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Oracle crushed in Google Java API case

Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

The judge has decided that Oracle can't copyright the Java API.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/31/3055620/oracle-java-api-not-covered-copyright-law

End of Java as predicted by some wise folks (i.e. me) not going to happen.

Expect endless legals appeals.
Maneesh Godbole
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jul 26, 2007
Posts: 10426
    
    8

Is it true Oracle has more lawyers than developers?


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Steve Fahlbusch
Bartender

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 562
    
    7

Actually i think this is great.

The opinion (assuming the link you provided was genuine and that it was distilled accurately) means that while the implementation is protected, the interface is not. As such, we could have others that implement additional interfaces. --- who would not like for the String API to be fixed up to how we use it??.

And you will notice the most important part of ruling - there was no talk of the certification process, as such even if the API is extended, the certification code may still not certify another API as java.

Pat - thanks for posting this
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Maneesh Godbole wrote:Is it true Oracle has more lawyers than developers?


LOL

That, sir, is a dastardly slur that impunes the reputation, skills, and talent of Oracle.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Steve Fahlbusch wrote:assuming the link you provided was genuine and that it was distilled accurately


The news/ruling is real. Happened late in the business day Thursday.

I'll let the lawyers argue about the proper interpretation.
Steve Fahlbusch
Bartender

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 562
    
    7

Pat,

please note, i was never questioning you, only the source as they distilled the verdict and i have yet time to read the verdict verbatim.

I still think this is good for java (as i have been very close to trials of other languages). but thank you for posting this.

-steve
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Another (typical) story covering the trial results:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/google-wins-ruling-on-its-use-of-oracles-java/2012/06/01/gJQAZ0xu6U_story.html

All of these are instant analysis and we will have to wait for the real lawyers to analyze it. But the common thread is that Oracle lost big, cant get any meaningful fines out of Google -- no where near enough to pay their lawyers' bills.

Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3305
    
    7
Steve Fahlbusch wrote:Actually i think this is great.

The opinion (assuming the link you provided was genuine and that it was distilled accurately) means that while the implementation is protected, the interface is not. As such, we could have others that implement additional interfaces. --- who would not like for the String API to be fixed up to how we use it??.

And you will notice the most important part of ruling - there was no talk of the certification process, as such even if the API is extended, the certification code may still not certify another API as java.

Pat - thanks for posting this


To me, it seems really unfortunate that the judgement has practically trashed the effort involved in creating a well thought out API. I think that for any non-trivial framework, designing a good API is at least half, if not more, the work. No less than Joshua Bloch said so in trial. By saying the API is not copyrightable, you are basically saying an API has no value.

If you put aside Oracle and Google for a momebt and just look at what it implies, I am not sure if it is a great judgement.


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Tim Moores
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Joined: Sep 21, 2011
Posts: 2408
You wouldn't want your electricity network provider to copyright the shape of the wall outlet, would you? Because that would mean you could not plug in a device manufactured by anyone who hadn't licensed that design. (Which is, of course, sort of how the telephone outlet worked in the US -and lots of other countries-, where everything not blessed by AT&T would be illegal to connect as recently as 30 years ago. That was not exactly helpful for innovation.)
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Tim Moores wrote:You wouldn't want your electricity network provider to copyright the shape of the wall outlet, would you?


I'm not sure this is a good analogy.

In fact, the design of electrical outlets is standardized in nearly every country, and many are copyrighted. Often the name is even trademarked, so that
you can ensure that if you think you can connect to it, it will work. Its important that the distances, angles and sizes be the same, you don't want
a bootleg manufacturer to make bad copies in their basement.

The Phillips screwdriver was even patented.

There are BlueTooth standards, and you have to go through hoops and licensing terms before you can claim that your device, say a BlueTooth mouse, is "BlueTooth" so that you can get interoperability.

I simply don't fully grok either what Oracle was claiming, or what the Judge rules, when he said that APIs can't be copyrighted. The reality is that Java is a simple language that can be completely described in a couple of pages, if you leave out the standard libraries (System, java.io.*, etc.) Its the library APIs that we use to write code. Java without the libraries is trivial. And, IMHO, worthless.
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3305
    
    7
Tim Moores wrote:You wouldn't want your electricity network provider to copyright the shape of the wall outlet, would you? Because that would mean you could not plug in a device manufactured by anyone who hadn't licensed that design. (Which is, of course, sort of how the telephone outlet worked in the US -and lots of other countries-, where everything not blessed by AT&T would be illegal to connect as recently as 30 years ago. That was not exactly helpful for innovation.)


That and what if an auto company obtains a copyright on steering wheel are common examples that are given against copyright of an API. But, IMHO, the comparison is absolutely invalid.

The shape of a wall outlet is already a public standard and has been in existance for 50+ years. Nobody has to pay anybody to create a plug that fits in a wall outlet. In India there is an govt. organization called ISI that defines such standards and I am sure similar organizations exists in other countries as well. These are public standards. You are free to create your own outlet and copyright it. I have read that several phone companies have copyrighted their own connectors.

API is a private standard and is not even that old (to make it a de-facto public standard).

There are many such examples. I understand that even Wi-fi and USB, DVD, etc. are a private standards and companies have to pay royalty to declare that their products compatible with these standards. IMHO, these standards are nothing but a form of API. So how is Java API different from these?

If you think about it, a steering wheel doesn't look that innovative now but whoever designed it first, must have been a genious and I believe he/they should have been able to obtain copyright on it (which might have expired by now).

Any sort of copyright stifles innovation to an extent but at the same time not having a copyright removes to incentive to innovate. Who would spend time and energy to create a vast well thought API such as Java API if there is no protection? So there has to be a balance and in this case, IMHO, the balance is not right.


fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11356
    
  16

I am not a lawyer, or even a very good software developer. But isn't an API kind of like an outline? Should I be allowed to copyright something like:

  • Introduce characters
  • Have characters meet.
  • Introduce main plot element 1
  • Introduce main plot element 2
  • Introduce main conflict
  • Resolve main conflict
  • Describe happy ending
  • Note: Minor characters and minor plot points may be sprinkled liberally throughout the book


  • And then claim that any book written that follows these points violates my copyright?


    There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
    Paul Anilprem
    Enthuware Software Support
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Sep 23, 2000
    Posts: 3305
        
        7
    fred rosenberger wrote:I am not a lawyer, or even a very good software developer. But isn't an API kind of like an outline? Should I be allowed to copyright something like:

  • Introduce characters
  • Have characters meet.
  • Introduce main plot element 1
  • Introduce main plot element 2
  • Introduce main conflict
  • Resolve main conflict
  • Describe happy ending
  • Note: Minor characters and minor plot points may be sprinkled liberally throughout the book


  • And then claim that any book written that follows these points violates my copyright?


    Something that is too generic can't be copyrighted. It is subjective, I agree.
    Pat Farrell
    Rancher

    Joined: Aug 11, 2007
    Posts: 4659
        
        5

    fred rosenberger wrote:And then claim that any book written that follows these points violates my copyright?


    No, you don't have the correct concept of a copyright. The copyright is about the exact expression of the work.

    Take "Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story", they are the same story. There is nothing about them (even if they were both written last week) that would allow you to claim that one violated the copyright of the other. The basic plot goes back at least to the ancient Greeks, and has been copied in thousands of other stories, books, plays, and movies.

    If you had a US Patent on the business method, then you could claim that similar works violate your patent, but copyrights are literal.
     
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