your implementation doesn't infringe on their huge pile of patents (very unlikely). If you could do it legally every Chinese fab would have a range of unlicensed clones for you to pick from at bargain prices ... and they don't because contrary to the lovey dovey "They are British and they made the BBC Micro and they are such nice chaps" image of ARM presented here on el reg they have no problem stomping out anyone that would try to do it.

        This is the reason you'll only find opensource ARM cores for older versions of the instruction set where the applicable patents have expired.

        Fortunately for Google these things are apples and oranges. Oracle is arguing about a trivial API and not anything they could potentially patent like how the byte code works.

        I'm sure Oracle would have gone after Google on that instead if they could have but Android doesn't run Java and until recently the Android tools didn't even touch the code until it had already been compiled by either OpenJDK or Oracle's JDK. Neither Dalvik or ART run Java bytecode.. so other than the copyright angle the only hope they really had is some broad patent they could say Google used without permission in either the java byte code -> dalvik byte code translation or the VMs. My guess would be they couldn't dig anything like that up or it had already expired and that's why they went the route they did.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Google, et al, have not taken ANYTHING from Oracle that they weren't advertising publicly. In fact, they've implemented the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY to provide a Java substitute that could ever work. "

        Bear in mind that they did this because they had a choice of a slimmed down version of Java which didn't do what was needed or the full fat version which required hefty licensing. There was no middle ground and Sun/Oracle wouldn't budge.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I commend Judge Alsup's patience. In his position I'd have been tempted to rule contempt of court and bang a few lawyers up for a few months. Or years. And any Oracle execs within range.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "In his position I'd have been tempted to rule contempt of court and bang a few lawyers up for a few months. Or years. And any Oracle execs within range."

      The lawyers are only doing what they're told. Lawyers are advisers and representatives. If you think the lawyers are acting like dicks, you can assume that they are in fact billing dicks. If they behave like nice people, they are being briefed by nice people, or at least people who have enough self awareness to know that seeming to be nice gets people on your side.

      Judges, of course, know this well.

      Don't forget too that the dicks are likely only to meet other dicks socially, and to expend their dickishness on minions. They have not the slightest idea how things will appear to normal people.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Apart from the fact they could already do this, the x86 instruction set is effectively an API to interface with the RISC CPU anyway.

      1. oldcoder

        Replace "the" with "a" and you are right.

        The RISC processor Intel uses is not public. The X86 instruction set is.

        AMD has a license to use both, though the RISC used is a bit different.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Catchy uppy

    So this essentially boils down to Oracle laying claims to the entire ownership of a Java (formerly Sun microsystems) abstract API irrespective or the implementation. Presumably googledroid has it's own JVM, garbage collection, JIT/AOT compiler implementations etc... As far as I can tell 'android java' doesn't contain swing or other special Oracle exclusive stuff, what actually is their beef?

    Is this just transparent patent trolling ? I for one cannot wait for someone to start filing suits over use of the English language and grammar system, to whit I'm completely ignorant off.

    Don't flame I avoid Java(tm) as much as is possible

  10. localzuk

    I don't get why this is carrying on

    In order to provide compatibility with Oracle's APIs, Google had no choice but to implement the APIs as they exist. There isn't some other way to do so - if you change any of it, then you're no longer compatible and no longer using the API.

    So, surely in the sense that there is no other way to do this, it would be fair use?

    1. oneeye

      Re: I don't get why this is carrying on

      OK, I have a patent on the Circle. So all you folks with Steering Wheels and tires on your cars, pay up! And don't think you people with pipes are going to get off easy, you guys are going to pay by the inch.

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Joke

    On the resemblance between court cases and vampires

    Both can seem to have eternal (un)life. You might think they are long dead, and all that is left is dust along the wayside or in the courtroom as the case may be, but all it takes is a drop of blood (or money) in the right place, and...

    LOOK WHO'S BACK!!

    I really wonder when we will see a stake driven home properly

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