Judge Delivers Thorough And Complete Smackdown Of Oracle's Copyright Claims

from the a-bit-narrowly-focused dept

Well, well. A few weeks ago, the jury in the Google/Oracle lawsuit ruled that Google infringed on a very small amount of Java API, but as we noted it was still an open question (and one for the judge to rule on) whether or not APIs were even eligible to be covered by copyright. In the second phase of the case, the jury completely rejected the idea that Google had infringed on Oracle’s patents. So all that left was the 37 APIs. And that tiny “win” for Oracle is now gone as well, as the judge has ruled that those particular APIs are not covered by copyright:

So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical. Under the rules of Java, they must be identical to declare a method specifying the same functionality — even when the implementation is different. When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression. And, while the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked, copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law.

It is true that the very same functionality could have been offered in Android without duplicating the exact command structure used in Java. This could have been done by re-arranging the various methods under different groupings among the various classes and packages (even if the same names had been used). In this sense, there were many ways to group the methods yet still duplicate the same range of functionality.

But the names are more than just names — they are symbols in a command structure wherein the commands take the form

java.package.Class.method()
Each command calls into action a pre-assigned function. The overall name tree, of course, has creative elements but it is also a precise command structure — a utilitarian and functional set of symbols, each to carry out a pre-assigned function. This command structure is a system or method of operation under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted. Duplication of the command structure is necessary for interoperability.

As some have pointed out the ruling is somewhat narrowly focused just on these 37 APIs, but the principles involved in why those 37 APIs are not copyrightable certainly will apply to plenty of other APIs as well. The ruling itself (embedded below) is pretty thorough and detailed. We had noted earlier that Judge Alsup had admitted that he’d learned to code Java in order to better understand the case (and that he’d had a history of knowing other coding languages as well) — and it shows. Rather than using braindead broad analogies that don’t make much sense, as we see all too often in court rulings, Alsup gets to the heart of the matter and clearly understands what an API is and how it works. His ruling is actually a decent primer on some parts of code for those who have never coded.

From that, Alsup points out just how ridiculous this entire case has been — and specifically notes that he’s explaining the level of ridiculousness of Oracle’s position for the benefit of the appeals court who will surely hear this case once Oracle appeals (and which almost certainly will be staffed with judges not nearly as clued-in as Judge Alsup).

Oracle has made much of nine lines of code that crept into both Android and Java. This circumstance is so innocuous and overblown by Oracle that the actual facts, as found herein by the judge, will be set forth below for the benefit of the court of appeals.

He goes on to explain not just how insignificant the situation was, but he details how it happened and why it’s crazy to consider it worthy of a copyright infringement suit. It’s a pretty complete smackdown of Oracle’s position.

Again, it is quite likely that Oracle will appeal, even though this ruling is so firm it might be smarter for Oracle to issue a giant apology to the tech community and just get on with doing business. That seems unlikely, of course, as Oracle probably hopes to find less knowledgeable judges on appeal. One hopes, however, that the appeals court judges will recognize the very, very thorough nature of Judge Alsup’s ruling, and reject any appeal as well.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: google, oracle

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Judge Delivers Thorough And Complete Smackdown Of Oracle's Copyright Claims”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
108 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

And what I’m saying is that declaring a ruling “oversteps” because it has the potential to give back rights that were taken away from friends of mine (and potentially from me) comes across as rather like saying you don’t care if I ever have those rights or not, so long as at least 50% of people in my state decide to deny them to me.

I’m sorry, but I’m tired of politely smiling while people cheerfully say it’s okay to treat me like a second-class human being. It’s not okay. I don’t care what theory of tyranny of the majority you espouse; in this and every other case where fundamental human rights are involved, you’re wrong. As for who gets to decide if this is a fundamental human right or not: I do. Because I’m the one who knows what it’s like not to have it.

(My apologies to everyone else for hijacking this thread. I’ll bow out now to reduce the commotion.)

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

As for who gets to decide if this is a fundamental human right or not: I do. Because I’m the one who knows what it’s like not to have it.

There are millionaires out there. They seem pretty happy, on the whole. And since I know what it’s like *not* to have that standard of living, I proclaim that it’s a fundamental human right, I should be able to be a millionaire too, because I want to, and it would make me happy!

…that is how it works, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Even if the example is ridiculous, the point is apt. Fundamental human rights have a deep metaphysical and philosophical basis. It is not accurate to say that each individual gets to decide what they are.

Otherwise, marriage would have absolutely no limits (polygamy, minors, objects, animals, whatever), people could possess illicit substances and claim it is their fundamental right, and so on.

Human rights are by definition completely separate from the government and without limit.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Nice attempt at an argument (and sadly all too common) but you’re missing out on the fact that marriage is a matter of agreement between two consenting participants. A minor can’t legally consent. An inanimate object can’t consent. An animal can’t consent. Gay marriage doesn’t open the door for non-consensual marriages.

That’s just absurd. As absurd as the arguments against letting women vote that were being made 100 years ago, such as the argument that the family would cease to exist if you gave women voting power.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

> Nice attempt at an argument (and sadly all too
> common) but you’re missing out on the fact that
> marriage is a matter of agreement between two
> consenting participants. A minor can’t legally
> consent. An inanimate object can’t consent. An
> animal can’t consent.

I notice that you addressed all of the AC’s examples except polygamy. Convenient lapse, since that *would* involve consent between adults.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

I left out polygamy because I didn’t want to get into a religious debate since that seems to be the most prominent context for polygamy.

It seems like polygamy is usually a matter of inequality in which men have too much power over the women in their segment of society, so I’m opposed to it on those grounds. Also, polygamy doesn’t always involve consensual participants. Just ask the 13 year old girls who get pushed into such marriages.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Polygamy absolutely does involve consensual adults. It certainly also includes unwilling participants, which is terrible.

However, you’ve actually made my point–if you are willing to restrict some types of marriages, by definition same-sex marriage (or any marriage for that matter) is not a fundamental human right.

Regardless, same sex marriage should be allowed IMO.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

Wow, you really picked a bad time to try to argue denotations.

I said polygamy doesn’t always involve non-consensual participants, which is quite different than saying every polygamous marriage involves non-consensual participants.

You said “Polygamy absolutely does involve consensual adults.”

ab?so?lute?ly
adverb
1. without exception; completely; wholly; entirely: You are absolutely right.

It only takes one example (found via that google search I provided you) to disprove your claim that polygamy absolutely does involve consensual adults.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

Troll, if all you want to do is focus on irrelevant points just to be difficult, go ahead.

If you actually want to have a constructive debate,
a) I don’t believe marriage (of any sort) is a fundamental human right
b) The same reasonable justifications used for gay marriage can be used for other types of marriage

You have given no well-founded arguments for either a) or b). If you wish to dispute them, please define human rights and why marriage is among them (not just that you think they are). And please explain why polygamy would not fit into that same definition.

The argument that polygamy is abused is not a contrary argument, but in fact one separate from whether it should be recognized. We do this in every facet of life: nearly everything we use or do legally can be abused. Now if your argument is that we as a society often restrict things, like guns, because their potential for abuse is too great, I would grant that because it would then prove that marriage is not a fundamental human right, which by definition are UNRESTRICTED.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

> It seems like
> polygamy is
> usually a
> matter of
> inequality in
> which men
> have too
> much power
> over the
> women in
> their segment
> of society, so
> I’m opposed
> to it on those
> grounds.

First, I see no evidentiary basis for your use of the word ‘usually’ here. Of the polygamous societies that exist, there are indeed instances of oppression, but it’s certainly not true in every case, or even the majority of cases.

And there’s plenty of examples of one-on-one heterosexual marriages and relationships where the man dominates the woman with both physical and emotional intimidation, and plenty of gay relationships where one partner abuses the other, so if you’re going to oppose an entire domestic system based on the fact that it might be abused, then you pretty much are left with chastity and solitude for everyone.

> Also, polygamy
> doesn’t always
> involve
> consensual
> participants.

Heterosexual marriages and live-in relationships don’t always involve consensual participants, either. I would imagine the same is true of gay relationships.

Bottom line, every single argument you can use in favor of gay marriage can be equally applied to polygamous marriage, and every argument you can use against polygamous marriage can be equally applied to both gay and straight marriage.

The only argument against polygamy that’s left is “I don’t mind gays marrying, bu’t I just don’t like polygamy! It’s yucky!” And isn’t that what the opponents of gay marriage are basically saying?

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

You missed my point about polygamy being a part of a particular subculture of society in which the society as a whole, not just particular individuals, force women into non-consensual relationships. 14 year old girls forced into a polygamous marriage who don’t know a different life and isn’t able to easily escape is significantly different than a gay or straight partner in a relationship who chooses not to leave despite having alternatives like the ability to move away or date other people.

Are you saying that most gay and straight relationships in which one participant dominates the other (and I’m using the term dominates in its harshest form, the kind that warrants a restraining order)?

What you’re describing regarding domination is an unhealthy relationship that shouldn’t exist regardless of whether there’s marriage or not. You’re taking a worst case scenario and using it as an argument against gay marriage when its actually just an argument against any bad relationship.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Okay, fine, but the first AC did not make that distinction–she/he said that she alone gets to decide what fundamental human rights she has. I agree with his/her goal, but not with her reasoning–and you failed to support her reasoning or explain why mine is incorrect. All you did was attack some of my examples.

Specifically you failed to address the fundamental point–regardless of whether same-sex marriage should be allowed, it is NOT a fundamental right. Not by any long established understanding of those terms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“As for who gets to decide if this is a fundamental human right or not: I do”

Sounds like tyranny of the minority.

Obviously, this is a personally important issue to you, and that’s understandable. I happen to desire the same ultimate result that you do w/r/t same-sex marriage.

That doesn’t meany everyone should shut up and celebrate a result if they think the result was brought about by illegitimate means.

To some people, following the rules of our system of government is a very important issue.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I don’t remember it being a rule of our system of government that voters got to decide how civil rights are selectively denied to an unequally treated class of citizens. By nature, the act of being able to vote to deny equal treatment under the law is inherently unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“equal treatment under the law” is a funny thing. Every law discriminates. We don’t treat felons equally as non-felons. We don’t treat minors equally as adults. We don’t treat people with drivers’ licenses equally as those who do not have them.

The question is whether the 14th Amendment (under either the due process clause or the equal protection clause) and Supreme Court precedent interpreting the 14th Amendment prohibits this type of discrimination. I’m of the opinion that it does.

But I’m also of the opinion that judge Vaughan Walker’s analysis of the Prop 8 matter was not soundly based in legal precedent.

So, even though I like the result, and I agree with the result from the legal perspective, I still think it’s worth criticizing how the judge arrived at the result.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I’m saying the referendum itself is by nature unconstitutional, the same as it would be unconstitutional for a referendum to say that it’s okay to kill anyone that the majority of the members of society don’t like. There are some things that can’t constitutionally be voted upon. Therefore, Walker made the right decision because the vote, by nature, was procedurally invalid from the start.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Except that the constitution itself can be voted on. When a large enough majority of people want something, they’re going to get it, in any governmental system. There’s no way around that. For civil rights, some are in the constitution but others just reflect the opinion of a simple majority when they were written into law. Think of the counter example. Not every judge is in favor of expanding civil rights. Do you really want a situation where a single judge gets to deny a right to some group of people, even if a large majority of the population (and the legislature) have voted to grant it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

1. I happen to believe that the government should recognize a covenant or contractual agreement that has been entered into by two rational, consenting adults. I also believe that two people should be able to enter into whatever covenant/agreement they want.

2. Can we PLEASE stop calling this a fundamental human right?

It is not a fundamental human right. Fundamental human rights are rights that you have simply by existing. They have existed since people were people. Marriage, Civil Unions, whatever, are constructs of culture and are not, by any philosophical definition a fundamental human right.

If you want to call it a matter of fairness and equality, go for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

So like Baboons I should get a Harem… and that’s a facet of nature.

Make a usefull point or stfu – many natural “mates” are not for life. Oh wait – you must be another Creationist… er Religious whack-job… oh hell – whatever todays politically correct way to refer to them is.

Ducks dont speak they quack – hence it is a natural facet of nature that we pass a law only allowing people to quack.

Epic – Logic – Fail.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

You were doing so well until your own logic fell apart with the duck analogy. And I don’t see a creationist/fundamentalist arguing for *more* human rights, especially not for gays, so another fail there. Besides, no-one is legislating that by quacking like a duck you’re breaking the law. Feel free to do so, you might make more sense. Try looking around your hobby horse before spouting.

Whether or not *marriage* is a fundamental human right is one argument. Separately, that it should apply equally to everyone is another principle – but there should be as little discrimination as possible, within the bounds of reason. The main baseline reasons given, that consent cannot be given, either in practice (objects, animals) or legally (minors), stops a marriage from happening, should not, per se, stop gay marriage – or even really polygamy, although polygamy is rather harder to practically manage.

Just because X (gays, blacks, mixed couples) get married doesn’t harm you, nor any marriage of your own. What matters is does it harm anyone involved. Minors, yes. Objects – it’s a little irrelevant. A polygamous set-up – possibly. Gays – no, no more than people from wildly different social or educational backgrounds, or mixed race couples.

Try to keep the conversation on track, and try and deal with each element separately.

Whether or not marriage is a fundamental human right (and it probably should be), everyone should be treated equally under the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Well then, you’ve made my point, although I don’t actually agree with you–I still believe it is a cultural construct. Partnering in nature is certainly not universal.

By your argument, the only issue would be then whether or not the government restricts that right, and they do not. What they do not do is recognize all marriages. Any two people can partner and enter into whatever covenant they wish. The government does not restrict that–what it does not do is recognize those partnerships equally. That is very different from restricting fundamental human rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You do not get to decide what is or is not a fundamental human right. Your comments though display an ignorance of the way a legal society works that I see far too often. You and others tend to talk about what is morally right and what you believe is right but the reality is what you believe is right is completely irrelevant to how judges should rule on the validity of a law. Judges should rule based only on the validity of the law not on their personal moral beliefs. And prop 8 is one of those cases where on the surface at least that the judges made a moral decision not a legal one.

That said I’m actually a proponent of same sex marriage as I don’t really see why it is such a big deal over all to those it doesn’t directly affect. But then I’m a libertarian so I’m weird that way :p

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

> declaring a ruling “oversteps” because it has the
> potential to give back rights that were taken away
> from friends of mine comes across as rather like
> saying you don’t care if I ever have those rights or not

Then that’s your problem for wrongly coloring his words with your own personal bias. It certainly doesn’t objectively transform his general comment about judicial overreach into ‘gay-bashing’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Judge was not overstepping authority. The CA constitution has a part that specifically talks about equal rights. In CA, there are two types of modifications you can make to the constitution. The first is for trivial things (eg: pay raises for legislatures), which is designed to get around the stalemate of partisan politics. The other type of change materially affects the rights of a group (ie: minority). It’s a higher bar which is designed to protect minorities from oppression by majority.

The change in CA preventing gay marriage is clearly of the second type, since it’s modifying an existing constitutionally specified equal right.

Judges jobs are to rule not just on the letter of the law, which is easy. But to rule on the INTENT of the law in it’s original context and transpose that into the current context. That’s why we need smart people in the judicial system, and why we need the complexity of jury trials. If it’s just letter of the law, pretty much anyone who can read can deal with that.

I find that countries that limit themselves to letter of the law typically find themselves over-regulated in short order. Live in another country for a while to appreciate that.

Before living abroad, I used to think the litigious overly “lawyered” US was a bad sign. Now I think it’s a healthy sign.

It’s silly to think a law, written in English, generations ago will be able to be as effective now.

Nobody says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Equal rights for what? choices? that is what you’re defending right? A choice?

So while regulating equality for men vs women, race vs race you now want to give equality based on choices?

So if I choose to be a hater, I get equal protection under the law as someone who chooses to have sexual relations with like gender? Those are just choices – not something that is innate or something decreed by birth.

Choose to do what you want, but don’t expect the *right* not to be offended by that choice.

People who choose to do things that aren’t in the norm should not, have not the right to expect equal treatment.

Sexual preference is just that, preference, choice – not something you have no choice over like skin color, ethnicity, where you were born, your family, etc…

I’m all for allowing people to do what they want, but to try and protect free-will choices as a status-quo and give equality to choice based decisions is just plain wrong.

Want to be partners, go ahead, be partners, just don’t call it marriage as marriage is reserved for couples who can or should be able to procreate (yes, yes, there are lots of people who can’t procreate due to medical or other reasons) by having one of each gender in said union.

Neppe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Science might tend to disagree with you.
https://www.sciencemag.org/content/253/5023/1034.short

ABSTRACT

The anterior hypothalamus of the brain participates in the regulation of male-typical sexual behavior. The volumes of four cell groups in this region [interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus (INAH) 1, 2, 3, and 4] were measured in postmortem tissue from three subject groups: women, men who were presumed to be heterosexual, and homosexual men. No differences were found between the groups in the volumes of INAH 1, 2, or 4. As has been reported previously, INAH 3 was more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the women. It was also, however, more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the homosexual men. This finding indicates that INAH is dimorphic with sexual orientation, at least in men, and suggests that sexual orientation has a biological substrate.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

For all the rulings I’ve read, the judges purposely ignore intent (since they would be guessing) and focus on the literal meaning of the words. Even so, the rulings are hardly trivial since if you’ve read most statutes, they are written pretty badly, and often overlap and conflict with each other. It’s a mistake to assume that those in the legal system are smarter or better intentioned than the legislature.

Gordon says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s NOT their job to decide if the Constitution was made in a fairly and equal way. A judges ONLY job is to decide if an act falls within the confines of law. Now the Supreme Court has a Constutional obligation. Mainly that is to decide if a law that is passed is Constitutional or not. Not to decide if the Const. is fair and equal.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

OK but suppose some group of citizens doesn’t currently have some right under the law. How do you give it do them if, as you said, rights cannot be voted upon? I assume you’re just referring to ballot initiatives, not the legislature voting. The truth is that all rights in a democracy are decided by vote, even if indirectly.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Please make sure you read the AC who starts:

“Judge was not overstepping authority. The CA constitution has a part that specifically talks about equal rights. In CA, there are two types of modifications you can make to the constitution. The first is for trivial things (eg: pay raises for legislatures), which is designed to get around the stalemate of partisan politics. The other type of change materially affects the rights of a group (ie: minority). It’s a higher bar which is designed to protect minorities from oppression by majority.”

I’m doubtful of your familiarity with the details of this case.

sophisticatedjanedoe (user link) says:

Re: Alsup

Well, I also like when judges deliver good rulings based on common sense… yet Alsup is not exactly what he is protrayed these days.

Just half a year ago Mike wrote about the very same judge:

Unfortunately, not all judges have recognized this abuse of the system yet. In a new ruling in the Northern District of California, a judge ruled that its not just okay to join totally separate defendants together in such a lawsuit, but it’s fine to make them “jointly and severally liable” for the damages. The full ruling is embedded below. It’s a “default judgment,” meaning that the two defendants didn’t bother to respond to the lawsuit or show up. Thus, no one presented the other side of the story. Such things happen and not responding to a lawsuit is almost always going to lead to a default judgment and trouble. But, there’s simply no reason that the court should have then taken the further step of assuming that the two parties were linked and that they should be jointly and severally liable for the damages. Unfortunately, even as a default judgment, this ruling can and will be used by lawyers to suggest that joinder is proper.

My (and not only my) opinion is that this judge is an arrogant despot, yet he is clever enough to make fair and reasonable rulings IF he invests his time and energy in studying the case subject. But if, for some reason, he does not want to spend his time, he is quite capable of delivering nonsense ? presenting it as if he knows what he is talking about.

Kudos to Alsup for taking the effort to become “clued-in” in this particular case, yet no one who knows him could predict the outcome, and it is equally possible that this outcome would be bad.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re: Re: Alsup

Is it surprising? We all behave this way. More or less. Yet it is counter-productive to reject good deeds delivered by a person who has shown himself not from his best side in other instances. Sometimes I even praise an obvious asshole Randazza for his Righthaven work ๐Ÿ™‚

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Alsup

Thanks for recognizing me as a not-so-lost soul! I try hard. “objectively consider thoughts that are directly opposed by our biases” is too advanced for me at this time though. Completed the Step 1 (recognizing my own tendentiousness), I’m working on the Step 2: recognizing other people’s biases. Hope to become the rest of us some day ๐Ÿ˜‰ Peace.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Alsup

Yeah, well …

Judges can be wrong and it is ok to point out when you think they are wrong.

Funny that, I didn’t notice you actually pointing out anything you thought was either correct or incorrect in the posts or the rulings. You aren’t here just to slag off Mike, are you?

I don’t read this post as saying the judge is a genius, but rather: Thank God we have a technology case in front of a judge who understands technology a good bit.

The joinder case, I don’t read as Mike calling the judge an asshole, but rather that it was unfortunate that the default judgement had to be rendered because the defendants didn’t respond, and “WTF, why did he go beyond simple joinder to joint liability. Boggle.”

Who knows, maybe the judge has been spending time to better understand this new internets thingy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Alsup

“Judges can be wrong and it is ok to point out when you think they are wrong.”

I agree 100%

“Funny that, I didn’t notice you actually pointing out anything you thought was either correct or incorrect in the posts or the rulings.”

Then you weren’t looking very hard.

Also, I haven’t posted a single thing about Mike in these comments or any of his articles in these comments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You’re 1/2 right. SCOracle’s statement was as follows:

“The court’s reliance on “interoperability” ignores the undisputed fact that Google deliberately eliminated interoperability between Android and all other Java platforms. Google’s implementation intentionally fragmented Java and broke the “write once, run anywhere” promise.”

Of course, they neglected to state exactly how this constituted copyright infringement, which is what the case was about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I provided the context you were leaving out. Interoperability was a basis for Judge Alsup saying the copying that occurred did not constitute infringement. That’s what the interoperability language has to do with copyright infringement.

You acted as if you didn’t understand that. If you did, then maybe you were just being disingenuous. I don’t know.

But there’s really no need to be an asshole about it.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The court’s reliance on “interoperability” ignores the undisputed fact that Google deliberately eliminated interoperability between Android and all other Java platforms. Google’s implementation intentionally fragmented Java and broke the “write once, run anywhere” promise.”

Well, gee, I guess that’s why Google called it Android and not Java. Go figure.

Anonymous Coward says:

While the basis for Judge Alsup’s ruling is sensible, I’m not sure if it is consistent with existing copyright law precedent.

For example, the Ninth Circuit has issued several opinions that conflict with the “no copyright protection for names or short phrases” bit.

Other decisions have held that interoperability is not a valid defense or reason to deny copyright protection, unless the expression used was required for interoperability *at the time the code was written* (as opposed to simply being required for later code to work). That seems to conflict with Alsup’s ruling.

As for the “system or method” business, that seems to conflict with the notion that 102(b) is simply intended to be a codification of the idea/expression dichotomy.

I hope any appellate opinion really gets into these issues.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Um, that doesn’t really clarify.

First, there isn’t a single appellate court for copyright cases. Since this case was in the Northern District of California, it would be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Second, your sentence is mangled English. I’m not saying that to be a dick (I do the same when I’m typing comments online), but I really don’t know what you were trying to say.

davnel (profile) says:

This is old news

Way back in the day, say 1982 or so, IBM came up with a wonderful (if anemic) machine called the “Personal Computer”. It used a ROM based program called a BIOS (Basic Input Output System) to act as an interface between the hardware of the machine and the software running on it. At the same time, IBM published a binder they called the Technical Reference (which I still have). This volume contained, among other things, the complete source code for the BIOS (copyrighted), one presumes on the hope that this would prevent a third party from copying the machine and it’s BIOS.

Along comes Phoenix. They set up two teams of engineers. The first read the IBM source and from that produced a specification of exactly how the BIOS worked and the requirements to operate it. We call those APIs now.

The second team, which had never seen the original source, took the specification and wrote a completely new program that performed all of the BIOS functions without copying any of the original. This is called a “Clean Room” procedure.

IBM, of course, sued to prevent Phoenix from using their BIOS, but lost in court, and the age of “IBM Clones” was born.

The idea that APIs or software specifications are not copyrightable is not new by any means. I don’t understand what Oracle is thinking. They MUST know this, but are still wasting megabucks and months of lawyer time relearning the Phoenix lesson. WAKE UP ORACLE!

Ruud (profile) says:

Kudos for the judge. He really understands the subject. Near the end of his ruling he comments on Oracle’s motives:

That interoperability is at the heart of the command structure is illustrated by Oracle?s
preoccupation with what it calls ?fragmentation,? meaning the problem of having imperfect
interoperability among platforms. When this occurs, Java-based applications may not run
on the incompatible platforms. For example, Java-based code using the replicated parts of the
37 API packages will run on Android but will not if a 38th package is needed. Such imperfect
interoperability leads to a ?fragmentation? ? a Balkanization ? of platforms, a circumstance
which Sun and Oracle have tried to curb via their licensing programs. In this litigation, Oracle
has made much of this problem, at times almost leaving the impression that if only Google had
replicated all 166 Java API packages, Oracle would not have sued.
While fragmentation is a
legitimate business consideration, it begs the question whether or not a license was required in
the first place to replicate some or all of the command structure. (This is especially so inasmuch
as Android has not carried the Java trademark, and Google has not held out Android as fully
compatible.) The immediate point is this: fragmentation, imperfect interoperability, and
Oracle?s angst over it illustrate the character of the command structure as a functional system or
method of operation.

Ruud (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The code behind the API is still covered by copyright. Also, providing an API makes your software open and a preferred choice as a component in a larger system, which in turn can boost sales.

Without API’s, Windows would not have become the leading OS, there would be no App Store, Play market, and Facebook would not have become the de facto authentication engine. Whether you like any of these platforms or not, it is their openness thru API’s that helped them achieve market dominance.

hmm (profile) says:

look at who runs oracle

I remember a TV documentary a few years back.

There was Richard Branson talking about space exploration and why rich people have a duty to the general population to make the world better.

There was Bill Gates, saying “this is the hospital I’m helping to fund…these are the scientist I’m paying to research stuff….”

Followed by Larry Ellision who showed off his insanely huge collection of cars and how much bigger his house was than his neighbours…..

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop ยป

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...